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Rated: E · Short Story · Steampunk · #2182160
Steampunk adventure
The soft rustle of my petticoats was the only noise in the room. I sat peering out a second floor window with my knees in the seat of the chair resting my torso over the head rest in a very unladylike fashion. Who could blame me? I awaited the grand entrance of my Uncle Hiram.
The stories that surrounded this man were nothing short of astounding. Many a night, after dinner by the fireplace, my father would tell us of the adventures of his brother Hiram. Uncle Hiram was employed by the government, The Union of States. He was a mercenary of sorts; it was his job to bring down whatever evil threatened us at the moment. Father said there was never a shortage of evil.
"Miram! What are you thinking?" My father whispered in disgust. He quickly set down the tea he was holding and ran to my side, righting me in the chair. "Your mother is right behind me, if she had caught you sitting like that..." he let the sentence drop.
I smiled on the outside and laughed on the inside. Poor momma and poppa, they wanted a girl so bad! I was named after my Uncle, only changing one letter. What did they expect? I loved the long lacey gowns mother and I dressed in, the many petticoats, even the hats! But my heart was filled with a desire to see foreign lands, have exciting adventures, and dabble with mystery and danger. Not what your normal girl of twenty two, in the year 1863, would wish for herself. I have refused every suitor up to this point as I saw it as the closing of a door. My goal was to leave with my Uncle.
Mother entered the room with the swooshing of her gown. "Miram, I heard your father, what have you done now?"
With a soft giggle, I joined them at the table to have tea. I kept a watchful eye on the window, expecting any moment to catch sight of my Uncle. "Nothing Mother, I'm just excited is all. How long do you think Uncle Hiram can stay?"
The last time they had the pleasure of his company was many years ago. I was a very young fifteen, impressionable, yes, but one look at Uncle Hiram's full mustache and he had my attention! Dressed much like my father, very dapper, and yet slightly different. Uncle Hiram had gaiters with lots of brass buckles and straps to hold his nicely tailored pants leg in place. Around his waist was a wide belt that had a holster on one side that housed a rather large gun. The snug vest he wore had a chain that ended in an upper right-hand small pocket; in the pocket was a timepiece. The timepiece was worthy of mention as it was able to tell the time on all the major continents at the same time, even when he time jumped. The jacket around his shoulders had a military look to it with many brass buttons, applets on the shoulders, gold piping. His ample mustache covered a good bit of his mouth and when he spoke, it danced in several directions at once, which always made me giggle. His kind warm eyes drew you inside to his equally warm spirit, all in all a very pleasant man topped off with a tall hat with various tools perched around the ribbon of it.
"We just happen to be on the way, I believe he will have to leave early in the morn..." My father's words caught in his throat as his gaze crossed the window I had been looking out of.
I followed his gaze and leapt from my chair to see a large contraption floating towards us through the sky. The sun glinted off the metal gears and frame of this enormous vehicle, temporarily blinding us and hiding other parts of the moving behemoth from view.
The three of us were stunned and we watched as it loomed closer and descended from the heavens. The sounds of excited voices and commotion on the lawn of the house spurred us into action. Flying down the stairs of the house and spilling out on the lawn, we ended up joining the gathering of people employed by my parents. We all gazed upwards as the almost silent, giant, bird-like vehicle landed close to us. I was the first to run forward as it settled on the front lawn.
"Uncle Hiram!" I wildly waved my arms to get his attention. He held out his arms to me and that was all I needed. As the stairs descended, I mounted them and at the top entered the bridge, the command room of the structure. "Uncle Hiram I must speak to you privately." I said covertly.
He nodded, "I'll see to it."
He was aware of my adventurous spirit and I'm sure he could guess why I wanted to speak to him. It would have to wait and we both knew it. I followed my Uncle down the stairs and the crew was behind me. It did not escape my notice that Uncle Hiram had hired a new man. He had a very appealing smile, and beautiful green eyes.
Dinner was a proverbial feast prepared by the house staff and the conversation revolved around Uncle Hiram's recent adventures. He told us of his latest case, which involved time jumping. This was always my favorite part. He was hired to go back in time to make sure a baby was born. A couple with no children, and the husband loved his wife so much he hired my Uncle to make sure there only son was a live birth. It was a heart warming story. Uncle Hiram was prepared with a midwife at hand to skillfully unwind the umbilical cord from the baby's neck and allow the baby to live. He visited the couple and of course because past history had been changed they didn't know him, but he saw the three of them as a happy family.
After dinner my father went to retrieve brandy and cigars for my Uncle and himself, telling him he would meet him on the veranda. Now was my chance I followed my Uncle outside.
"Uncle Hiram!" I whispered, "I want to leave with you in the morning."
He smiled widely, "Nothing would please me more, and how do you intend to convince your mother and father?"
I stood very close to him, "After everyone goes to bed, I will hide away on the dirigible and in the morning I will have someone say I am ill and won't be attending breakfast."
