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Things Are Looking Up...

Originally uploaded by Browserd.
Dear Citizens of America,

In view of your failure to elect a competent President and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.
Her Sovereign Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy), as from Monday next.

Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium,” and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how…

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I must have started this a dozen times, each time deciding just a few lines in (once or twice only three or four words) to hold down the delete key and erase it all. I was having a hard time figuring out not only what to write, but how to write it. Eventually, this lead me to think about why I was struggling to come up with the words to express my thoughts. Which, in due turn, reminded me of one of the few parts of life I think I finally have figured out. Life, no matter who you are, what your ethnicity, nationality, age, financial, or marital status, is struggle. And when one marries, those struggles aren’t decreased. They often multiply at least threefold as you now try to take on as much of your spouse’s tribulation as you can bear, and face new challenges that arise for the both of you, and between the both of you. But, this isn’t all bad, nor unwanted. Our struggles teach us, strengthen us, bind us together. As Kirk once told a powerful being posing as God and offering to take his pain, I need my pain. It tells me who I am, and what I have survived. I also discovered, that while I can get into the head of a cutthroat pirate captain and his bloodthirsty crew or a nerves-of-steel gunfighter, that writing my own thoughts and feelings was harder, because I spend far less time analyzing them. It’s far easier to write about the things you think about deeply and often, then it is to speak on those you don’t, in the written or audible word. As Mark Twain once said, write what you know. What does any of this have to do with the subject I am supposed to write about? Simply this: I don’t think about what your 60 years of marriage means to me, because it is something I rely on like the sunrise and the changing of the tides. You start to take it for granted, its removal from your life as remote (and as devastating) as experiencing the super nova that destroys the sun or the discovery of a portal to other worlds in the back of your closet or an alien invasion. Its something I have come to count on, a reminder that while my own first attempt at such a relationship was far less successful, there are people to be found who will stand by you through all of your troubles and struggles in life. And eventually, one of those found persons just might be material for a marriage like yours, that stands against all the tests and trials of life. It is a not often thought about, but contstantly felt, source of comfort and hope that I won’t always be alone. There is a guide, blazing a trail for me to follow, leaving signs along the way, and one that can provide a living perspective, answering questions and doubts, often even more subtle, and always more patient, then the manner of requesting that advice. The sun also rises, a new day dawns, and the darkness shrouding my path forward will be lifted. And even in the darkness, when I trip over an unseen obstacle, there is a light showing me the way back to that path. I would blame the maudlin stream of over emotive narrative on alcohol, but the beer was made by A&W, not PBR, this time around, and while not necessarily the best example of my attempts at writing, it is from the heart. Happy Anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa Trapp, and may there be many more to come.

Steampunk Wichita

At AFW7 I had the chance to have my picture taken by Dustin Draper. Dude made me look like a total BAMF. Thanks!


So life is improving… significantly… more on this to come

The screams and moans continued outside the tiny room.  It was a broom closet, a small utility room for storing cleaning supplies at the end of the hallway of medium-sized hospital in the emergency wing.  She had chosen it because the door was made of metal, and outside, things that used to be human were running in the halls, and the streets outside, eating each other.  Now, locked inside the room, with the heavy steel door between her and the mayhem outside, she shuddered and heaved, trying to catch her breath between sobs of terror.

Sarah didn’t understand what was going on.  It was like a horribly real zombie movie out there, and men in military uniforms were shooting everyone, not just the crazy things with blood dripping from hungry mouths.  All she could think was this must be some terrifying dream, and soon she would wake up.

She began talking to herself, muttering about getting it together.  All she had to do was wait until it got quiet, and then she could make a run for it.  She had no idea where she would go, but one thing at a time.  Stay hidden in here until the coast was clear.

Were her eyes adjusting to the darkness or was it getting lighter?  She looked up, then fell back into the wall as she watched the door frame begin to crawl with electricity.  The sparks writhed and danced outward from the door,  crawling along the wall, and growing with intensity.  With a flash of lighting, and a sound like a thunder-clap inside a metal drum, the door into the hall vanished, leaving the silhouettes of  two tall figures. The lightning winked out as abruptly as turning off a light switch.   One man immediately spun to face the hall, while the other took half a step forward, both with guns in hand.   Sarah froze in the corner, holding her breath and tried to pretend she was invisible.

