Thursday February 25th, 2016

The exercise:

Today let us take the opportunity to write some: steampunk.

It's a genre that captures my imagination on occasion but only rarely seem to explore. I saw something on Facebook the other day that reignited my interest but I'm not going to try to find it now, because Facebook is a hot mess.

Max had another good day at daycare. Natalie was back there after skipping Tuesday to go meet her new sister in Penticton. That was the first time Max had been there without her and it was totally fine, which is a relief.

Now we don't feel like we have to match days with her, though obviously that's the preference. Just allows for a little more flexibility on our part.


Standing at the elevated rear of the ship, one gloved hand on the tiller, I keep one eye on the movements of the crew and the other on the airspace ahead of us. I listen to the soft, regular hisses coming from the engine and the chimes being sounded by the navigational instruments. My nostrils are filled with the scents of oil and leather and gunpowder. I relish the cool breeze on the exposed skin of my face and arms.

I do not look down.

We are flying over the Wastelands. Have been for days now. There is nothing to see down there, or at least there is nothing I want to see. The only thing I need to know about the Wastelands is that there is no safe place to land a ship.

Beyond that... inquiring minds will only find madness.

I have been told that it does not go on forever, that there is something beyond its far edge. What that might be, when we might arrive, and who may reside there? These are not my concerns. I am not the captain.

That doesn't mean I'm not curious, of course. But I have my duties and that is where my focus remains. For now, at least. Our fuel reserves are fine for the time being but we will have to land eventually. This cannot continue forevermore.

And the captain does not strike me as the sort of woman who intends to test the hospitality of the Wastelands. So she must have some idea of what she is doing. Right?

Three rapid bells from the navigational instruments. And again. We have company. Perfect.

I needed something else to think about.


Greg said...

It sounds like Max is getting to be more independent which is probably a little bit of a relief for you – I'd be curious to know if you think the sports he's been doing help with that?
I quite like Steampunk myself though I sometimes wonder what non-English speakers make of it as the setting for a lot of it seems to be either Victorian Britain or a world where the Victorian Britains have a disproportionate influence. I get that it develops the industrial revolution in certain ways, but it still feels odd to me that one country should come so close to defining the genre.
I like the setting you've produced here, but I definitely feel it needs fleshing out (one for the "To continue" list?); I want to know more about the Lady Captain, the crew and the Wastelands as it seems like there's a whole adventure here that I'm only being allowed to peek at!

"Terroir," said the man, his french accent unmistakable. I and my wife looked around at the vineyard, following his gaze. Rows and rows of vines spaced eight metres apart ran off to the horizon. Here and there the pickers, brass devices that gleamed like fire in the afternoon sun, moved slowly along. They had eight long arms that made them seem arachnid; each arm reached out independently and plucked bunches of grapes – "only thoze at purr-fect ripenezz" our host had slurred – and delicately dropped them into the narrow tube at the apex of the device.
"Terroir iz such an eem-portant part of ze wine-making procezz," said the man. He waved his hand laconically, a pale bony wrist shooting out from his cuffs: I had noted already that they were frayed and his cufflinks looked to be paste jewellery. "Wiz-out it, zere is really only fermented grape juize."
"Isn't all wine just fermented grape juice? Really?" Cecily was being difficult, but she disliked the sun and we'd been outside for a lot of the day so far. Our host looked offended.
"Not at all! Come inzide!" He flapped his hands and I had to turn away for a moment; my grin at his appearing like a frantic crow trying to find a safe place to set down would have been undiplomatic. "Come inzide and I will show you how the wines differ!"
Cecily led the way, relieved I think to be going inside again and out of the sun. I paused for a moment, listening to the distant hiss and clank of the pickers and wondering how the vineyard could afford them and their upkeep when there were so many other signs of decay about the place, If the wine was any good, I decided, I would make an offer and buy the place.
The wine-making rooms were large barns but they were cool and airy. Sunlight leaked in through holes in the roof here and there, and dust motes floated in the air reminding me of the sand-storms in Morocco this year in Spring. Our airship had been able to sit atop one of them for three hours and we'd marvelled at the beauty of it while Dr. Scire and his assistant had taken wind-speed measurements and particle abrasion calculations. Huge vats of wine were lined up in neat rows again, and four small children, grubby and vile as infants often are, pushed the hygroscopes between them, sampling the wine and checking its viscosity adn Brix level.
"Are they yours?" asked Cecily. I knew of her distaste for children; it was one of the things we'd discussed before marriage.
"They belong to the winery," said our host. His voice had changed and I knew immediately that something here was not as he was presenting it, and I resolved to ask more questions before I made my offer. "This is the Chateau," he pointed at a vat.
"The Chateau what?" asked Cecily, but he affected not to hear. I mentally split the word apart into two, as he could only have intended, and started to worry.

Marc said...

Greg - I don't think it has much to do with soccer. More to do with him getting used to being at daycare and making friends with kids who are not Natalie :)

And also just moving out of his current phase and into the next.

Also: I do believe you got what you asked for with this one. Well, some of what you asked for at least!

Really liked your description of the vineyard and its workers at the start. Enjoyed the brief reference to Morocco as well. Overall an intriguing scene and one I'm glad you found time and inspiration to continue in future prompts :)