Hidebound Hump Day — Fiona Fights Back

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Fiona Finch Thief costume full length

Fiona Finch as imagined by Rob Goldstein

Rob and I are together again!

Last year I was kicking around a serial idea with Rob Goldstein,  Who did the beautiful illustrations for Hullaba Lulu.  I envisioned a steampunk satire of The Scarlet Pimpernel.  My heroine is Fiona Finch, the Pink Pimpernel.  Her story is one of foppish frivolity, sarcasm, and a load of alliteration.  She’s a cutie with curls and dresses all and only in pink.  Secretly she’s still all pink, but she’s also so much more, just as was the Scarlet Pimpernel, but with steampunk gadgets galore — and still more pink.  Now you know Fiona.  That’s part of the background for this bit of nonsense. 

Recently, Staci Troilo was saying how life could be too bizarre for fiction.  I hope her trip to Bizarro World wasn’t as bad as mine — but she’s right.  Staci had the common sense to keep her personal strangeness out of her stories. Me on the other hand, I have about as much common sense as Lulu. 

Burgers Lulu Recline

Lulu in the train’s automat… with cheeseburgers that were used as cash

I swear I’m getting to the point. Bear with me.

I’ve had my own Bizarro World with an unbelievable comic book villain, Creepy Crying Guy, across the street. When I said “No,” he stood on my porch bawling. I’ll save you descriptions of his admission of trying to manipulate me and the disgusting leer that accompanied those words before he went back to bawling half a second later.  Oh, sorry… I guess I told you after all.  Yes, yes, I’m getting to the point.

Well thank heavens for good friends who could make me laugh about it.  This vignette was inspired by whimsical remarks from Renita and Rob.  Renita remarked that in her experience old ladies with machetes are enough to scare anybody.  Then Rob took her joke a step farther…  So I made characters from the Fiona-verse into alter egos for Rob and me.  Now, to the “point.”

Fiona Fights Back

The Pink Pimpernel Sees Red

Fiona Finch Test Shot 1

Fiona Finch as imagined by Rob Goldstein

A hansom cab clattered down a lane in Victorian Era San Francisco.  Fiona Finch sat in the light of her window.  The noise distracted her.  The pink ruffled sleeve of her gown fell against the machete as she fingered the hilt.  She went back to her task, intently turning the pages of Darwin’s The Origin of the Species.

“He’s not in here,” Fiona grumbled.

Straight black hair fell to cover his face as a man in black tailed tuxedo placed the tea tray on the table beside the single pink lace glove.  He silently raised an eyebrow, as any attentive butler might.

The “butler” was Fiona’s adopted brother, Steele.  However, he was no servant.  He simply enjoyed wearing the costume and the excuse it gave him to make snide remarks.  He also seemed to think buttling allowed him to boss her around.  A fact of which he openly reminded Fiona whenever she complained that he shouldn’t act like a butler.

“Really, Steele, don’t be such a prude.  Wearing gloves inside, in the summer, with no guests in the house?  Why no matter how darling they are, it’s absurd.  Besides, I couldn’t turn the pages,” Fiona defended.

Fiona picked up the teacup with her delicately gloved hand and used the silver spoon to stir it with the brazenly bare hand.

Steele, by Rob Goldstein

Steele, by Rob Goldstein

“I told you that I would thrash him the next time he comes to the door,” Steele reminded his sister.

“I don’t want you to batty-fang anyone, Steele.  Imagine the trouble that thrashing could cause.  Besides, he only comes when you are away.  Plus, he stands there blubbering like a baby when I reject him.  He’s sure to use that trick if the police inspectors come, and he’d make you the villain,” Fiona added, returning to Darwin’s controversial tome.

“I suppose your souvenir from our voyage to Madrid would cause less of a collie shangle?  I believe his species is human.  I doubt you’ll find anything useful in that book,” Steele told her.  “Although I do have an idea.”

She glanced at the ghoul who watched her from his own window on the other side of the street.

scary Joker face in window_Pasja Pixabay

Pasja at Pixaby

“What good does leering from his window do him?  Is he hoping for a glimpse of my cupid’s kettledrums?” Fiona complained.

Damfino,” Steele replied.

Steele picked up the crystal pot of red currant jam and moved toward the parlor door.

“What, pray tell, are you doing brother dear?” Fiona queried.  “Where are you going with the jam?  I wasn’t finished!”

A moment later Steele returned, carrying a long white nightgown.  It was covered with the crimson contents of the jam jar.

“At least you didn’t ruin my pink nightdress,” Fiona muttered.  “What are you on about now?”

“I know you favor pink, but white is so much more dramatic,” Steele began.  “Maybe our neighbor’s diligence in watching you should be rewarded with a good look at you in your nightie.”

“What?  Don’t be absurd!” Fiona replied aghast.

“Red currant jam, red as blood and running down the front of this prim white gown.  Imagine the ghoul’s face if you answered wearing this, and holding the machete!” Steele explained with a purely wicked grin.

The Machete_Fiona-Teagan 0

Fiona pranking the creep, as imagined by Rob Goldstein

“I’ve been waiting for you…” 

The end.

***

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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 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Images Copyright © 2019 and 2018 by Rob Goldstein

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.

 

An Extra (Special) Story — Trina Woke from a Dream

May 16, 2019  

Usually I only post twice a week, but this is a special occasion.  Recently, Rob Goldstein and I were sending emails back and forth, basically goofing around.  I sent him an image by artist Michael Whelan and and added a whimsical line.  And then another, and another.  Suddenly Rob said, “Let’s make this into a story.” 

One of the images I showed Rob is called Integral Trees.  You can see it by clicking this link to Mr. Whelan’s work.  The other paintings were Rimrunner (2011) and Erosion (1999).  You can search the website with those names to view them.

Rob created a special image for our story.  Since it began with his character, Trina, the story is in what I call his poetic format. 

Trina Woke from a Dream

Trina and the Moths-4

Trina with Madison and moths, by Rob Goldstein

The Shadow Boy was on his way to visit while she languished above
a labyrinth of verdant shrubs.

He saw a blond child levitating outside the window of the monorail. 

Shadow Boy was intrigued.

Was the blond child looking for his shadow?  Could he catch it with his arrow?

The Shadow Boy examined the boy for clues.

The “boy” had pixie ears and breasts.

This wasn’t his boy.

Trina waved at the Shadow Boy and motioned for him to join her.
The boy hesitated. Trina wondered why.  Perhaps because the sun was going down.

The Shadow Boy shouldn’t be afraid of the dark.  Besides there’s a streetlight. 

Trina close

Trina looked so lovely, I wanted you to see this close up of her.

She decided it made no difference.  She still had Madison, but wait, where had
Madison got to?

She was chasing a few moths drawn to streetlight.

Madison chasing moths? This was out of character.

“What’s wrong with you?” asked Trina.

“Nothing!” Madison scowled.

“You’re chasing moths.”

“They’re chasing me.  Look at these holes!”

It was true; Madison was full of holes.

The end.

***

Please visit Rob and his post of this story.  (Like many other bloggers, we are having issues with the “reblog button.”)  Trina Woke from a Dream.

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

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USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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USA:  Atonement in Bloom

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USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

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USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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 Rob Goldstein and Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Images copyright ©  2019 by Rob Goldstein

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.

 

Brother Love 2 — A Shadow

Saturday, May 4, 2019

There are many things on my mind that I want to share with you today.  If I had known about the most recent one before yesterday, I would have done a midweek post.  First let me welcome you…

Country kitchen 3 windows_Mariamichelle_vermont-Pixabay

Maria Michelle, Pixabay

Welcome to my sanctuary.  Pull up a chair.  The sanctuary may be found in a quirky Tennessee town called Atonement.  It might be at a diesel-punk train station with an outrageous flapper named Lulu.  Or it could even be found at a steampunk submarine port, with an alchemist named Cornelis.  For now, my sanctuary has moved to a crossroads in a rural Mississippi town sometime in the late 1950s to early 1960s.  So, I also welcome you to the crossroads.

Yes, my blog is my sanctuary — a place where I can feel safe from the world.  It’s a place for me to share stories with friends (old and new).  It’s also a place where I can promote and lift up others.  That’s why I love making serials “interactive” by using things from readers.

That said, I freely admit to being a blog-tater.  I wouldn’t come into your house and be less than hospitable to you.  So, behave accordingly.  Bullying in any form, including passive-aggressive behavior gets deleted. 

Skull of the Alchemist Cover 1

Now the new thing on my mind… Here it goes again — that Creative One-Mind thing!

At the end of the post concluding my Cornelis Drebbel serial, I talked about how utterly undermined I was (in 2015) because I had all the details of a novel outlined (in-depth too, not pantsering). Then I saw a movie with all those same details.  Something similar happened with the new serial here — Brother Love.  Guess what I just found on Netflix… 

I haven’t had time to watch the show on Netflix, but there’s also this article about it.   At least it’s not as bad as the thing with The Skull of the Alchemist, but still I no longer look original… I just look like an unimaginative copycat.  It’s frustrating. 

Onward to the reason we are here.  Let’s get back to my crossroads!

No Facilities blog header photo by Dan Antion

No Facilities blog photo by Dan Antion

This is my new spontaneously written, pantser story, done in my “Three Things” way of writing.  Blogger Dan Antion collaborates with me on this new story.  He provides photos to inspire me and illustrate the posts.  Dan also gives me two of the “three things” that drive this unplanned serial.  The third thing comes from you the reader! 

The things you’ve already sent won’t be used in any particular order.  This week’s reader supplied thing is croquet mallet from Ally Bean at The Spectacled Bean blog.

