We've been repairing walls at the estate. Its a slow tedious process that would be very boring to read about so I won't trouble you. Instead I'm posting the story I wrote for the Steampunk Flash Fiction Writing Contest on the BookKeeper blog. I didn't win but who cares.
On the Way Down
by J. S. Greyshade
He wasn’t sure the valve would fit, but it was too useful a part not to salvage. He worked on the abandoned machine as the first hints of dawn purpled the sky. With the light reflecting off his goggles and his headlamp blazing he looked like a three-eyed monster in boots, britches and braces. The red lubricant stains on his shirt looked uncannily like blood. If a rival scavenger saw him he might not even need to draw his air pistol to make them run.
He gathered his parts and headed back to his vehicle. On the way he spotted a fallen branch crumbling with rot. He picked it up. When he reached the roadside he stomped it into wood chips, which he threw into the brass hopper on the back of his machine. He fired the vapor chamber that reduced the chips to flammable gas and started his engine. He donned a woolen waistcoat and scarf, and exchanged his headlamp for a driving cap then headed home.
He smelled the wood smoke and frying eggs before he even killed his engine. Weather permitting they cooked outside so the house didn’t smell of smoke. The woman who greeted him wore a simple working dress and apron; her dark hair was tied back to keep it out of the cooking. She looked like the farmer she was.
“I hope you’re hungry. The hens were generous today.”
He made an affirmative grunt and nodded approvingly.
“Unless you can repair that ice engine of yours the only way I have to preserve eggs is pickling.”
“You know pickled eggs give me gas.”
“Then maybe you can put a hose in the seat of your gasifier car and feed some extra methane directly into the engine.”
He laughed. “It might save a few wood chips. Actually though,” he held up the salvaged valve. “I think I found the part I need.”
They finished breakfast together and took it inside, where the lights were still dim from weak stored power. As they ate he mentioned an encounter on the way home.
“I was passed by one of those new electric roadsters, the ones that look like flattened silver cigars on wheels. It must have been doing a hundred and fifty.”
“How much do those things cost?”
“About as much as the land we’re farming.”
“I think your gasifier car is just fine. Where do they get the power to charge it I wonder?”
“The wealthy have their ways, as always.”
He noticed the lights brightening and checked a gauge on the wall. The rising sun had brought their household current to full. He activated a video screen. A CNN reporter told them that the average price of gallon of gasoline had reached twenty dollars.
© 2010 by J. S. Greyshade
In 2010 a family of four sold their charming little condo in the increasingly fashionable neighborhood of University Heights. With the money they bought a stripped out house in East San Diego previously owned by human smugglers. Their goal was a radical change in lifestyle that would allow DIY Makerism, self reliance, alternative technology, permaculture, and urban homesteading into their lives in ways their HOA would have never allowed. The ideas that lead them to take this plunge came from the steampunk movement as it was during a brief shining period when art and philosophy seemed at least as important as brass, and great essays, speeches, and letters were written. These days they don't worry so much about what people call "steampunk." They call what they're doing the Greyshade Estate.
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