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Author Topic: Steampunk Fiction - Feedback Wanted  (Read 760 times)
archerg
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« on: May 08, 2013, 06:50:20 pm »

Hi,

I'm Archer Garrett.  I'm new here.  I'm approximately half-way through my current writing project and thought I'd share some of it with you.  This is my first Steamworks-esque project, so I'm new to the genre, but I've been a fan of Steampunk in general for quite awhile.  Feel free to peruse it and comment/critique.  I'll give you a few chapters now and try to upload several more later. 



Foreward

The account of how I happened upon the following journal entries (and the larger collection of journals themselves) is indeed a story in itself, but I should reserve that for another time.  For the sake of brevity, I shall say that Mr. Stallworth’s journals are a mesmerizing web of adventure upon adventure, far too long to be contained in a single work.  I have excerpted entries from throughout his journals and collated them so as to make it more accessible to you, the casual reader.  I hope that I have done justice to his story.
--C.R.


Journal Entry 1
September, 1890
Seizing the Opportunity – An Introduction


What if you were told that this world, as unique and isolated as it may seem, is quite actually far from being all alone in the universe?  Would you scoff or guffaw at such a notion?  Perhaps you might feel the urge to introduce the postulator to one of those delightful jackets that often accompany those plush, yet Spartan, padded rooms?  I will concede it certainly does seem preposterous, and I myself might even reject such nonsense as high fantasy, if I’d not been there myself.  Perhaps we are alone in the universe; I certainly’ve not met any strange-looking fellows from other planets, but we are most definitely not alone in the multiverse.

The multiverse, you wonder?  What might such a contrivance even be?  Please allow me to attempt to explain, given my utter ignorance in all things scientific, much to my grandfather’s chagrin.  The best that has been determined, this alternate earth has not always existed, at least not in its current form.  If it did, then it was a mirror image of our own earth.  Its history and inhabitants are exact replicas of our own, up until the point of the split.  This splitting of the worlds was when a unique life was breathed into the alternate earth, and its point of singularity was finally reached.  The split was a birth, of sorts.

The fissure of the worlds occurred approximately (or perhaps precisely) at the time of the Carrington Event in 1859.  The great solar storm was named after the late Mr. Carrington, a dear friend and colleague of my grandfather’s, though I never heard the storm referred to by its proper name.  When my grandfather and Mr. Carrington subsequently discovered the existence of this alternate earth, he took to referring to the storm as Dick’s Disaster.  Mr. Carrington was rather not amused.

Though they originally thought that they had discovered a completely new realm, a thorough examination of this alternate world’s history yielded an interesting find.  The history of the two worlds began to diverge after Dick’s Disaster.  The divergence was minor at first, like a bullet spiraling just slightly off its mark.  In the beginning, the differences were subtle and scarcely noticeable, but as time went on, the contrasts became stark.

The catalyst for these changes was the very thing that put the disaster in Dick’s Disaster.  Perhaps it was a defense mechanism formulated by the natural order to protect us from an increasingly volatile sun, or perhaps it was something else, but while our sun storms have subsequently grown more docile, their corresponding storms have been much more savage.  My grandfather would later hypothesize that after the storm of 1859, the alternate world began to act as a solar buffer for us, thus allowing our world to continue with its increasingly complex technological advances.  The alternate world however, was forced to evolve in a manner that was much more resilient to their frequently-occurring electromagnetic pulses.  The volatile atmosphere resulted in the abandonment of the study of electromagnetism, in favor of chemistry and biology, though even they were limited in certain developments because of the storms.  The alternate world fell into a prolonged, hybrid Industrial Revolution.

As a child, I always found my grandfather’s romanticized recollections of the era of his childhood to be fascinating.  Later, when he confided in me about his fantastical sojourns to a place that was even more peculiar to me than the world of his youth, I knew in my heart that I had to see it for myself.

