* Photo used without permission from: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/14512773
It's been a while since I included a story on this blog, a story longer than 500 or so words. When I first began this blog I had several stories written, just for fun stories, grad school project stories, stories I wrote for others. I broke them up in several sections so they weren't too long.
This is a new story I wrote. The reason I'm doing that with this one is two fold. First, I submitted this for an anthology last month. It was not chosen, so I'm letting everyone read it, and I have four or five blog entries already to go for next week. Also, there's another anthology story I'm currently writing and I need the time to write when I get home from work this week.
This is a Steampunk story, and I'd love any feedback you might have concerning it. But most of all, I hope you like it!
The Incredible Adventure of Thaddeus Moore
There will be many who will endeavor to persuade you to disbelieve all that I am about to tell you, but you must not allow the prejudices of weak-minded fools to implant doubt. For the story I tell is true, though fantastic, it remains forever true.
You have sought me out and I wonder as we sit across from each other in this wretched place, a place of debauchery, where the heavenly souls of men have long since abandoned their cocoons of flesh leaving only the dross of humanity, why? Why would a young man, a man of education—from where did you say you attended, Polytechnische Schule, my Prussian friend? Why would you want to hear my story when all of society calls me a fraud? What makes you different? Do you wish to expose me as many claim to have already done? Or is your heart pure, your intent just?
Whatever your motive, I hope you understand the consequences of your curiosity for once you hear the tale, you will be responsible for its understanding.
You smile and nod your head. Good.
Considering my reputation since returning from Scotland, you have no doubt heard something of my travels. I cannot possibly guess to the extent of this knowledge so I shall begin at the beginning and try to include all pertinent facts so when we part you will have as complete a telling as possible, and if you do remain until the end of this incredible adventure, you will become one of the few who know the truth. Many have sat when you now sit expecting knowledge, but few there are who possess a mind capable of accepting what I will tell you. I pray you have such a mind.
Before the autumn of last year, the name…
Careful, young student. Do not allow that which occurs beyond the sound of my voice to distract. These women you see who tempt you with their painted eyes and worldly smells—they care not for you. They see your handsome face and think only of themselves. Nor do these men who remain here and drink away their worthless lives look upon our meeting as a search for enlightened truth. You will be judged mad by association. But I see in your eyes a spark in genuine interest.
Before the fall of last year the name Thaddeus Moore garnered respect and admiration both in the worlds of society and academia. I say this not to boast but for you to imagine such a person of rank an honor and not the vision of the personage you see before you now. Perhaps, as a student of science—for I too roamed the hallowed halls of your school in my many travels—you have studied my many writings on thermodynamics.
But those days are forever gone, lost as is my reputation, my honor, my sacred name. I curse the day I ever answered the correspondence of Maximus Thatcher.
At the time I had no idea a man of such highly regarded character as Dr. Thatcher could bring such ruin upon me. I remember the day distinctly. I sat in my parlor when the letter arrived. At first I thought the message a ruse for it contained no notice from whence it came. Imagine my shock when upon opening the letter I discovered it originated from Dr. Thatcher. No one had heard from the good doctor in over a decade. I must tell you, young man, though now his name means hardly a mention in the annuls of history, there was a time when all of the educated Christian world knew of Dr. Maximus Thatcher. His disappearance generated a scandal the likes of which are rarely seen.
Upon realizing who sent the letter my hands shook as I read the printed words. Dr. Thatcher heard of a lecture I gave in Edinburgh the year previous and he wanted to meet me. If I wish to reciprocate his desire a list of strict provisions were included. The first and most important of these was that I could tell absolutely no one of either the existence of the letter or his desire to meet. A train leaving London on the morning of April 1 at exactly 9:10 a.m. would be my transportation to Scotland. If I missed that particular train we would not meet. I would, of course, travel alone and bring with me personal items requisite for a stay of no longer than one week.
I could not reply to the letter, nor did I know how. My arriving in Scotland on at the appointed time while on the appointed train would signal my agreement to these demands. I had exactly two days to make my decision.
It is obvious which decision I made. Like a madman I prepared for the trip. Explaining to my dearest friends proved the most difficult aspect of my great adventure. Somehow, by the grace of God, I made the train and the next day stood alone with my travel bags on a cold train platform in Edinburgh.
For many moments after the last passengers vacated I remained, not knowing what to expect. Thatcher’s note mentioned nothing by way of plans. Finally through the morning fog a man emerged.
The man, dressed entirely in black approached until he stood directly before me. He said only one word.
I obeyed. We walked to his conveyance, a small carriage. After stowing my belongings, the man climbed aboard and directed the two workhorses to a destination of which I knew not.
The morning fog masked my sense of direction. Upon my life I could not tell where we were or even which direction we traveled. It was as if Dr. Thatcher himself controlled the weather so that I would be hopelessly lost.
After an hour’s time the carriage stopped. I looked out the door’s small window and saw nothing but the dull grey of precipitation. Any thoughts that I would remain aboard the wagon were immediately dispelled by the stranger’s vacant voice.
I considered protesting, but the man’s presence alone chilled the very blood in my veins. Again I followed the man’s instructions and stepped from the black carriage. As I began to question my deliverer as to where I was, he cracked his whip and the beasts of burden drove him and his carriage from my sight.
Again, I found myself alone in a strange land. You may be asking yourself what would you do if found in the same situation. Believe me, many an unsettling thought came to mind.
What did I do, you ask? I waited where I was deposited. Wandering would only complicate matters. Dr. Thatcher, if he indeed orchestrated my adventure, then it was meaning I should remain at the spot where I then stood.
The experience was eerie, as if the fog itself depleted God’s world of breath. It took roughly an hour of waiting before I heard the sound of what I could only guess as a steam locomotive, which baffled my already confused mind. As the noise drew closer, the sound of carriage wheels accompanied the metal working of an engine. Though the mists came Dr. Thatcher.
As long as I will live, I cannot erase the moment when I first saw the man who would forever change my life. The elements seemed to part as the fog lifted to allow this man of mystery to make his entrance. The man I recognized; the contraption he commanded I did not.
“Huzzah, my good man!” Dr. Thatcher yelled over the noise emanating from his iron beast. He grabbed a lever and pushed it forward. The machine held aloft by three large wheels slowed then finally stopped. He pulled another lever and the internal workings inside the metallic vehicle ceased and the hypnotic sound of steam-driven power evaporated into the foggy walls around us. Any vocal response I could possibly give disappeared with that noise and I remained where I stood, speechless.
“Dr. Moore,” the giant of a man said as he jumped from the mechanical wagon and took my hand in his, shaking it to the point of near separation from my arm. “I am honored that you would accept my invitation.”
“You gave me no choice.”
“All men choose. It’s God’s greatest gift. You could have remained in London, but you would have surely missed out on an adventure the likes of which you have never known.”
“Call me Max.”
“Apologies, Max. I have many questions I would like to ask you, however, I feel now is not the most opportune time. I also deduce the reason I traveled these many miles to meet you cannot best be explained in the middle of a Scottish moor, or what I believe is a Scottish moor.”
“My thoughts exactly,” The good doctor invited me aboard his machine—an incredible invention, to be sure. I will tell you more of this at a later time. He climbed aboard and begged me follow.
“Come! Do not fear this incredible contrivance for it is the future!” Against my better judgment I joined Dr. Thatcher and he brought the beast to life. If I could construct a device to navigate the chapters of time and space, I would so construct such a device and return to that cursed day whereas I would refuse the doctor’s invitation. As God as my witness, I should never have joined him on that damned thing.
Link To Part 2
Link To Part 2
To Be Continued...