Read Lily Marin - three short steampunk stories Online

Authors: Paul Kater

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Lily Marin - three short steampunk stories (3 page)

BOOK: Lily Marin - three short steampunk stories
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"We'll be waiting for you in front of the
stage, Miss Marin," the leader of the band said.

-=-=-

Lily enjoyed singing in the dance hall. As
she saw all the people revolving over the floor in front of her, it
made her feel good to be there, to be part of their joy, and the
musical band was fantastic. The difference with what she did in the
evenings was enormous, so Lily had made it a point to get as much
from these singing sessions as she could.

At one point she caught Selma's eye, who
stood next to a young man. Selma was waving at Lily and tried to
direct her attention to the young man, but Lily ignored these
attempts and left the stage after finishing her last song before
the break. She needed a drink of water. Behind the stage, almost as
usual, there was a table with a glass , a caraffe and a chair. Lily
sat down and sipped from the glass.

A sudden upheaval in the hall made her walk
back in to see what was going on. After a while, as people were all
talking at once, Lily managed to learn that there had been another
attack by the man that Selma had told her about. And again there
were mentions of the person being able to fly, 'like an angel'.

"The police are taking it serious now,"
someone said, "they'll have him in cuffs in no time."

Several others disagreed, as the police
probably was no match for a flying person. "I want to see them go
after him with a dirigible."

Lily silently agreed. Her flying pack had
helped her get away from the police more than once.

The peaceful and jolly atmosphere had left
the dance hall as this news came in. Lily sang the rest of her
songs, but the dance floor remained frighteningly empty as most
people were talking about this latest attack. As she was taking off
her make-up, Jonathan asked to speak with her. He handed her an
envelope with her earnings.

"I am truly sorry that the afternoon went
like this, Lily. Someone should learn to keep news like that
outside our doors. I do thank you for your singing and I would
gladly call on you again, next time."

Lily said that she was looking forward to his
call. Soon after that, she was on her way home. This time she
walked, as she was curious about what rumoured in the street about
this strange flying person.

The rumour mill was churning, as she found
out soon, but the amount of rumours was enormous, and not many of
them agreed with each other. The only thing she was fairly sure of
was that both attacks had been in the same part of town, if one
could consider an area of five square miles a part.

That evening Lily dressed up and the Masked
Woman went out. Her special boots with the extendable legs quickly
took her to the area where the last attack had been, and from there
she went patroling until deep in the night and she was certain that
nothing would happen. Not there.

The next day was a quiet one, and she used
that to look after her equipment. The glass that covered one of the
small gauges on her flight backpack had cracked, so she took that
to master Wilfred Bond, who was one of the few people who knew
about it, and who took care of it for her. He mounted a new glass
for her, and now the backpack was perfect again.

That evening Lily was outside again. She had
selected an area that might be the logical next place after
pinpointing the previous two spots on a map. It was a big gamble,
she knew, but if this flying person really existed, he had to be
stopped. Lily was very much against the killing of innocent
people.

As the Masked Woman she went through the
streets, waiting and watching, but nothing happened. Not there. The
newspaper that the neighbour brought her the next morning (she and
he shared the costs of the paper) told her that this time there had
been an official sighting of the flying person. According to the
article it was most definitely a man, and he had struck two people
down. One of them had died on the spot, the situation of the other
person was described as 'critical'.

In the afternoon Lily still pondered the case
of the 'angel' as she was preparing for some singing. She stared at
her rad-gun and her purse. That would never work. The folding
umbrella with the rapier however would not be a proper tool against
that flying creature, so the singer repacked her things into the
large bag, stuffed the rad-gun in there and then went on her
way.

As she reached the restaurant where she was
going to sing at a dinner and dance, she noticed a young man
standing outside. He stood still as a statue and looked as if he
was in deep thought, or waiting for someone. Somehow he looked
familiar to Lily. As she was about to enter the restaurant, the
young man suddenly sprung to life.

