Tag Archives: Copper Visions

There’s nothing quite like a nasty gram from the boss to ruin a day. Today was going pretty well until I got an email from my boss yelling at me about things that aren’t late and aren’t going to be. All I can think is “Write faster. Must write faster.” Seriously can’t wait until I can quit the soul-sucking day job.

On the writing front, I got a couple hundred words on the latest story for alternate penname and I’m going to be opening up the latest chapter on Copper Visions to see what I can’t get done before bed.

What’d you get done today? What’s your motivation?

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Music Monday: Diamonds (Cover by Steam Powered Giraffe)

Sometimes, you just have to get back to your roots when you need to get back into the swing of things. Life has been crazy and hard recently and it’s taken everything I had to get through the last couple weeks, much less put words on paper. Steam Powered Giraffe was the group that sparked my creative imagination to write Steampunk stories. This week, I decided to catch up on some of the videos I had missed and I’m so glad I did. This one reminded me why I started writing in the first place and where I wanted Copper Visions to go. And, really, why it made so much sense to name my robot David.

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Music Monday: Automatonic Electronic Harmonic

Sometimes there’s a song that just hits your imagination. It was this song that convinced me to write Copper Visions. The group is Steam Powered Giraffe and they’re out of San Diego, California. They are so creative and something about their offbeat sense of humor and the passion with which they perform makes me want to go write something. So I do.

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Flash Fiction Friday: Copper Explorations

They’d been trying to tame the continent since they knew there was something there to harvest. For years, there had been little point in trying to cut through the dense jungle to get to the other shore; once airship technology had gotten them above the trees, they could simply fly across, away from the dangers that were hidden inside. The routes were well established and the cargo wasn’t terribly heavy. The lighter airships could make the trip in 3 days if all the conditions were right. Occasionally, an airship would be attacked by raiders from the desert with their lightning ships, but only if they strayed off course.

It wasn’t until a scout ship had crashed in the jungle that anybody actually considered exploring it. Very few people knew much of anything about what was in there or the people who lived near it. Only one lone professor had made an incursion of any note. He’d returned with strange animals and stranger tales then promptly changed his field of study. The expedition to find the downed airship started at his laboratory and followed the path he’d cut, and had maintained, years ago when he’d gone in searching for answers. Answers to what, he wouldn’t say.

The path was worn and the native guides refused to stray from it when the explorers wanted to try a shorter route to the downed airship. Based on the maps they had, it shouldn’t have been more than a couple days journey to the craft, a week if they were forced to cut their way through the vegetation. The path was safe, the guides told them, the path would take them there eventually, if they were patient.

Unused to being denied by the less civilized people they encountered, the explorers began to make plans to set out on their own once they got the chance. The first explorer went missing shortly after the lunch break, announcing he was going to step off the path for a quick moment. When he didn’t return, one of his compatriots offered to go look for him. As the explorers slipped off one by one, the guides offered to take all of the rest of them to search for the lost expedition members.

They were found, not very far off the path, staring in awe at a grimacing face that had been carved into a brick wall and overgrown with tree roots, vines and moss. The wall extended as far as the eye could see and the face was the height of three men.

“This is a very bad place,” the guides told the explorers. “We must go from here quickly.”

“What do you mean?” The lead explorer asked. “You knew this place was here and you were taking us away from it deliberately?”

“We are taking you to your ship that crashed. This place is not for you. We must leave.”

“Now, wait just a moment! Yes, we need to find the ship but this is a momentous discovery! We must take the time to explore it, document what we find and take back samples with us.”

“No, no, you leave everything here. They do not like people here.”

“Who don’t like people here? Some kind of spirit?” The explorers laughed and the guides became increasingly nervous.

“Yes, spirits, very angry spirits. That’s why they carve faces like this into their walls, to scare people away.”

The lead explorer chuckled. “You primitive people are so superstitious. Obviously this wall is a relic from a long ago age, probably from your ancestors, who knew things you couldn’t even possibly hope to understand with such primitive ways of thinking. We must explore for the sake of science.”

