This is a bit of short steampunk fiction I wrote a few years ago. I recently re-read it and cleaned it up a bit. I’ve always wanted to write more stories in this setting. I even tried to turn TLSEA into a fan group of sorts…but that didn’t go so well. Maybe I’ll give it a go again…although there are SO many steampunk groups out there already.
The image is one of my old steampunk costumes from 2010.
Midnight was a terribly late hour for a woman to be out without an escort. Yet the woman walked slowly down the riverfront. She walked slowly, apparently lost in her thoughts. Her face shone out of the black cape covering her from head to toe in the damp night. She reached the end of the sidewalk, and watched the Mississippi river for a moment, before turning and heading back down the way she came.
As she walked back towards the French Market, a man’s voice called to her. “Madame, a lady should not be out this late at night. If you’re wandering alone at this time, you’re either a madwoman or a lady of the evening. You don’t look like a trollop, so are you mad?” The woman turned back and looked over the gentleman who appeared there. He was tall, slim, wearing a fitted dark suit and a top hat, with an angular pale face, shadowed eyes, and a smirk curving his thin lips. She frowned, and dipped her head just slightly in greeting. “Sir, I can assure you I am not mad – unless I am mad with grief. My husband passed two weeks ago.”
The smirk on his face changed to a frown. “I apologize, madame. I am sorry for your loss. Etiquette prevents you from leaving your home, dear lady. Why are you out?”
Her voice thickened with emotion. “Our favorite thing to do was to stroll along the river. Since I cannot do it during the day without incurring the ire of our kin, I figured I would slip out and walk late at night. I was hoping no one will notice.” Turning away from him, her shoulders shook and faint sobs came from the black cape. The man came over and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Lady, I meant no disrespect. Is your home far from here? Let me take you there. My carriage is merely a block down on Elysian Fields. I can bring you so no harm will come to you on your way.”
“Oh, but the servants will hear the clatter of the horses, and my family will know I’ve been out! No, that’s simply not possible.”
“I will drop you a block or two from your home, so you may slip in unnoticed and unheard. Please, madame, let me show you this one kindness.”
The lady eyed him for a few seconds, gauging his intent, and then nodded. “Very well. Thank you.”
He walked next to her, without touching. When they arrived to Elysian Fields, he gestured to an alleyway, and remarked, “It is down this block here.” The street was almost pitch dark, with only the moonlight and the four lamps on the coach to indicate its presence. The coachman stepped down from the seat, face hidden by a loose floppy hat, and opened the door for them both.
The lady climbed in first, and as soon as she turned to sit, the man lunged at her and pressed her to the seat. As she watched, his canines grew into thin points and his eyes glowed red. He licked her cheek and whispered, “Your widow’s sadness will make my dinner even sweeter. I do wonder how long your families will mourn both of your deaths.”
Opening his mouth wide, he pulled back and struck – and as soon as his lips met her neck they started burning. He howled in pain and jerked back to find her giving him a bored look. She pulled back the collar of her cape to show off the side of her choker, and asked, “Do you like it? It’s leather infused with silver. A bit much for going out, I suppose, but prevents damned vampires – like you – from chomping at my neck.”
Holding his blistered mouth, he mumbled and gaped at her, and she took advantage of the moment to push him off of her and kick him, forcing the vampire out of the carriage. She stuck her head out and said, “Oh, and would you mind not drooling on my face? Vampire spit makes my skin all blotchy.” As she disembarked, she planted one boot on his crotch, causing him to scream. Raising an eyebrow, she said with total nonchalance, “Oh! How interesting. Sam, please make a note that a vampire’s gonads are just as sensitive as standard living males.” Lifting her foot from his delicate parts, she planted it on his chest. The vampire hissed and struggled, and the woman leaned over, pulling a handheld crossbow from beneath her cape and pointing it at his left eye. “Don’t move, you filthy mosquito. I’ll put a bolt through your eye just as soon as look at you.”
A female voice came from the carriage’s side. “Iphigenia, remind me to write that down when we get back to the house. You do know how I’m always forgetting things.”
The woman in black – Iphigenia – undid the cloak clasp and let it drop to the ground. She was still in all black, but they definitely weren’t widow’s weeds. A bandolier around her chest contained assorted glass tubes, silver crossbow bolts, and wooden stakes. A belt around her waist held a couple of pistols. The coachman leaned into his view, removing their hat and cloak, and it was another woman. Sam was wearing similar accoutrements around her waist, and carrying a box with a brass door. She smiled pleasantly at him and waved hello. He snarled, attempting to rise, and Iphigenia fired, the bolt landing square in his left eye.
