Wednesday, June 9, 2010

SteamPink: Private car - Leggs

As Professor Eva McGregor reveals each of her latest steampunky gadgets, gizmos, thingamajigs, thingamabobs, doohickies, widgets, and doodads with much explanation per...

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by Mary Ann deBorde
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Lulled to drowsy reverie by the soothing rhythm of the Denovian Express, an Arachnidus Mechanicus named Leggs mulled the strange workings of fate which had led to his position as a PET (of all useless things!) ... sequestered and sedated in the depths of a certain reticule belonging to a specific human named Mary Ann.

'Ah, what a tangled web life hath spun,' mused the spider.

He had come a long way from a dusty lab operated by that unsung genius, Nikola Tesla. The Tesla Coil was but one in a long string of inventions that the team of Leggs & Nikola had produced, though much credit had gone to Edison in the end - unsurprising given the public's queer distaste for spiders (be they organic or mechanical).

Wealth, along with fame, were rewards alone destined for humans, so it seemed.

Leggs sniffed around the bit of tasty sandwich carefully wrapped and tucked away inside Mary Ann's reticule, deciding a bite of olive might be just the thing to erase the taste of bitterness on his palate.

One could not help overhearing the Society girls as they discussed the duplicitous doings of the MAPS agents. Leggs was reminded of the time he had assisted Sherlock Holmes on the case of the Hound of the Baskervilles. Things were not always as they seemed, even if one could never quite get that truism through the thick skull of the bumbling Dr. John Watson - the oaf! Thanks to the good doctor's annoying antics on the heath, Leggs had sustained a rather nasty injury still felt during inclement weather.

Swallowing a particle of pecan, the spider mused that Holmes had half-hoped to see Watson eaten alive - moustache and all. Well, there was always next time ...

Leggs carefully pushed aside a copper rivet on the aft side of his owner's reticule. Swiftly, silently, he pushed a spectratomic telescope through the narrow aperture.

Splendid, all seemed well enough. He admired the lovely Apollo knot of Velvet's hair. Mary Ann sported a stunning brooch that, unless his eight compound eyes failed him, could have come from nowhere other than the famous House of Worth. And there ... on the seat beside Freda ... rested the most amazing birdcage complete with miniature calliope and adorned with whorls of rare Chinese Jadite in the shape of modern dragons.

Leggs recalled the first time he had spied a dragon; he and the eccentric Phileas Fogg had encountered not one, but THREE of the shy species on their aerial trip around the world. No matter the wager placed by the Reform Club, Fogg would have made the trip in 75.5 revolutions (not 80!), had they not undertaken the tender task of playing midwife to an expectant dragon. Who would have ever guessed that dragons (the non-egg laying variety) took a walloping 4.5 days to birth? Then again, those wings had to be blastedly difficult to ... pass?

He shuddered, pushed the rivet back in place, and blessed his maker for assigning him the male gender. It made his appreciation for the Latrodectus Mechanicus (black widow) that much keener. Keener, but Leggs was enough of a Bon Ton to know to avoid pillow talk with any female who sported an hourglass on her abdomen. Some prices he simply wasn't willing to pay.

Someone who had paid, and dearly as it were - was his oldest comrade and companion to the literary arts, Edgar Allen Poe. They had met at West Point Academy where Poe was to later be dismissed, which really has no bearing on anything except that Poe often carried an unhealthy chip on his shoulder for both women (named Lenore in specific!) and Academia in general. Legg's chuckled to remember the evening Poe had pounded on his door, thoroughly in his cups from a surfeit of Absinthe, and demanded Leggs pose for him as a replacement for the Raven (which never would have worked due to unsatisfactory poetic metre). Sadly, it wasn't too long afterwards that Poe subsided into a bleak period fraught with macabre notions of premature burial and an incurable drive for opium. Leggs, virtually a teetotaller, had bade farewell to the greatest, and perhaps unluckiest, poet ever known.

Unlike dear Poe, West Point had proven advantageous for the mechanical spider. Through contacts he had acquired there, Leggs had gone on to open the first European charter of MENSA (Mechanically ENgineered Superior Arachnids). It was still boasted at the club that Leggs had an almost unheard of IQ of 201, although the truth of the matter was more like 187.

Leggs was modest, if not brilliant.

Rooting around in the bottom-most folds of Mary Ann's reticule, Leggs uncovered a breath mint, two hairpins and an empty bottle of patent quack medicine. Leggs crawled inside the tiny cobalt-blue glass bottle and set to spinning himself a wee hammock in which to catch a few winks. Really, the girls seemed fine and the rocking of the train had induced in Leggs an overwhelming urge for slumber.

Comfortably ensconced in his make-shift cradle, swaying back and forth in a movement as much internally generated as external, the miniature mechanical spider peered dimly through the murky haze of blue glass and was reminded of another blue that had once held him as gently captive as his web ...

Mary Shelley, (how ironic Leggs must find these Marys in his life)! Mary Shelley - wife to Percy, clandestine amore to both Leggs and Byron - an angel amongst men! It was she who first brought his, Legg's, story to pen & paper, although much disguised and fictionalized under the title of Frankenstein. It was Mary who had broken him with her refusal to abandon the wastrel waste named Percy Bysshe Shelley and flee Geneva with Leggs at her side. It was Mary who, under countless excuses of the vapours, had hunted zombies with Leggs under the London sewers.

And finally, it was also Mary who had sent Leggs on that fateful night to meet up with the man who would sell the then-young mechanical spider into ten long years of servitude with the French Foreign Legion. 'Amarante a fleurs en queue' ... love lies bleeding, so she once said.

And now, as eight diodes delicately dimmed in repose, the 98 yr. old mechanicus arachnidus named Leggs surrendered to the waiting arms of Morpheus. Later, when much refreshed, he would stand vigilant vanguard with his Society Girls in the never-ending battle between the forces of (proper) Society and those maleficent miscreants, MAPS.

The tiny spider belched a bit of pimento, then began to softly snore.


Leggs - the Large story of a very small spider (or whatever lol) by Mary Ann deBorde

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by Mary Ann deBorde
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* image source steampunk spider

* part of Jane and Jade Escapades, my steampunk story in which commenters may be incorporated into the story and have guest appearances the following week.

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