“I told you, trying to portal the same door was a really bad idea, Stock.  Do we have any idea when or where we are?”

Stepping into the light coming in through the window, the speaker was a scruffy man, dressed very strangely, and bristling with guns and knives holstered and sheathed to harness and belts he wore over bits of armor, a leather coat, and old-fashioned, vaguely cowboy-like clothing.  And was that a sword at his hip?   Sarah was in too much shock to speak, staring at him and his companion, who was wearing a long duster over similar clothes, if less weapons.  Quantity was made for by size, however,  and the sawed off pump shotgun looked like a hand cannon as he swept it back and forth over the hallway.

“Earth, Syfer, about 600 years after where we were last, and I think somewhere on the west coast of the United States.  But, absolutely no idea which parallel we might be on.  And what choice did we have?  This at least doesn’t look as tight as the spot we left.  No soldiers charging us with steamlances lowered, at least.  But, sounds like trouble here, too, listen to the screams…”

The one called Syfer pulled something from an inside pocket of his jacket.  It looked like a pocket watch.

“Trouble is right, Stock.  This is the 5th Parallel.  2011.  And by the screams, I think it’s Los Angeles.”  Syfer’s voice was grim.  “Dammit, Stock.”

Sarah couldn’t hold her breath any longer.  With an explosive little puff, she exhaled, shifted her weight and bumped into a broom.  Syfer spun and pointed what looked like a shortened version of an Old West rifle from TV Westerns at her.  He worked the action of the lever under the gun and an empty brass cartridge popped out of the side with a ringing click.  As the brass bounced on the floor, he took another half step forward.

“Easy now, stand up and be seen, and no one needs get hurt,” he said as he raised the weapon to sight down the length of the barrel.  “What are you doing back in this hiding hole?”

Sarah rose shaking to her feet.  “Trying not to be seen by those things outside,” she whispered.  “What are they?   Who are you?”

The man lowered his gun and grimaced.  “My name is Syfer Locke, Captain of the Banish Misfortune, and my friend here is Stockard McGuinley.  Reckon you can see, we aren’t from around here.  That gets a little complicated.  The things outside, if I’m right, are what you might call zombies, but they don’t shamble and shuffle.  They are fast as lightning and three times as mean. ”

The most ominous sound around is the sound of working the pump on a big gauge shot gun, the hollow sound of a spent cartridge rattling on the floor.  “Explanations might have to wait, Syfer.  I think we brought attention on ourselves.”

Stockard was peering down the hall from the door frame.

“Well, we have to do it the hard way.  Risky enough opening a second tesseract to a different place through the same door, not chancing doing it a third time.  No telling where we come out, assuming we do come out.”  Syfer turned and lowered a pair of goggles he wore on his hat down over his eyes.  “Hall is clear, for now.  But, youre right, we need to move.”

Stockard lowered a pair of goggles over his own eyes, then jerked his chin over his shoulder.  “What about her?”

“She comes with us, of course,  leave her here and she’s bait at best, and lunch regardless.”

“Always the knight in shining armor,” Stockard mocked, with a grin.  “I don’t think the Banish can track us through two jumps, Syfer.  We are going to have to find them.”

“Yep.” Syfer cocked his head, listening.  “Time to move, we are going to have company soon.  Did you bring  the grenades?”

“Take me for an amateur?” Stock grinned. “Following your lead, Captain.”

“Wait for it……. NOW!” Syfer spun around the edge of the door, hugging the right wall and sweeping the dark hall with his rifle.  Three rapid shots, and the muzzle flash illuminated three ravening once human creatures, heads splinter under the impact of heavy rifle rounds.  The rolling thunder of the big shotgun boomed down the hallway as Stockard mirrored his move, taking the left wall, their fields of fire overlapping down the length of the dark corridor.  They moved at not quite a run, in quick spurts, stopping and starting, and shooting at any moving obstacle in their path.  Sarah realized the goggles must let them see in the dark as she watched more of the dead looking things lurch and rush down the hallway, only to fall in the hail of gunfire.  She had to almost run to keep up with the two taller men as they rushed down the hall, trusting them to clear a path for her.

The trio reached the end of the hall, and Syfer gave Stockard a curt nod.  Stockard pulled a thick stick from his belt, slammed the bulging end down onto the rod and threw it around the corner.