"That won't work; your mother will not be denied access to a sick child. I will create a diversion after breakfast and you will board the airship quickly. You may wave from the bridge as we leave." He started to laugh so hard he began to cough.
I was patting his back and asking if he was alright when my father arrived with the brandy and cigars.
"Hiram! Are you alright?" My father asked.
"I'm fine! My niece just spun a very funny tale..." Uncle Hiram smiled at me.
Before I could be questioned about it I took my leave from the room saying I heard mother calling me, which was a lie. I ran right up the stairs to pack my things.
The next morning I could hardly contain my excitement. Breakfast took entirely too long but when my Uncle started to cough again I knew it was my queue to make my exit. Grabbing the small satchel of items I couldn't leave behind, I darted across the lawn to the airship. Out of breath and charging up the stairs I ran right into the new man on the crew.
"Oh! I'm so sorry I didn't see you!" I said breathlessly.
I assume to keep me from falling, or knocking him over he had grabbed me by my forearms. "Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Where's the fire?" He said.
I looked up into those green eyes and felt my cheek enflame. "I'm sorry, please excuse me." I wrenched myself away from him and proceeded into the cabin.
He turned to me as I put my satchel down and looked around. "So you are coming with us this time?"
I side glanced him not wanting him to see that I was blushing, clearly I was taken with the looks of this man. "Yes, I'm not sure in what capacity I will be serving but I hope to support my Uncle in some way."
He smiled; "Excellent!" then he disappeared through a doorway that led deeper into the airship.
I took the time to view the dials and buttons on the many stations within the command room. This is where they controlled all the workings of the ship. The windows surrounding this area curved smoothly around the front of the ship giving full view of the landscape. I would have to avoid being too close until we were ascending and it would be too late to call me back to the ground. I ran my hand over some over the buttons with strange names written next to them. It's no wonder many people were needed to control this dirigible; but it wasn't just any dirigible.
I heard my Uncle's booming voice and felt he was alerting me of their arrival. I hid in the back of the control room waiting for us to take off. No one had noticed I was missing.
The crew took their places and performed their jobs to get us in the air, not giving me any notice. Since 'green eyes' knew I was coming with them I guess my Uncle had mentioned it to them. We were several feet in the air when my Uncle motioned me forward. I stood in the window waving and saw the look of realization on my mother's face to be followed by shrieking and fainting. I knew she would be fine in my father's care and Uncle Hiram and I looked at each other and smiled.
"Phineas! Please show my niece to her quarters." Then Uncle Hiram turned to me, "When you are settled, dear, come back here and we will have a short meeting."
I nodded to my Uncle and saw that 'green eyes' had answered to the name Phineas. He stood at attention next to me.
'This way please." Phineas motioned me with a wave of his hand.
I followed him and we passed through the doorway he had exited previously. With a crew of ten the accommodations were small but there were larger rooms that could be used by all. Phineas gave me the grand tour which included a fully functional kitchen area with dining table included, a room upstairs that was most likely my Uncle's room and office, and besides the small rooms we could call our own there was a larger room used for the crew to relax in. Everything was richly decorated with tapestries, wood furniture, and thick carpeting. We finally stopped at a door and Phineas turned to me and said, "This one is yours. Make yourself comfortable and I'll see you up front in a moment." He quickly headed for the bridge and I entered my room.
With not much to unpack I was done rather quickly. There was small chest of drawers and a bed that looked to be comfortable. There was a small closet with a seat with a hole in the center of it and above there was a metal ball with small holes in it, I would have to ask about the purpose of these later. I stepped out into the common room and made my way back to the bridge.
Uncle Hiram saw me immediately, "There you are! Everyone! Please give me you attention for a moment."
As I stepped onto the bridge I was awestruck at the view out of the front widows. We were surrounded by clouds and I could see the horizon as it curved in the distance. Uncle Hiram had to call me twice to get my attention.
"Everyone, this is my niece Miram and she will be joining us." He then introduced the rest of the crew by name. There were only two other women besides me.
It was hard for me to focus on matching the names with people being distracted by the view but everyone seemed very nice.
Uncle Hiram then said we were going to go over the plan for the job we were hired for. My Uncle went into great detail but I will give you the short story of the plan. In the future, 1932, two miners of gold found a mummy. This mummy was a curiosity because it was found in a sealed cave; it was very well preserved to the point that its head injury was still moist. It was smaller than most people being seven inches tall and it had vampire-like canine teeth. It was thought to be a hoax and was examined by many scientists. None of them could prove anything and the more tests they did the more curious it was. No one was supposed to even find this mummy and we have been hired to erase it from history. The last owner of the mummy died in 1950 making it a perfect time to retrieve it. We were to obtain the mummy and give it to the one that hired us. Uncle Hiram was sworn to secrecy as to his identity so that I can't tell you.