Without further ado, I’m delighted to bring you Chapter 2 today!   

Previously with Brother Love

Chapter 1.  Birdie crawled half-under the table to pick up the flyer.  The kitchen light flickered and popped, causing her to bump her head.  Then all the lights went out.

The screen door creaked open.  Normally it would bang shut, but it closed softly.  At the sound of footsteps, she scrunched the rest of the way under the table. 

Brother Love 2

A Shadow

Shadow, Rain, and Croquet Mallet

Flash cropped image Dan Antion

Flash, from one of Dan’s photos

The footfalls hesitated.  It seemed like they turned back toward me, although I couldn’t see in the dark.  Then I realized there had been a faint noise outside.  Maybe that was the reason for the pause.

I dared not breathe, but the way I was crouched under the table, I wouldn’t have been able to draw a good breath anyway.

The footsteps moved across my little kitchen to the spot where the PanAm calendar hung on the wall.  I heard the pages rustle.

Then a firm knock rapped against the frame of the flimsy screen door.

Flimsy screen door on a shabby red wall

Photo by Dan Antion

Surprise shot through me like electricity.  My body jerked and I banged my head and shoulders against the underside of the table.

The kitchen light, along with the single light-bulb on the porch flickered and then came back to life.

A shadow lurched outside on the porch, and the knock came again, harder.

“Miss Devovo, are you alright?” came the startled voice of a man.  “Birdie, it’s Reverend Armstrong.  Is everything okay?”

For half a beat I stayed under my table.  Just as I was sure someone had been in the kitchen with me a moment before, I was also certain they were suddenly gone.

The preacher sounded as spooked as I felt.  His voice had the slightest quiver.  Plus, Doug Armstrong never added “Reverend” to his name.  Preacher, or more often Brother Armstrong was how he named himself.

Fist against red Pixaby

Pixabay

His fist banged on the screen door-frame again.  I extricated myself from my hiding spot before Armstrong broke the poor excuse for a door.

That didn’t make it any easier for me to calm myself.  I opened the door, and belatedly thought to straighten my dress.

I was relieved to see anyone including the preacher, but I was too rattled to know what to say.

“What brings you to the outside of town so late, Brother Armstrong?” I asked.

Doug was a big, tall man.  A single stride took him halfway across the kitchen.  His eyes darted around the room, and he took another step, craning his neck to see the living room.

“The Lord’s work doesn’t keep a schedule,” he replied with forced joviality.

I didn’t wonder so much about why he was out long after dark.  Rather, I was curious as to why he took the road on the back side of the house.

Copiah County MS crossroads Google Maps

A crossroads in Copiah County, Mississippi, near the place from which blues legend, Robert Johnson came.

You see, my house sat in a triangle between ways at a crossroads.  There was a street in front and another road in back.  There were also any number of old trails that intersected there.

Old superstitions about the crossroads abounded.  My mother had been able to get the house because no one else would have it.  I kept it because I had nowhere else to go.

Doug Armstrong looked down at me as if inspecting my face.

“Is everything alright here, Miss Devovo?  As I was driving by,” he began but hesitated and shook his head.  “Maybe it was just a trick of light and shadow, but I thought I saw somebody moving around on the porch.  Then the lights sparked and went out.  I was concerned for your safety.”

I gulped.  I wasn’t sure why I would hesitate to tell him what had happened.  Maybe it was just the lifetime of skepticism and outright disdain I had experienced.

Communities on any side of the crossroads, on both sides of the tracks, as they would say, had whispered about me all my life.  They knew my mother would take up with any musician who came through.  After I grew up, she finally ran off with one.

Statue of woman and man kissing, World War II era

The Kissing Couple, Photo by Dan Antion

They never believed the story my mother told when we moved to Parliament, Mississippi.  I wasn’t sure I believed it myself, but she always said my father had died in the military when I was too young to remember him.  It would have been easier to believe if it hadn’t happened before the war.

Heck, maybe it was true.  A few times she got drunk and claimed the government had covered up the real circumstances of his death.  My mother had some wild stories, but conspiracies weren’t among them.

Anyhow, Doug Armstrong was probably the only person they gossiped about as much as they talked about me.

Although Doug made no secret of his past.  His whole purpose in life seemed to be a constant attempt to redeem himself.  Doug was an ex-convict.  He had gone to prison for killing a man.

He was also one of the few people who would even think about visiting the house at the crossroads.

I cleared my throat and then told him about hearing someone in the kitchen.  He asked if he could look around.  I nodded my assent.  Although I was sure we were the only ones there.  I also knew there would be no sign that anyone else had been in the house.

Men's wingtip shoes

Pixabay

Even so, it was a comfort to have Doug look through the house.  He checked every window and door.  He even looked in the closets.

Doug brought a croquet mallet out of one closet, suggesting that I might want to keep it at hand.  However, just as I expected, there was no indication that anyone had been inside the house.

“I guess it was my imagination,” I said awkwardly.

“Then it was mine too,” he muttered.  “There hasn’t been any rain,” he went on in a speculative tone.  “So, I guess there’s no use looking outside for footprints.  Even with a flash light, it would be hard to tell much in the dark.”

I got the feeling that he was nervous.  It made me want to ask him if he was alright.  However, that seemed rude, so I didn’t.

Audience looking at stage with lights

Stage Lights by Dan Antion

Doug looked down at my hand.  I hadn’t realized that I still clutched the flyer I had crawled under the table to retrieve.  It was for Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.

The mimeographed ad boasted of a revival meeting every night for a week, with evangelists from all over the state, and the supposedly famous Brother Love himself.  I’d never heard of him.

“Will you be preaching there?” I asked Armstrong.

“I was invited, but I haven’t decided,” he answered.

There was something strange about his voice and manner when he replied.  I had no idea what was behind it, but it gave the kind of uneasy feeling that makes you want to look over your shoulder.

Then I noticed the calendar.  I had been looking at the July picture and left that page up, because I liked it better than the image for August.  The calendar was turned back to August.  There was a smudge on the square for the coming Saturday.  The mark had not been there earlier.

***

Crow on a high pine branch

Joe Crow in the role of Jinx.  Photo by Dan Antion

Jinx back-winged in his hurried flight when he saw the lights flash and go dark.  He alighted cautiously in the upper branches of the towering spruce pine.  He looked down inquisitively as someone walked across the back porch and into the house.

Curiosity got the better of the magpie when a moment later the big man stopped his old red car and went to the door.  Jinx glided down to the southern magnolia.  He settled amid the glossy dark leaves, next to a big hairy seed pod that had previously been a fragrant snow white flower.

He tilted his head.  Was it random chance that brought Doug Armstrong there at that specific moment?  Or did it happen by design?

***

Real World Notes — Southern Magnolia

Magnolia_flower n foliage Duke_campus Wikimedia.jpg

In 1938 the southern magnolia was named the state tree of Mississippi.  Who picked it?  The school children of the state cast their votes.  The southern magnolia was already the state flower, originally named as such in 1900.

It’s a long-lived evergreen species found throughout the southeastern United States.  The glossy leaves are dark green on top and yellowish to brown on the underside.  In the spring, the highly fragrant showy white flowers, emerge, but may bloom sporadically throughout spring and summer.

When left to grow naturally, southern magnolias have an irregular canopy, with many large twisting branches lower to the ground.  At maturity they may reach 100 feet in height, although that doesn’t happen often.

***

Real World Notes — The Kissing Couple

From Dan:  Those statues are in the Renaissance Hotel in Minneapolis, MN known as The Depot. It’s a hotel built in the renovated Milwaukee Road railroad depot. They kept a railroad terminal theme throughout the hotel. The statue is called “Kissing Couple.” 

Ready to Travel statue Dan Antion

Ready to Travel, by Dan Antion

I imagine this statue as Birdie’s mother when she ran off.  Dan tells more about these images in this post at his blog, “No Facilities.”

***

Thank you for coming to my sanctuary for the second episode of Brother Love!  If you want to participate by leaving a “thing” to be included in a future episode, please make a comment.  Remember this is a mysterious story, set in rural Mississippi of the late 1950s to early 1960s. 

I’ll meet you at the crossroads again next Saturday!  Hugs on the wing.

***

More storytelling by Teagan

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USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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.

 

Under the Sea, a Virtual Art Gallery Showcasing the work of Rob Goldstein

Opening Announcement

Welcome to my art gallery.  Today the venue is the #steampunk submarine of Cornelis Drebbel, who graciously allowed us into his domain. 

I’m excited to present the artwork of Rob Goldstein, who illustrated Hullaba Lulu.  Please join me for a stroll through the submarine to view his images.

Yes, that’s the first piece of Rob’s art on display ― Sea World.  Isn’t it calming?

Sea World

Sea World

First, we need to go to San Francisco to pick up Rob, the guest of honor.  Cornelis, it feels like we are already under weigh.  I’m surprised you put your book down without a fight.  What was all that clicking about?  What do you mean click you?

Cornelis:  No, click me, not click you. Click Me Happy.”  It’s exciting for me to be able to choose the book’s ending, Teagan.  But I simply couldn’t pick one.  So, I decided to just pick up the author.  Olga Núñez Miret, of Author Translator Olga is on her way through the airlock.  

Olga, what a pleasure.  I’m so excited about your translation of “Atonement, Tennessee.”   Although I thought we were going to pick up Rob first.  Cornelis, it’s Rob’s show!  (I sigh…)  Nothing ever goes to plan when Cornelis Drebbel gets in the mix.  

Lovely isn’t it, Olga?  Rob calls it Cegeste.

