This was my first attempt at using the Steampunk tropes in a story. I have hopes to return to the style in the not too distant future. In fact, the characters introduced here are the basis for a number of story lines I’m toying with. I may possibly write a set of interconnected shorts and bundle them into a single volume.
A flash fiction:
The Fourth Type
High in the haunted tower of Earlington Manor, I watched Davidson make the final adjustments to the latest version of our ghost trap. He’d positioned three high-backed chairs facing inward and set up the generator by the window.
“This is a version of Moulton’s device,” Davidson explained.
“Can you really call him?” Sophia said. She held an oil lamp high and the reflected light emphasised the restrained swell of her bosom beneath the stout tweed. My heart fluttered at the beauty of my betrothed… once betrothed.
“This is 1910 and science marches on.” Davidson placed my hat on the middle chair and gestured for her to take a seat. He indicated the wire-bound iron mushrooms positioned in each corner. “These devices are ten times the power he had. If he’s here, these will fetch him. The electrical field weakens the barrier to the spirit world, but restrains both living and dead within this room.”
Lowering his goggles, Davidson started the generator with a sharp tug of the flywheel pulley. Crackling sparks flew and wild shadows danced on the walls. Even vented through the window by a flexible hose, the odour of burnt petroleum soured the air.
The veil between worlds tore and the room sprang into sharp relief. I felt compelled to sweep my hat from the chair and sit down.
Sophia gasped when the hat moved. Her tear-filled gaze absorbed the vision of my ghost.
Cooler than a cucumber on a summer’s day, Davidson said, “Moulton, how good to see you, old boy.”
“We don’t have long,” I told him. “You know we thought there were three types of apparition. Type one, an echo without sentience or presence.”
“Type two,” Davidson interrupted. “A soul unaware of their demise, and type three, tethered to this plane by their violent death.” He held out his hands. “My dear fellow, it’s the foundation of our research.”
“And this night, one year ago, in this chamber, I sought to converse with the ‘Sad Lady of Earlington,’ whom we believed to be a type three. I tell you Davidson, there’s a fourth type.”
In the centre of the room, ectoplasm coalesced forming the image of a woman equal in beauty to my beloved Sophia. Her translucent gown hid nothing of her feminine charm. “You have opened the gateway for me,” she said, her sultry voice a lure to sin.
“Dear lady, your captivity on this plane is at an end,” Davidson exalted. “You are free to…” His words failed when she reached into his chest and stopped his heart.
In a frightening surge, the apparition descended upon Sophia, merging with and moulding to my truelove’s form. Sophia’s beautiful features twisted in agony and then smoothed.
His lifeless husk abandoned on the floor before me, I felt Davidson’s hand tighten on my shoulder from behind. “A type four?”
“Indeed, a demon so foul, Hades rejects it. It takes possession of a body and leads a life of dissolution, corrupting the flesh until the poor soul gives out. It then returns, here, to its lair to ensnare another.” I shook my head. “And you brought my precious Sophia.”
Restrained by the field until the small fuel reservoir ran dry, the creature prowled the length of the room, her every step an essay in seduction.
“Rendered type three, I fear.”
“This is awful,” Davidson exclaimed.
“My Sophia, condemned to a life of wanton debauchery until the pleasures of the flesh destroy her?”
He tapped the side of his head. “Well, actually, I meant being trapped for all eternity in these damnable goggles.”