This is the as yet untitled contemporary-steampunk (is that even possible? I'd love to hear any opinions about that) I've been working on for a few months. Cass's mom's a witch, but she's not. She doesn't know anything about her dad. All she even has of his is a key she never takes off.
Poor Cass was in a heap of trouble when we saw her last (this sounds like it should be read by the guy who did the voice-overs on Dukes of Hazzard, lol), evading the strange men who are chasing her by running into her crowded garage. Enjoy!
I took a moment to breathe, then crept toward the back door that led to Ma’s garden and the woods beyond. Woods where I’d played hide and seek, and capture the flag with Jody and the other boys all my life. I could hide there much longer than in the barn, and maybe they’d waste enough time looking for me in here that I’d be able to get a good head start. There had to be at least two of them, maybe more.
Muffled yelling came from behind the closed garage door and I ran to the back as fast as I could, leaping over broken tools and the rusty old riding mower I used for parts to keep the good mower working. My foot came down hard on an uneven surface—who knows what—and my ankle turned. I stumbled to the ground. It didn’t hurt yet because of all the adrenaline running through my body, but it would. I couldn’t put any weight on it. I’d never even make it through Ma’s garden, much less into the woods. I had to hide.
A light, a loud humming, and a smell like burnt matches distracted me from all that. My stomach twisted into knots. Were they going to burn down the garage? With me in it?
A huge white circle formed in the middle of the garage door, like a giant searchlight, or a second sun. Before my brain could even make sense of the light, the noise, and the smell, a shadow darkened the bright circle. A leg stepped into the garage, right through the door like it wasn’t even there, followed by a body and head. The guy from my kitchen. A brief jolt of satisfaction rippled through me when I saw the cut on his temple, before the circle faded from the door and we were both left in darkness. I gripped the solid metal barrel of my flashlight and tucked myself into the shadows of the hulking mower.
He must have tripped over something because he swore. It wasn’t English, though, and I didn’t think it was Spanish. He fumbled for something that lit up. It hadn’t been a flashlight. I ducked even lower behind the mower. I’d never wished to be able to use one of Ma’s spells more in my life. But what else could I do against a guy who could pass straight through an aluminum garage door?
The light moved toward me and I wished I’d listened to Ma when she told me to keep Thor, our German Shepherd, here with me. Then again… these guys had obviously done their homework, and if Thor were here, they would’ve had a plan for him, too. At least he was safe, but I was getting in deeper by the second. The guy drew closer, whispering something in a foreign language.
My ankle felt puffy and tight under my sock. There was no way he wouldn’t see me open the back door. If I’d been able to run, I might have gone for it anyway, and relied on my instincts to hide out in the woods until they gave up. I was a sitting duck with this ankle. Even if I could knock this guy out with my flashlight, another would come for me next, maybe more. Who were these people?
Over the years I’d seen Ma and the sisters do some pretty serious spell-work. I was open to the idea that anything, from Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster to werewolves and vampires, might be real. Male witches, on the other hand, were the stuff of myth and Harry Potter novels. I’d never heard of anything like these guys. This couldn’t be good.
He was just on the other side of the mower now and headed toward the back door. There was no way he wouldn’t see me. I gripped the flashlight like a baseball bat. As soon as his knee passed the mower, I swung at it and connected with a loud thunk.
The guy let out a yell and crumpled to the ground. The illuminated object he’d dropped shattered, but the crystal-like fragments stayed lit. He yelled foreign words, and then his eyes met mine, all dark and wet. I’d really hurt him. I pushed that out of my head, stood up—trying not to limp on my ankle—and raised the flashlight in front of me.
“Wait!” he called to me. “We don’t mean to hurt you.”
“Why should I believe you?” I wanted to inch toward the back door, but he didn’t need to see I was injured. And a part of me was curious about why he was here. A smaller, quieter part thought he looked kind of hot in the low light, blood and all.
“You’re right, we’ve given you no reason to trust us.” His eyes were slick with pain, which made him seem more sincere, but I knew how hard I’d whacked him, twice, and his knee had to be swelling right now something fierce. “This is not the way I would have done things.”
“Done what things?”
“We need the key you wear around your neck.”
“Your father is in trouble.”
Dun-dun-DUN!! Hope that wasn't too cliffhanger-y this time. ;)
So, do you think a story like this could count as steampunk, or does that genre absolutely have to be set in the Victorian Era? Can you have a contemporary paranormal with steampunk elements? I promise there will be a lot of steampunk elements, as well as a healthy dose of witchcraft. What do you think? I'd love to hear it!