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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Flash Fiction Based On Photo

Photo by Peter Morrow Photography, used with permission (2012)

This weird fellow I kinda' know decided to challenge me to an interesting write-off: he would send me a photo he took, and I had to write a story based on that photo. Well, here it is in all its short-short messy glory (and yes, I'm still on a Steampunk kick, and have I mentioned that short stories are not my strong point?). As always be warned that there's a bunch of cursing.


"I've gotta' find my fuckin' hat first ," Rowe said gesturing to his head. "Can't go into the shit storm without it. It's my good luck charm. The only time I've gotten shot is when it fell off."

Harrison felt the sudden urge to jerk the Navigator wheel hard to the right, making the airship jerk toward the ground in a violent spiral. Instead, he smoothed the lapels of his jacket, breathed in once, and fought the urge to send them spiraling to their deaths. Rowe was useful for one reason, and one reason only. Information. Never mind that he nattered on while slinging obscenities back and forth.

Rowe tapped the side of his head with his newfangled pistol. "I mean, last time I got shot it was in my arse, but I wasn't wearing my bowler and so—"

"Mr. Rowe if you please," Harrison interrupted the inane tirade. "Please stay focused on the job at hand."

Rowe narrowed his eyes and shrugged. "Hey, it's you who wants to steal the Automaton in such a hurry. I can wait. I ain't gotta' stick to your timeline."

Harrison's hands tightened on the Navigator wheel, and he let his eyes roam to the calming blue sky around them, broken by steel-gray clouds ready to drop their moisture on the coal-dust laden air of London in the far distance. If he squinted he could just make out the shoreline of England. He counted to five, keeping his anger in check. Better that the despicable wretch not see steam boiling out of Harrison's ears.

Rowe aimed the pistol at Harrison. "Or you can just give me my money now."

"The other half after we touch down." Harrison ignored the pistol. "Shoot me and you get nothing."

Rowe's lips curled in a wide grin. "Half ain't as much as I'll get for sellin' the Automaton. I just needed some poor sap to get me there. And you know what?" He gestured with the pistol to the gas-filled balloon above them. "I think it's time to land, eh, Doctor Harrison?"

Harrison's grip on the wheel tightened until he heard the grind of metal. "First, how did you find the Automaton?"

Rowe's lips flecked with spittle as he laughed. "You think the Queen could hide it forever? After they paraded it around the countryside? I know old Vicky is big on new technology for the Empire, but when so many inventions pop up from the greatest fuckin' analytical mind in the world, you gotta' wonder why she stopped showin' him off. "

Harrison took a step toward him at his manner in referring to Queen Victoria as 'Vicky.' His foot fell heavy on the wooden deck of the airship. "And?"

"The Automaton has the smallest and most powerful analytical machine in his head," Rowe said. "It don't take a mastermind to think that the Automaton is the one creatin' all these new things. This fucking airship, my pistol, all those machines replacing people in factory lines. Queen Vicky's stashed it somewhere good."

"Indeed," Harrison drawled. "Some say the Automaton is the key to our future. To inventions unseen, to war, to biological life itself."

"And when I steal it from where she's hiding him in Big Ben," Rowe said as the deck pitched with a gust of wind, "I'll take it apart and sell it to the Americans. They love this shit. Got a high bidder there."

Harrison simply nodded, having had enough. Biologics always spoke more when they thought they had the upper hand. He steadied the wheel and set the mechanical hand 'autopilot' to steer the great ship on its course in the middle of the Atlantic. He stomped toward the pestilent little snitch with a confident stride.

"Tell me," Harrison growled, "who else is looking for the Automaton?"

"Stop right there, Doc, or I'll put a couple rounds in your face." Rowe stumbled as the airship began its slow turn, the deck pitching to starboard.  

Harrison didn't try to hide is anger any longer. "I didn't know when I created my automatic pistol that the likes of you would wind up with one. I was told it would be distributed to Army personnel only to serve the Empire."

Rowe's brows lowered in confusion. "What the fuck?"

Harrison moved with a speed unmatched by any human, and just as Rowe got off a shot, he grasped the man's wrist with a violent jerk. Bones snapped. Red fluid pooled on the deck, though not from Rowe. The man howled like a braying nag of a cart horse, and Harrison simply picked up the pistol.

"This," and Harrison gestured to his appearance, "is false biologic skin. It even has a false blood trail going through it. Hence the red liquid."

Rowe's eyes widened. "Y-You..."

"Ah, yes." Harrison nodded with a mocking half bow. "I don't go by the name of Automaton any longer, I'm afraid. It causes a spot of trouble, what with people wanting to take me apart for money."

Rowe gibbered, but nothing coherent made it out.

Harrison aimed his invention at the thief's head. "Now Mr. Rowe..."

The man stumbled away from the gear-grinding sound of Harrison's footsteps.

"You, Mr. Rowe get to decide: are you going to jump overboard into the ocean? Or am I doing the merciful thing and using my new weapon?"

In the end, the thieves always chose the same option.

The roar of the pistol sounded as the biological man leapt into midair.

"You were right about the hat," Harrison muttered.



At September 2, 2012 at 10:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since you started the cursing: Fucking brilliant! I enjoyed the twist.

At September 3, 2012 at 11:02 PM , Blogger Morrow said...



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