Cegeste

Cegeste

Robbie!  What a lovely surprise.  What’s that?  Okay Cornelis, I forgive you since you’ve brought Robbie Cheadle of Roberta Writes   and some of her gorgeous cakes.  My goodness, just look at all the cakes and chocolate.  

Won’t you have a slice?  They’re delicious.  I don’t know if I would have been able to cut any of the beautiful cakes Robbie brought.  Cornelis, however, had no problem… 

a-cake-from-robbie-e1537102411201.jpg

Robbie’s Cake

I see we have the refreshments set up beside a porthole.  What a view!

Porthole Cornelus-The Sub

Art by Rob Goldstein

Ah, we’re already in San Francisco Bay.  That’s the beauty of traveling with an alchemist!

What’s that thing outside the window?  Oh!  That’s the mini-sub shuttling Rob’s V.I.P. guests.  Sorry let me turn off that claxon.  It’s letting us know the shuttle has docked.

Mini Sub

Art by Rob Goldstein

Welcome aboard, Rob!  I see you have all your special guests with you.  Thank you so much for bringing these wonderful people.  I know some, but not all of them.  So, would you please check the passenger manifest for me, to make sure no one is lost?

Sally G. Cronin, of Smorgasbord Variety Is the Spice of Life, Linda Bethea of Nutsrok , Annette Rochelle Aben, Erika Kind, Mary Smith, Diana Peach of Myths of the Mirror, and Danica Piche.  What a wonderful group!

I saw that, Cornelis…  I know those wriggling bushy eyebrows mean you’re flirting.  Mind your manners with our guests.  What did you say, alchemist?  Oh, yes.  Thank you.  You did go “outside” to retrieve a piece of art, but you’d still better behave yourself.

Finding the Lost De Milo (2)

Finding the Lost DeMilo

Sally, it’s so good to see you!  Won’t you help the rest of the VIPs tour the submarine?  I know you are already familiar with Cornelis and his submarine.

What’s that, sailor?  More guests?  Oh, it’s Christine (CE) Robinson, from Before Sundown and Denise (DL) Flinn.  I see they’ve come down the West Coast to catch the submarine here at the City by the Bay.  I can guess which of Rob’s images will be Christine’s favorite ― Sundown.

Sundown

Sundown

Forgive me… Let’s get back to guiding you around this undersea gallery.  Here’s the refreshment table.  Have one of those lovely shell-shaped plates of hors d’oeuvres, and a shimmering glass of champagne.  Yes, those Victorian Era sailors are our waiters.  If you need anything, be sure to let one of them know.  They fill in when the band takes a break too.  I see they’re serenading Mary J. McCoy-Dressel

Related image

Wow, I see that Cornelis used a trick of alchemy to display some of Rob’s art outside the submarine.  Deborah Zajac of Circadian Reflections, Fraggle of Rocking a Camera Across the Universe, and Cindy Knoke are out there with their underwater cameras.  They are such great photographers.  I can’t wait to see the results on their blogs.

Diver Cornelus - 9th and Harrison

Art by Rob Goldstein

Oh, sailor.  Thank you for refilling our champagne glasses.  Could you please make sure everyone gets back inside?  I don’t want anyone to be left behind in any sort of Ripple Effect.

The Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect

That didn’t take long…  Do you hear the country tune the band is playing?  It’s by Jan Sikes, “Mama’s House.” (click for song) That tells me that this alchemically powered submarine is at the Gulf Coast of Texas where we’re going to pick up more guests (including Jan) who are from the Lone Star State.  There’s Jan, John W. Howell, of Fiction Favorites, and Lisa Amaya, of Life of an El Paso Woman

I see Teri Polen of Books and Such, and Staci Troilo, and there’s Brad, from Writing to Freedom came down to the Texas coast from their homes to meet up with them too. 

Hi, John.  I’m happy you all could make it.  Oh, I like that image too.  Being from Port Aransas, I can see why you’d be drawn to “By the Sea.”

By the Sea.bmp

By the Sea

I see reflections in the porthole.  Jennie Fitzkee, from A Teacher’s Reflections, is that you?  I’m so glad you could take a break from your classroom to join us.  And you brought Dan Antion from No Facilities with you!  Thanks to you both for coming all the way down to the Gulf Coast to meet the submarine.

Cornelis, are we ready to get going again?  We have to pick up guests from farther north, like Donna Parker, Jacquie Biggar, and Joanne Sisco.  

Cornelis:  Really… It’s not as though I can just chant Yadadarcyyada and make my submarine disappear and then reappear.

(I gasp.)  Yadadarcyyada is an incantation!  (I put my hand over Cornelis’ mouth to keep him from saying it a second time.)  Cornelis, please watch what you say.  The last time you spoke that word twice, you and the submarine went to a very strange place! A vanishing act is not on the program ― except for the one in Rob’s collection.  Sorry, if I say more it will be a spoiler for my blog serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.

Vanishing Act

Vanishing Act

Hold on, what was that sound?  Donna!  Everyone!  Are all of you okay?  I’m delighted to see you, but I hope an accident of alchemy didn’t pull anyone away at a bad time.

Cornelis:  Oh, do calm down, Teagan.  It was just a little prank.  I had already made arrangements with them.  We wanted to surprise you.

Rob, what am I going to do with that alchemist?  Ah, you are so kind – thank you for this plate.  I haven’t had a moment to visit the refreshment table.  I see they got your favorite Brie.  It looks delicious.  Are you enjoying your show?  Yes, I think it’s going well and everyone is having a great time.  You could say it’s quite a Conquest.  You know I can’t resist a play on words.

Conquest

Conquest

We seem to have stopped.  That looks like the wreck of some long-lost luxury liner… and that’s Nicole, from The Bookworm Drinketh.  She’s found several crates of champagne!  Sailor, would you please help Nicole inside?  Now we have plenty of champagne, just in time to zip across the Atlantic to pick up more guests.

Cornelis, are you sure your submarine has enough power to get there?  What do you mean it does now?  Erm… what’s that you’re holding?  It looks like an Aladin’s lamp…  What are you doing?  Be careful polishing that thing.  Purple smoke is coming from it! 

Oh!  Cornelis, you’ve brought the Lamp Magician.  What a great idea!  Dear Magician, thank you for joining us.  Please relax and enjoy this undersea art gallery.  But wait, the lamp is smoking again. This time the smoke is bright pink. It reminds me of something from my Thistledown serial.  Look! There’s Andrea from Harvesting Hecate, and Sue Dream Walker too.

Yes, Andrea?  I agree that image is lovely.  Rob calls it My Blue Heaven.

My Blue Heaven

My Blue Heaven

Oh good, there’s Janet Weight Reed, of My Life as an Artist.  Thank you for coming, Janet. 

I’m glad she’s already aboard.  Janet is keeping Cornelis Drebbel out of trouble (for the moment at least) by having him pose for a watercolor portrait.

I see Janet brought Chris the Story Reading Ape.  Now I understand why they only had two passengers for that run.  People can be timid about getting on a mini sub with a great ape, even though Chris is a perfect gentleman.

It’s wonderful to see you, dear Ape.  That one?  Rob calls it Eclipse.  Yes, it’s one of my favorites, though I really can’t choose.

Eclipse

Enter a caption

Oops, excuse me!  (Several sailors rushing past.)  They’re getting the mini sub ready to pick up another group guests.  Let’s see who’s on the passenger manifest. 

Dyanna, of Ravenshawks’ Magazine, and  Michael of OKIOS Redaktion.  What’s all the barking?  I see, how fun. Christoph Fischer brought his Labradoodles and Hugh Roberts of Hugh’s Views and News brought his Corgis!

Good, there’s Melissa, from Today You Will Write with Suzanne of Musings on Life & Experience.  Thank you for visiting, everyone.  Please make yourselves at home and enjoy this showing of Rob’s wonderful images. 

Cornelis Drebbel inside sub _001

Art by Rob Goldstein

Click over to Rob’s blog to see the related treat he has made at his blog.  https://robertmgoldstein.com/

The comments are part of this art show, so I hope you’ll visit as many of the folks there as you can.   

You are part of this party too.  So, be sure to leave a link to your own website in the comments.  Leave a comment mentioning your favorite “Under the Sea” related thing, song, recipe, or art.  Come and go and comment as often as you want.  Rob, Cornelis, and I will be here on the submarine all weekend.   

Heartfelt thanks for visiting.

Stay tuned for Hidebound Hump Day on Wednesday with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers chapter 8.  Cheers!

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.

Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein

Copyright © 2018 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.

 

Jazz Age Wednesdays ― Hullaba Lulu the End of the Line

Wednesday, August 22, 2018 

You’ve arrived at the end of the line, Shieks and Shebas!  This is the final episode for the Jazz Age Wednesdays serial Hullaba Lulu.  

Well it’s all right, that we’ve been riding around in the breeze. Maybe somewhere down the road aways, you’ll think of me, wonder where I am these days.  Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line.

This is the dieselpunk series, set in the Roaring Twenties authored by yours truly, and illustrated by Rob Goldstein… and we’re at the end of the line!

Lulu blowing bubble

Lulu. Art by Rob Goldstein

You can do catch-up reading for most of the past chapters at this post: Real World Tech Review which has links through episode 11.1. 

Warning — this is a long chapter, but I didn’t think it suitable to divide it into more than one episode.  Save your place and take a break if necessary.  However, I think it will be a quick read, despite the length.  Enough said.  Time to get a wriggle on!

Previously with Hullaba Lulu

The angel-bots stood on one another’s shoulders making a automaton tower to try and take Valentino away from Iset, but with disastrous results.  They all fell and… Oh the bot-manity! However, “Papa” Nikola Tesla was repairing them. 

