Hidebound Hump Day — #WritingPrompt! The Guardian

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

#GetCaughtReading!  May is Get Caught Reading Month.  Artie is coming back to Jazz Age Wednesdays!

Artie sketch thinking color steampunk
Artie, courtesy of Chris Graham

Get Caught Reading is a nationwide (USA) campaign to promote the fun of reading books for all ages.  Chris Graham, the one and only Story Reading Ape, will be a story telling ape.  We’re getting together again for a short story in support of this initiative.  It will be here next Wednesday.

Now to Hidebound Hump Day

Be warned… I’m just dashing this off quickly.  It is so hard to resist the prompts from Diana Wallace Peach.  Then I read Rob Goldstein’s story (click here), and I simply had to join the fun.

Steampunk black man Brigitte Werner_Pixabay
Brigitte Werner, Pixaby

You’ve probably heard me bemoan my unfinished novel, the second book for the alchemist, Cornelis Drebbel.  It includes one of my favorite “unfinished novel characters,” Jack.  Since the steampunk story is so fitting for Diana’s gorgeous image prompt, Jack hopped into my head.

In my “Cornelis-verse,” the second novel happens in a parallel place where Cornelis crash-lands.  There, Copper is not a little girl, but a quirky young woman.  She grew up with Jack as her only companion.  The vignette inspired by Dianna’s prompt takes place there.

The Guardian

Jackalope Superstition Mountains
Image by Teagan Geneviene

Jack didn’t understand why no one seemed to heed his warnings.  He even created a probability chart when they would not listen.  Being ignored when he presented data agitated him.

“The risk is far too great!” Jack insisted.

“I’m perfectly capable of handling any ack ruffians who try to bother me,” Copper told him in a tone that Jack thought meant disdain.

“We can’t stay here forever, old boy,” the Alchemist added.

“I understood what you both have said,” Jack replied.  “However, a guardian is required.  I propose that you at least hire a guard to protect you.”

The Alchemist chuckled.  Miss Copper gave Jack the long-suffering look that meant she thought he was being what she called a mother hen.

“My grandfather was my guardian after my parents left.  I’ve done just fine without a guardian since he disappeared.”

“Jack, my chuckaboo, we would still have to go into town to hire a guard,” the Alchemist reasoned.

Small Cornelis steampunk man dreamstime_xxl_87472463
Dreamscape.com

Jack admitted Cornelis Drebbel had a point, but it was no less dangerous.  In frustration he hopped into one of the mine cars Miss Copper had automated several years before.

He went up to the surface, and out the hidden door of the mine.  There he checked his weather instruments.  He didn’t really know why, but whenever Jack felt uncertain or conflicted, he monitored the weather.  Tracking the weather readings had been his very first job.  When he worked with the data, an out of balance world seemed more comprehensible.

Jack paused.  He detected a strong atmospheric gravity current in the area below his high observation point.

“A storm,” he muttered, instantly focused on his work.

The air pressure fluctuated.  His aneroid barometer vibrated.  Jack sat back on his haunches and then stretched to look at the device.  It reminded him of the day the Alchemist appeared.

Barograph_Analogue barometer Wikimedia
A stacked analogue recording barograph aneroid barometer

Jack’s first encounter with the Alchemist had altered him.  He became more than a clockwork jackalope.  He had fur and a bunny shape.  His antennae took the appearance of antelope horns.

The gears in his head whirred as Jack remembered that day.  Then they suddenly stopped, clicked into place.

Jack jumped back into the mine car, and went to the store room where Miss Copper kept her projects and inventions.  She was becoming as skilled as the Inventor, her grandfather.

Miss Copper didn’t like Jack to catalogue her projects.  However, she didn’t specifically forbid it, so he made an inventory when she was otherwise occupied.

“As long as she hasn’t moved anything, that one should be back here,” he muttered as he hopped to the back of the long storage room.

It was too big for Jack to move.  Carefully he hopped from shelf to shelf so he could reach the switch at the back of the thing’s head.

Gears hummed.  A tall clockwork man stiffly moved away from the wall.  It took a few steps.  However, with a screech of metal parts, it stopped.

Jack stopped too, when he heard Miss Copper behind him, clearing her throat.

Copper crop 1
Copper, Dreamstime

“Jackalope, what are you doing?” she asked in a too calm voice.

Jack’s horn shaped antennae twisted and tilted as he considered how to respond before turning.

“Oh, what have we here?” the Alchemist chortled.  “Were you making yourself a friend, Copper?  My, he’s a big one!”

Copper swatted Cornelis Drebbel, and the Alchemist popped away from her.  An instant later he appeared across the room, beside Jack.

Jack held out a vial of glowing purple goo.

“Alchemist, you can finish this clockwork creature.  I kept this sample from the pool that was created the night you gave me life,” Jack said.  “Then he would be able to protect Miss Copper and you if you insist on leaving the mountain.”

Copper’s face relaxed.  She looked at Jack in the soft way that made him feel balanced.

