Monday, 18 June 2012

The Inventor's Daughter (and some footnotes)

Hello! Well, I have a few things to tell you before we begin. Are we sitting comfortably? Good. If not, I'm going to continue anyway.
1. On Friday, I wrote my first fanfiction! It was for a friend's birthday and it was based on the amazing BBC Sherlock. I won't post it on the blog, but if you want to read it, click here - The Ring of Fins. Comment on this blog to tell me what you think! Which leads on well to my next point...
2. Last Tuesday I posted a controversial story. Now, I'm not saying I want a flame war, but the lack of comments made me wonder - how many people actually read my blog? I know I have quite a few followers but still. All I want you to do is vote on the poll opposite. Click 'yes' if you read the blog regularly and comment, 'meh' if you read sometimes and 'no' of you barely read the blog. The post will be up for the next two weeks, so please vote!
3. I'm going away on Friday for a band trip to Germany! It'll be amazing, but it means this blog will be ignored for a week and a bit :D

Ok, onto the story. I was inspired to write this by this song - The Inventor's Daughter. It's much cheerier than my story, but the steampunk elements are still the same. Check out the band - they're amazing! Part 2 coming soon!

The Inventor's Daughter - Part 1

The house towered in front of me, its yellowing walls mottled with broken vines and scratches. Its turret stood out against the azure sky. The door, as always, was closed. It was never open - its paint peeled and faded and fell to the stone porch in ribbons until one day the elusive owner would sneak out and re-paint it. No one ever saw him doing it of course. He was a mystery to the neighbourhood, to the city, to the Empire. He was a ghost. But he was there. The windows were opened and closed and plants flourished inside, their long green leaves bathing in the pearly sunlight that streamed in from outside. The dark smog of London never came near the house and the stink of coal and steam was long gone by the time you came across this decrepit, blossoming mansion. It was an enigma.

I reached up and knocked on the door. My tiny fist couldn't reach the knocker - I was only ten, barely old enough to know what I was doing. No one answered and I swung back on my heels. My dress was frayed and my petticoat was stained with mud, but I didn’t mind. They were clothes, which was more than some people had. I was lucky, my mum told me, to be living in an age where industry was flourishing, to be living at the heart of a mighty and beautiful Empire run on steam and water. It didn't matter that my stomach rumbled every couple of seconds, or that my bracelet was broken, and always had been, or that my face was so covered in rime and dirt that at times I was as black as night. None of that mattered. 

Behind me, I could hear my friends laughing and conversing on the cobbles. They were pointing and jeering and I made a note to humiliate them when this was over. They deserved it. It was obvious that the bottle hadn't landed on my foot when it was spinning. Someone had rigged it, moved it when I wasn't looking. They must have. I was a lucky girl, that's what my mum told me. I was lucky.

Suddenly, a bird shot out from one of the trees lining the overgrown garden. I froze and listened. Footsteps. They broke the silence and the bird song, splintered it in half like an axe through wood. They were heavy and, behind them, I could just make the creaking of the stairs. I gulped and glanced backwards. My friends had gone. I cursed them under my breath. Running off in my time of need. Evidently, they had heard the stories. Everyone had, but few acted upon them. People said the man was a kidnapper, a fiend, an inventor. He made knives out of diamonds, and monsters from the body parts of dogs and cattle. He killed cats and ate their remains, and woe betides any child who went to that door. Stories wavered at this point - sometimes stopping, sometimes slowing to a juddering stop - but those that kept going, those that plugged through the mystery and the gore and agony all ended with one thing. The child, helpless and strung, was plated in a suit of iron. And then, after a few days of struggle, the armour would be heated and the child would burn.

But it was just a story.

The footsteps got louder and I shuffled my position on the porch. My friends said I had to point at him and laugh when he came out the door. Then I was to run. The laughing I had no problem with - the running on the other hand was an issue. I couldn't run fast because of my leg and making fun of a man famed by rumours for his violence and mania and who was probably ten times larger and stronger than me, was not my idea of a fun afternoon. But I was dared. So I had to do. No backsies. No swaps. Just the fun.