Meanwhile, Valentino was near death. With her multicolored wings, Iset carried him away.  Lulu, Gramps, Dynamite, and Ginger took Tesla’s electric car and followed Iset to the Great Pyramid. Inside they found a secret chamber and a large alabaster disk. When they steped on the disk it sailed upward!  

I think I hear the trumpet’s final call.  The conductor shouts–

End of the Line!

Hullaba Lulu

Chapter 14

The Finale

LuLu in Egypt Green throne cat

Art by Rob Goldstein

The rapidly ascending alabaster disk came to a smooth stop.  Gramps, Ginger, Dynamite, and I stepped into a chamber that seemed empty except for a veritable forest of metal columns.  There were so many that it made the vast room seem like a labyrinth.  A tiny spark caught my eye.  I realized that each column was topped with intricately formed wires.  Tesla coils.  The room was full of Tesla coils!

I stopped in my tracks.  I would never get over the fireworks that resulted when I bumped into the one on Valentino’s train.

Outside my line of sight, I heard a woman throwing a tantrum.  Crashing sounds overlaid ranted words that I couldn’t understand.

“Why won’t it work?” she yelled.  “It’s not enough!”

Virtual reality photograph of Gramps playing the Theramin

Ginger, Lulu, and Gramps inside the Pyramid. Art by Rob Goldstein

Gramps hurried toward the voice.  I reached for his arm to hold him back, but I wasn’t fast enough.  I followed my grandfather in-between the columns and around a corner.

The voice belonged to Iset.

It was probably the least important thing in the world, but I noticed that Iset’s multicolored wings were gone.  I supposed that she only had them when she wanted to fly.  After all, huge wings would get in the way when you weren’t using them.

Her back was to us.  Iset bent over a large, open sarcophagus.  She started to chant fervently.  Her voice was raw, as if she had been speaking for a long time without a break.

“It’s not enough!  Nothing I do is ever enough!” Iset sobbed and banged her fists against the sarcophagus.

I hissed at Gramps to be still, but he went to Iset.  To my astonishment, Iset fell against my grandfather’s shoulder, crying her eyes out.

Gramps Iset

I borrowed Gramps and Iset to show them together.

When I moved forward I gasped in horror.  Laying in the elaborate casket was Valentino!

“I should have been able to heal him with the sarcophagus,” she wailed.  “Just infusing him with my lifeforce should have revived him.  With the sarcophagus, healing should have been immediate.”

An intricately carved copper bangle was on Iset’s wrist.  I saw that a copper strap ran from the bracelet to a matching cuff on Valentino’s wrist.  Another copper bangle-set rested beside him.  All the bracelets were carved with hieroglyphics that were inlaid with gemstones.  It looked like the gems had been melted into the ancient symbols.

“Maybe it needs all three of you,” Gramps told her in a gentle voice.

Iset looked up at Gramps with surprised eyes.  She turned her head to glare contemptuously at me.

“There are enough of those copper cuffs for three siblings,” Gramps continued in a matter of fact tone.

My grandfather reached into the casket and put the second bracelet set on Valentino’s bare wrist.  Gramps held out the bangle at the other end of the copper strap toward me.

“Gramps, what are you talking about?” I demanded, utterly befuddled.

Lulu light dress Pyramids-test-2

Lulu confused. Art by Rob Goldstein

“Lulu,” he chided.  “Do you mean to tell me that you never noticed the family resemblance?”

I stepped backward.  It felt like the rug had been pulled right out from under me.  My knees gave way and my fanny bumped one of the metal columns.

Ginger caught me before I hit the marble floor.  Dynamite grabbed and righted the Tesla coil post an instant before it would have fallen against the next one.  I shuddered thinking of the catastrophic domino effect that almost happened.

“Get ahold of yourself,” Iset snapped.  “You’re only our half-sister.  Yes, Valentino is our half-brother.”

“But… but,” I tried to interject.

“We three share the same father,” Iset said in an impatient tone.

“How?  Gramps, how could you not tell me?  Valentino?  What if he and I had… I mean,” I stuttered to a stop.

“Impossible as it sounds, I was pretty sure,” Gramps began.  “Seeing all three of you close together just now, I was certain.  Lauren, your mother, always did play the field.  Your father probably wasn’t that mobster after all.”

“Then who?” I whispered.

“This is not the time for that,” Iset stated bluntly.

Iset hair down Goddess 1

Iset in flight, by Rob Goldstein

She took a step toward me, snatched the other bangle from Gramps, and slapped it onto my wrist.

“Take his hand to make the connection stronger,” Iset ordered as she grasped Valentino’s hand.

The bangle slid down my wrist as I took Valentino’s other hand.  His hand was very cold. 

Iset began chanting again.  Her voice was hypnotic, like a song that pulled me into a story.  I didn’t understand the language she spoke, yet I found I was able to say the words.  It was as if part of me knew the language even though my conscious mind didn’t recognize it.  I chanted along with Iset.

The gemstone hieroglyphics in the bracelets started to glow.  The copper against my wrist felt pleasantly warm.  Valentino’s hand was still cold.

Iset sobbed and shook her head.

Gramps_Red 001x

Gramps by Rob Goldstein

“I don’t think he’s fully here,” Gramps muttered as he looked closely at Valentino.  “Part of his spirit is elsewhere.”

“Back at the Cotton Club he said that he couldn’t be far from the train,” I reminded Gramps.  “Then he said the Rolls Royce and the trumpet were aspects of his train, which allowed him to leave it for short distances.”

“That’s right, Miss.  The automatons are also aspects of the train.  Although to a lesser degree.  However, all of us together represent a complete circuit,” Dynamite explained.

A rapid series of clicks and shifting gears came from the rose-gold automaton.  Abruptly Ginger blinked and then ran to a window.  The angle-bot started climbing out the window. 

I called for her to come back.  We were nearly 500 feet off the ground!

“Ginger, be careful,” Dynamite drawled even as he climbed out the window with her.

It wasn’t a long distance from the uppermost chamber of the pyramid to its tip, but it was utterly treacherous.  The rose-gold automaton found hand and footholds to climb up to the pyramidion.  Dynamite was right behind her.

I hung halfway out the window watching them.  Tiny bits of stone showered down as Dynamite’s foot slipped.  Ginger reached one hand down to steady her beau.  A pebble hit my cheek and I drew back with an exclamation.  However, I couldn’t stop myself form leaning back out again to watch the clockwork duo.

Bots on Pyramid Calling All Bots.5-2

Angel-bots climbing to the top of the pyramid, by Rob Goldstein

As the two reached the zenith, the sun reflected from their gold bodies like a beacon.  I put up a hand to shield my eyes.  It was blinding.

Ginger started to hum.  She didn’t hum the way a human would.  It was more like the humming sound that comes from a finely tuned motor.  The sound she made grew louder.  Dynamite started humming at a lower pitch, but it was in harmony with Ginger.

Gramps came to the window beside me.  He looked up at the angel-bots, puzzled.  Then his expression changed.  The expression on his face told me he had a hunch.

“Something’s missing,” Gramps said, meaning the sounds the angel-bots made.

Gramps brought the slide-trombone to his lips.  I could tell he was listening intently to the humming.  Onstage at his speakeasy, I had seen him figure out songs that he’d never heard before.  That’s what he seemed to be doing.

My grandfather started playing the trombone.  After a few notes he played an intricate flourish that escalated in volume, blending in harmony with the hums of the automatons.  All the sounds came to a crescendo.

He squinted as he checked his compass.  Gramps shielded his sunglasses and stared down at the desert, looking in the direction from which we came.  A moment later I heard his sharp intake of breath.

I leaned out further to see past him and gasped in astonishment.

In the distance I could make out Woo standing on the hood of Tesla’s electric automobile.  The diminutive angel-bot leaned forward with arms extended as if she was flying.  The car was flanked by dozens of automatons.  Their golden bodies glinted in the sun as they ran at full-speed across the desert sands.  Clouds of dust churned up by their feet billowed behind their rapidly moving formation.

Bots gather to welcome Papa

I borrowed a bunch of bots from Rob… The Sphinx is in the background for a reason…

The automatons gathered en masse at the foot of the pyramid.  They all began to hum.  The harmony was intricate.  The vibration of their combined intonations was so strong I could feel it hundreds of feet above.  The hair on the back of my neck stood on end.

I rushed back to Valentino and reattached the bracelet I wore.

The expression on my grandfather’s face told me he had gone to that place inside ― the place from which his music came.  Gramps put the slide-trombone to his lips again.

I held Valentino’s cold hand tightly.  Iset had never let go of his other hand.  She looked at me and took my free hand and nodded.

“As the automaton said, a complete circuit,” she said, meaning the three of us holding hands.

Gramps played a wildly free jazz melody that I had never heard before.  I knew that no one had ever played it, at least not on this earth.  The uninhibited notes swam and rushed in a torrent.  Then the music leveled off to a steady flow.

As the music took on a slow, even pulse, the gemstones in the bracelets glowed brighter.  I heard Iset gasp.

Valentino’s eyes fluttered open.

***

Pearl at Luxor

I borrowed Pearl from Rob so we could see her in the real Winter Palace Hotel

The sound of tiny chimes rang from a device that looked like a large brass compact.  It was about the size of a dinner plate.  It was Valentino’s video phone.

“It’s fine, Lulu.  Go ahead and answer it.  I gave one to Nikola Tesla.  It should be him calling,” Valentino assured me.

