Please welcome Michelle Cornwell-Jordan onto my blog as she talks about her story in the Cogs in Time 3 anthology 😊
RELEASE DAY October 07th, 2015
COGS IN TIME 3 ANTHOLOGY
STEAMWORKS INK PRESS
***99 Cent Anthology Release*** Cogs in Time Volume Three Take another turn in the cogs! www.smarturl.it/CogsInTime3 Gear up for an adventure with the first two anthologies. Cogs in Time: Set http://smarturl.it/CogsSet
DYMPHNA’S DANCE at the TWILIGHT CIRCUS
by Michelle Cornwell Jordan
My short story Dymphna’s Dance At The Twilight Circus included in the Steamworks Ink Publishing’s upcoming Anthology Cogs In Time 3, is a Steampunk Circus tale with a horror/paranormal bent. The story is set in my dystopian world of Athol which had been featured in previous works such as my self-published Race For The Moon novella and The Others, a short story included in Steamworks Ink’s anthology Tales of The Fairy Volume 2:Steampunk Fairies. It’s set in a Western setting where I focused the tale based on the Victorian Circus.
I loved the gritty eeriness of the Victorian Carnys’ and thought it a perfect setting to tell the story of a young dancer with the ability to soothe the tortured souls of humans, as well as draw their basest natures to the forefront. In the story my main character Tristan a.k.a. Trouble and his friends come across tickets enabling them to gain entrance into the special performance where Dymphna’s Dance forces each to face the their truest natures and in doing creating life and death challenges for each boy!
I conducted on-line research as well as gathered information from hardbound resources such as Crime And Criminals In Victorian Kent by Adrian Gray and What The Victorians Did For Us by Adam Hart-Davis. Using tidbits such as the Velocipede which is the forerunner of monowheel, the unicycle, the bicycle, the dicycle, the tricycle and the quadracycle. Here is where I gained inspiration for one of the characters “Pedal Walker” which plays a significant role in the story!
Although research and these other elements were included, steampunk with the robotic Security Clown Bots and Monkey Droids is what Dymphna’s tale is all about!:)
Check out the excerpt below!
16+ New Adult
“Awww wat a purdy face,” the Dolly said as she rubbed her body up against mine. Her breasts strained at the cheap material of her dress and looked as if spillage would happen at any minute.
I flinched at her touch, hoping to avoid further contact. “Um, no. I’m okay.” I pushed the woman away as the scent of perfume and body odor assaulted my senses and caused my stomach to churn.
“Ahhh, it’s yurn birthday, ain’t it? I can show yer a right good time!” she said as she moved close again and gyrated against me.
Disgusted by the desire that flared alive in my body, I closed my eyes, attempting to shut out the greedy cravings that hounded me daily.
Opening my eyes again, I could see the others watching in amusement. I took a deep breath to steady myself and said, “Go!” I pushed her again and felt ashamed when she stumbled backward, looking surprised.
The prostitute regained her footing and anger flashed across her face. She straightened her dress and looked down at my pants with a smirk, and I quickly placed a hand in front of myself in a feeble attempt to hide my body’s betrayal.
She snorted and said, “Yer wouldn’t be no good anyway!” She spat out a glob of spit that landed near my shoe, glanced around our group with a lipstick-smeared sneer, and flounced out of the alleyway, careful not to let the bally see her.
“Awww yer such a meater. Just a wimp, Trouble!” Bae howled with laughter, slapping his thigh, which caused him to lean haphazardly on the pedal walker. “I knew he wouldn’t go through with it! I called it. Right, Gripper?”
I watched as my supposed best friends got a kick out of what they liked to call my “delicate condition.”
Gripper snorted and shook his head as he raised a tattooed hand to scratch his cheek with an uneven nail, and then continued counting red and gold Atholrus bills as he said, “Watcha waiting for, Trouble? Yer an aright looking mug, I s’ppose. I mean, not as purdy as me,” he chuckled, “but enough to get half dem Judys itching for a taste!” He shoved the wad of bills into his back pocket.
We rounded the corner after leaving the alley and followed the growing crowd down a dirt path. Lights beckoned us to the multiple red, yellow, and blue tents anchored in McGruyer’s Field. The chime and tinkle of carnival music filled the air, and from the tents, the scent of roasted meat and vegetables drifted to me on the evening breeze. My stomach grumbled, distracting me from thoughts of Fiona.
I shrugged, not sure how to explain that I wanted to wait for the right girl. That’s a lie. I’d found the right girl. Well, a woman—a married woman, Fiona Ramsey.
“Awww, guys, let it go! Will ya? It’s not a big deal!” I said, irritated with being called out.
Bae said, “Really? Nothing to be ashamed of? Think how it feels for us to be friends with the feller who’s still a virgin at nineteen. No, sumthin’s gotta be done. I know yer all hot for that…”
He paused when I gave him a pointed stare. “We don’t need to mention her.”
He smirked. “Yer needs to get over this. Yer can’t keep sniffing after some married woman as if she’s a heifer in heat. It’s not right. Yer shoulda let me set ya up wit that Ladybird. Betcha she’d make yer forget yer problems,” he hooted, and his voice echoed, causing many heads to turn our way.