"Miss Marin?"

"Yes? Oh, it's you. From Selma." Lily knew
she sounded like an idiot. She never did well communicating with
strangers who suddenly addressed her.

"Yes. No. I mean, yes," the young man
blundered along just as much. "I saw you at the dance hall a few
days ago. With Selma. I mean, I was with Selma, not you. Although I
was not with Selma, of course. She's married." His face turned red
as he got lost in his words. It made Lily laugh.

"I know what you mean, Mr.?"

"Oh, I'm sorry," the young man said as he
grabbed his cap from his head. "Billy Masterson, but my friends
call me William. No. They call me Billy. I'm William."

His face could not get worse, Lily suspected.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Masterson. Will you be joining the dinner
and dance this evening?" She hoped she could cut this conversation
short, as the large bag was getting heavy now.

"I doubt that, Miss Marin," William, Billy
for friends, said, "I am not that good a dancer. And I will have
dinner at my uncle's." He fumbled with his cap and showed expertise
with that: whatever twitching he did, he did not drop it.

"Well, give my regards to your uncle then,
Mr. Masterson," Lily said with what she hoped would be a deterring
smile. As she walked on, into the restaurant, she heard Billy's
surprised voice asking if she knew his uncle. She did not bother to
turn and set him straight.

After 'some singing', Lily packed up her
belongings, received her fee for the evening (which was amazingly
generous), and wondered if she would find Billy Masterson waiting
outside. Apparently he was still at his uncle's, though. Lily's
curious side wondered why he would be eating there and decided to
ask Selma about him some day.

Her Masked Woman side urged her to go home
and get ready for action. The Masked Woman won, the way she always
did. On the way home she caught a snippet of a conversation where
someone vowed that the 'angel' had killed someone by simply
touching the man's head. The speaker unfortunately just went into a
house, so Lily could not hear more.

Lily came home, unpacked the large bag and
put the rad-gun to the side. After getting in her black leather
pants, a dark blue shirt and the leather vest, she put on her tool
belt, slipped the rad-gun in the holster and tied up her long dark
hair. Then she took her long coat, the one with the micro-fiber
reinforcement. After making sure the mask was in the proper pocket,
she slipped the coat on.

Her keen sense of hearing, something that had
also been boosted by the accident in Dr. Drosselmeyer's laboratory,
told her that the street was quiet. She slipped outside and walked
off. The Masked Woman was not sure where she should go, but
everything was better than staying at home while such a dangerous
creature was around, murdering people. With a touch. That sounded
strange perhaps, but Lily was painfully aware how different she was
from regular people. Who knew what had happened to this
'angel'?

Lily had been walking around for a while when
suddenly there was an awkward sound overhead. It was not uncommon
that inventors were experimenting with new kinds of air
transportation, or the occasional airship that came over, but - not
in the dark! As she lifted her head, she put on her mask and
flipped the light-enhancing lenses over her eyes. Lily could not
believe what she saw.

A man with large wings was flying through the
air, over the trees. Behind the airborne shape she saw a double
trail of what had to be a gas or some other propellant. That had to
be him.

The Masked Woman brought her rad-gun in
position and fired a shot at him. Silently the ray of radiation
particles stormed skyward, at the flying man who now passed right
over her head. She could not miss - but did, to her surprise. The
stream of the rad-gun was deflected, a few feet before it should
have hit the man in the chest. Her aim had been flawless. Her
firing at him did have the desired effect in a way though: he came
down.

The few people who were still in the street
at this hour stared at Lily, as whispers went from one to the
other. Most of them had heard of the Masked Woman, and now they saw
her in action. Nobody dared to do something, either for or against
her, as everyone had seen her shoot. Big rad-guns made people very
respectful and wanting to keep a safe distance.