Upon his death, my grandfather’s vast estate was distributed amongst his children and grandchildren.  Many considered it to be a family scandal when my brothers received all manner of oil and mineral rights, priceless works of art and numerous other riches, while I, his supposed favorite grandson, received nothing other than a bureau containing the bulk of his and Mr. Carrington’s journals and research notes.  I can still remember the feeling of elation as I, his sole confidante, opened the bureau and retrieved the sealed envelope that waited for me atop the collection of dusty papers.  His words are still as clear in my mind as the day I first read them five years ago.

My dearest William,

I have saved the most precious of my treasures for the only one that will truly appreciate them – you.  The greatest danger of wealth unearned, aside from arrogance and a life unlived, is the paralyzing fear of losing what has been gained.  I leave you nothing but the riches of an opportunity for a life well lived – a life of adventure.  Seizing the few, fleeting moments of glory that this life presents us is not about capitalizing on such an opportunity; it is about shedding the passive for the passionate.  So go, shed the passive, my son; revel in the passionate, live your adventure.




This journal shall serve as a record of my experiences.

-William Stallworth
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archerg
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2013, 06:51:37 pm »

Journal Entry 237a
August, 1895t
An Introduction to the Caribbean Expedition


I’ve likely repeated it numerous times in my diaries, but I suppose once more will not cause you any undue suffering; Terra, as I’ve taken to calling it, advanced in a manner that was technologically divergent from our own path.  As a note, Terra is merely Latin for Earth.  I’ve bestowed this alternate world with a title for no other reason than as a measure to distinguish between the two earths, so as to avoid confusion.  After perusing several of my earlier entries, I sometimes found myself confused as to the whats and whoms of which I was referring.  Nonetheless, back to Terra.

Since the study of electromagnetism was mostly abandoned, the minds of many thinkers were freed to pursue other fields of study; namely, these being chemistry, metallurgy and biology.  Note I say that the study of electricity was mostly abandoned; the electrical does exist here, though it is very limited in scope.  Because of the need for Faraday cages in all things electric, the cost and application of such can be quite prohibitive.

The advancement of chemistry in Terra was far greater than anything in our world.  Many of these discoveries were used for the betterment of society, but some, I fear, will soon be used by evil men – just as we’ve seen in our own world.  That, however, I shall save for another entry.
As you look around your world, you’ve probably realized that science and technology often outpace the sensibilities and ethics of man.  We often have to learn by burning our fingers, but our collective memories are short-term and the lessons we learn are soon forgotten.  Our bandaged fingers eventually go wobbling back into the dancing flames. 

In the early years of the divergence, environmental concerns were nonexistent, and pollution was rampant in both worlds.  The inhabitants of the multiverse were forced to eventually address their smog-filled cities and the acid rain that pattered on their heads, but Terra had a far worse problem in the early days – what to do with the extremely toxic by-products of the chemicals and processes that were being developed?

At first they were dumped openly on the ground in the deserts and other sparsely inhabited areas, but this created vast wastelands.  Burying the chemicals was attempted next, but due to their highly corrosive nature, contaminated groundwater soon became a dire issue.  Finally, a solution was devised; the by-products would be dumped in the depths of the oceans, far from civilization.  What could possibly go awry?  As we would soon discover, quite a many things, actually.

Most of the creatures of the sea that ventured into the designated dumping grounds quickly perished, but this was not the case for all species.  Some creatures experienced horrific mutations, far worse than any could have imagined.  One class in particular that was affected in this manner was cephalopods – specifically squid and octopi.  These creatures experienced vastly increased growth rates and exhibited extremely aggressive and territorial mannerisms.  Even so, this journal entry would not exist had it not been for architeuthidae, known to us commoners as the giant squid.

The largest documented architeuthidae was 43’ long and weighed over 600 pounds, but many an old sailor had a tale or two of a monstrous beast that exceeded 60’ in length.  Our toxic dumping had the effect of tripling, or possibly even quadrupling the size of the already-massive creatures.  Entire ships began to disappear without a trace, and sailors began to bring stories to port of mythical krakens, except they were no longer a myth.  After a particularly gruesome attack against a barque in the Caribbean was witnessed by a passing vessel, a team of men was organized to track down and exterminate the offending beast.  This is where my story begins.
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2013, 06:55:06 pm »

Ah Crap; I forgot...  the name of the book is Pulse Chaser, by the way...  Embarrassed
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2013, 02:52:34 pm »

Journal Entry 237c
August, 1895t
The Culmination of the Caribbean Expedition


We’d been on the hunt all of June and July, and every man was exhausted.  We had grown weary of our expedition.  All of the crew longed for more than a single night in port.  Consumption of rum was forbidden by the captain, because of the nature of our charge.  Some had even taken to murmuring that it all was a farce; there was no monster, it had all been just another fable created by drunken mariners to explain one more ship lost at sea.  I began to fear the men would soon mutiny if the campaign was not abandoned.

There had been no sign of the kraken, as if he knew we were seeking him out.  I don’t mean to imply that our presence would have struck fear into the beast’s heart, for we certainly wouldn’t have; he had taken ships much larger than ours.  If I should dare venture into the mind of the beast (which is a preposterous endeavor, I admit), I would suppose in hindsight that we’d been followed for perhaps weeks.  I shall never be convinced otherwise that the kraken had not taken it upon himself to follow us, so that he might better understand his adversary.

We had left Cockburn Town, on the tiny island of Grand Turk, only two days prior on a southeasterly course with a destination of Tortola.  Though I no longer recall our exact location, I do know it was somewhere in the Puerto Rico Trench.  Knowing what I know now, it should’ve been rather obvious to us that we should meet him where we did; the Trench was home to the deepest depths in the Atlantic, the perfect place for the kraken to set his snare.

Our ship was an armored cruiser of approximately 250’ in length, with a complement of 300 officers and men.  She was powered by twin steam engines along with three large masts for auxiliary propulsion, to aid us on the open waters.  She had been outfitted with a series of massive harpoons that could fire in any conceivable direction or angle.  The vessel was smaller than most cruisers, and was selected for that very reason.  The thought was that we would need a nimble ship to pursue the beast for days on end, slowly wearing it down until finally, we would strike.

The evening sun blazed like an unbridled inferno, deep in the west.  The horizon would soon be awash with oranges and reds and pinks, before fading into a purple so regal that Victoria herself would lust to be wrapped in its cloak.  Finally, all would be consumed by a blackness so complete, that we would all certainly be lost at sea, were it not for the countless, twinkling sentries of the Caribbean night.  But for now, the sky was still the deepest of azure, its only blemish the black smoke that billowed from our stacks.

I remember the sky so well because I was on deck, leaning against the starboard railing and breathing in its beauty. Pagan and French were beside me, puffing on their pipes and musing aloud the merits of abandoning ship.

“…No, I’m serious; when we make it to Road Town, I’m leaving this ship and never coming back.”
French laughed heartily and replied, “You said that in Cockburn Town, and on Cat Island, and in Nassau!  But here you are Pagan!  I already know you for a liar, but if you keep it up, everyone else will too!”

“He said it in Miami as well.” I added leisurely.

“Miami!” French roared even louder in remembrance as he continued, “I forgot all about Miami!”

“Bah,” Pagan muttered as he flicked his wrist, “the devil take you both!”

Pagan turned and stared out over the water as he continued to murmur to himself. 

French’s laughter slowly faded, until the three of us were standing in silence.  He slapped his friends shoulder reconcilably and said, “While I would agree that freeing ourselves from this floating stockade sounds rather appealing, they would surely find us and hang us from the yardarms, my friend.  Tortola is no Puerto Rico; we would certainly be found.”

Pagan did not respond to his friend, but rather continued to stare out across the waves.

“Come on now Pagan, don’t-”

“Quiet!  Look at that!” He exclaimed.

We both turned and gazed in the direction of Pagan’s outstretched arm.  In the distance, scarcely more than a hundred yards away, a dark shadow rested just beneath the surface of the water.  Slowly, the shadow drifted in our direction.  Suddenly, it surged towards us with a speed and fury that shocked us all into a stupor. 

French was the first to wrest himself free of the trance; he turned and fled to alert the others, shrieking and waving his arms all the way.  Pagan’s pipe clattered on the deck, its sound reawakening me.  I fumbled awkwardly with the rifle slung over my shoulder, while Pagan retrieved his in one fluid motion.  He tracked the shadow’s movement toward us with deft precision, while continually stepping back from the railing.  Suddenly, when it seemed it would certainly slam into our hull, the apparition disappeared into the depths.

We turned and stared at each other, dumbfounded as to what had just occurred and too frightened to speak.  By now, a group of sailors had begun to gather behind us on the upper deck.  A chorus of laughter began to erupt among them as they looked down upon the likes of us, shaking visibly while we clutched our rifles.  Pagan turned and violently shook a fist at them while remaining perfectly quiet, but it did no good.

Finally, I spoke. 

“Perhaps it was a whale?”

He turned and scowled at me as he snarled back, “Weren’t no whale.”

As Pagan began to edge closer to the side of the boat, I tried to talk him back, but it was no use.  “Give it a moment!” I pleaded, and then, “Stand down now!”

When he reached the railing, he leaned over cautiously, his rifle still plastered to his shoulder at the ready.  For several long moments he stared down into the blue abyss, scanning intensely for any sign of the disturbance.

Pagan jerked his head around as the catcalls from above began to rain down on us more vigorously.  He pointed at the leader of the group and began to curse violently at them, his face red with fury.  The men cackled and riposted with insults of their own, until all at once, they grew silent and stared at him blankly.

I watched in horror as Pagan continued to berate the men, thinking he had triumphantly threatened them into silence.  His sneer faded into a look of confusion, as a steady patter of seawater began to rain down upon him.  My heart sank as I watched his face flash with terror as he looked skyward and saw the towering, black tentacle that loomed overhead.  I shouldered my rifle and fired at the limb, but it was too late.  The feeler lunged at Pagan and wrapped around his torso before he could utter a sound.  His eyes bulged from the pressure it exerted on his body as it squeezed him without remorse. As it lifted him off the deck, the massive head of the kraken surfaced.   A series of smaller tentacles flailed about, until it brought Pagan near.  The feelers then folded outward, like a monstrous flower in bloom, revealing two mandibles that opened and closed hungrily over its mouth.  The kraken relaxed its grip just enough for Pagan to cry out to us, before it tossed him effortlessly into its beak and swallowed him whole. 

As my friend’s wail was forever cut short, I turned and ran for safety.  Overhead I could hear the sounds of pandemonium, but it all was a blur of distant echoes, as if I had suddenly fell into some deep chasm.  A confusion of orders and panicked shouts rang out all across the deck.  Smoke began to fill the air as shots were fire from rifles and pistols.  All of it melted together into a collage of cacophony, except for one sound; I can remember the clarity of metal scraping against metal, as a group of men above me turned the crank and pivoted one of the colossal harpoons towards the beast.

Suddenly, I was slammed face-first against the deck as my feet were yanked out from underneath me.   A wave of pain rushed outwards from my nose as crimson sprayed all around me.  My eyes watered uncontrollably from the impact to my face.  I rubbed them with my sleeve in an attempt to regain my vision, and was astonished at the amount of blood that gushed from my nose and stained my coat.  This was not the condition I had hoped to be in during the encounter.  Still confused by what had happened, I rolled over onto my back and gazed in trepidation at the ghastly, black arm that had wrapped itself around my ankle.  The last moments of my friend’s life began to flash to the forefront of my own mind.  I strained to reach my rifle, but it was hopelessly out of my reach.  I clawed furiously at the deck as it began to drag me towards the railing.

In the haze that surrounded me, I could hear what sounded like the voices of men calling out to me.  Their chants were rhythmic and urgent, like the angry shouts of a lynch mob around a gnarled oak tree.  Were they calling for my death?

No!  My cutlass!  The words finally rang true to my ears; of course!  I twisted my body and unsheathed my blade; all the while, the railing loomed ominously closer.  Despite the sharp pains that shot through my face and the blood that now burned my eyes as it threatened to paint my entire face red, I focused my strength.  Every muscle in my body contracted at once, and like a bolt of lightning I shot upright.  I growled like a cornered animal and swung the blade in a wide, sweeping arc, connecting perfectly with the slimy, black limb.  All around me, I could hear the cheers of the men erupt and then fall silent again.  Still, it pulled me closer.  I hacked furiously, again and again at the tentacle, until finally a screech unlike anything I had ever heard pierced the air.  Begrudgingly, the kraken released its grip.

I turned and scrambled on all fours, searching for the traction needed to stand upright, but the deck was slick with my own blood.  I finally found my footing and again resumed my retreat.  I ducked low and snatched up my rifle mid-stride.

After disappearing behind the quarter deck, I attempted to regain my composure, but my mind refused my efforts.  I shrugged out of my coat and cut off one of my shirt sleeves to use as a temporary bandage for my shattered nose.  The crimson plume spread quickly across the white cotton, but the pressure did begin to restrict the blood flow.

A great disturbance to my right caused me to turn and look towards the ship’s bow.  A long tentacle wrapped itself around the ship’s front mast and began to tug vigorously.  As I peered around the corner, I gasped in shock at what I saw.  The kraken slowly began to pull itself up onto the deck.

Our cannons were useless at this angle; all that we had at our disposal were the mighty harpoons.  The sailor seated behind the giant apparatus began to move the sights into position as his companions spun him in the direction of his quarry.  The kraken screeched angrily as the disgustingly large eye (I would venture to say it was nary a bit less than four feet across!) on the side of its head focused on the sailor and the weapon fashioned uniquely for this very encounter.  The beast reared back unexpectedly and spread its numerous, smaller feelers wide, like a strong gust of wind tussling a dainty sun dress.  At first, I thought the kraken had seen enough of his foe, and at any moment, he would dive back into the depths, but I was wholly mistaken.

A wave of motioned rolled through the creature, as if all of his expanded muscles were contracting in concert.  A disgusting, belching noise filled the air, and an even more hideous, black blob shot forth at the harpoon.  The shrieks of the men were short-lived; the ink melted man and metal alike.

Something jerked me from behind and almost caused me to tumble backwards.  I teetered for a moment as I struggled to regain my balance.  Finally, I spun on my heels, rifle at the ready; it was French, urging me to follow him.  I chased after him and a small group of others as they frantically raced to the back of the ship.  A loud commotion caused me to look over my shoulder one final time.  While one of the kraken’s long tentacles continued to pull it farther up onto the deck, his other main tentacle whipped through the air and flung a group of men like rag dolls.  My nights are sometimes still haunted by the sound of their cries and the sudden, sickening crunch as they collided with the ship.

As we rounded the back of the vessel, we happened upon a group of marines and sailors.  Perhaps it was French’s plan all along to meet up with the men, but I am rather unsure – I never asked him later, and he never offered to explain his plans.  From the look in his eyes just moments earlier, I assumed he aimed to commandeer a lifeboat, which was a perfectly acceptable act of cowardice to me.  We were facing a kraken, after all.  Nonetheless, as the men came into sight, French threw his shoulders back and swaggered up to join them. 

 I’m certain I looked a sight to the others with the blood-soaked bandage tied around my face, but they paid my oddity no mind.  As we approached, the men were just finishing the discussion of the plans for their assault, which seemed to amount to nothing more than to charge the beast with guns blazing.  I wanted to remind them that such a tactic had not turned out well for Pagan, but instead held my tongue.  At this point, I was fully committed to the idea that we would all certainly die soon, so why should I preclude these men from dying with their honor?  The sailors were grim-faced, but the marines appeared as fearless and unshaken as any men I have ever seen.  Looking into their eyes, I found my courage.  I could fight and die beside men like that.

Once again on the starboard side, we were half the ship’s length away from the beast.  Martel, the marines’ commander, ordered us to follow him in a single-file line along the wall of the quarter house, so as not to garner the kraken’s attention.  We rushed forward while the beast continued to assault our compatriots.

On Martel’s command, we broke our formation and swung wide across the deck.  We stood shoulder to shoulder firing on the beast with our lever-action rifles.  The rounds pierced the kraken’s soft flesh and caused it to emit a blood-curdling squeal.  The hair on our arms stood on end as we continued to march forward, while the war cries of the marines urged us on.

The beast turned his attention to us and began to use his two, long tentacles to pull himself in our direction so that he might consume us whole.  The sight of the creature charging our ranks will always be remembered as one of the most strikingly fearsome images recorded in my mind.  With every awkward movement of the kraken as he dragged his body across the deck towards us, my life began to flash before my eyes with thoughts of everything I had yet to do.  In a moment of selfishness, I was filled with sorrow for my lot, before realizing that the men beside me had wives and children that would never see them again.

When I thought that our fate was surely sealed, a blur caught my eye in the distance.  Before I could conceive what the blur might be, a massive harpoon slammed through the kraken’s head and sent a hail of splinters in our direction as it pierced the deck an arm’s length from us.  With the creature pinned to the ship, we redoubled our assault with a newfound ferocity.  The kraken struggled in vain to wrest itself free, but it was no use.  After several more volleys from our rifles, the creature collapsed into a lifeless heap on the deck.

***

That night, with a mangled front mast and the sobering loss of seventy brave souls, we turned south and made our way towards Puerto Plata with our trophy.  Perhaps it was a commendation from Pagan and the other fallen as they looked down on us from the heavens, or perhaps it was just another of the solar storms that frequent this realm, but we stood on the deck and stared in wonderment at the most magnificent aurora that I have ever witnessed in all of my time in this place.  A wholly indescribable array of reds and greens and blues swirled over our heads and reminded me that, as dangerous and unforgiving as our worlds may be, there is often beauty in the midst of the suffering.
 
Armed with new knowledge of the beasts, the subsequent expeditions paid much less dearly with the lives of their men.  Though the beasts are rumored to still lurk in the depths of the deep sea trenches, the stories of them are much rarer these days.  Some already say that it was an elaborate conspiracy of sorts, and that they never truly existed at all.  But I remember the day, with a crimson-stained rag wrapped around my face, I stood in defiance alongside giants of men, and defeated the kraken.
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2013, 05:48:33 pm »

September, 1890
A Storm Approaches



With this, I write my first true entry in this journal (though, in essence it is my second entry, but I digress.  If this journal is found to be of interest to some, and it is indeed read, I’m afraid my carefully constructed façade of outward normality will be certainly ruined.  My mind is a peculiar creation.  Try as I might, it often flitters off, like a frightened covey of quail, from the thoughts at hand.  At any given moment, a menagerie of thoughts are all clamoring for my undivided attention.  If you notice that I happen to be wandering from the topic, please forgive my transgressions against you, the reader).

Now (let us try this once again!), as I write this entry in my journal, I am waiting for the proper time to take a seat in the contraption that I have labored over for the past five years.  Five years ago, in the spring of 1885, I first read the letter that my grandfather had left for me in his bureau.  That bureau was my sole inheritance.  For many months I was not necessarily angry, but confused.  I didn’t understand why he would leave me everything I needed to prepare for my journey:  instructions, schematics, research notes, his diaries and even several key components (which I shall discuss shortly), but not the financial means to construct the equipment needed to leap* across (* I use the term “leap” loosely.  Those more learned in the sciences may have a more proper term, but I do not know it).  Now, I feel I may understand his reasoning.  If you will allow me, I would like to refer back to his letter once again:

The greatest danger of wealth unearned, aside from arrogance and a life unlived, is the paralyzing fear of losing what has been gained.  I leave you nothing but the riches of an opportunity for a life well lived - a life of adventure.


I am reminded of an excerpt from the first of the American Crisis essays by Mr. Paine: 

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”

I sit writing this entry in a secret room beneath my estate.  This dimly-lit space is hidden so that it shall not be discovered while I’m gone.  I occasionally look up to gaze upon the culmination of five year’s hard labor in between my thoughts.  I have been employed in all manner of trades since I first read my grandfather’s letter.  Trades that, a listing of which, would likely take up an entire page in this journal (trades that also provided me with skills that I never would’ve acquired otherwise, I might add)!  Had this struggle not been so great, I certainly would not appreciate the magnitude of this night.  Tonight shall be the first time since the completion of the machine ten days ago that thunder rumbles in the east.  In a matter of hours I’ll likely’ve left this world in one of two manners:  I will have successfully leapt, or I will be a charred heap of bones strapped to a glorified lightning rod.  God have mercy on my soul, for my lunacy is surely hereditary.

I suppose this would be a proper time to attempt to describe to you the nature of the machine.  I could of course refer you to any numerous sketches or schematics, but I would prefer for this journal to be as self-contained as possible.

The core of the machine is very similar in appearance to the newly-created electrocution chairs (the first successful electric execution having been performed less than two months prior in Auburn Prison).  This irony has not been lost on me, and has caused me numerous sleepless nights over the course of the last several weeks.  My more pessimistic inclinations whisper to me that I was indeed not my grandfather’s favorite progeny, and that he secretly loathed me (he did in fact, leave me with none other than the instructions to construct this machine!).  Being the scientific genius that he was, he crafted this elaborate scheme to have me waste my youth on this fool’s errand, only to die a slow, painful death.  I read in the papers where a witness stated that Kemmler’s electrocution was, “An awful spectacle, far worse than hanging.”  Of course, this is all most likely happenstance.  Probably.

The chair is constructed of the finest of oak, and has a leather seat and backing.  All connections are peg and groove.  There are leather straps to secure the occupants legs, lap, chest and head.  There are no metallic components in the chair or the straps.

Above the chair, a copper lightning rod ascends through the ceiling of the room and eventually terminates at a point thirty feet above the roof.  The base of the rod is three inches in diameter and the tip is a quarter inch across.  The tip of the rod is the highest point for miles.  Silver would have been a more efficient material to use in this application, but because of the prohibitive cost, copper is an acceptable substitute.

A vast array of silver coils extend out form the base of the lightning rod and lead to all sorts of gadgetry that I would be at a complete loss in succinctly describing the theory behind their individual applications without confusing you.  Tubes filled with gallium and mercury are mounted on various devices, along with their individual accompaniments of gauges, gears and magnets.

By the way, I suppose I was not exactly forthright in my introductory entry.  I was willed something of great value by my grandfather; actually two somethings.  He entrusted me with a pair of paragons – flawless white diamonds of immense size and rarity.  As far as I know, there are no others like them in the world.  The sale of a single paragon would’ve earned me wealth enough to live out the rest of my life without worry.  Without them I would live a life of nothing but worry, though, for all I would ever think about is what could’ve been.

You see, as valuable as the gems are to the rest of the world, they are priceless to me.  The diamonds completed a key component of the machine.  Without the paragon in place amongst the various other apparatus, the entire construct is inert, powerless, worthless.  Of course, I could’ve sold one to fund the construction of the machine that would remain in this world, but could I ever return home?  Without a doubt they are irreplaceable.

I find it ironic that, when holding these jewels, I possess immense wealth by the standards of any man.  But these diamonds alone, nor any other store of goods, could purchase what my heart desires.  So I labored for these years, refusing to cheapen my reward by seeking loans from my family (who would’ve certainly given me the funds I needed without question) or otherwise, so that I could revel in this moment when it finally came. 

The exact function of each component (especially the paragon) is somewhat a mystery to me.  In many senses, I am merely an oblivious erector, standing on the shoulders of giants.  From a purely artistic vantage point, which I can relate to much easier, I find the entire apparatus to be beautiful in its symmetry.  If it does not function, and I do not perish in the process, perhaps I can redeem it by offering it to the Smithsonian.

I will attempt to leap through with nothing more than copies of my grandfather’s notes, several recent patents, some novels, the remaining paragon and a worn, leather Bible.  Hopefully the patents I have selected will not have been developed yet.  If not, I plan to sell them for the purpose of funding my travels and for the construction of a second machine so that I may leap back to this world.
The storm draws near.  I bid thee farewell, if only for a time.
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