What works and what doesn't?
|Over the next several days, Mrs. Hudson and my grandfather enlightened me on several things that I had begun to question. It turned out that they were long-time friends, and sometimes more. They had met in London many years ago, when she had owned a rooming house on Baker Street. She had rented a room to a young man named Arthur, who had later immortalized her, in his own way, in a series of books and short stories. Somehow, I found that to fit neatly into how my life was beginning to change. Grandfather told me a great deal about Dr. Gloriosky and the relationship they had developed over their many years of association. Both of them even held special appointments from Her Majesty Queen Victoria as officers in the Time Brigades, whose sole purpose it was to seek out the people and things that take advantage of their knowledge of the Aether to create havoc in the more natural timeline. There was a set of Accords that had been proposed by those who had discovered the technology that allowed access to the Aether. These had been adopted by Queen Victoria and Parliament to police that sphere of reality in such a manner as to protect civilization from all the horrors that could be brought to bear on humanity by those who might choose to do so simply out of their own anarchistic dreams.
The more I heard, the more I wanted to be a part of it all. Our conversation had moved along for hours at a time, and it all made sense to me. I'd been around, after all, and I had the right instincts and skills to bring to what they did. During one of our late night talks, I caught myself up suddenly. What was I thinking? This was so new, and I'd been caught up in 'New' most of my life. Computers were easy for me. When they caught on, I'd been one of the first I knew to buy one. All of it. Cell phones, hybrid vehicles, solar power, whatever came along, I'd jumped in to. Now, travelling the Aether. I realized I'd hopped aboard so many bandwagons in my life it was ridiculous. I realized that the silence had become deafening. Granddad sat back in the high back chair, studying me. He let out a sigh.
"You know, Vincent. This all sounds very enticing, doesn't it?" I nodded quietly. He went on, "The first time I travelled there, I was a teenager. I'd stopped by to visit a friend of the family, Dr. Granger, who was well travelled, and had an Oxford education. He was working on a machine he'd designed to go from place to place without taking up the travel time." The old man's eyes seemed to focus on that memory like a nearly lost dream. "I thought it was a great idea, and I started going by his workshop nearly every day to help. I became his apprentice in short order, and that is where I first heard about the Aether. He'd researched it for years, and finally revealed to me that others had found a way to do this centuries before he had started his own work." Granddad fell silent, reliving some pivotal moment in his life. "That's when I met Gloriosky. I found him in the workshop one afternoon when I'd arrived to help with the travel project. He was standing at the bench, eyeing our work. He turned around when he heard the door close behind me, and I felt like I was in the presence of some great force. He was wearing a kind of girdle with glass bottles hooked to it, and an orientometer attached to it on the side." He smiled at the vision in his memory. "He told me that we were close, but it was all much simpler than the path we were on. Then he pulled down his goggles and just vanished."
I easily envisioned what he described, and found myself wondering about his story. "Did you tell Granger about it?" Granddad smiled, "Of course I did. He told me he was changing the path of our work. In less than a week, we had finished it." He went on to describe the device they'd created. It had started out as a chair, to which they'd attached Aether bottles for power, and an orientometer that they modified to be a control device. I could picture it in my head, and had to smile. He caught my expression and grinned. "Sounds outlandish, doesn't it?" I could only grin back. "Actually, it makes perfect sense to me." He sat back again, and said simply, "If it makes sense to you, then you're a natural. Why don't you try out any theory you have, and then we'll talk again."
I got a wild idea. "I'll do that." I felt a sense of things suddenly falling together in my mind. Once again, I had that one moment of seeing myself drooling in the floor, but dismissed it as quickly as it came. I ran upstairs to my room and changed into what would become my 'travelling' clothes. The solid feel of the long coat and ruffled shirt was only enhanced with the bell crown hat. I wound up Constantine's clockwork, and asked him to meet me at the car. As I ran downstairs, Granddad and Mrs. Hudson were standing at the back door. He handed me an orientometer as I went out, smiling like a madman. "Be safe, Vincent" was all he said.
I entered the garage to see Constantine sitting in the passenger seat of the Velocitor. I fired up the massive machine and carefully backed out of the garage. As I got into the street, I tried to think of a place...no...a time to go. As I pulled away, my mind was a blank. I looked over at Constantine for inspiration. The surge hit me suddenly, and I hit the brakes, my head spinning.
The Velocitor was sitting in an alley, behind a brick building that was strangely familiar. I looked around and realized with a start that we had gone to the first place that had come to mind. I looked over at Constantine, sitting stock still in the seat, his familiar clockwork sounding once again like a purr. As I sat there considering what had just happened, I felt someone looking at me. I turned to see her standing there in the back door to The Clockwork Teapot. The green striped dress complemented her bright red hair most divinely, and a little curl of it dropped down onto her forehead.
"Miss Puryear, as I recall." was all I could think to say. Her blue-green eyes sparkled as she beckoned me to get out of the car, "Come in, luv. I was hoping you'd come back soon."