The vampire screamed and lunged up, shoving Iphigenia to the ground and running past Samantha into the darkness of the alley. Iphigenia sat up and yelled, “Sam! Lux Lucis Intus!” as she tossed the crossbow aside and grabbed a stake off of her bandolier. Samantha spun around, wrenched a pair of goggles over her eyes, and turned a knob on the side of the box. The assorted pipes on the side of the box hissed, and the brass iris in the front opened, bathing the alley and the fleeing vampire in light. The vampire shrieked in pain and stumbled, it’s skin beginning to steam.
Not taking any chances, Iphigenia ran over and shoved him down to the ground. Raising the stake, she said, “Exuro In Abyssus.” She plunged the stake into his heart and the vampire immediately disintegrated into ash around her. Sam closed the iris on the box, plunging the alley back into darkness. The box hissed and exhaled steam from a tube on the right side.
Iphigenia walked over to the carriage, grabbed the cloak off of the ground, and wiped the ash off of her face while Sam brushed the ash and dirt from her shoulders. “Iphi, Celia is going to be furious that you borrowed her nice cape.”
“Oh, pshaw. She’ll get over it. I needed a good heavy cape to hide everything, and I can’t just buy one since we have no money. Anyway, the last ‘nice cloak’ was the one she stitched the fur to.”
“Oh, that’s right. That thing smells like wet dog every time it gets a little damp out.” Sam crinkled her nose and made a moue of distaste.
“Well, what do you expect? I’m sure werewolves don’t smell much better.” Iphigenia picked the cape off of the ground and shook the dirt off of it. “I’ll have it cleaned. I might keep it to prevent her from stitching fur to this one as well. I actually need a nice cape.” She swung the cape around and fastened it at her throat, then leaned down to grab her crossbow. “So where’s the real coachman? I take it you worked the old Samantha charm on him.”
“Oh, he’s right behind the coach. That lip stuff that Abigail created worked perfectly. One kiss and he was out. Sweet boy, really.”
The women walked to the other side of the carriage, where the coachman lay on the ground, his hands and feet tied. Sam gently nudged him with the toe of her boot, and he moaned. Iphi and Sam looked at each other, and then propped him up on the side of the carriage. He groaned again and opened one eye. Sam opened the iris on the box just a tad, so a beam shone out and covered his face. He winced and mumbled, “What – what happened?” Iphi pulled out her crossbow, loaded a bolt, and pointed it at him. “Your master is gone – as in deceased and no longer on this world. Since you’re not catching fire in the light, I’m assuming you’re human. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t slaughter you as well for working with a vampire.”
As soon as she said the word ‘slaughter’, the boy began to speak rapidly. “Miss, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I only started working for the carriage company tonight. My boss told me to make sure this every gentleman’s needs were met. All he asked was that I park the carriage here and wait for him to come back with someone. The redheaded lady showed up, and I don’t remember anything after that. I swear on my grandmother’s life. Please.”
“Do you think he’s lying, Sam?”
“Well, it was rather easy to distract him, especially when he thought I was sweet on him. No revenant would have been so easily duped. You know that vampire blood makes them craftier. That, and when have you ever known a revenant snivel and blabber?”
“I’ve seen them cry, Sam. Take away the vampire blood they’re so used to and after a few days they look and act about the same as a morphine addict.” Iphi curled her lip at the thought. “What about this one?” Sam looked him over, and closed the iris. “I think he’s telling the truth, Iphi. Stand down.” The boy let out a sob and wiggled closer to Sam, whispering “Thank you,” over and over.
Iphi unloaded the crossbow and snapped it back on her belt. She leaned down and untied the boy’s feet. Yanking him up by his collar, she pulled him around the side of the carriage and pointed to the pile of ash that used to be the vampire. She turned the boy around to face her and said, “See that? That was your client. Your boss caters to vampires. He causes innocents to be slaughtered every night. Do you understand?” He swallowed, and nodded. “I strongly suggest you find another job. Take the carriage back, turn it in as usual, and don’t go back. I won’t be so lenient next time I find you working with a bloodsucker.” He nodded again. She turned him around, roughly untied his hands, and pushed him towards the carriage.
Sam, standing by the carriage, handed him his cloak and hat, and tucked a card in his breast pocket. “Give this to your boss,” she said gently, “and let him know that if he continues such dealings – well – we’ll have to pay him a visit. I’m fairly sure you don’t want Miss Iphigenia coming around, right?” He looked back at Iphi and shook his head no. “Good boy,” Sam said, gently taking his head in her hands and kissing his hair. The boy took one last look at them, then climbed on top of the carriage and bid the metal horses to move.
Sam and Iphi stood there, watching the carriage drive down the alley and turn on Elysian Fields. “Iphi, if we’re done, would you like to go down to Café du Monde? I would love some beignets.” Iphi grinned. “I am rather hungry.” As they walked towards Decatur, Iphi said, “Just make sure that box is sealed up. We don’t want to blind the staff like we did the last time we ate there.”