As he was talking, a mist began to flow around the men, making the guides nervous. Once the mist reached waist height, the guides dropped to their knees and began babbling prayers in a language they didn’t understand. Tiny bolts of lightning leapt from the mist and shocked all the men who were still standing, who promptly fell to the ground in spasms. Small shapes solidified in the mist and began dragging the men off, leaving the guides alone.

When the men woke, they were in a large stone temple, decorated in more grimacing masks and polished until the stone looked like bone. Lining the walls were tiny creatures that were more mist than solid and they flashed with the occasional tiny bolt of lightning. Other animals entered the temple, some looking more human than the explorers had thought possible, and all of them speaking in a language that shouldn’t have been able to come out of their grotesquely formed mouths. Finally, the most human looking figure walked in; he was nearly twelve feet tall with six arms, horns and tusks and white fur covering his entire body, which was only barely covered by a loincloth made of red silk and cloth of gold.

“Humans,” he rumbled, in deeply accented tones. “You were found trespassing. We have a long-standing agreement with your people that our lands are to be left alone. What do you plea?”

The leader of the explorers looked around him and at his people. “It’s my fault, I am their leader, but we didn’t know! How could we know?”

“Some among you knew and you chose to ignore their warnings. I appreciate you taking responsibility for your men. For that, you will be allowed to choose one to return and tell your loved ones about your demise.

The leader looked at his men, not wanting to be the one to make this decision, and finally chose the youngest of them to go home.

“He will witness and return to tell his story, and he may take what knowledge he gains from his time here. You must be brave, gentlemen, for the sacrifice you are about to make is for science.”

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Flash Fiction Friday Redux: Adam the Automaton

Just a quick reminder that I’m running a best of series on my Flash Fiction while I finish up a really large project. Today is the story that started me on the road to Copper Visions. 

The door to the dressing room opened slowly. The woman standing in the doorway was reflected perfectly by the mirror over the dressing table.

“Hello, Adam,” she said quietly to the robot packing up the detritus on the dressing table.

“Hello, Evie,” he replied, not turning around. “I see you got the tickets. Did you enjoy the show?”

“I did, thank you,” she shifted her folded parasol to her other hand and shifted nervously on her feet. “I recognized some of the songs we used to sing together.”

And your fiancé? What did he think?”

He’s fascinated by you.” She didn’t smile when she said this. “He’s always been interested in my father’s work but didn’t realize you were so well developed. I think he wants to learn more about you.”

I’m publishing an autobiography this summer,” Adam snapped one of the many small cases closed and began packing the next one. “I’ll even sign it for him if he wants.”

I’m not certain that will satisfy him.”

He’ll have to get in line with the rest of the scientists who want to take me apart and see how I work. Even your father didn’t really understand, in the end. No matter how many times he tried to duplicate what happened with me.”

He got the animals working, at least.”

Adam turned to her, the last jar of paint in his hand. “The animals were lovely to behold, all copper, brass and steel, but there was something that wasn’t quite right and he knew it. They moved and roared but they didn’t act like animals,” he turned back to his work. “Or maybe they did. Elephants are known to go on rampages when they’re separated from other elephants, maybe he finally got it right with the brass elephant but it was lonely.”

You think my father’s creations felt something?” Evie shook her head. “They were just robots, Adam, nothing more. My father died in a lab accident, he was not killed by a marauding elephant, brass or otherwise.”

He loved that elephant, your father did,” Adam told her. “He had a theory about why nothing worked as well as I did. When you left, he became obsessed by it.”

Yes, he wrote me about his theory. I forgave him long ago for pouring all of his love into his automatons but don’t drag me into his delusions. You are a well-made machine, Adam, made by a brilliant man but you did not work because I loved you. You were a favorite toy for me, nothing more.”

I’m glad you enjoyed the show, Evie.” Adam turned to her and his mobile metal lips turned up into a smile. “I imagine your fiancé is looking for you. You may tell him I’ll be happy to send him a copy of the autobiography when it’s printed.”

She took the dismissal for what it was and left. The yellow and brown stripes of her dress reminded him of a honeybee in flight, the parasol swinging behind her acting as a stinger. He wondered why he regretted watching her go, wondering again if the professor had programmed him with emotions or just a set of standard responses to stimuli.

