Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Steph, the name behind InMon and the Bekindrewite site has, due to seasonal befuddlement, extended the deadline for the current submissions. This can only be a good thing for me, as I’m always too late to make a contribution. But now, with an extra week …

Here is my contribution. I’ve used the prompt, Inorganic life, and my old steampunk intrepids have come to join in.

***

“Joshua!” The Bunsen burner flickered, alone at the end of the bench, “Joshua! Where are you?”

Samuel Smythe slammed the door and marched back to the main house. With perfect timing, the front door opened on his approach. The butler took a pace backwards to give the flapping overcoat enough space.

“James, have you seen Fortescue? I said I’d meet him in the workshop so he could explain the stuff in the jar.”

“Mr Fortescue left a note, sir.”

A white glove indicated a sealed envelope on the hall stand. Sam picked it up, on the reverse a single cursive F flowed across the seal.

Sam,

Sorry, old chap, bit of a problem – not sure what’s in the jar – thought it was inorganic – not so sure now – have taken it to family crypt – bring heavy gauntlets

Best

F”

“James, I need …” The butler held out Sam’s motorcycling gloves, and a pair of heavy boots. “… er, thanks.”

As Sam was tying the laces on the boots James coughed, Sam looked up and James handed him a lantern.

Suitably armed for a situation he knew nothing about, Sam strode off, in the direction of the crypt. (He refused to run, that was a sure sign of panic, and not becoming of a gentleman.)

The crypt door was ajar. The amber glow of a candle flickered on the sandstone walls. How many shadows wavered there? Sam pushed his way through the gap.

“Joshua?” His voice sounded tiny, lost in the dark corners.

“Sam! Thank the gods you are here!” He turned to face his friend. Joshua’s face was a mass of blood and green pus; it took all Sam’s effort not to turn and abandon Joshua to his fate – whatever it was. “Please – get it off me!”

As Sam looked closer, he saw that the oozing mess was not Joshua’s face, but some life form spreading over it. He took the candle from the lantern.

“Hold still, and close your eyes, this may hurt.” He raised the flame to Joshua’s face. He paused, “Oh, you’ll probably have to re-grow your moustache, too.”

The green slime sizzled and steamed as Sam worked his way around Joshua’s face. After only a few minutes of careful treatment, just a crisp crust remained. Joshua sat on the sarcophagus and picked it off.tashwax

“Damned shame about the old whiskers, Sam.” He fingered his naked top lip, “Just got ‘em
comfortable.”

“I’ll treat you to a new tin of wax for Christmas. You should need it by then.”

They headed back to the house.

“Pity we’ll never find out what that stuff was,” said Sam.

“Don’t think we’ve seen the last of it.” said Joshua, picking a lingering flake from his shrivelled sideburn.

***

(c) 2015, K Patrick Moody

 

Advertisements