However, when I opened the big compact, I saw Pearl.  In the background I saw palm trees and the luxurious accommodations of the Winter Palace hotel in Luxor.  I wondered what Egyptians would think about New York winters. 

I could hear a man happily cooing beyond Pearl.  She looked over her shoulder with an exasperated glare.

“I thought Tesla was taking you home,” I told Pearl.

Tesla no hat Conducting-1-1

Tesla by Rob Goldstein

“That was the idea,” Pearl began.  “Now he’s in the middle of making some kind of business deal and he’s not ready to leave yet.  Lulu, I can’t take another minute of this!” Pearl wailed amid all the cooing.

“Pearl, what’s going on?  I know he’s and odd bird, but I thought he was basically okay.  He’s not trying to do something weird to you is he?” I wanted to know.

Even though Pearl had been saying hurtful things and showing herself to be a self-important brat, before that we had been friends for a long time.  I wouldn’t stand by and let someone mistreat her, even if I didn’t want to have anything else to do with her.

“Ha!  Odd bird!  Lulu, you got that right.  It’s the damned pigeons!  He’s constantly playing with the blasted birds, feeding them, making silly noises to them.  Nerts! He’s more interested in the pigeons than me!” Pearl said frantically.

I didn’t know what to say.  While I searched for words she continued.

“He said he’d send me home any time I wanted.  He said he’d pay your way too,” Pearl said in a different tone.

Tesla Iset Bots dance

Tesla, Angel-bots, & Iset celebrating Valentino’s healing. Art by Rob Goldstein

“I don’t want to go home,” I told her, puzzled that she would even suggest such a thing.

“Come on, Lulu.  You know it’s not respectable for a lady to travel alone,” Pearl pleaded, but I still declined.  “Fine then!  I can’t cope with this!  I’m going home.  Now!”

Pearl was in a lather.  She pulled off her turban exposing fluffy platinum blond hair.  Long dangle earrings tumbled down to graze her shoulders.

The cooing noises stopped.  Tesla stepped into view behind Pearl.  She whirled around to face him and her long earrings swung out nearly touching him.  Tesla screamed and ran from the room.

***

Night fell.  Stars glittered the deep cobalt sky.  A full moon illuminated the Great Pyramid.  The train was repaired and it waited beside the ancient structure.  I had stopped wondering how they managed to get it there without railroad tracks.  Some things were beyond my grasp.

Lulu Gramps Valentino control room blue

Lulu, Gramps, and Valentino

The angel-bots had transformed the uppermost chamber of the pyramid to a beautifully appointed dining room.  Crystal glasses and champagne bubbles shimmered in candlelight as we celebrated Valentino’s return to health.

With her half-brother healed, Iset had become… not exactly nice, but less frightening anyway.  I kind of admired her fierceness.  I looked from her to Valentino and shook my head wonderingly.

I had lost my best friends.  Rose left us to stay with a better version of Tom Driberg in that alternative “upside down” Egypt.  It felt like I lost Pearl too, but it was because she was never the person she pretended to be.  I had been alone most of my life, and I was alone again.

Yet while I lost my friends, I had found family — a brother and a sister.  So what if we were only half-siblings.  I wanted to know about our mutual father, but they weren’t ready to discuss that yet.

“And you’re sure we aren’t related,” I heard Gramps say.

Gramps inside train

Gramps and the watch he looks at daily to read the inscription from his late wife.

He took out the pocket watch my late grandmother had given him.  I knew he read the inscription several times a day.  However, that time he stroked his thumb across the case without opening it.  He tucked the watch back inside his vest and patted the pocket.

I choked on my champagne.  Dynamite’s metal hand gently patted my back.  I told him that I was okay, and asked for a stronger drink.

Gramps and Iset were looking into one another’s eyes like a couple of teenagers.  They whispered and giggled.  Gramps giggled!  I had never seen my grandfather act that way.  And with a woman so young?  I was shocked.

“Dynamite, make that a double!” I pleaded.

Abruptly I wondered how young Iset actually was ― or was not.  Tesla said she was a goddess.  For all I knew, she was twice the age of my grandfather. 

Neither Iset nor Valentino were ordinary humans.  What did that make me if I was their half-sister?

“Let me show you Luxor from high above,” Iset told Gramps and motioned toward the window.

To my astonishment an airship floated beside the window.

Air ship bots pyramid Calling All Bots.3

Art by Rob Goldstein

“Iset!” Valentino exclaimed.  “Isn’t that Ra’s sun ship?  Have you lost your mind?”

“He won’t care as long as I have it back by sunrise,” Iset dismissed her brother’s worry with a wave of her hand.

Gramps and Iset moved to the window.  The angel-bots helped them onto the airship.  I stood gaping.

“Don’t wait up,” Gramps told us as he stepped aboard the ship.

 I got the hiccups.

***

Lulu Valentino in the control room

Valentino is healed. He and Lulu consider where to go next. Art by Rob Goldstein

It was well after midnight.  Valentino and I were in the control room of the train.  He sat in a chair that had wheels.  He spun it around, turning his back to do something with the Ouija board that was part of the train’s navigation system.

“I have a brother,” I murmured in awe.

The tall gold control angel statue tilted her head down and winked at me.

“Where do you want to go next, Lulu?” Valentino asked.  “I can plot the course.  We’ll be ready to leave first thing in the morning.  Gramps and Iset will be back by then,” he added.  “Anywhere you want to go.  It’s up to you, Lulu.”

Suddenly confronted with endless choices, I couldn’t pick a destination. 

I had wanted so badly to visit exotic places and we ended up first in a sideways Atlantic City, and then back to New York for a sideways Cotton Club.  It would have been swell when we got to Egypt — that was about as faraway and mysterious a place as I could imagine.  But when we got there so many bad things happened.

I was pos-i-lutely blotto, but I was happy.  I started doing the Charleston and pulled my newfound brother up from his “wheeley” chair and into the dance.

As I flung out my arm doing the Charleston, I knocked something over.  Then my heel broke and I fell against the Ouija board, tilting it.  The angel-bot, Moon, rushed into the control room, leaving the door open. 

Moon had been working on something outside. I could see the night beyond the open exit hatch.  I tripped over the automaton’s foot and landed in the wheeley chair.

Valentino Lulu Dance Hop Bot on horse RED Cotton Club-5-22-

Valentino & Lulu dancing.  Art by Rob Goldstein

Valentino reached for me and fell into the control angel.  The statue’s eyes popped open wide.  The trumpet levitated off its table and blared out a note.  The train lurched forward.

The sudden motion caused my chair to roll out of the room.  I screamed as it continued to roll out the exit hatch.  With a thud the chair toppled into the sand.  It, and I, rolled end over end several times.

My head spun as I staggered to my feet, still fighting with the chair.

The train was gone.

***

Pyramid Outside portal

Image by Teagan R. Geneviene

Horsefeathers!  It’s so hot!  I’ve really gotten myself into trouble this time.

I plopped down and leaned against the huge statue, zozzled.  I watched the sun peep over the horizon.

As I blinked at the sun, looking up I realized the statue had a man’s face.  That was confusing, especially in my splificated state, because I was leaning against a gigantic paw.  Well, if it had a face, I’d drink with it — paws or not.

I took out my garter flask.  It barely had a jorum of skee left. 

Pearl managed to get Tesla to take her back to New York.  Gramps left for a well-deserved romantic tryst with Iset.  My latest bout of clumsiness caused me to fall out the door and sent Valentino and his train careening off to who knew where.  Worse, I was down to my last drop of hooch!

I held up the flask and squinted up at the stone face.  Was it wearing a Star of David for an earring?  I knew I was tipsy, but I hadn’t noticed that earring a moment earlier.

“Now what do I do?  I’m stranded in the desert with no giggle water,” I complained to the statue, not caring that it couldn’t answer.  “How am I going to get out of this mess?”

Lulu at the Sphinx

Still splificated, Lulu wakes up at a statue with huge paws and a man’s face. (Lulu by Rob, finangling by Teagan)

“What is the meaning of life?” a deep voice mumbled.

“Huh?” I muttered.

I burped and looked around.  I didn’t see anybody.  Maybe I was more than a little tipsy.

“The meaning of life,” I muttered and looked at the flask.

The bottle contained some of the 42-proof whiskey that Gramps got for his speakeasy.  A rumrunner from Canada brought it.  It wasn’t as strong as the usual hooch, but it sure was smooth.

I raised the flask toward the statue in a toast.

“42-proof!  Here’s to you, bub,” I said and then took a swig.

The bottle had a few drops left.  On impulse, I sprinkled them on the gigantic stone paw.

“There ya go,” I told it with a hiccup.

A sound like a rock-slide preceded a heavy thud.  I didn’t remember the big mound of sand on the other side of the statue’s paw.  Neither did I remember seeing its tail.  Then the big stone tail swept back to the other side, making another mound of sand.

“Huh?” I raised my eyebrows and murmured worriedly.

There was no way I was drunk enough to hallucinate.  Or at least I didn’t remember drinking that much…

The earth shook, causing me to stumble away from the statue.

Spinx Pyramids wide

I backed away and watched in awe as the stone head moved down to lick the paw where I sprinkled the whiskey.

“Smooth,” the deep voice rumbled, louder than before.

My eyes bulged.

“Yes, Lulu.  You answered my riddle,” the Sphinx told me.

“Erm, what riddle?  Oh, was it you who asked what the meaning of life was?  I knew I could hold my liquor better than that!” I said and tried to stop my voice from slurring.  “You mean that was a riddle?  I never was any good at riddles.  You aren’t going to ask me a riddle are you?  Because I’m no…” I started, but paused to burp.  “Scuse me.”

