Monday, June 7, 2010

SteamPink: coach car - vvb

Meet: Velvet aka vvb
Occupation: Book Blogger
Location: somewhere between virtual Scotland and England
Main mode of transportation: steam train - Devonian Express
Genre: Steampunk, Action

Romance steam gauge: none, no time for it

Wait a minute...
Before we leave dev.car19,
vvb notices that the closet door is ajar...

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by K.H. Koehler
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Velvet stepped through the Internet Door to the Skillet and was instantly transformed.

She was impressed. Her usual clothes had been swapped out for a burlesque gown of wine-red satin, froths of (she felt) itchy black lace, fencenet stockings and a huge black buccaneer hat with a hole cut into it. Sitting in the hole was a spray of white, odorless, desert flowers, and amidst them a small birdcage with a tiny blue-feathered dove in it the size of her thumb. For one moment she tottered, then quickly acclimated herself to the additional weight.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said, shaking her head with disbelief, which almost threw her weight off balance again. With a hand securing the enormous hat atop her head, she started looking around. This was no place she was familiar with. The concave walls were dull gunmetal grey, the furniture rawbone and splintered from wear, and vibrating beneath her spiky, four-inch heeled privateer boots was the distant heartbeat-like thud of big machines at work.

“I gotta get me a new gig,” she remarked before choosing a direction at random. Down a long hallway she walked, slowly becoming aware of voices, shouting and the occasional gunblast—which made her flinch. It seemed to be coming from a room at the end of the hall. A thin slice of light cut across the threshold, and she could swear the odious smell of cheap perfume mixed with cigar smoke and spilled whiskey was emanating from the door.

Sweating, Velvet put her gloved hand upon the door. She found it swung open easily. Immediately a chair flew at her head. Velvet dived to the floor to narrowly miss it colliding with her head. She was lucky. Instead, it crashed into shelves of bottles behind a long, worn iron bar, covering the bar top in various icky, sticky substances. “Jesus,” she said. It was like walking in on one of Dante’s infamous Circles of Hell.

The room was crowded with men and women in outrageous clothes, tottering drunkenly and shooting and yelling at each other. The noise level could have raised the roof, had there been an actual roof. She realized she was aboard a sandboat, destined for parts unknown, and a full saloon fight was in progress, with various parties shooting, getting shot, dodging bullets, fisticuffing or otherwise tossing loaded bottles of booze at each other. Bottles of electric blue whiskey exploded like bombs against the floor or the skulls of unlucky victims. People weaved, hooting like maniacs, various homemade guns raised to take aim at their perceived enemies, though Velvet was doubtful that anyone knew what target they were actually shooting at at this point. One gentleman who looked a little like Wild Bill Hickok on a bender raised the barrel of what seemed to be a harpoon gun resting on his broad, drunken shoulder, and took aim at her.

Immediately someone pulled Velvet down and behind an overturned table. She recognized the bushy blonde hair, the man’s buckskin shirt, the worn boots and dusty flat black hat—the sunworn blue, blue eyes. “Alice! Is it Wild Alice West?” she asked, hoping she’d hit paydirt.

“Get down, moron, before you get shot!” said Alice, taking aim at someone scurrying by with her custom Colt. The man fired and Alice deftly fired back. Neither bullet found a target.

“Moron?” Velvet cried. “Excuse me…”

The man with the harpoon gun let a bolt fly, the impact knocking the table back a full three inches, the tip of the bolt coming precariously close to Velvet’s face. “Oh my god,” she cried.

“Melville 606,” Alice said.


“It’s a Melville 606.” Alice said. “One of the best pooners out there.”

“That’s actually a harpoon gun he’s got?”

“With speed-reload,” Alice said. As if to back up her claims, the table took another hit, knocking them both a few more inches across the floor.

“This is nuts,” Velvet said, swallowing hard against the lump forming in her throat.