“Dear boy,” the Alchemist began then cleared his throat.  “Your transformation… well, you see, it was a side-effect of uncontrollable events.”

“Do you mean I was an accident?” Jack asked, causing Cornelis to blush.

“Well accents happen no matter how careful a parent might be,” Cornelis murmured as if to himself and smirked.  “Plus, there’s that mysterious device in your chest.  Copper won’t let me take it apart so I can unravel how it works.”

Cogs and gears made soft sounds.  Jack’s antennae twisted so that one pointed to Copper and the other to Cornelis.

“He means the heart my grandfather made,” Copper told him.  “Before the things that happened that night, the heart already made you more than an ordinary clockwork creature.  We don’t have another one.”

heart-red blue Pixaby
Pixaby

“Then you should remove the heart and use it in this one,” Jack declared, pointing to the huge clockwork man.  “I’m not big enough to provide adequate protection.”

“No!” Copper exclaimed.

“I’m afraid it wouldn’t work out the same way,” the Alchemist told him.  “I wouldn’t really dismantle you.  Besides, Copper and I would have a huge collie shangle if I tried.”

Jack was assailed by an over-abundance of what he termed emotional data.  He struggled to process so much at once.  Mutely he again moved the vial of glowing goo toward the Alchemist.

“Well, I suppose we could try,” Cornelis Drebbel muttered.

The Alchemist found a bit of chalk and drew a circle around the clockwork man.  He added various symbols.  Jack only recognized a few of them.  As he drew, Cornelis murmured in a language that Jack thought was a combination of Latin and an archaic West Germanic language.

The symbols and the Alchemist took on a green glow.  Cornelis poured the purple contents of the vile along the circle.

Nothing happened.

The Alchemist looked crestfallen.

Abruptly, blinding light filled the storage room.  When the light subsided, Jack saw the clockwork creature had changed.

“It wasn’t enough,” the Alchemist muttered.

When Jack was transformed, he was completely covered with flesh and fur and became sentient.  However, the clockwork man had random patches of exposed metal and machinery.  As Jack looked into his eyes, they seemed… unfinished.

“I don’t think he’s fully processed,” Jack commented.  “Perhaps it will take some time.

The clockwork man turned to Copper.  He dropped to one knee.

Steampunk black man Brigitte Werner_Pixabay
Brigitte Werner, Pixaby

Haec protegimus,” he said in a rusty sounding voice.

“Blast it all, Cornelis Drebbel!  Why did you have to use Latin in that spell,” Copper complained.

“It means this we guard,” the Alchemist explained in a voice that combined awe and self-satisfaction.

“The Guardian!” Jack exclaimed in delight.

The end.

This story was written for Diana Peach’s monthly write photo prompt. You can play along  at her May Speculative Fiction #Writingprompt.

If you haven’t been part of my new serial, Brother Love here are links to the first two episodes.  Chapter 3 will go live on Saturday at midnight Eastern.  I’ll meet you at the crossroads!

Chapter 1.   Chapter 2.

T

***

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 


96 thoughts on “Hidebound Hump Day — #WritingPrompt! The Guardian

        1. I’ve had some setbacks that have slowed me down as far as settling in, and beginning to heal my agoraphobia. Even so, I do love my cottage and my little city.
          The “high desert” (desert, but 4000 ft. elevation, so greenery and 3 3/4th seasons, if not exactly 4, LOL) summer is in swing now, so quite hot. But I still love it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It takes a lot of watering to keep your garden green, I guess. Four seasons sounds much better than one ( like here in Ireland). Glad you love your new home. Hope you venture to the desert soon and see some wildlife. I love desert.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, I’m just not wired right. The setup and characters (except for the clockwork man) were already in my head from the unfinished novel. I really worried this wouldn’t make sense, since I just plopped it into a story that many people wouldn’t recognize.
      Heartfelt thanks for reading. I’m delighted you enjoy it. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The clock work is an ingenious idea – I skimmed – a bad habit left from my studies, where there were so many deadlines, an I still wanted to be somewhat of a mom. Am glad I saw your profile in Dan’s comment. because I wanted to find on what was going on last week on your blog.
    As comfortable as I am with painting, I’m very new at writing – in the phase of changing a chapter ten times! I don’t know if I’ll ever finish, but they tell me, Create at Amazon is a good place to self-publish. Do you agree, or am I overlooking other possibilities?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome, June. (Is it June? Junie?)
      The ongoing advice about self-publishing is to have a blog in support of yout book(s).
      I didn’t want to just talk about my books all the time. So my blogging “shtick” is partly writing serial stories. Now my Saturday posts are the new serial I’m writing, with Dan illustrating with his photos, and giving me random “thing” prompts that I let drive the spontaneously written serial.
      Yes, I use Amazon to self-publish. And yes, there are other places where you can self publish. However, my time was limited, and Amazon had the greatest reach, so that’s what I use. I didn’t do much investigating of the other places.
      One word of advice, be very leery of any publisher who approaches you, if you have to pay them. Many outfits are simply thinly disguised “vanity press” operations.
      Thanks for visiting. Hugs!

