I am a bit of a dabbler, like most artsy folk and in addition to making Steampunk jewelry I am writing my first novel (tentatively titled, The Atomventures). I wanted to share a bit of my writing so that I can introduce you to some of the characters in my mind when I’m creating my jewelry pieces. You only need to peruse my Etsy shop to see all of the odd characters: airship pirates, courtesans, time travelers, time portal guardians, gatekeepers, imperial cartographers, steamstresses…the list goes on! So without further ado, here is the first chapter of my book and my favorite character, an atomventor.
Chapter One: Escape & Escapades
“Many women keep secrets. Mine is rather a good one. I am what the Royal Society would call an Atomventor. I can read aether and particles, matter I think Newton classifies it. Everything is made up of aether or particles. Understanding aether is unquestionably the most prized skill in all the world. And the most dangerous to possess as possession of such a skill means one is under constant threat of abduction or attack. Not to mention the government’s control of Atomventors. My kind sought protection a century ago when our unique ability was discovered. I never knew my parents—only that they were gypsies from Ireland—would account for the red hair. I was found at Paddington Station in a worn carpetbag. Hmph, sounds an awful lot like a character out of some wild play of manners! Nevertheless, the family that took me in as their own named me Philomena Paddington—Philomena after their beloved matriarch and Paddington, of course, after the station in which they happened upon me.”
It was a short confession. Margaret did not have time. She had been wounded and the air was running out. Philomena did not find it appropriate to keep her in the dark any longer about her secret identity. Truthfully, Philomena was relieved that she finally had a confidante. Margaret, weak from the bullet lodged in her shoulder, spoke feebly: “Why are you telling me this now Mena?”
Philomena smiled and said, “Because I am going to transform the bullet in your shoulder into a shovel and when I do—I do not want you to be frightened.” Margaret laughed.
“Frightened? Oh my dear, I dare say being buried alive has already accomplished just that. If you can get us out of here I will be exhilarated!”
Philomena sighed, “Right, of course. Now I must concentrate.” Mena closed her eyes. Aether. Aristotle’s theory was only part right. Aether is the “quintessential element” and it does move in a circle; however, aether is in every other element as well—earth, water, fire, the heavens—and by concentrating on any object and its movement, Philomena could interrupt its particular motion and change it. She and other Atomventors were born with the ability to transform matter. Of course to do so Philomena had to follow natural laws. She could not simply transform the earth above them into air. Particles were malleable not exchangeable. Air could never be earth. But the earth could be stone or sand or grass. Mena had thought of a plan. “Margaret, I am going to transform the earth on top of us and this tomb into flowers, primroses.”
Margaret interrupted, “Primroses!” Philomena quipped back,
“Yes, we are in Devon after all and primroses are in season.”
Margaret asserted, “Mm, quite right. Then what?” Philomena continued,
“The flowers will be easy to dig a tunnel through and once that is done, I’ll atomvent us a rope ladder so we can climb out. But before any of this I’m afraid I must pull that bullet out of your shoulder. It’s going to hurt.”
“Mena—if I do not make it…” Philomena hushed Margaret angrily,
“None of that kind of talk now, Mag. You’ll get through this.” Margaret’s brown eyes filled with tears.
“Mena, just let me say this. Tell George I accept and I return his affection.”
“Finally! You’ve made up your mind! I cannot believe it took being buried alive to see it. Oh Mag, you will tell him yourself soon enough.” Margaret smiled weakly.
“I hope so.”