I had never time traveled before; I was excited and nervous all at the same time. Uncle Hiram was busy discussing the technical aspect of our journey with his crew and I drifted away into my thoughts and looks out the windows. I was going to be going eighty seven years into the future! Amazing! What would I see?
Phineas came to stand by me, "Captain Hiram requests you take a seat." He smiled, "We are about to jump."
"Of course." I tried to remain calm but I was terrified I didn't know what to expect.
Phineas strapped me in a chair and I watched as the others did the same for themselves. I must have looked frightened as Uncle Hiram spoke to me from his chair that everything would be fine. All I could do was nod. Phineas strapped himself in and the process began. My Uncle barked orders and the crew obeyed. The view outside the windows began to blur, and then they began to darken and sparks seemed to be flying past us. Inside the cabin there was no change or feeling of movement. It was a rather peaceful exchange. The windows started to lighten and the horizon began to clear. It appeared we were above a large city. Strangely enough there were other vehicles in the sky as we were. We didn't seem out of place. One even resembled our airship and I wondered briefly if they were another time traveler.
We landed on the top of a building. We were gathered together again to be given last minute instructions. There were very strict rules they had to follow to be among people from a different era and my Uncle went over every last one of them, carefully. I was ordered to stay in the airship and I didn't complain. I hoped at some point I would be able to be an integral part of the team for my first time I was willing to watch. And besides I wouldn't be alone, two other people had to stay behind with the airship.
The rest of the crew filed out with my uncle and the existed the rooftop through a door into the building. It was simple enough, they would have to break into the apartments of a Leonard Waller, he inherited the mummy after one of the miners, Frank Carr died, find the mummy, and bring it back to the ship.
It seemed to be taking longer than I thought it should. I wanted to get a better look at this 1950's city. I thought it surely wouldn't hurt if I stepped out of the airship for just a moment and got a better look. I waited for a chance to sneak out and I slinked down the stairs to the rooftop.
Oh my! This is something I would never forget, and yet I could tell no one I saw it! The buildings structures even looked different, we were so high up. The small moving things on the ground baffled me, I had no idea what they were and I made a mental note to ask my uncle. Even yet smaller it appeared were so many people scurrying in every direction.
Suddenly the rooftop door burst open and I could hear people yelling. Explosions! My hands went to my face in shock. I was frozen in place. It appeared my Uncle was injured, something had gone wrong! Two of the crew carried him to the ship and three more burst from the doorway, one carrying the mummy. They ran for the airship as well. I waited to see Phineas and he didn't appear. I ran to the doorway and it again opened and a strange man appeared. He immediately grabbed me, pointing what I believed to be was a new age gun to my head. As Phineas and the last crew member emerged from the building that was the sight they were met with.
"Let her go, she has nothing to do with this!" Phineas shouted.
"I'll trade her for the mummy!" The stranger shouted back.
Phineas glanced in the direction of the airship. The crew member that stood behind him looked at the same time.
"We'll make the trade." Phineas said defeated.
"No! You can't!" I screamed.
One of the women crew members came forward with the mummy wrapped in a blanket. She got close enough and she threw it at him, "Here you go, you bastard!"
As he reached for the blanket flying towards him he released me and I ran to Phineas. He grabbed me and we all ran for the airship. When the stranger discovered he had a blanket with a cylinder inside, he looked up and we were just closing the door behind us. He shot at the airship and the bullets ricocheted off doing very little damage.
We quickly became airborne and we watched as we drifted away as the man below cursed us. In the next few moments we were told to prepare to jump and I was able to strap myself in.
As the windows cleared and the horizon became visible my Uncle rose from his seat an approached me. "That was close, too close. If you ever expect to come with us again you must obey the rules. I told you to stay in the ship." He sounded so disappointed.
I felt like an errant child and was ashamed of my actions, "I know saying I'm sorry isn't enough, but I don't know what else to say. I want you to trust me and I want to become a crew member someday. Please don't be mad at me."
He hugged me and said, "I'm not mad at you, I was afraid!"
Phineas was standing close and he added, "I was afraid too. I'm looking forward to you becoming a crew member." He smiled and turned to complete his job.
My Uncle smiled at me as well, "I think I have found a way for you to convince your mother that coming with us would be a good idea." He raised an eyebrow.
I laughed knowing he meant Phineas. Nothing would please my mother more than thinking I found someone attractive.
I could see my home coming into view. Although our adventure had taken a better part of the day, it would only seem moments to my parents and the others. In order to keep things in place in this era we had to return to the same time we left. I don't pretend to understand it but I know it's so.
After dropping me off, my uncle would continue on and deliver the mummy to his new owner, but it would never resurface in history again.
It was a sad goodbye. I didn't know when I would see him again. Phineas whispered to me before they left that it would be soon. I stood on our lawn beside my parents and watched as the majestic vehicle gracefully drifted away.

(Author's note: If you would like to know more about Pedro, the Mystery Mummy follow this link: http://www.anomalies-unlimited.com/Pedro.html)

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