The woman in the long coat hardly registered
the people as the man with the wings landed in the street. He
looked breathtaking. Stunning. He wore a gold coloured helmet that
covered his face, it had a slit for his eyes. He had a complicated
rigging over his chest. But the most impressive about him were the
two enormous wings that seemed to protrude from his lower back.
They looked metallic, but in the darkness, even with the help of
the light enhancing lenses, Lily could not be certain. Their span
was roughly twelve feet, and truth be told, it did make him look
like an angel, were it not for the helmet.

The man slowly walked up to her. "You took a
shot at me." His voice was muffled by his headwear.

"I did. And I could not have missed you,"
said Lily as she raised the gun and pointed it at him. "How did you
do that?"

"Look at me. Woman." The last word carried a
mild form of disgust. "I am an angel. You cannot kill me. I can
kill you however." With unexpected swiftness he stepped forward and
touched Lily's cheek. Before the nausea hit her, she noticed he
wore some kind of rubber glove..

The world spun around her for a while and she
almost collapsed. By the time she had recovered, the flying man had
disappeared. Most of the people were still where they had been
before the angel had landed, but none of them made a move to help
her. As usual. Her cheek, the one the 'angel' had touched, burnt as
if it was on fire.

"Where did he go?" Lily asked someone as she
had gotten herself upright again. She was swaying on her feet, but
despite that nobody dared approach her. As soon as her eyes obeyed
her nerves again, Lily understood why: there were two people lying
in the street, in a very uncomfortable position. She understood
that the 'angel' had not only touched her, but also these two
unfortunate ones. Her stomach tightened as she felt responsible for
the death of them. Why had they not run away?

"He said that he would be in front of the
cemetery tomorrow evening," someone called out from behind her.

As Lily looked over to where the voice had
come from, the people shrunk back as if her gaze from behind the
mask was as lethal as the angel's touch. "He killed them, didn't
he?"

A few heads nodded. A few others turned as
the sound of a police wagon announced its approach.

The Masked Woman decided that there were
enough witnesses here. If she remained at the crime scene, the
police would want to question her, and see her face. And that was
clashing with her intentions. "I have to go," she announced. "I am
very sorry that these people died." She kicked her heels together,
and on extended legs she quickly disappeared into a dark alley.

-=-=-

At home, Lily fell on her bed and cried. The
image of the two bodies in the street seemed burnt onto her mind,
and she was to blame for their deaths. Had she not taken a shot at
the 'angel', he would have flown, but they would still live. She
hated herself, her life and how she was. She also hated Doctor
Drosselmeyer who had put her in this situation, who had turned her
into the abomination she now was.

Lily cried and sobbed until she ran out of
tears. By then she was so exhausted that she fell in a deep,
colourless sleep.

She woke up with a sore throat and crumpled
clothes. As she remembered what had happened, she wished for sleep
to come back and never leave again. Sleep however did not hear her
so she got up, washed her face and spent the day preparing for the
coming evening. She would go to the cemetery and face the false
angel. There was no question that the police would be there;
doubtlessly the people in the street had told the officers what the
man had said.

A few hours before she wanted to leave, Lily
treated her face with coconut cream. It would make her cheeks
somewhat rigid, but she had discovered that this cream made her
skin almost as impenetrable as the microfiber coat. Whatever it was
that the man had done to her face last night, it would not work
this time.

Fully dressed for action, her backpack where
it felt best, she left her house through the rear door, because it
was still too light to go out directly into the street. The Masked
Woman should not be seen leaving the house of the singer Lily
Marin. In two steps she crossed her tiny weed garden, stepped over
the low fence and disappeared among the sheds and bushes that
flanked the narrow path that ran along the back of the houses.

Lily was on extended legs as she reached the
street, and as fast as she could she made her way to the cemetery.
Good thing there was only one around town, otherwise this would be
a gamble. One mile from the place she retracted her long legs.
Being careful was important now, no one would tell her if the
police had already taken position. As she walked along, keeping
under the cover of the trees, she put on her mask and flipped the
magnifying lens over her right eye...

BOOK: Lily Marin - three short steampunk stories
6.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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