      Like

      1. Thanks for the advice and th warning, Teagan:) Actually it’s Jesh – to differentiate in the beginning, because I was on two blogs at the same time (pfff – too much work). Years ago I actually started blogging to record and talk about my paintings, but discovered this focus was too narrow. Not many are enough interested in arts, except for other artists.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love reading The Skull of the Alchemist, Teagan, and the interaction of the characters. The unfinished man idea is great and leave so much further development. This story plays so well in response to Diana’s prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I saw the comments, Teagan. I’m so happy for the overwhelming responses. It’s a great indicator of strong and interesting characters you want to keep. Terrific job, look forward to Chapter 3. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s music to my ears, Rob. I think you would like the part of the (unfinished) novel where Jack “comes to life.”
      Now all the “Cornelis-verse” needs is a 1600’s Chinese pirate who’s rather like Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. LOL.
      Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brad, it’s so nice to see you. Oh, I blush. ^^’ Thank you. And here, I really didn’t think anyone would even like it. I had not considered this kind of character (clockwork man OR a guard) for that unfinished novel. But that was what came to me when I sat looking at the prompt, demanding a “new” story from my brain. Maybe he needs to stick around after all. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly, Judi. I really do want people to have fun with my stories. I want to give them a safe and happy place to go.
      Chris and I will be here next Wednesday with our Get Caught Reading story.
      Hugs on the wing!

      Like

  3. This is lovely, Teagan. What a great story and so easy to jump in and get one’s bearings. I’m so used to cliff-hangers that this happy ending was a delightful change. I’m glad the goo worked! Thanks for playing along, my friend. I’m honored, and can’t wait to share. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so kind, Diana. Heartfelt thanks.
      Maybe it’s just a statement of the times, that so many imagine darker things.
      The thing I don’t understand is why have I gone to a work in progress for every prompt? (Rather than making the prompt into its own story.) Maybe I’m low on creative juice. Or maybe (I’d rather think) part of my mind wants to stick to the things that are already started — and hopefully finish one! LOL.
      Thank you again for doing these prompts. I realize it’s a huge amount of work for you.
      Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not a huge amount of work and great fun. I completely understand why you stay in one of your universes, Teagan. It makes sense with the depth and breadth of your imagination. Can you imagine opening up another one? Yikes. Ha ha. Thanks again for taking up the prompt. A wonderful read. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, DeBorah. Now that you’ve put that magnificent voice in my head, I might have to keep the Guardian character when I finish “The Skull of the Alchemist.”

      No pun intended, but the thought “fleshed out” the character in my mind. 🙂 Thanks for visiting. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am so new to your writing Teagan, but I’m so happy to have become a follower. I didn’t know what I was missing! (Story of my life!!) I LOVE Jack….all these characters. Somehow you create imaginative characters that have human qualities….and it works!!

    Happy Hump Day. This story made my day much brighter. Thank you.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ginger, it’s wonderful to see you. Honestly, you made my day. I wasn’t sure if I should post this with so little background on the Jack character or the over all story-line. When I was working on this novel, I did several posts about it, but that was too long ago for anyone to remember, let alone new readers. You have reassured and inspired me. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

  5. This is a wonderful story, Teagan. I love these particular characters, and it’s so cool to see them in another setting. Copper, all grown up, is a hoot. And that “long-suffering look” she gave Jack, yeah, I know that look.

    Have a great Wednesday. Thanks for helping me over the hump.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Dan. That means a lot to me.
      Ha! I imagine you do know that look quite well. 😀
      Copper and Jack have a unique relationship. She created him, but he feels a rather parental responsibility to her. Have a great rest of the week. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Olga. I’m honored that you still remember Jack from the parts I shared years ago.
      Thanks about the serial. Dan and I batted around some ideas via email yesterday. He is a generous sounding board for me.
      My pleasure about Rob’s story — it blew me away. Hugs!

      Like

    1. Dear Adele, I think that is the loveliest thing anyone has said to me. Thank you so much. I believe you would love Jack even more if you could read about his creation in the (unfinished) book. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

    1. Did you really like it, Robbie? Thank you. I seem to be relating all of Diana’s prompts to my existing “worlds” rather that creating something new. I don’t really mean to… I guess I need more energy to do that. LOL. Thanks so much for visiting. Hugs on the wing.

      Like

    1. Haha! You are so kind, Dyanna. If I can manage without having to get a 40 hour a week job, now that I’ve moved… still so much to do to the house and get settled in, even after a month. But I’m only one person. Anyhow, my hope was to finish one of my several unfinished novels. I still don’t know whether it will be The Guitar Mancer, or this one, The Skull of the Alchemist. Meanwhile the big bad “Shoulds” in my brain say that I should go for one I haven’t even started — the third book of the Atonement series. Sigh… so many stories to tell — so little time.

      Liked by 1 person

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