Read Lily Marin - three short steampunk stories Online

Authors: Paul Kater

Tags: #steampunk

Lily Marin - three short steampunk stories (4 page)

BOOK: Lily Marin - three short steampunk stories
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Four groups of three police officers were
there. They had positioned themselves cleverly, but Lily caught all
of them. Under the trees she waited until evening was well on its
way. Meanwhile she wondered what would happen. Would the 'angel'
wait for her to show herself? Her unspoken question was answered
very quickly.

Almost soundless, the winged man landed in
front of the large cast-iron gates. He did not seem to have a care
in the world, nor did he look afraid of anything. As he walked
around, Lily saw that the man also wore a backpack. So that was how
he flew, it was not just the wings. It probably got its propulsion
from the two central cylinders that were hooked up to the rigging
on his back.

The police force stayed out of sight.
Showtime, Lily thought as she stepped out into the open.

"Ah. There you are," the winged man said. "We
can do this quickly and relatively painless, or you can try to have
another go at me." The hand with the rubbery glove pointed at her,
as if he could shoot a beam of nastiness at her. It was something
she would have to be aware of, despite her coat.

"I must say you have stamina, showing up
here. Do tell me why you did not die. You're the first one who
survived my mortal touch."

Lily took her rad-gun and aimed it at the
talking 'angel'. "Put down your weapons and your wings. If you
surrender, we can do this quickly and painless."

The man laughed coarsely and brushed his
uncovered hand over his jacket. "How cute. A radiation gun. Come
on, shoot me."

Lily fired, but she half expected that it
would be useless. It was useless. The particle beam simply bounced
away from the man who evidently had activated a deflective field
around himself.

"Again that did not work," the 'angel' stated
as he walked towards Lily. He did something that made his wings
spread out all the way. It looked impressive but it also sounded
like grating mesh metal. These things were mechanical. With an arm
stretched out he walked towards Lily, who seemed mesmerised by his
approach.

As he was only a few steps away from the
Masked Woman, she grabbed her whip. She cracked it, felt it catch,
and yanked. She only got one of his ankles, but that was enough:
the angel stumbled backwards and fell onto his backpack.

The man cursed like a professional, kicked
with his legs and managed to sit up. He grabbed something in his
coat. A moment later a splutter sounded from behind him and he shot
up into the air. The whip was still around his ankle and his sudden
speed ripped its grip from Lily's hand.

Lily did not hesitate for a moment. She
grabbed the tube in her pocket and pressed the ruby button. Her
flightpack hurled her into the air, faster than the angel went. Her
angle was perfect. After speeding upwards, she reached the fake
angel, got hold of one of his wings and succeeded in folding it
double.

Holding on to him, she pulled at the tubes
that fed his backpack. They came off easily. Then she had to let go
of the man, as her own backpack kept pushing her up while he
started downwards again, screaming and waving his arms very
un-angelically.

The Masked Woman released the ruby button,
cutting the flow of energy inside the backpack. She followed the
'angel' downwards and prepared for a rough landing.

They had flown quite far she noticed, as the
ground sped up to greet her. Just before she slammed into the
branches of a tree Lily heard a loud crash from the landing of the
disabled angel. Hanging from a branch, she decided she had gotten
off lucky this time. A tree was much better than a brick building.
She dropped herself to the ground and ran towards the fallen
angel.

The man lay on the ground. The wing that Lily
had not folded was now crumpled because of the fall. Parts of his
flight gear were scattered around, his helmet had gone. He tried to
move away from her, but one of his legs prohibited a fast retreat.
It looked convincingly broken.

Lily looked at him. "Who are you? Where did
you get that gear from? And why do you go around killing people at
random? Or should I ask why you -did-, as I am not going to let you
do it anymore." She pointed at the leg that was in an awkward
angle, even a broken one.

"Don't!" the man yelped. Apparently her mere
pointing already hurt. "Don't!"

"You sound like a broken grammophone," the
Masked Woman remarked. "Not so much a talker as you were before,
are you? Now answer my questions, or I will give you a real reason
to squirm." She put her foot down very close to the broken leg.

"No, stop, wait!" The fallen angel had
located the shrill part of his speech.

Lily repeated her questions and this time the
fallen man was eager to talk. He had helped at a convention of
alchemists and inventors, preparing tables, going around with food
and beverages. "Seeing all these modern things there made me want
them. And one evening when everyone had left, I took a few little
things."

"Like the wings and the flightpack," Lily
guessed. "Little things."

The man did not react to that. "And the
glove."

"Yes. The glove. What is that glove, that you
killed people with it by a touch?" Lily slowly brought her rad-gun
in sight, to convince the man of her sincere interest.

"The glove is amazing," the fallen angel
said, with some fire in his voice. "It has this thin rubber tube
that runs to a small reservoir of poison I wear on my shoulder. And
the glove has these very thin needles that spray the poison on
touching anything."

"Really," Lily said. "And what kind of poison
is in there that works so fast?"

"It is some kind of frog poison," the man
said, his eyes on the rad-gun with more respect than before the
flight and the crash. "Brachotoxin or something."

"Batrachotoxin by chance?" Lily knew her
poisons. Batrachotoxin was the fastest and most lethal frog poison
she knew; it would stop a normal person's heart in seconds. Hardly
surprising it had made her feel so sick.

"Could be, yes," the man nodded. "Are you
going to report me to the police?"

"I should, shouldn't I?" Lily looked the man
over. He was not in a state to make a rapid getaway. She felt a
sudden desire to kick the man's upper arm, to crush the container
with the poison. He deserved to die the same way he killed these
people. "Why did you go about murdering people?"