Hot air blew the fringe on my dress as the statue snorted.

“I already asked you the riddle — the meaning of life,” it told me with another blast of hot air and a rumbling sound.  “You answered correctly.  42.”

Was it laughing?

“Oh, but I was talking about…” I decided it was better if I didn’t finish that sentence if the Sphinx thought I had gotten something right.”

The earth shook again, harder.  I fell down.  A broad hand reached out to me.  I took the strong hand, but eyed its owner skeptically.  I was still unsteady from the tremor and grabbed his arm to keep from falling again.  His enormous bicep was rock-hard.  I gazed up and up, because he had to be nearly seven feet tall.

I patted his huge bicep.  Hard as sto— I only got half the thought finished. 

Sphinx character

I looked up at a very tall, powerfully built man who effortlessly lifted me to my feet.  He was wearing one of those cloth bandana-like hats I had seen in the Egyptian paintings.  He also wore a caftan, sunglasses, and one Star of David earring.

“Hello, Lulu — Giver of Names,” he greeted me.

He took off the sunglasses and grinned at me.  He had big green, slit-pupiled eyes.  A tufted tail twitched out from under his caftan.

Holy Hannah!” I exclaimed despite myself and stepped backward.  “I um, I have to find the train,” I apologized, turning to leave.

“Valentino’s train is long gone.  You know that.  You sent it away yourself,” he said amid deep chuckles.

I started to speak but then I noticed the Sphinx statue was gone.  My mouth moved but nothing came out.

“Don’t worry,” he said and led me around a mound of sand.  “You aren’t stranded.  Your chariot awaits.”

He pointed to the longest, reddest, shiniest automobile I had ever seen.  It looked like something from the Amazing Stories magazine.

“Oh, that’s right.  You don’t exactly know how to drive, and this vehicle is as far removed from an automobile as Valentino’s is from an ordinary train,” he told me.

“Who are you?” I asked, trying hard to make my mind focus.  “Are you real?  Or am I drunker than I’ve ever been before?”

“Just call me Sphinx,” he told me and winked one of those slit-pupiled green eyes.  “Maybe later I’ll tell you my name.  But try not to ask questions.  That compels me to ask you riddles, and that could end badly,” he warned but laughed deeply and loudly.

Sphinx opened the passenger door of the vehicle. 

“Don’t touch anything,” he cautioned as he helped me into the automobile.

When he walked around to the driver’s door, the floorboard shifted to accommodate the length of his legs.

I looked at the automobile’s dashboard.  It had as many blinking lights and strange levers as Valentino’s train.  Just under the dash I spotted a small Ouija board.  The planchette started to vibrate.  I reached out and placed a single finger on the teardrop shaped device.

The engine roared to life.

Wildly moving shapes like the sine-waves Moon showed me when he opened a door to the “upside down Egypt” surrounded the vehicle.  It shot forward and upward, faster than anything could possibly move.  The brightly colored waves surrounded the vehicle like a tunnel.  It looked like it could go on forever.

“I told you not to touch anything!” Sphinx cried in shock.

His voice echoed into the distance behind us.

Sphinx car Egypt

Don’t touch anything Lulu!  Image by Teagan R. Geneviene

***

The End

***

Real World Notes

42 — Douglas Adams.  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a comic science fiction series created by Douglas Adams that has become popular among fans of the genre(s) and members of the scientific community.  The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is requested from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42.  

Old Winter Palace Hotel Luxor.  A historic British colonial-era 5-star luxury resort hotel located in Luxor, Egypt, just south of Luxor Temple, with 86 rooms and 6 suites.  Founded in 1905 it is perched on the Nile River amid luxuriant tropical gardens.

Thanks again to Rob Goldstein for generously sharing the beautiful illustrations, that brought my words to life for everyone.  If you missed it, Rob talks about how making these images was important for him on a personal level in a podcast you can reach via his blog.

Thank you — each and every one of you — from the bottom of my heart for being on this train!  It’s been a fun, wild ride, and it would never have happened without you.  Many of you have been with this train from the introduction all the way through the end of the line.  I appreciate you more than you could know.  You’re pos-i-lutely the cat’s pajamas.

***

Now some shameless self-promotion for my other 1920s books — the original “three things” stories about Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip, and her friends.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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.

Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein

Copyright © 2018 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.

 

Jazz Age Wednesdays ― Hullaba Lulu the End Begins

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 

Bot n Tesla Starts His Car 1

Angel-bot with Tesla in his electric car.  Art by Rob Goldstein

Hi there, Shieks and Shebas!  You’ve come to the train station for Jazz Age Wednesdays.  This is where I share stories set in the Roaring Twenties.

The fabulous images for this #DieselPunk story are created by artist, Rob Goldstein.  He also makes pos-i-lutely swell videos that are parallel to the story. Plus, Rob sent random “things” that I used as prompts as I envisioned and authored Hullaba Lulu.

If you need reminders of past chapters, I did a Real World Tech Review post that has links through episode 11.1. 

Tesla Coil, Public Domain Image at Wiki Media Commons

That said, I’m nearing the end of this adventure for Lulu and the crew.  So I’m posting a longer chapter today.  I’m still pantsering, writing in an unplanned spontaneous way, so I’m not sure whether the end will arrive next week or the next, but we’re almost there.

Previously with Hullaba Lulu

Iset with her multicolored wings flew away with Valentino! The angel-bots stood on one another’s shoulders making a automaton tower to try and take Valentino away from Iset, but with disastrous results.  They all fell and… Oh the bot-manity! 

I think I hear the trumpet’s call.  Let’s get a wiggle on

All aboard!

Hullaba Lulu

Beginning the End

Vaselino, Ellis Island

Bot above charging car Tesla-1

Moon using his own body to charge the electric car.  Art by Rob Goldstein

Nikola Tesla bent over the unmoving angel-bot, Moon.  I couldn’t see what the inventor did, but he seemed to examine the automaton in much the same way a medical doctor would check a human.  Moon, desperate to aid Valentino had tried to charge Tesla’s electric automobile by using his own body to power the vehicle.

I thought about Moon’s kindness to me when I had bumped into the Tesla coil in the control room of the train.  Although, the real problem was that sabotage had previously been done to the control room, my clumsiness was the cause of the train careening toward the Cotton Club and then into a pittura metafisica.  The train had emerged from the painting to land in the sand dunes of Egypt.

Sphinx Tesla Tower

Image by Teagan Geneviene

The saboteur’s actions also caused the gradual degradation of Valentino’s connection to the train, resulting in his mysterious illness.  I didn’t understand how it all worked, but Valentino had to be “attuned” to all the control components of the train.  If the train wasn’t working perfectly, then neither was he.

Anyhow, Moon was a real gent.  He didn’t let anyone know I had touched a thing. 

I heard Tesla sniffle as he worked on Moon.  Gramps seemed to feel sorry for the inventor.  I think my grandfather was trying to take the man’s mind off Moon and the other angel-bots who were damaged or possibly destroyed.  Gramps cleared his throat awkwardly.

“I had wondered if it was a problem to get fuel out here.  It’s not as though there’s a filling station on every corner,” Gramps began.  “So, the automobile is electric, you say.”

“Did you know the woman?” Pearl abruptly asked Gramps.  “You spoke a name when you saw her.”

Iset hair down Goddess 1

Iset. Art by Rob Goldstein

In contrast to the kind intent of my grandfather, Pearl simply didn’t understand Tesla’s concern for the automatons.  The look on Tesla’s face when Woo hit the ground and came apart… the poor man was mortified.  With Moon’s collapse, he had another clockwork creature to try and save before he could even reach the one with the worst need.

“Satchmo?” I asked Pearl, hoping she would just go back inside.  “That wasn’t the woman’s name.  It’s the nickname of Louis Armstrong.  He’s performed at Gramps’ speakeasy several times.  But you weren’t there the times he played.  I guess you were worried about being seen with the wrong people,” I added pointedly, unable to forget Pearl’s snooty comment about my family and me.

Suddenly, something clicked into place in my mind.

“Oh, that’s it!” I exclaimed in epiphany.  “That spiteful thing the woman said to Valentino!”

“I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal, you.  Oh, I’ll be tickled to death when you leave this earth, it’s true,” Gramps sang in a gravely voice.  “Yes, Lulu, she was singing a Louis Armstrong song,” he told us.

Tesla-charging bot

Nikola Tesla repairs angel-bot Moon.  Art by Rob Goldstein

Nickola Tesla let out a guffaw, surprising all of us.  He straightened from working on Moon, and wiped a tear from his eye. 

The inventor stepped back from the damaged automaton.  He stopped beside me.  His hair had a mildly citrus scent from the pomade that oiled his hair into place.  Tesla was almost a vaselino, the men’s hairstyle popularized by silent film stars.  I supposed a man with a phobia about human hair liked to keep his own mane well controlled.

“I apologize,” the inventor began.  “It’s the idea of the goddess Iset having a fondness for American jazz,” he finished, chuckled, and took his handkerchief from his pocket.

“A gorgeous, exotic woman who likes Jazz…” Gramps began in a wistful tone.  “She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since I was a young man delivering bottles my father and I made.  I had a delivery at Ellis Island, where I met your grandmother, Lulu.  Priscilla had just arrived in this country.  I loved her the minute I saw her,” he added and opened his pocket-watch to look at the inscription from his late wife.

Pearl Turban 3

Pearl in her “Tesla trap” turban.  Art by Rob Goldstein

“Goddess?  I admit she was no cancelled stamp, but ‘goddess’ is excessive, don’t you think?” Pearl interjected, taken aback.

