Thursday, January 24, 2013

Brass and Steel: Inferno - Done

It's done. It's done. It's done. Hallelujah, Brass and Steel: Inferno is done. Now to find it a home. -JRS

Monday, January 7, 2013


Just a little snippet of Brass and Steel: Inferno that I'm cutting out in this (hopefully) final polishing pass. It has several nice bits of research - gungee candy, for example - and I hated to see it go, but really most of this scene was repeated in another chapter, and it slowed the pacing down too much. So here it is, completely out of context. All I'm going to say is that the narrator is Dante Blackmore, the hero of Brass and Steel: Inferno, and he's a very powerful cyborg. She is Josephine Li, the heroine of this story. The year? 1895. It's steampunk. :)

The tiny woman sits bolt upright in bed with a stifled whimper, breathing hard. She blinks and fumbles for the covers. Pulls them tight to her chest.
“Bad dreams?”
She stares at me next, her breathing slowing. The eyes squeeze tight. “Marshal. Shit.” The lower lip quivers, tears fill her eyes again, and in a moment she’s sobbing. “Oh my God. ‘M sorry.” she says. “‘I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have. I. Oh my God.”
Shrug a little bit at her, and get up from my chair, slow as you please. Stretch. My joints crackle. Metallic sound that makes my teeth ache. “Let’s not go through all that again.”
Her brow furrows, and she exhales slowly. Her nose quirks. “I’m drunk.” she says, a little more meekly than last time. She fumbles under the blankets, and her expression goes puzzled. “We didn’t?”
Shake my head at her. “You made an offer. I let it ride.”
She takes a deep breath and nods. “I don’t remember. God. I’m sorry, Marshal.” she says. She looks down. “How bad was I?”
“You were rubbin’ your teat in my ear, and generally carryin’ on to make a man sell his soul for you. We talked a bit after that. Then you went to sleep. Nothin’ too bad.”
She squeezes her eyes shut, and slowly sinks down to the bed, sobbing. “Oh God.” she says. “Oh God. I am a whore. Just like my sister. I’m sorry, Marshal. I’m so sorry.”
“You had a lot to drink. Don’t worry about it.”
“Did I say anythin’ that wasn’ bad?”
“You just asked me to tuck you in.”
“Did you?”
She doesn’t say anything. Just looks down. Closes her eyes, and breathes.
I try not to look at her bare shoulder, the sweep of her bare neck, the angle of her lower jaw, and the smooth skin underneath, and the broad chin that makes her look less Chinese than she might. Try not to look. Try not to picture the bare flesh in my arms, or the bloody furrow and spraying blood. Close my eyes a moment.
“I ain’t gonna be sick.” she says, finally. She takes a slow breath and says it again. “I am not gonna be sick. I can hold my liquor. I used t’drink a lot more’n I do now. I ain’t gonna be sick.”
She repeats it often enough that I nudge the chamber pot her direction. “You ain’t goin’ temperance, are you?” I think of McInnis. Maybe have a joke at his expense.
She looks at me, pupils nearly black in this light, glistening darkness that draws my eyes. “No, no. I got tired of bein’ sick, you know? Annabel likes gungee candy. Sometimes she gives me some. Mostly I drink. Used to drink. Try to move on now before things get so bad …” Her eyes glisten like a newborn fawn’s a moment before she closes them, sobs freely.

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