The man, his face pale from the pain in his
leg, grimassed. "People have treated me badly all my life. This was
my chance to return the favour."

The Masked Woman could not bear hearing more.
She lashed out and rendered the man unconscious. A better fate than
he deserved, she thought. The police would find him here. Lily
would make sure of that.

-=-=-

A few days later, Lily found an interesting
article in the newspaper. The police had located a man with
artificial wings near the cemetery. He had admitted to being the
person that had killed several people and claimed that a flying
woman had taken him down. The article reported that the man was an
'acquaintance' of the police. It also mentioned the fact that he
had helped at a conference for alchemists and inventors.

As Lily read the last paragraph, she almost
dropped the newspaper: "The police have traced back the names of
the inventors whose material has been stolen, and they are kindly
requested to contact the local police in order to retrieve their
belongings. Their names are Doctor Igor Zacharov and Doctor Herman
Drosselmeyer."

Lily and doctor Drosselmeyer

"Miss Marin? How wonderful that you have come
on time." The man in the white coat and ditto hair looked at Lily.
A monoscope seemed to protrude from his forehead, as if he tried to
impersonate a unicorn. The looking device, held in place by a
rubbery band, had been over his left eye too long. The eye still
showed red-rimmed evidence of that.

Lily had been here a few times, and at each
appointment the good doctor had surprised her with new eye-wear.
"Good afternoon, doctor Drosselmeyer," she said. She held back a
remark about his comment; she always was on time. Making such a
remark would not serve any purpose, however. Doctor Drosselmeyer
was impervious to such things.

"Would you please follow me, Miss Marin..."
The doctor went before her into his large office and sat down
behind the sturdy desk. The desk was, as always, littered with
papers, looking devices in many shapes and boxes that contained a
plenitude of the most modern and sophisticated devices.

As usual Doctor Drosselmeyer forgot to offer
Lily a seat, so she picked a chair that looked safe and clean
enough. Meanwhile he picked up a sheet of paper. On it was, Lily
knew, in a meticulous handwriting, a detailed report of the
progress that had been achieved.

Doctor Drosselmeyer was the local leading
expert on throats and voices. Lily knew there had to be even better
ones, but doctor Drosselmeyer was highly spoken of, and also, to
get to him she did not have to travel very far.

"So..." the doctor said, after studying the
paper for a while. He then looked at Lily. "How is your voice, Miss
Marin? Do you notice any improvement at all?"

Lily wanted to be a singer. Her family did
not approve of that. They hoped for her to marry, settle down and
start a decent family, but Lily had rebelled against being married
ever since she had gotten this idea of singing in her head. Her
voice however needed some 'encouragement' to become stronger, more
stable and also to reach the higher notes in the songs Lily
desperately wanted to sing.

"Yes, I do, sir," Lily was pleased to
confirm. "The medication you gave me last time seems to work."

"It was not the medication, Miss Marin," the
man in white lectured, "it was the treatment with the ray-device.
The medication, and I did tell you, was to soothe the effect of
it."

Lily nodded, although she was not sure if she
remembered that particular part. The doctor was rather eccentric at
times and normally it was best to agree with him.

Doctor Drosselmeyer took a device from the
desk. Lily wondered how he was able to find anything in that
assortment of - well - too much. The device consisted of a long
flexible tube with a round brass piece at the end that made it look
like a miniature horn. The other end of the tube was connected to a
small metal splitter from where two thin rubber tubes came. The
doctor put the ends of the two thin tubes in his ears, got up and
held the small horn in front of Lily's mouth.

"Can you please sing the lower range of what
you want to be able to." It was not a question.

Lily suppressed a sigh over such lack of
manners and sang. Had she known he was going to ask this, she would
have warmed up her voice before coming over. Now it would sound all
wrong.

"Very good. Now the middle range.
Please."

Less miffed, Lily sang again, and after that
she sang the highest notes possible for her. This procedure was
repeated for half an hour, until Lily's jaws began to hurt. But her
vocal chords reacted well, and she was feeling better about the
sound of her voice.

"We are indeed improving, Miss Marin." The
doctor sat down again, started to write on the paper and then he
looked in a book with impressive charts. At times he would nod,
mumble and write down a few more things on Lily's paperwork.
"Yes... yes... yes..."

Those were the good words, Lily thought.

"No..."

Not such a good one, perhaps.

"Well, Miss Marin..." He looked at her,
stapling his fingers. "I am quite content with the progress, but I
have a feeling that there is more we can bring out of you. But we
may have to resort to the less common procedures for this." Doctor
Drosselmeyer regarded her, as if he was judging what she would be
worth at a meat market. At least that was how it felt to Lily.

Lily waited as long as she considered polite.
Then she said: "You know, sir, how much I want to sing. If there is
something we can do to improve my voice even more, I would really
like to try it."

The man nodded slowly. He leaned back in his
chair. "You should know, Miss Marin, that the procedure I have in
mind is not one that is very accepted by my more conventional
colleagues in the field."

Lily had suspected so much. "If it works, I
trust you, sir."

Doctor Drosselmeyer smiled. "Very well. I
thank you for this trust, Miss Marin, and you will not regret it.
As a token of my appreciation I shall perform this treatment for
free."

Lily stared at him. This was not what she had
expected. "For free? But..."

The physician raised a hand. "None of that,
Miss Marin, if you can arrange to be here again tomorrow afternoon,
around three o'clock, that would be wonderful."

-=-=-

The next day Lily Marin arrived at the
practice of Doctor Drosselmeyer, at the time they had agreed on.
For some reason it was the doctor himself who answered the door and
let her in.

BOOK: Lily Marin - three short steampunk stories
7.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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