“Alright, brace yourself.” Philomena pulled out her knife and fished the bullet out of Margaret’s shoulder. Margaret groaned—the pain nearly caused her to faint. She buckled and slumped sideways in the tomb. Margaret lay there bleeding profusely though Mena had bandaged her shoulder. She needed a doctor, and soon. Philomena combined her knife and the bullet in her hands. She concentrated—sensing each object’s motion. The knife and bullet began to vibrate violently in Mena’s hand and emitted a sharp, loud sound. In a flash of silver light, the objects shifted form. A sturdy steel shovel lay in Mena’s hand. It was not over yet. She focused; this next transformation would be much harder. There was a ton of earth on top of them. The density and area was larger. Mena sat, closed her eyes once more, and began reading the earth’s very particles. There was dirt—heavy from rain, grass above, roots, larvae, centipedes, worms wriggling about, water trickling through the earth’s pores…it all began to vibrate. The earth above them quivered as it shifted from solid dirt to piles of beautiful white primroses—their stems green and leafy, rootless and loose. The tomb’s grainy stone tumbled into piles of flowers. Mena felt the soft petals fall against her face. The smell was overwhelming. She grasped the shovel and dug out Margaret and finally a tunnel upward. Last she changed one side of the primrose tunnel into a rope ladder. Clasping Margaret to her side, she helped her climb. Margaret inhaled the fragrant passageway deeply.
“Have we died? Is this heaven?” Mena smiled,
“It’s so beautiful.” They were two steps from the top. Margaret slackened. Her body grew rigid. Philomena struggled to keep hold of Margaret and the ladder. She was losing grip.
“Margaret. Margaret.” Her voice grew desperate.
“Margaret!” howled a familiar gruff voice.
“George!” Philomena was relieved. George helped Mena and Margaret to the top.
“What in the bloody hell happened?”
“There’s no time for that now George, later. Margaret’s been shot.” George’s face was white with fear. “You have to heal her.” George nodded. Philomena politely turned around. George did not wait to remove his clothing before shifting. In his wolf form, he could heal Margaret’s wound. Werewolf saliva is a cure-all. Mena wanted to study its aetheric properties in the future to see if it might be synthesized in some way. The slim brindle wolf sweetly licked Margaret’s shoulder. The saliva coated her whole upper arm until it worked its way past her epidermis. Within minutes Margaret’s wound was completely healed. Margaret lay asleep. The only side effect of werewolf saliva—an intense R.E.M. cycle. She would be unconscious for a day or so. George shifted again and took out a spare set of clothes from his travel bag.
“Are you alright Mena? Do you need me to heal you?” Philomena shook her head, her back still respectfully turned.
“No, thank you George. We must get back. Margaret and I uncovered who is behind this most recent attempt on the Empire. We must warn Parliament.”
“Yes. Wesley is bringing the airship round. He is going to meet us at the rendezvous point in a quarter-of-an-hour.”
“Then we must hurry. Ivybridge is still a ways off.” George mounted his dispatch horse and pulled out a tiny leather parcel. The parcel had a large red tag sticking out from its center. George pulled the tag until a harness emerged and placed the harness round the horse’s neck. He dismounted and tapped the parcel thrice. Philomena could hear the parcel’s interior cogs turning and steam slowly emitted from inside. The cogs finally clicked into place and the parcel unfolded into a carriage large enough to convey them to Ivybridge. Though time was of the essence Mena could not help but marvel at the invention. “Extraordinary! Wesley has certainly outdone himself.”
“He seems to think so.” George scoffed. George gathered Margaret into his arms and got into the carriage. Philomena entered after them.
“Who is going to drive the horse?”
“That’s the best part.” George pushed a series of buttons on the side panel of the carriage and off they went. “The wheels will turn accordingly. I’ve entered our coordinates into the control panel. It will give us time to talk. What went wrong?”
“We were discovered but I have confirmed that the Earl of Devon has been colluding with the French. He has taken over the island of Eddystone and hidden munitions there. He also plans to launch an attack on Buckingham Palace with an army of French mercenaries. We must warn parliament and stop him.” George gasped.
“Treason. Well he will be the one to be buried alive when word gets out.”
“If we get there in time. He may move his plan ahead now that he’s been discovered. He cannot think Margaret and I were alone.”
“Yes, you’re very right.” The carriage jostled to and fro as they sped toward Ivybridge. Philomena poked her head out of the window. They weren’t followed, thank heavens. She’d had enough excitement for one trip. Up ahead, on the outskirts of Ivybridge, their airship awaited to transport the spies to London.