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Copper Visions: Chapter 1 – Bad First Day

original photo courtesy of http://rockstocks.deviantart.com/

“Everybody has a bad first day at work sometimes, right?” Sophie said to herself as she walked down the street. “I mean, it’s not like I meant to do it. He’ll understand. He’ll help me, even if he’s mad at me, he’ll help me.” Sophie took a quick, worried look at her ankle to confirm the light was still the yellow-orange that meant she was safe.

As she knocked on the door for David’s apartment, she looked around her nervously. She was technically out of range of her own apartment, though only by a few inches. As long as she was in the open, she was safe. Thankfully, this street was one of the few known for being quiet in this part of town. It was genteel if worn down, on the edge of poverty but with enough pride to insist on respectability.
The silver man who opened the door did not look happy to see her. “Sophie,” he said. “What are you doing here?”

She gulped. “I’m in a bit of a mess, David, and I could use some help.”

His face was immobile while he studied her; dark blonde hair cut just below her ears, worn gray skirt, off-white shirt waist with the sleeves torn off to keep them from catching in the gears of her metal arms, a men’s gray vest for modesty and worn boots that had once been black. Of course, his face was usually immobile unless he was actively using it or trying to put the people around him at ease. David was a robot, an automaton built by a mad genius who had declared he knew the secret to creating life. Whether or not David was alive, he was certainly sentient and, as far as anybody could tell, free-willed.

“Come inside, Sophie,” he finally said, his face suddenly animated.

“Um, no, if it’s all the same,” she said. “I’d rather if you came with me to my rooms.”

“I can’t help you if I don’t know what the problem is and I would assume you don’t want to discuss it on my front stairs.”

“You’re right, I’d rather not discuss it out here but I can’t go inside your apartment, either.”

“Why?” His eyebrow raised with the question and he watched her grow increasingly more uncomfortable.
Sophie looked around and bared her ankle to him, showing the anklet with it’s yellow-orange light shining sickly at them.

“What is that?” David tilted his head to get a better look. From anybody else, the look would have been inappropriate but he was obviously more interested in the device than the appendage it was attached to.

“They gave it to me when I left the hospital. It’s got something to do with my arms, the doctor said.”

“What does it have to do with your arms?”

“They don’t work on their own. The doctor has to put some green stuff in a thing on my back so they’ll keep working. He says he needs to be able to find me when it’s time to put more of the green stuff in.”

“Why doesn’t he just make an appointment?” David asked?

“I don’t know, David,” Sophie said. “Everything was setup when I woke up from the surgery. They just told me if I got too far away from my rooms, the power-source for the light wouldn’t be stable and it would explode so can you please come with me?”

“You’ll tell me what happened on the way there?”

“Yes,” she hissed at him. “Please, David.”

“Very well,” David said. “Give me a moment to accompany you.”

She stood out like a sore thumb, waiting at the front stairs like this. As a guest, she should have been inside in his parlor. If she was a servant, she would have been let in to wait in the kitchens. Most people in this part of the city were more aware of each others business than the people in her part, even though they were only separated by a few streets. Commerce wasn’t allowed in this street, tradespeople and carts with deliveries being sent around to narrow alley’s behind the houses where everybody’s servants could see what was going on without appearing to be loitering. David was the only ‘person’ living in these apartments, which were actually more like a very narrow house than the rooms she was renting. He might have a woman come in to clean occasionally but she’d never seen anybody working here.

Sophie stood nervously on the stairs, waiting for him to re-emerge from his apartments. When he came out, he was wearing a long coat and a hat with a wide brim. While the disguise didn’t hide the fact that he was an automaton, it did obscure the most nonhuman of his facial features so people passing him casually in the street wouldn’t stare. He locked the door behind him and offered her his arm. Sophie was careful not to clank her metal arm against his and they set off back to her apartments.

“Tell me what happened,” David said, nodding a greeting to a man staring at them. People in the nicer part of the city always gawked when they saw him and Sophie wondered briefly why he insisted on living there.

“You know how it’s hard to find work for a girl like me,” she started. “What with the arms and all?”

David nodded that he understood.