A flash of light erupted in a wave of heat and a crashing bang as the grenade exploded.

“We better hurry before the new exit gets blocked, too.”


So much going on…

Ok, so I wrote an article for about what is steampunk.  I thought I had done a decent job, but thought many of the people who I shared it with weren’t really as enthusiastic about it as they seemed.  I mean they were my friends, right?  They HAVE to say nice things, right?  Well, the article goes live, and people I don’t know as well enjoyed it.  And then, TorSteampunk makes a comment on it on their twitter and facebook.  Now, that really got my attention.

(edit: I suppose I should share the link in question… LOL.   My article on What is Steampunk? posted to the Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders:

Never have I had writing of mine so well recieved, nor that widely promoted.  I don’t know exactly what to feel about it.  A bit nervous, VERY excited, and wondering if I am dreaming.  Then there is something else that I am not sure if I can talk about openly yet, but as soon as I know I can, I will.  A lot.

Add to that a curious message on Facebook.  From someone in charge over at UltimaCon2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  It is a very flowery and cordial invitation to an event over a year away still.  I will be investigating this closer to find out why I was contacted, exactly, but with the scheduled appearance of Airship Isabella, I will make every effort to attend.

I mean it might not be anything but spreading the word.  But it might also be a chance to sell myself.  To speak on behalf of the Starving Steampunk Foundation, or perhaps even to fence.

I will keep you all posted on what I manage to plunder.

new fiction

Life doesn’t flash before your eyes, when you are about to die.  It trods slowly, with heavy, dragging footsteps through your mind.  The man in the tattered green and khaki uniform made this silent observation as he stood ramrod straight at the foot of the gallows steps.

    “Never has there been a more wretched example of treason then Syfer Locke, and today we make sure he will never betray our kingdom again!”  The Chancellor was still droning out the list and description of Syfer’s crimes, and the condemned man let it recede behind the reverie of his thoughts.

A summer afternoon on the West Portico of the palace.  A chessboard on the table between him and his ward, the young crown prince.  A loaded six shooter beside a small stack of white game pieces.

“I’ve taken both your bishops, your knights, half of your pawns, your queen, and one of your rooks, Syfer.”  the young prince said, beaming.

“The game is not won until you take the king, your Highness.  Remember that,” Syfer replied quietly. “Do you want to concede the game now, or after the two moves when there is no escaping checkmate?”

“Surely, I can find my way out of a trap so sparingly defended, Syfer!  I believe I may win a game against you.”

Syfer raised an eyebrow, then moved a pawn one space forward.  “You may.  You have learned a great deal, and I expect one day you will win.  But, not this game.  Check.”

The prince moved his king from check to the only available square on the board.  With a maddeningly calm expression, Syfer moved his last rook forward.  “Checkmate.”

“How did you do that?” the prince asked, crossly.

“I keep my eyes open, your Highness.”

    An old memory, ten years gone, since that afternoon, and the assignment as the bodyguard to the heir apparent.  He still had both eyes, back then, instead of the mass of scar tissue under the eye patch over the left side of his face.  And still the memories rolled on, playing out in his mind.  And over and over the bloody last fight interjected, scoring fresh wounds.  His beautiful ship, the corvette Banish Misfortune, going down in flames, a mutinous crew still aboard as Syfer barely escaped after scuttling the airship himself.

A rough hand on his arm interrupted his thoughts.  It was time.  Syfer ascended the short stair to the gallows deck to the rhythm of a slow measured drum beat, his head held high.  The first rotten tomato hit him in the face as the noose was drawn snug around his neck.  The hangman fidgeted a moment as he fussed with Syfer’s position over the trapdoor.  Satisified, the hooded executioner stepped aside to the lever that operated the gallows on the edge of the platform.  The rotted vegetables began to fly in earnest as the roll of the snaredrums increased in tempo.  They were denying him the customary opportunity to speak his last words or a hood over his own head.  Syfer took a deep breath and locked his eyes with the Chancellor, then gave him a slow wink.  The Chancellor visibly flinched, and broke eye contact, looked to the hangman and nodded his signal.


some people…. really really piss me off

New art!

Working on illustrations for Matt Delman’s short story about a purity distilling machine. The description he sent me is amazing and dark, and I hope my drawings do it justice.