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This week’s inspiration is from the prompt, ‘peeling back’ on the Bekindrewrite Inspiration Monday blog of 10 December 2012.

This submission is a little longer than my usual efforts, but I needed extra space to get the atmosphere how I wanted it. Luckily we are not bound by a specific word count.

I have a used my favourite characters in a fusion of steampunk and horror, steamhorror perhaps. Please comment and let me know what works, and what doesn’t

* * *

Peeling Back

“It is not a monster, Sam!”

The cadaver laid on the slab was not of God’s making.

“But look at it.” Samuel Fortesque waved his arms, he could hardly look at the distorted figure before him.

Joshua took a scalpel from the drawer and drew the blade down the dead arm and peeled back the leathery covering. Inside, instead of the soggy, bloody flesh and sinew of mortal remains, Sam saw a bronze framework supporting steel pistons, pulleys and cables.

“It’s not a monster, it’s a machine – well most of it.”

“Fantastic! How does it work?”

“It doesn’t now, it’s dead”

“I see that.”

“It is the latest mechanical engineering grafted to a human brain. Once we perfect this, Man will be able to perform unthinkable feats.”

“What about this brain …?”

A few more deft strokes of the scalpel exposed a glass globe containing a human brain and a couple of pints of thick, green fluid. From the globe ran a knot of wires into the chest cavity. Another stroke of the scalpel and Sam could see rows of miniature relays.

“Electrical charges from the brain operate the relays – the relays send heavier currents to the motors and solenoids that operate this machine.”

“But why a brain slopping around in the fluid? Could we use a complete head?”

“Maybe soon, but to connect the relays we have to get the wires to certain areas of the brain – there isn’t much space to work inside the skull …”

“But it’s got no eyes, either.”

“We can worry about that later.”

Sam surveyed the leather wrapped remains. “But isn’t the brain dead by the time you get it?”

“The city hospital send a lad when they have a patient near to death.” Sam flinched at the thought of buying a corpse before it was dead – it wasn’t right. “I have a pump to keep the air circulating in the lungs and squeezing the heart keeps the blood flowing.”

Sam held up his hands. “Stop. This is a pretty messy process.”

Joshua shrugged, “I get about an hour before this happens.” He looked at the lifeless form on the slab.

“Wouldn’t it be simpler to attach your mechanical limbs to a living soul? That way all the biological functions are maintained.”

“Sam! You are a genius! I’ve been approaching the problem from the wrong direction – I suppose that’s the problem of being an engineer!” He shook Sam’s hand so enthusiastically that his horn-rimmed glasses slid down his nose. “I need a scientist on the team!”

Sam pulled his hand free. “I am on your team – you just didn’t ask.”

“Yes! We’ll start afresh. We need to find someone who could do with some new limbs … although they may not realise it yet!” he chuckled.

Sam took a step back.

“Come on, Sam. Let’s strip this fellow down, ready for the new project.”

Sam feared the new glint in his old friend’s eye.

* * *

(c) 2012, K Patrick Moody

Inspired by the promts on Bekindrewrite’s InMon – 10 December 2012