“I don’t think it’s something the doc thought of when he decided to give me new arms after the accident. I mean, I have a little education what with the charity school all us girls had to go to on Sunday and all, them reformers saw to that. A half-day off and they rounded us up to go sit and learn. Only thing worth going for was they fed us ok. Well, I’d trade all that education for some arms, real ones, human ones, and make no mistake. Because no one will hire a girl with metal arms even if she can read and write and figure, specially not folks around here and I ain’t never lived nowhere else and couldn’t move now if I wanted to.”

“I’m aware of the prejudices of our neighbors,” David said. “That doesn’t explain why you’ve come asking me for help, and what you want help with.”

“I’m just explaining why I did it, right? When a bloke comes to me, offering me work, I’m not really in a position to say no, right?”

“I suppose that would be an accurate description of the situation.”

“So, when a bloke comes to me, dressed nice as you please, saying he’s heard of my predicament and offering to arrange meetings between me and well-heeled chaps what like a girl like me, what’s a girl to do?”

“Sophie, did you become a prostitute?”

“Not as such, no,” Sophie said, her shoulders bowing as much as they can with guilt. “Not as such. I was just supposed to be agreeable to the gentlemen. Listen to them talk, answer questions and such-like.

“I see,” David said. “And how many clients have you had?”

“This was the first one.”

“Was?”

“I, um, I sorta killed him.”

“Oh, Sophie.”

“It was an accident!” she said. “I made him some lunch to show him I could cook! He choked on a bite and I came around to help him and when I was trying to force it back up the way I saw the doctor’s showing in the hospital, I heard something crack and he stopped moving. He wasn’t breathin’ David!”

They walked along in silence for a block. They were closer together, some showing the faults in their foundations and beginning to lean across alleys to their neighbors. The people were packed closer together as well, leaning in to talk to their neighbors and watching the mechanical strangers in their midst. Some women made signs against the devil when they thought no one who would judge them was looking.

“So you have come to me for what, Sophie?”

“I can’t have a dead body in my apartment, David! And I can’t get out of here far enough to throw him in the river. “

“You’re asking me to help you get rid of a dead body.” David said, looking over at her worried face. “Why don’t you call the police?”

“What? And go to jail for an accident? He was a toff, David, I’m sure of it. Any coppers who’d come down here would arrest me just for spite, or an eye to a promotion if they’re smart. No way any of ’em would think it was an accident.”

If David was human he would have sighed. “I’ll have a look, Sophie, but I’m not certain getting rid of a dead body is the best idea.”
They turned down the street to her apartment and Sophie reached for the key to her door. Her appearance made less of an impression on her neighbors but they stared openly at him.

“If you were hoping to not make a scene, you might have called one of your human friends.”

“Don’t have any since the accident. Anyway, people round here don’t call the cops. They might answer questions if money’s involved but they’re just as like to give the wrong answers as not, just to be contrary.” Sophie led him to the door of the building she was rending rooms in then led him down the stairs to the cellar.

“The cellar, Sophie?”

“It’s cheaper than the attic. Besides, the doc’s told me to take it. Said it was good for my convalescence and the power for my ankle thing.”

She unlocked the door then stopped in shock a few feet into the front room. There was an unobstructed view of the dining room. Everything was exactly where she’d left it except for one thing; the dead body was missing.

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Copper Visions: Introduction

It’s here! I am so excited for this! I think I may have to go puke.

Ok, no, I didn’t but seriously, I’ve building up to this for months and I’m actually a little disappointed that I didn’t get this started back in February. That, however, is not important for today because today is the launch of Copper Visions!

Now, I just want to go over again how this is going to work.

I will be posting a chapter every Wednesday, starting today, for the next 25ish weeks. I’ll set up a page with links to all the chapters once we get going. I’m leaving comments on so people can give their input. If you catch a mistake, let me know! I do request a little suspension of disbelief because the whole point is to have a good time.

I hope everybody enjoys my Steampunk Fantasy and the experience that comes along with reading weekly installments. (Yes, I do plan on collecting the whole thing into a book at the end and releasing it as an ebook and, if there’s enough demand, a printed version.)

 

Update: Also! If anybody is inspired to draw, sketch, paint, etc. anything from this book, let me know! I would love to have a fan art page where I can link back to all the wonderful people who are inspired by my work.

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