Bae hopped off the two-wheeler and grabbed me in a headlock. We broke into a good-natured wrestling match with Gripper laughing on the side watching us. Just then, a carnie security bot rolled over, dressed as a clown to match the circus theme. The steel features and black orb eyes peeked out from under the eerie clown makeup and curly yellow wig that sat slightly askew on its head.
We broke apart when it stopped in front of us.
“Please desist. Please desist! Quiet please. Please quiet!” it said before turning to head back to the entrance.
“Yes, sir!” Bae gave a mock salute to the bot.
“Ssssh, Bae, lower your voice. I ain’t going to the brink because of you tonight.” Anger tainted my words as I dusted off my leather pants and shirt.
Bae followed my example, but before he hopped back on the pedal walker, he reached down and picked up a stone, throwing it in the direction of the bot. The rock, thankfully, fell short, although the robot stopped and turned towards us. He gave a blank look in our direction and headed back towards the main entrance.
“Bae!” I hissed.
He ran a hand over his short, red buzz-cut hair, chuckling while he climbed back on the two-wheeler.
I shook my head and said, “Really? And as far as embarrassment goes, who are you guys to talk? At least I worked this summer. What have you done, huh? Bae, I’m surprised you have money to pay for me to get laid. But you should use it to fix that.” I pointed towards the pedal walker. “You’re so lazy. How many times have I said to fix the damn Penny? One of your front wheel spokes is bent, and there’s a dent in the steam pump, so it won’t work either.”
I watched as small thin streams of steam puffed sporadically through the brass pipe attached to the back of the bike. I’d been on him to get it fixed, but like with everything else, he never got around to it.
“If you’d fix the steam casing, then you wouldn’t have to pedal!” Aggravated, I tried keeping my voice low. I knew I shouldn’t let their jibes get under my skin.
The other boy grimaced sheepishly and sniggered. “I’d get the money from Gripper.”
Still irritated, I turned to my other friend. “How did you get the tickets? They cost a nice chunk.”
Shrugging his shoulders good-naturedly, Gripper said, “I had a new snide come in. Good stuff. Stolen from only the best houses. Got a good price on the market for the whole kit. And the tickets, I found them in a dandy’s office in one of the houses I rolled. I mean, I knew yer birthday was coming up, and we’d all wanted to go. So I thought, hey, why not? I couldn’t resist nabbing them on the way out.” He chortled.
I stopped. We were almost up at the bally’s stand, and I turned looking at my friend, my mouth hanging open. “You stole them?”
Bae had started walking beside the pedal walker, pushing it slowly as beads of sweat covered his forehead. “Ssssh. Hey, cut it, guys! Don’t want that freaky bot coming back, yer guys. Keep it down.”
Ignoring Bae, I said, “I can’t believe you did that. You’re such an arse.”
Gripper’s gray eyes flashed. “What are yer, my mother? I was tryin’ to do sumthin’ nice for yer.” He stopped and looked at me with a hard stare. Normally easy-going, when riled, he could be as deadly as a rattlesnake.
But I didn’t back down. “You know there might be some kids missing out! This show only comes through once in a moon. Just I feel bad, that’s all.”
My friend frowned and shrugged, apparently not seeing the point of fighting over the issue. He started walking ahead, his hands in his back pocket with an effortless slouch, while Bae and I caught up. We’d joined the crowd at the bally’s stand, where an older man dressed in trousers, a long-sleeved white shirt, and pinstriped vest stood on the platform. His top hat rode low, almost to his eyes. He walked to the microphone.
I heard Gripper quietly say, “Take a look at the ticket. They weren’t for no kids.”
I glanced over at him as he stared straight ahead with a ghost of a smile on his lips. I reached in my back pocket, pulling out the ticket Gripper had slapped into my hands when arriving at my house earlier in the day. It looked worn and creased at the edges, but still said clearly: Good for One Admittance to The Greatest Show Side-Show and Carnival. A Special Invite: Twilight Midway Feature of Dymphna’s Dance.
I paused and re-read the ticket. It couldn’t be! I’d heard about the Greatest Show every since I was a kid, tales of exotic animals and the newest steam invention exhibition. My Grandfather also told stories of a beautiful girl’s dance. I’d heard other stories as well—darker ones, when spying on my brother. He and his friends blathered on trying to one-up each other with anecdotes about the girl who danced with monsters.
Fear and excitement coursed through my body at what lay behind the tent door. Best birthday gift ever. The thought flickered through my mind while I pushed away the guilt of how we’d gotten the tickets.
The bally started his pitch as I leaned over and whispered, “No, definitely not for kids.”
We laughed, and as I shoved it back into my pocket, I looked over to where the clown bot stood holding a bunch of balloons. It handed one to any small child brave enough to come near. I’m not sure what caught its attention, but without warning, it glanced up and pinned us to the spot with its black glare.
“It’s watching us. No, it’s watching me,” Bae said in a low voice, sounding nervous. But just as quickly, he laughed as if everything was normal, although he eyed the robot across the lane.
I started to protest and to tell my friend just to forget the bot, except, when I turned my head, I saw it glaring at us while letting go of its bundle of balloons. It lifted its arm, pointed in our direction, and smiled, showing rows of sharpened steel teeth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR