Author Topic: Your opinions?  (Read 372 times)

Lillian

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Your opinions?
« on: March 17, 2022, 08:11:04 pm »
I'm a long-time fan of steampunk and a long-time lesbian (like from birth, right?). The thing I'm new at is writing. Well, that's not true. I've been writing a long time. The thing I'm new at is SHOWING my writing to anyone other than a few close friends. But they're not so into steampunk and I'd really like to know what readers think of the steampunk aspects of this story. Like, sometimes I wonder if there are rules for what makes steampunk steampunk, and whether I'm breaking any. Maybe you'll let me know?  So I'm actually posting this story in episodes on something called Amazon Vella. But I can just show them here, too. I'll appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

Till Death Do Us
Episode One
The Beautiful and Mysterious Stranger


“May I volunteer?”

Upon hearing those words, Philomena Stiffington, age 19, felt her heart grab like tires on rough asphalt. On that warm hazy spring day in the Gravesend Cemetery, with the yellow disc of the sun ashimmer through a film of brownish-yellow smog stretching to the horizon, Philomena gazed spellbound at the beautiful and mysterious dark-haired stranger who had just addressed her. She was, without doubt, the loveliest female – living or other – that Philomena had ever beheld, an enchantress with large green eyes and a French curled bob, wearing flowing low-cut dark ruffled indigo dress.

Philomena, who, despite her athletic build, and own good looks, had always been painfully shy around the same sex, was so startled by the stranger’s sudden appearance beside the polished bronze casket that for a moment she forgot what she’d asked for volunteers for. “Uh, uh ... ahem, uh, sorry ....?” she stammered.

“Didn’t you just ask if anyone could help carry this?” The beautiful stranger placed her hand on the polished metal casket, which, at that moment, protruded halfway out of the back of the Stiffs and Sons funeral lorry.

Philomena now recalled that yes, she had indeed asked for assistance in removing from the back of the lorry the Stiff’s Everlasting Security Bronze “Forever Locked” Air-tight casket containing the late Ms. Hortense Peabody. Ms. Peabody, Philomena recalled, had pre-purchased the casket on lay-away, thus guaranteeing that upon demise, her body would remain safe and inviolate for all of eternity, or at least until earthworms had evolved to the point where they could operate acetylene torches.

 “But you’re so pretty—” Philomena spluttered, then caught herself. “Uh, I mean, it’s so pretty ... heavy... the casket, that is.” She knew she must have sounded like an idiot, but there was nothing new about that. And besides, she really did need help. By itself, the Everlasting Security Bronze casket weighed more than 200 pounds. With the addition of Ms. Peabody, who had anything but a pea-size body, it probably tipped the scales at 420.

On that warm spring day, the beautiful stranger in indigo crooked her milky-white bare arm, displaying a firm bicep with a slight, though well-defined bulge. “I train regularly.”

 At the sight of the stranger’s pale, trim flesh, Philomena felt the color rise in her cheeks and found herself momentarily speechless. She had always considered herself much too-level headed to believe in love at first sight, but oh, how she wished to take that lovely arm in hers and stroll anywhere the stranger wanted to go, as long as they were together.

However, another of the pallbearers who’d gathered behind the funeral lorry was not nearly so dazzled.  “We can definitely use your assistance right over here, miss,” said Philomena’s Cousin Rudy, pointing to the spot directly across the casket from where he was standing. The beautiful stranger smiled as she stepped closer and clasped a casket handle firmly. Cousin Rudy then patted Philomena’s shoulder, bringing his entranced young cousin back to the business at hand. “Hello, cousin? Might we proceed with the proceedings while the daylight is still upon us?”

With the aid of a couple of burly funerary workers in dirt-stained coveralls, the pallbearers hefted the casket off the lorry’s flat bed, trod past the soot-shrouded trees and started up the weedy slope toward the gravesite. Thus laboring, Philomena could not help but feel an unexpected flush of jealousy when she noticed that her cousin Rudy’s eyes were fixed, not on the goal of securing firm purchase on the scraggly sloping terrain ahead, but rather on the beautiful stranger's extremely fetching décolletage.

No wonder my cousin was so eager to have her directly across the casket from him,  Philomena thought, while she herself noted how the beautiful stranger’s long slender throat reddened from the effort of lugging the heavy casket, and how the tendons were visible beneath the soft skin of her slender neck, displaying an enticing combination of delicacy and bewitching strength. The result was as dismaying as it was dizzying, for Philomena had never before known a female to have quite such an immediate and profound affect on her.

Having made their way up hill to the  gravesite, the pallbearers lowered the casket on the straps of the descender, and the funerary workers returned to their shovels and diesel excavator on the periphery. Philomena and Cousin Rudy backed away to a respectable distance, and the beautiful stranger joined the small group of mourners who had gathered to bid Hortense Peabody secure passage to her final resting place.

Now Reverend Walls, his white collar stiff and black gowns ruffling, stepped forth and began to rattle off the standard sermon: “We come here today with sorrow in our hearts and questions on our minds as to why these things...” the all-too-familiar words slipping through Philomena’s consciousness as effortlessly as reciting a daily flag salute in class, or ignoring a mother’s admonition to dress warmly on a cold morning.

Had Philomena actually had a mother...

Instead, Philomena’s attention was focused solely on the vision of indigo-clad loveliness across the gravesite, who now dabbed her cheeks with a small lace handkerchief. Finding it nearly impossible to take her eyes off the stranger, Philomena felt herself grow uncomfortably warm under the hazy June sun. Her own tightly-buttoned collar began to feel tight as she repeatedly chastised herself for staring, but at the same time was helpless to look away. Really, Phil, get ahold of yourself, she scolded herself. After all, you’re at work. This was the family business and the stranger was one of the mourners, and while Philomena had never actually been told that staring at the bereaved was considered bad form, she couldn’t help but assume that it was. She felt truly ashamed of herself. Surely, she should have had better self-control, no matter how comely this stranger was.

Just then, Philomena felt her cousin’s shoulder brush against hers as Rudy leaned close and whispered, “Never thought I’d be seeing her again,” The tailcoat Rudy wore was wrinkled to the point of looking slept in. His eyes were bloodshot, and several days’ worth of stubble darkened those areas of his cheeks and chin not covered by his bushy hulihee.

The whispered words jolted Philomena out of her reverie. “What do you mean, ‘again?’?” she whispered back.

“She came to an old lady’s funeral last week, too. That one what blowed herself up in her kitchen. Gas leak, I believe it were.”

Philomena nodded solemnly. Such explosions were regretfully commonplace in a world entirely dependent on natural gas or hydrocarbon jelly for cooking. But to learn that the beautiful stranger had attended a funeral just last week was to feel hope. Perhaps the beautiful stranger had just moved to Gravesend. And were that the case, wasn't there the possibility of seeing her again? “Are you sure it was her?”  

“Oh, it were definitely the lady what blowed herself up," Rudy said. "Your father insisted that I accompany him regarding the disposition of the lady’s remains. Thems what we could find after the explosion, that is. And after that terrible mix-up with Mayor Del Guardia, he—”

“That’s not what I meant,” Philomena quickly whispered. She still couldn’t bear hearing about what had come to be called The Terrible Mix-Up in recent Stiffington family lore. An event so painfully inexcusable that it threatened the very existence of the family funeral home itself.  Philomena nodded at the lovely stranger. “I meant, are you sure it was she at the funeral last week?”

“Are you pullin' my chain, cousin?” Cousin Rudy whispered. “As if I could mistake such a heavenly goddess for anyone else? Just look at her. Tell me she don’t make your winkle wankle?”

At this juncture, dear reader, it is important to note that Cousin Rudy’s voice tends to carry.  Around the gravesite, the handful of elderly mourners still in possession of some degree of hearing raised their heads with chastising scowls upon hearing the words that had just escaped his lips. And, while Philomena surely would not have selected a “wankling winkle” to describe the affect the beautiful stranger woman had on her, she found himself unable to disagree with her cousin’s general genital sentiment.

But then Cousin Rudy nudged Philomena with his elbow and nodded toward the tall sinister-looking fox-faced young man in the black sack suit and bowtie, polished top hat and dark glasses, lurking just behind the crowd.

Philomena instantly steeled herself.  All thought of wankles, winkles, and exquisite strangers instantly abated.

Trouble was at hand.


Episode Two
The Villain


Had Philomena Stiffington been a quadruped of the species, canus lupus, otherwise commonly known as wolf, the sight of Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell would have caused her fur to rise, her canines to be bared, and a low and ominous snarl to escape her throat. While Philomena was not one to garner mortal enemies, nor enemies of any sort for that matter, no one came closer to fitting that description than Von Titus Barr-Cadwell, he of the fox face, black frock coat and bowtie, polished top hat and dark glasses.  Philomena’s distaste for the fellow carried back to the earliest levels of primary education at Gravesend Academy, which they’d both attended in their nascent years. Several grade levels ahead of Philomena, Von Titus Barr-Cadwell had been a relentless bully of younger, smaller girls and boys, as well as a cheat in both academics and sport. Perversely, in the rather mocking fashion that life often presents its ironies, these negative attributes had served the cad well in the decade and a half since. Though barely 22 years of age — and thanks in no small part to a substantial family inheritance of property and businesses — Von Titus Barr-Cadwell was now one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in all of Gravesend. But rather than be satisfied with such good fortune, his abundance of riches only fanned the flames of greed for more, compelling him to expand his business enterprises in multiple directions, including Cadwell Cute-Rate Cremations, a direct threat to the long-time family concern into which Philomena and Cousin Rudy had been born -- Stiffington & Sons Mortuary Service.

On that warm spring afternoon, having spotted Von Titus Barr-Cadwell lurking behind the small gathering for Miss Hortense Peabody’s interment, Cousin Rudy turned to Philomena and whispered, “What’s that swine doing here abouts?”

“Probably sizing up the competition,” Philomena whispered back, painfully aware that Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell wasn’t in the habit of merely sizing up the competition, but was nearly always inclined to confront it head on, as he apparently intended now, tromping noisily around the perimeter of the gathering of mourners until he was face-to-face with the cousins Stiffington.

In addition to his frock coat, Von Titus Barr-Cadwell wore high black boots, and sported the sort of droopy moustache that Philomena associated with certain low breeds of mongrel. Only this particular mongrel smelled of cologne and tar, no doubt from the pomade he used to hold his black hair in a stiff pompadour beneath his top hat.

"So, Stiffington, I see you've returned studies in ... what was it? ... basket weaving?" Von Titus Barr-Cadwell asked with a condescending smirk.

Philomena chose not to glorify such condescension with a reply. The fact was that just a few days before she had returned from the Venenum Institute of Forensics where she had spent most of the previous year in the study of forensic investigation. Instead, she asked, "What, may I inquire, are you doing here?"

"Observing the utter incompetence with which Stiffington arranges its funerals,” Von Titus Barr-Cadwell said in a gruff haughty tenor loud enough to cause Reverend Walls to look up his from his sermon with a frown, and to elicit shushes from those gathered to mourn. Von Titus Barr-Cadwell ignored them. “Frankly, Stiffington, based on this, I’m amazed you’ve got any business at all.”

“Really?” Philomena replied. “Then why, only a few years ago, were you so intent on trying to purchase our company from us?”

“Because, as your ancestors clearly recognized centuries ago, few corporate ventures are as steady and dependable as undertaking,” Von Titus Barr-Cadwell replied. “It is one of the rare business ventures with a perpetual guaranteed demand, if you get my drift. But I never had any enthusiasm for your company as you Stiffingtons run it. I was merely interested in acquiring the name Stiffington & Sons and the good will that accompanied it. Frankly, this barbaric and antiquated practice of interment beneath the ground has no future, and we both know it.”

“You mean, the practice by which we actually honor the deceased rather than simply incinerating them into a small heap of ashes?” Cousin Rudy asked, in a rare display of eloquence, while, at the same time, covering his mouth with his hand to stifle a yawn.

“You call this honoring them?” Von Titus Barr-Cadwell scoffed. “By starting the funeral half an hour late? By diverting the entire procession through Le Roadhouse Trundle-Thru on your way here?”

On that note, my apologies, dear reader, for yet another brief interruption. Up to now it would be  understandable, even reasonable, to regard Cousin Rudy as a somewhat unkempt and slightly boorish lout. But I hasten to add that he is also universally regarded as brilliant, and a vast repository of knowledge, some useful, much not. Unfortunately, despite, or perhaps, because of all the intellect he possesses, he capable, at times, be entirely bereft of good sense, punctuality, and decorum. How else to explain why the funeral procession he’d led that very morning to this cemetery had arrived half an hour late, and why a number of the elderly attendees are either clutching Le Roadhouse gunny sacks, or slurping Le Slurries through straws while they pay their final respects to Miss Hortense Peabody. On any other day, such a sacrilegious detour in the funereal proceedings probably would have rankled Philomena a good deal more than it did today; she being so captivated by the beautiful stranger in indigo as to have her regular sensibilities rendered nearly useless.

“For your information, buster,” Cousin Rudy informed Von Titus Barr-Cadwell, “I was up til the wees late last night working on a remarkable new discovery what will someday change all our lives. As a direct consequence of which, this a.m., I felt the dire need to make a quick detour for nutrition and caffeination on way here.”

“And that’s what you call paying respect to the dead?” Von Titus Barr-Cadwell smirked condescendingly. “Inviting the mourners to dine on that badly prepared Le Roadhouse slop?”

“On the contrary, dear sir. You have apparently been remiss in never havin' sampled the remarkable Le Roadhouse Chutney Le Dagwood sandwich, which I personally find to be a deeply and respectfully religious experience,” Cousin Rudy replied, then pointed at the elderly crowd of Le  Roadhouse gunny sack clutchers, and Le Slurry slurpers. “You ain’t seen any a them complaining, have you?”

Von Titus Barr-Cadwell crossed his arms and harrumphed disapprovingly.

It was just then that the Reverend Walls concluded the funeral service.  Cousin Rudy, Philomena, and Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell watched the mourners slowly make their ways back down the weedy slope to the diesel buggies and horse-drawn carriages that lined the cemetery’s cobblestone lane.

"Why, taste a bootlick's ass, will you take a gander at that!” Cousin Rudy pointed down the cobblestone lane where the beautiful and mysterious stranger had opened the door of a bright red cabriolet roadster. Hiking up the dark indigo dress and copper-colored petticoat beneath, she bared her shapely calves just for an instant before swinging them under the dashboard.

“Yes, indeed,” Von Titus Barr-Cadwell chortled. “Quite the stunning roadster, is it not?”

“I believe my cousin wasn’t referring to the vehicle,” Philomena said, “so much as to the exquisite female getting into it.”

As fit his egotistical nature, Von Titus Barr-Cadwell puffed out his chest with exaggerated self-satisfaction. “Ah, yes, that would be my betrothed, Miss Theodosia Boudreaux.”

With that, Philomena felt the vital fluids drain from her face. Von Titus Barr-Cadwell was engaged to the beautiful stranger? It couldn’t be. It simply couldn’t!



J. Wilhelm

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Re: Your opinions?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2022, 11:26:13 pm »
I'm a long-time fan of steampunk and a long-time lesbian (like from birth, right?). The thing I'm new at is writing. Well, that's not true. I've been writing a long time. The thing I'm new at is SHOWING my writing to anyone other than a few close friends. But they're not so into steampunk and I'd really like to know what readers think of the steampunk aspects of this story. Like, sometimes I wonder if there are rules for what makes steampunk steampunk, and whether I'm breaking any. Maybe you'll let me know?  So I'm actually posting this story in episodes on something called Amazon Vella. But I can just show them here, too. I'll appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

*Snip*


Welcome to the forum !

Why, Ms. Lillian, the first episode reads like I'd call "Steamgoth Erotica!"  It reads splendidly in this section, where most self published text is shared with our members.

She was, without doubt, the loveliest female – living or other – that Philomena had ever beheld,
 an enchantress with large green eyes and a French curled bob, wearing flowing low-cut dark ruffled indigo dress.

We look forward to reading Till Death... And if you wish too, in the Metaphysical section we have an introduction thread if you want to introduce yourself to our members. And while on the subject of sections, inside the Metaphysical section we also have a "Meta Clubs" sections that features the"Queer Geer" for our LGBQT+ members, though the thread is s bit dusty as of late from lack of use, it's has featured prominently within our range of subjects for many years.

At your service,

Adm. J. Wilhelm.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2022, 11:38:13 pm by J. Wilhelm »

Lillian

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Re: Your opinions?
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2022, 06:14:00 pm »
Dear J. Wilhelm,
Thank you so much for your response. I'm thrilled that some people read the first two entries. Here is the next chapter of Until Death Do We. And once again, to anyone who reads this. I will appreciate your opinions. PS I've already posted the first two chapters here and you can also find them at Kindle Vella   (https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/product/B09V8BD9LV/episodeList)
Best Regards, Lillian



Chapter Three
Intent to Troth

No sooner had Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell made his pronouncement that the lovely young woman in indigo was his fiancé, than Philomena felt blasted by a consternation so deep that it jarred the very marrow of her bones. No! It couldn’t be! Rarely had she heard more unwelcome news. How was it possible that anyone as alluring and captivating as this beautiful Miss Theodosia Boudreaux would agree to wed so vile and dastardly a cretin as Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell? 

“Oh, so you intends to troth, does you?”  Cousin Rudy inquired of the cad.

“Yes, this coming Wednesday, in fact,” Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell replied in his usual smug and self-satisfied manner, then turned his noxious gaze upon Philomena. “And speaking of intentions, Miss Stiffington, let it be known that I’m putting you on notice. As soon as I’ve got my marital affairs in order, my very next intention will be to bury both you and your funeral home in a hole so deep it will make that —” he jerked his thumb at the funerary workers, now busy scooping loose soil into Miss Hortense Peabody’s grave — “look like a mere divot in a pall-mall court.”

A brief stillness followed while Philomena assessed the threat to her family’s livelihood that Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell had just thrown down. It was, she knew, no idle warning. Time and again Von Titus Barr-Cadwell had proved that in the business of business he was as ruthless as he was cunning. And due to the terrible Mix-Up, Stiffington & Sons Mortuary Services was, at that moment, particularly vulnerable. Furthermore, Philomena knew that if there was any hope of salvaging the situation, it would fall on her shoulders.
A sudden loud Clank!  roused Philomena from her thoughts. The sound had come from the cobblestone lane where the bright red cabriolet roadster had just backed into the front fender of the boxy carryall parked behind it. Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell and the cousins Stiffington watched as a flustered Miss Theodosia Boudreaux jumped out of the roadster and hurried toward the other vehicle. It was apparent by her gestures — hands clasped apologetically; forehead wrinkled with dismay — that she felt the accident had been her fault.

“Blast!” Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell frowned. “The second dent this week. Well, I better go see how much damage she did this time.”
And with that, the world’s only living heart donor arrogantly strode away.

Philomena and Cousin Rudy remained on the hillside.  “Rather ironic choice of phrase, wouldn’tcha agree?” Cousin Rudy asked.

“Sorry?” Philomena said.

“So’s not a moment ago, he was expressing his intention to bury our funeral home. Sort of ironic, no?”

Still seized with aggravation by the thought of such a lovely young woman marrying a mongrel like Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell, Philomena could only nod.

“You got to wonder what on earth she sees in him, eh?” Cousin Rudy gave voice to Philomena’s own thoughts. “Were it up to me, I think I’d rather betroth an arthropod.”

“Hmmm,” was the best response Philomena could manage.

But as was sometimes the case, no response was actually necessary, for Cousin Rudy was only embarking on one of his loopy tangents. “Doubly ironic, now that I think of it,” he went on brightly.  “Not only does Von Titus Barr-Cadwell mean to bury a funeral home, but you’d imagine that someone what owns a chain a cut-rate crematoriums wouldn’t even be thinking of burials at all. He shoulda been threaten’in to incinerate Stiffington and Sons. Burn the place up. Reduce us to smoke and ashes.”

Philomena knew better than to suggest that this was a moment her cousin might have chosen to take more seriously. In his uniquely literal way, Cousin Rudy was being serious. But when it came to keeping their family’s 200-year-old funeral home business from being buried, incinerated, or, for that matter, merely annihilated by the ruthless and greedy Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell, Philomena knew the responsibility would fall, quite squarely, on her, and her father’s, shoulders only. Once  again, Philomena gazed in the direction of Miss Theodosia Boudreaux, who now stood with Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell near the rear of the bright red roadster. While Philomena was too far away to hear what was being said, Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell appeared to be doing all of the speaking, gesturing unhappily at the rear of the roadster – the part that had made contact with the carryall – while the beautiful Miss Theodosia Boudreaux gazed at the ground and nodded like a scolded child.

Finally, having apparently completed what Philomena could only assume qualified as a harangue -- in truth, what Philomena dearly hoped was a truly offensive and odiously pompous lecture, the sort of admonishment that would lead the beautiful Miss Theodosia Boudreaux to conclude that this suitor was in no conceivable way worthy of her hand  -- Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell stomped off without offering so much as a farewell peck on the cheek to his extremely comely fiancé.

Philomena was both startled and appalled. Was that in any shape or form the way a suitable suitor should treat his betrothed over the matter of a mere dent in a vehicle? Philomena imagined herself in Egon’s pointy boots; she would have embraced Miss Theodosia Boudreaux, reassuring her that she had nothing at all to feel bad about. Vehicles were always prone to denting, and just as easily repaired. It was in fact, not the roadster that needed tender loving care, but Theodosia herself. Philomena would have embraced her, reassured her, convinced her to dismiss any inclination toward self-recrimination. The fact that Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell clearly had no idea of how insanely fortunate he as to have the hand of so lovely a lady filled Philomena hope. Surely the beautiful Miss Theodosia Boudreaux could be persuaded to see the wolf lurking in creep’s clothing.  And while Philomena could not imagine how the two had even reached the point of planning nuptials in the first place, she had to believe that all the beautiful Miss Theodosia Boudreaux needed was someone to help open her eyes to the true nature of the monster who had her in his grasp.

By now, the beautiful Miss Theodosia Boudreaux had gotten back into the red cabriolet and had started winding her way down the stone-lined lane along the side of the hill. A profound sense of angst within Philomena caused a deep and poignant sigh of dismay to issue itself from her lungs. The beautiful Miss Theodosia Boudreaux was so utterly lovely. How could she want to marry someone like Egon Von Titus Barr-Cadwell?

And more importantly, was there anything Philomena could possibly do to prevent it?


MWBailey

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Re: Your opinions?
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2022, 02:51:11 pm »
Derring-Do in the offing, perhaps?

I've been enjoying the read so far, so I'm on tenterhooks!
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