Then everyone began to speak at once, wanting an explanation for the inventor’s comment.  Tesla reminded us that Valentino said the name “Iset” when the woman bent over him.  I wanted to know how Tesla could know who the woman was.

“Didn’t you notice her crown?” he asked.

“That ridiculous chair-hat?” Pearl burst out in an unladylike way.

I thought the fair-haired flapper, whom I had thought of as a friend for so long was close to losing her temper.

Tesla paused and looked at her oddly.  Pearl had been practically glued to his elbow since she put that turban on her head to cover her hair.  Pearl sank back demurely, most unlike her usually exuberant self.  She glanced at Tesla covertly.

Tesla portrait-c

Nikola Tesla by Rob Goldstein

“She had all that long hair.  It was just… loose, able to get on anything,” Pearl added in a soft voice.

Pearl made a little face as though she found the long hair distasteful.  I watched Tesla’s expression.  His face remained calm, but his shoulder twitched.  I realized he failed to completely suppress a shudder at the idea of all that human hair.  Pearl smirked when she saw him twitch.  She put her hand to the turban to make sure her blond hair was securely underneath it and moved a little closer.

My pal was more devious than I had ever guessed.

“Iset is thought to be a healer,” Tesla continued.  “Yet, telling a man she will be glad when he is dead, even if quoting a song…  Well, that does not bode well.”

Pearl gave a knowing nod.

With a series of clicks and whirrs, Moon sat up.  The angel-bot’s eyes blinked a few times as he looked around at all of us.  He bounded to his feet.

“Papá,” Moon began.  “We must hurry.  Many of the automatons are injured.  You are the only one with the skill to have even a small chance at repairing Woo.”

It looked like Tesla had fixed Moon.  However, the angel-bot abruptly stopped in the middle of what he was saying.  All sorts of sounds came from his insides, clicking, whining, even a screech of metal.

Valentino n Bots in dark room

Moon thinks about Valentino, Woo, and the other angel-bots. Art by Rob Goldstein

“Moon,” Tesla said.  “You are conflicted aren’t you.  You do not have to make the decision.  You are committed to helping both Valentino and your sisters and brothers, are you not?”

Eyes open wide, Moon managed to nod once.

“I relieve you of that responsibility,” Tesla continued.  “We will take the automobile to the injured automatons.  That is also the direction Valentino was taken.  If necessary, Lulu and her grandfather will part company with us there, taking the vehicle to pursue Iset and Valentino.”

That statement seemed to help Moon.  After a moment I heard gears whine again, but it sounded like they reset themselves somehow.

***

Tesla-car 3

Art by Rob Goldstein

The electric automobile was fully charged, thanks to the selfless efforts of Moon.  We got into it and hurried to the scene of clockwork carnage.  The sands of Egypt were littered with shining gold pieces and parts.  If the victims had been human, it would have looked as bad as any of the horrific battle scenes of the Great War.

Apparently, it really did seem that terrible to Nikola Tesla.  The inventor fell to his knees, covering his mouth with both hands.  Moon gently placed a blue-gold hand on his shoulder.

Pragmatic as ever, Dynamite along with his blue surge, Hot Ginger already had the scene organized.  Angel-bots in pairs worked to carry their damaged fellows to various areas that appeared to be organized according to the type of damage incurred.

Pearl’s patience had clearly worn thin with Tesla’s devotion to the automatons.  A sneer marred her pretty face.  She looked around at the wreckage, and then back toward the train.  Pearl scanned the horizon, probably looking for a means of escape.  However, the only thing in view was the Great Pyramid.

She took a deep breath.  Pearl tucked-in platinum blond hair that had escaped her turban during the drive.  She straightened her back and smoothed the old-fashioned dress.  Then she walked over to Tesla.

Single angel-bot

An Angel-bot by Rob Goldstein

“It’s not proper work for a lady,” she began and that phrase alone told me that she was calculating again.  “But perhaps I can help somehow,” Pearl suggested to Tesla.

A small smile told me the way Pearl worded her offer had the desired effect.  Tesla patted her hand and told her not to fret, that he would take care of everything.  Then as a brilliant finishing touch, Pearl staggered, as if swooning.  She placed a pale hand to her brow.

For a moment, Tesla’s attention transferred to Pearl.  He asked Ginger to look after Pearl.  The delicate flower was clearly having a fit of the vapors.

Ginger solicitously helped Pearl to a canopy that was erected nearby for shade.  It was obvious to me that Ginger could tell nothing was wrong with Pearl.  When Dynamite joined them, I could hear a series of clicks and whirrs as the two angel-bots watched Tesla converse with my grandfather.  The two automatons hurried off toward the train.

Gramps and Tesla spoke softly.  A moment later my grandfather got behind the wheel of the electric automobile.  I hopped in beside him.  Before we could leave, Ginger and Dynamite came toward us at a run.  Dynamite held a wooden box.  Ginger carried a case that looked sort of like it was for a trumpet, but it was longer.  The angel-bots jumped in behind us. 

Lulu, Gramps, the Bots and the Car-two

Lulu with Gramps, Ginger, and Dynamite in Tesla’s electric car. Art by Rob Goldstein

I always knew the rose-gold automaton, Ginger had a soft spot for Gramps.  I chuckled to myself.  Dynamite might have had some competition if my grandfather was more like Tesla.

Bushwa!” Gramps muttered.  “Where’s the starter in this thing?”

I had a moment of déjà vu when Ginger leaned forward and pressed a button under the dash.

The electric automobile lurched forward.  The vehicle moved faster than any jalopy I had ever seen.  My hat flew off, but Dynamite reached up and caught it.  Clouds of dust and sand billowed in our wake.  The Great Pyramid of Gisa loomed ahead.

Chapter 13

The Jazz Man

Gramps Jazz Man shades close 1

Gramps, by Rob Goldstein

“Sarcophagus!” Valentino had cried, moments before Iset carried him away on multicolored wings.  Every time I thought about that moment it gave me the heebie-jeebies.  (Chapter 11.3)

A thick layer of dust softened the sound of our footfalls.  The atmosphere felt close inside the Great Pyramid.  I had to keep reminding myself to breathe, because I was so worried and afraid that I could barely draw air into my lungs.

The angel-bots Dynamite and Ginger found the way inside the ancient, gigantic structure without difficulty.  Gramps and I followed their lead.  They had an unexpected amount of knowledge about the place.

“You’ve been here before, haven’t you?” I asked the clockwork creatures.

They both paused, turned to look at me, and blinked.  Dynamite shifted the wooden box he carried.  Ginger still held the odd leather case that looked like it was made for a musical instrument.  They looked at each other while an inordinate number of clicks and whirrs passed between them.  After a moment, I got the most unexpected answer.

Bot carries Valentino Sarcophagus Tesla1

Art by Rob Goldstein

“Giver of Names,” Ginger began.  “We were born here.  All of the angel-bots came into being here.”

“Our bodies at least,” Dynamite added.  “Our births were not complete until after Valentino made various changes to make each attendant unique.  Our varied voices came in response to the location of Valentino’s train when our individual births were finished.  For instance, it was near Memphis, Tennessee when I was being born.  Hence my southern drawl and the other accents you have noticed with the other angel-bots.”

“I know most people think we look alike.  Yet you, Miss, you saw our individuality and began giving us names.  You are most unique among your kind,” Ginger said.  “Yes, the process of our births began here.  However, neither Dynamite nor I have been inside this pyramid in a fully conscious state.  We have some innate knowledge of the place, but no clear true memories of it.”

We entered a broad chamber with columns and tall Egyptian statues.  The center of the area was sunken.  We walked down three broad steps.  In the focal point was an elevated stone bench or bed.  Gramps moved to inspect it.

Egyptian temple com Goddes statue

Statue of Iset inside the Great Pyramid. Image by Teagan Geneviene

“I don’t see any blood,” my grandfather commented.

Bushwa!  Is that an alter?” I asked about the stone bed.  “Do you think that woman meant to sacrifice him?”

Gramps shrugged.  Abruptly I noticed his foot prints in the dust.  I cast the light of my torch around the floor.  I didn’t see any prints but our own.

“We’re the only ones who have been here in a very long time,” I murmured.  “Are you sure they came here?” I asked Dynamite and both angel-bots nodded.

“Iset flew here.  She likely entered the pyramid at its pyramidion.  That is to say its top,” Dynamite answered, sounding rather pleased with himself.  “Before I learned to speak flapper, I learned to speak pyramid.”

Ginger walked to a broad pillar.  Only then did I notice the bronze statue of a woman with wings and the chair-like hat that I had learned was a crown.  I gasped.  It looked just like Iset!

Iset flying leap Wings -1

Iset by Rob Goldstein

I lifted my skirt and took out a flask.  Pearl wasn’t the only flapper with a garter flask.  I took a swig and then sat it down on one of the steps.

The rose-gold automaton shifted her position a few times.  Dynamite joined her and made the same movements.  Gramps removed something from his pocked.  At first, I thought it was his pocket-watch, but I saw that it was a compass.  He went to stand beside the angel-bots.

“You’re checking the direction, aren’t you?” Gramps asked.  “You are made with an internal compass?”

Ginger placed her free hand on my grandfather’s arm and they walked across the chamber.  When she stopped, Ginger opened the leather case.

“None of the attendants can play wind instruments,” Ginger told Gramps as she removed a slide trombone from the case.  “The correct notes must be played on the proper type of instrument to open the hidden door.  However, I don’t know what combination of notes will open it,” she added pointing to the wall.