“This is the Skillet,” Alice answered her. Taking aim, she shot at the chandelier over the pooner’s head, sending a thousand pounds of glass crashing down like a bomb, spikes of crystal sparking off in every direction and making the shooters back off—except for the pooner, who had been buried alive, along with his Melville 606. Had they not been shielded by the table, Velvet thought it was possible she would have become a very shish-kabobed interviewer.

She thought about screaming, then realized that nobody here would hear her anyway.

“What happened?” she asked instead.

“What do you mean?” Alice answered in a frighteningly casual tone. She might have been making a laundry list, or reciting pi, her voice was so bored.

Velvet waved her hand. She felt dizzy and the bird in the cage atop her head was squawking something awful, giving her the beginnings of a migraine headache. “This can’t be a normal night, even for you.”

Alice checked her munitions with a frown. “Oh this? This isn’t me. This’s all Mr. Treen’s fault.”

“What’s that?”

“The stolen brooch.”

“This happened because of a brooch?”

Alice shrugged. “The brooch belonged to the mayor’s wife. Hey, it ain’t like Mr. Treen didn’t winnit fair n’ square.”

“The brooch?”

“No, the mayor’s wife. The mayor put her in the pot to raise a bet.”

Velvet stared at Alice with a blanked-out expression.

Alice shrugged. “The mayor didn’t like his wife,” she explained. “But he really liked that brooch, said it was his mother’s.” Alice snapped the magazine of her gun closed. “Here’s our break,” she said. And thus saying, a huge black Suffolk barreled into the casino, being ridden by a horseman all in black. He crashed through roulette and poker tables, scattering dice and chips high and wide. The horse screamed as it came to a halt beside their overturned table.

More shots were fired from guns being held by very drunken hands. All of them whizzed off Goliath’s impermeable steel-hard hide like angry hornets. Alice grabbed Velvet by the sleeve and hauled her up. “Get on. I’ll cover you.” She shot several blind shots into the casino room at various rogues running hither and yon.

Velvet stared up at the enormous beast, weaving uncertainly, wondering how in hell she’d ever get up that high with so much clothes weighing her down. But before she could turn to Alice for help, the tall, lanky figure atop Goliath reached down from on high, wrapped an arm around her waist, and pulled her up into the horse’s saddle before him with no trouble at all. Suddenly she was sitting astride this enormous and unnatural animal and being held in place by something in a long dark coat that looked more like a ghoul than a real man. His grip was like iron.

“Yikes,” Velvet said. “Are you some kind of ghost?”

“Boo,” said the man. And immediately she recognized the goofy expression of Mr. Treen’s face under the vilifying layers of dark western wear. Mr. Treen grabbed up the reins and turned Goliath around. “Miz Alice…!”

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” Alice responded, shot off two more random shots into the crowd, and then jumped leap-frog-style onto the back of her horse.

Mr. Treen, sitting between the two young women, kicked the horse into a canter. In seconds they were out of the casino and riding down a corridor of the sandboat, gunfire following them like hollow explosions.

Velvet’s ears rang.

“It’s nice to meet you, Miz…?” said Alice, leaning around Mr. Treen to shake Velvet’s hand.

“Um…Velvet,” she said, for the moment so shook up it was difficult to remember anything, including her own name and the fact that she had a real life outside this insane asylum of a fictional world. It didn’t make her feel any better that she was being crushed up against Mr. Treen, who seemed to be enjoying moving his hands around her waist for a better grip.

“Velvet,” said Mr. Treen. “I like that.”

“Don’t even go there, buster,” Alice warned.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“What can we do for you, Miz Velvet?” Alice asked just a nice as can be, as if nothing in the last couple of minutes had ever happened, the gunflight, the pooner, the chandelier, nothing.

“Well, I was going to interview you guys for my website. But you know what?” Velvet said. “Why don’t you just leave me off at the next Internet Door? This place is bad for my health.”


Alice interview by K.H. Koehler
Based on characters from Black Jack Derringer. © 2010. All rights reserved.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by K.H. Koehler
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

*** steampunk book giveaway - courtesy of author ***

Black Jack Derringer
K.H. Koehler - my review
Published: 2009

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