Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Excerpt: The Bunker

The Bunker is a short story that was originally published in the very first volume of the immensely popular Dreams of Steam anthology series of steampunk fiction, published by Kerlak/Dark Oak Press. When the rights reverted back to me, I decided to pursue getting it published as a standalone ebook short, through Chromosphere Press. I also have it available on CD as an audiobook, and plan to get it up on Audible as an audio download. Here's the promo blurb:

We all know that, in the Victorian era, Earth was invaded by aliens from another world. We have details on what happened in Europe, especially Great Britain.

But what happened in the Western Hemisphere? What happened in the United States?

An elderly inventor tells his young apprentice this tale, the tale of what happened in The Bunker.

-Stephanie Osborn


“What’s that you have there, Henry?” the man asked, turning as his apprentice trundled in a large wooden crate on a hand truck.

“Delivery for you, sir,” Henry, a tall, lank youth, noted, easing the hand truck to the floor of the room. “This came with it.” He proffered a letter.

His master took the letter and opened it, scanning down through it. “Oh. My, my, my. Sooner than I would have thought. I’d forgotten all about this thing. Get a prybar, lad.”

Henry ran for the prybar on the tool rack, and came back. His teacher held out his hand, and Henry placed the bar into it, then watched as his senior eased the lid off the crate. The apprentice helped remove the kapok packing, then stared down at a wonder of brass, metal, and wood. “What is it?” he whispered, awed.

His mentor laughed. “No, you wouldn’t know about it,” he said. “Sit down by the fire, Henry, and let me tell you a little tale…”

They moved to the fireplace in the far corner of the room. There, a rocking chair sat on one side of the fire, a short three-legged stool on the other side. Henry took the stool as the teacher settled into the rocker. A light tap of the master’s toes set the chair in motion, and as he began his story, his voice was in counterpoint to the soft creak of wooden joints.

“Some years back,” the man said, “when I was a few years older than you are now, I was a telegrapher. A damn fine one, if I do say so. I was working in the Midwest that summer when an urgent message came in – for me. I was called immediately to… well, it wasn’t Washington, D.C. precisely. It was a town nearby in Virginia called White Sulphur Springs, and I was told to approach the front desk of The Grand Central Hotel and speak with the man who would be waiting there. Not only that, but my rail fare would be taken care of by the mere mention of my name.”

Henry gaped.

“Exactly,” his teacher chuckled. “I daresay my expression was much the same at the time. At any rate, I ran home, gathered my things, and set off, for the message came from a VERY high and reliable source, and brooked no delay.

“It was a long journey, and I can tell you, I was damned tired of the train by the time I reached my destination. I got directions and found my way from the station to the hotel, where I approached the desk clark and gave him my name. His eyes widened. ‘Yes sir,’ he said, ‘we’ve been waiting for you. Follow me, please sir.’ Sir. To me. A young whippersnapper of… mm, I think I might have been all of nineteen, if memory serves. And you’ll never guess what happened next.”

“I’m sure I shan’t,” Henry avowed.

“He led me into a back room and opened… a secret door, Henry! I followed him in, and we went down a set of spiral stairs. Down, and down, and down. At the bottom was a cave, for the hotel was built on the site of a sulphur spring, where people would take the waters. And in that cave was a fair beehive of people. I couldn’t begin to tell you everything that was going on there, even if I were permitted, which I am not… as yet. But this much I CAN say: I was brought there to coordinate, collate, send and receive the most urgent of telegraphy messages – for we were being invaded.”
“INVADED?! Sir!” Henry exclaimed, eyes wide.

“Yes, Henry, invaded. And not from Europe or Mexico or the like. No, these invaders… were from another planet.”  


So, it seems that the carnage might not have been limited to Great Britain. Interested in what happens next? Find out by reading The Bunker!

Amazon Kindle
Audio CD (bottom of page)

-Stephanie Osborn