The door handle twisted and the door opened. I looked up, a laugh caught in my small throat, and I stopped. The man. He was tall and elegant, with a waistcoat and a pocket-watch on his chest. He had combed back white hair, but his face was void of wrinkles. His was grinning, his white teeth straight and immaculate in his mouth. His manner and stature gave me a shock - the mystery man of Hamilton Way had always been described to me as a madman, a crazy man with wild brown hair and ripped clothes. But the shock faded in an instant. It was his eyes that made me stop.

They twinkled and glimmered, pools of liquid light. It was hard to tell whether they were brown or black, purple or green, in the sunlight. They bounced in his head for a moment, and then caught on mine. He studied my and then beamed. His teeth were white and straight. "Yes! You’re just the person I'm looking for!" His eye sparked and his whole body became alive with energy. "Would you come with me? I'll need your services for a minute, a minute and a half. I'll be quick and then you can go back to your friends."

My mouth dropped open as I stared up at the man. "H-Ho-How...”

"Spit it out! I have things to do, people to see, things to do! I’ve said that, haven’t I? I do that a lot - my brain tends to circle round in a loop. Anyway, get on with it!"

I swallowed and said, "My friends, Sir?"

 "Why, of course! Why would anyone want to come and see a fool like me? I've heard the stories - they're quite entertaining - and the only visitors I get are little boy dared by their friends to laugh and jeer at me. It suits me just fine. Now, are you coming to my room? It'll take two minutes of your time."

I paused. "How much will I be paid, Mister?"

The man cocked his head, his eyes dulled by the mundane question. "Two pounds. An extra one if you would keep your silence about my abode and my manner. The idea of people knowing the true nature of me or my work is abhorrent."

"Two pounds?" My head reeled and a spark of greed grew in my chest. Two pounds! I had never had two pounds before! I was rich!

"Yes, yes. Now, will you join me?"

"Of course, Mister."

The man beamed, his eyes fluctuating and bulging from his slim skull. The pupils fluttered. "Well then, step inside."

I grinned and glanced backwards. I could see my friends head’s popping up from over the wall, their eyes wide and bulbous. I stuck my tongue out at them and grinned. Suckers.

I stepped inside the house. The man followed and shut the door behind him. "I'm Dr Goodwin.”

 “Annabelle, Sir.” I glanced around the hall. It was musty and dark, lit by a single candle that flickered with our steady breaths.  There were a few doors branching out from either side, but the main feature was a long, wooden cabinet that sat against the right wall. It was littered with glittering cogs and dazzling screws, sprockets and gears and glass cases. The orange flame of the candle was reflected in their rivets and dents, their bolts and rivets. The cabinet was covered in them. Hundreds, thousands of metal pieces, waiting to be used. Most of them were covered with a thin layer of dust, and a few had copper splotches round the edges. Rust.

“Right, well, my inventing studio is up here.” Dr Goodwin’s voice broke the eerie silence. It was low and deep, but soothing. I noticed he had secured a small lamp from somewhere, and he was now lighting it. “Hold on, wait...” He struck a match and held it to the wick sticking out of the oil. It caught and he shook out the flame. “This way.” He smiled at me and walking towards the stairs, tapped me on the shoulder. "Stay by me." His eyes glinted and he raised his eyebrows. "There are rooms in here you don't want to see." He winked and with a spring in his step, he marched up the stairs. 

5 comments:

Emily said...

This is very very good! Will there be a part two? ~hopeful face~
Also: "woe betide", not "low betide" :L but I'm sure you knew that already :)

Jess said...

Great story! Hoping for a Part 2...
also, is the main character a girl or a boy? The character said that his/her name is Annabelle, but the inventor refers to him/her as "dear BOY".

Caroline said...

I can't wait for part 2!

Jessica said...

Sorry I don't comment much; I do read this blog, but I usually use my Google Reader to keep track of my followed blogs, and that doesn't let you comment :P

Jessica said...

Although, I'd like to say; I'm surprised you thought that last post was controversial. I might just be desensitized, but I suppose I'd like to believe people are big enough to realize you're no personally insulting them. I make as many biblical references as I make religious ridicules... I think that writing is free expression, and we shouldn't be judged for it :)