Virtual reality photograph of Gramps playing the Theramin

Art by Rob Goldstein

“There could be endless combinations of notes,” I complained.  “Do you know any of the notes at all?”

Together Ginger and Dynamite made a sustained musical tone.  Gramps immediately nailed the note, humming with them for a moment.  One of his bushy eyebrows arched upward.  He stopped humming and made a harrumph sound.

“Could it have been a clue?” he muttered.  “Iset quoted the lyrics to one of Satchmo’s numbers.  That song begins on the same note.”

Gramps put the slide trombone to his lips and played the notes that went with the words, “I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal, you.  Oh, I’ll be tickled to death when you leave this earth, it’s true.”

The angel-bots swayed along with the music.  The sound of the horn echoed throughout the pyramid. 

My skin twitched.  Something wasn’t right.  I noticed my flask.  The hooch inside the glass container swished.  The chamber was trembling.  Sand peppered down from the ceiling.  I put the cap on the giggle water.

Gramps Jazz Man shades close 1

Gramps the Jazz Man.  Art by Rob Goldstein

The vibration became stronger.  It was accompanied by a low scraping sound.  Large stones of the wall shifted back and then to the side.  Gramps had played the right notes to open a secret door.

I hissed for him not to do it, but Gramps stepped into the dark room.  I ran to catch up with him, and the angel-bots followed.  My torch started to flicker.  In the center of the room was a dais of alabaster tile and surrounded by a stone railing.  Gramps stepped onto the dais.  The angel-bots and I followed.  Lights beneath the translucent tiles came on, providing soft illumination.

With a jolt the dais started to move upward.  I staggered and grabbed the stone rail.  As the alabaster disk rapidly ascended, I heard the scrape of stones as the secret door closed.

Gilded Tarot Judgement

The Gilded Tarot — Judgement

***

The End

***

I think Tesla and Moon can probably repair the injured angle-bots.  Although, Woo was in pieces when she hit the ground…  Now Lulu, Gramps, Dyanmite, and Ginger are in the Great Pyramid.  Where is that rapidly ascending alabaster disk taking them?  Will Valentino be there? What about Iset?  We still don’t know what to expect from her. Be at the station again next week as we climb toward a conclusion.

Real World Notes

Vaselino Many men in the Roaring Twenties copied silent film star Rudolph Valentino’s look.  A man with perfectly greased-back hair was called a “Vaselino.”

In “Mud and Sand,” Stan Laurel played matador Rhubarb Vaselino in a parody of “Blood and Sand,” which starred Rudolph Valentino.

I hope you will be at the station again next week to catch the diesel-punk train.

Thanks for visiting.  You’re the cat’s pajamas!

***

Now some shameless self-promotion for my other 1920s books — the original “three things” stories about Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip, and her friends.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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.

Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein

Copyright © 2018 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.

 

Jazz Age Wednesdays ― Hullaba Lulu 12.1

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Iset hair down Goddess 1

Iset. Art by Rob Goldstein.

Welcome to Jazz Age Wednesdays.  This is where I share stories set in the Roaring Twenties, be they cozy mysteries (like Pip’s stories) or dieselpunk, like Hullaba Lulu.

San Francisco artist, Rob Goldstein  created the pos-i-lutely swell images for this episode.  If you need a comprehensive review of this serial, I did that with a Real World Tech Review episode. 

Previously with Hullaba Lulu

Nikola Tesla tried again, to use his violet ray machine to heal Valentino. However the enigmatic man remained semi-conscious and delirious. In his ravings Valentino cried out “Sarcophagus!”

Abruptly the mysterious raven-haired woman appeared. Valentino called her “Iset,” finally showing us what he had been trying to say in his delirium with “Is.. Is.”    

Frighteningly, Iset leaned over Valentino and told him “I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal, you. Oh, I’ll be tickled to death when you leave this earth, it’s true.” Just as scary, she winked at Gramps when he recognized the song from which those hateful-sounding words came.

Then, Iset with her multicolored wings flew away with Valentino! 

I think I hear the trumpet’s call.  Let’s get a wiggle on with Chapter 12.1. 

All aboard!

Hullaba Lulu

Chapter 12.1

Tango

Valentino Iset Cape Blue Resurrection (2)

Valentino being carried off by Iset. Art by Rob Goldstein

The blue sky seemed to shimmer around them.  I watched helplessly as the beautiful woman Valentino had called Iset soared away on multicolored wings.  Valentino dangled in her grasp.

Valentino’s angel-bots poured out of the train, following on the ground.  They ran faster than I would have imagined possible.  It looked like they were trying to get a head of the flying woman.  Having achieved a small lead, they abruptly began to climb onto one another’s shoulders. 

They formed a triangular shape of clockwork bodies that towered skyward.  A trio of angel bots ran for momentum and began vaulting up toward the top of the formation.  One was noticeably smaller than the other two.  It had to be Wicky, Wacky, and the more diminutive Woo.

“Heroes, each one of them!” Tesla cried as he stared at the automatons in admiration.  “I always knew it was in them.”

Tesla portrait-c

Tesla, as imagined by Rob Goldstein

He lifted his hand to shield his eyes from the intense sunlight, dislodging Pearl’s hold on his arm.

“But they are machines,” Pearl complained.

Tesla looked at her as if she had said something incomprehensible.

Woo climbed and jumped along with Wicky and Wacky, all three received helping hands from the automatons in the formation.  Finally, they were at the top of the triangle.  I gasped in astonishment when Wicky and Wacky each took one of Woo’s arms and threw her high into the sky!

As Woo was propelled heavenward, Iset passed over with Valentino.  Woo grabbed for the enigmatic man’s ankle.  However, she lost her hold and fell back.

Iset lost her grasp on Valentino.  Still unconscious he fell through the air along with Woo.  Woo tried again to catch hold of him as they fell, but Valentino was just out of her reach.

Bot Valentino Iset hair down Goddess 2 (1)

Woo’s desperate grab for Valentino as Iset carries him away.  Art by Rob Goldstein

Wicky and Wacky leaned out dangerously far in attempt to catch the falling Woo.  At first, she reached toward them.  Then the entire formation of angle-bots became unstable and started to wobble. 

The tower of automatons swayed far to the left and then dangerously to the right.  It made me think of a terrifying tango as they leaned forward as if in a dip and then swayed some more.

Woo drew back her hand, apparently realizing that if the others caught her the entire group would fall disastrously.  Wicky and Wacky straightened.  The towering triangle of automatons gradually settled as each clockwork creature regained balance.

Meanwhile, Valentino’s unconscious form plummeted earthward.  Iset swooped down and caught him, barely a second before he would have hit the ground.  A few flaps of her majestic multicolored wings took them back high into the sky again.

Lulu light dress Pyramids-test-2

Lulu in Egypt, by Rob Goldstein

With so much happening, I repeatedly looked from one impending tragedy to the other. 

I saw Woo’s metal form hit the desert sands.  Her body bounced more than once.  I saw pieces of her come loose.

Cringing and unable to bear that terrible scene, I looked back to Iset and Valentino.  They had already flown beyond my sight.

***

Nickola Tesla screamed in horror when he witnessed Woo’s fall.

“Quickly, quickly!  There will be much to be repaired,” Tesla cried and ran toward his automobile.

The wind whipped up fiercely.

Gramps Arrives waves

Gramps by Rob Goldstein

“A tail wind,” Gramps commented, looking at the sky where we last saw Iset and Valentino.  “We’ll never catch up with her now.”

Gramps and I hurried after the inventor.  Of course, Pearl was right on Tesla’s heels.  Her turban almost came off as she ran.  Pearl paused to make sure her hair was hidden.

I saw the bluish gold angel-bot near Tesla’s electric automobile.  Moon always looked after the most advanced of the amazing whatchamacallits on the train.  He seldom left the train so it was not unexpected that he stayed behind when the other attendants left.  However, I was surprised to see a thick cable that ran from the automobile to Moon’s stomach.

“Moon!” Nikola Tesla called to the angel-bot.  “What have you done?” he asked in dismay.

Sparks came from Moon’s eyes.  The usual clicks and whirrs were broken by electric pops.  The automaton turned to Tesla in an unsteady motion.

Papá,” Moon began in a barely audible voice.  “There were difficulties charging your vehicle.  You must have the automobile if you are to reach Valentino in time.  I had to make sure it was charged inmediatamente,” the angle-bot said.  “So, I had to use my own lifeforce to power it.”

Abruptly Moon collapsed in a heap of blue-gold metal.

***

The End

***

Things are even worse! How is that possible? How many angel-bots were hurt when their towering triangle formation collapsed.  Woo was in pieces when she hit the ground. Can she be saved?  Plus, with the wind assisting her flight, how can they catch up with Iset?  And what does she have in mine anyway?  Be at the station again next week.  Maybe we’ll get some answers then.

Real World Notes

Nikola Tesla’s Electric Car.  There are a number of conflicting stories as to whether Tesla truly invented a working, rechargeable electric car.  However, there are also numerous accounts of his inventions and discoveries being suppressed by corporations and other entities who did so to advance their own financial interests.  I’ll leave it to you to decide.  In Hullaba Lulu, Nikola Tesla has his own fictional electric automobile.

The Tango.  Above, not your everyday tango! In the 1920s, the tango moved out of the lower-class brothels and became a more respectable form of music and dance.

I hope you will be at the station again next week to catch the diesel-punk train.

Thanks for visiting.  You’re the caterpillar’s kimono!

***

Now some shameless self-promotion for my other 1920s books — the original “three things” stories about Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip, and her friends.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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.

Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein

Copyright © 2018 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.