Pipe and Slippers: With E. A. Hennessey
Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.
I am the ghost known as Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.
But this is not a public thoroughfare! If you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of a drag-dressed octopus and its dribbling Tea Fiend, let me advise you not to be so easily lured into a parlour by the promise of strange fruit. Well, you will find nothing sweet and alluring down here; here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!
But wait…what’s that you have tucked away under your arm there? A bottle of The Green Fairy eh? Oh…. well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something, the day has, after all been a long one. And I suppose I could read a very little something,
like this perhaps…
Excerpt from Grigory’s Gadget – Book 1 of the Gaslight Frontier Series by E. A. Hennessy:
Nikolai stared at the ceiling of the cabin, listening to Demyan and the elderly man snore. This is my luck, he thought unhappily. He rolled onto his side and picked at the golden wallpaper. Above, he heard the sound of rushed footsteps. At least I’m not the only one awake.
A few seconds later, a loud boom echoed through the ship. Nikolai felt the bed and walls shake.
“Nikolai, what are you doing?” Demyan asked sleepily. Nikolai heard a second boom, and Demyan jerked awake. “What was that?”
“I have no idea,” Nikolai said, jumping down to the floor. The girls appeared in the doorway.
“Is the ship being attacked?” Anya asked.
“Are you all alright?” Zoya added.
The elderly man stirred from his sleep.
“Sir, the ship is being attacked,” Nikolai told him, offering a hand to help him out of bed.
“Go back to sleep,” the man said grumpily. “The guards will take care of it. Silly kids.” He pulled his blanket back over his head and rolled over. Another boom sounded, and the ship shook especially hard.
“What do we do?” Lilia asked her friends. “Should we just stay in our cabins?”
“I’d say that’s a good idea,” a strange voice said behind her. The girls jumped and turned around. A lean young man with dirty blond hair and blue eyes grinned at them while drawing his pistol. A multitude of necklaces hung about his neck, and his ears were dotted with golden earrings. “I suggest you go back to your cabins and hand over any valuables.”
“We don’t have any valuables,” Zoya lied. The young man seemed surprised by her and stepped back eying her quizzically. It took less than a few seconds for him to compose himself. He stepped toward Zoya with his pistol aimed at her head.
“You look pretty valuable to me.” A second man with black hair and almond eyes appeared next to the first, similarly covered in gold jewelry with pistol drawn. “We’re in need of more crew, right Alexi?”
“That’s right, Fyodr,” Alexi, replied. “You and your friends have two minutes to grab anything you can carry. Then you’re coming with us.”
“We’re not going anywhere with you!” Nikolai said defiantly. Alexi stepped toward Nikolai, now pointing his pistol at Nikolai’s head. Anya stepped forward, placing herself between Alexi and Nikolai.
“Two minutes,” she said, staring the pirate in the eye. He smirked, nodded, and lowered his pistol.
“Anya!” Nikolai said, glaring. Anya returned his look then turned and walked into her cabin.
“What did I tell you kids?” the elderly man growled from within Nikolai and Demyan’s cabin. Nikolai glanced back at him and stepped to block the doorway. When the man saw Alexi and Fyodr, he furrowed his brow in annoyance.
“What are you, now? Pirates?” He spat in Alexi’s direction. “Bunch of lazy crooks. The guards will put you down in a second.”
“We’ve disposed of the guards already,” Alexi said. “We can dispose of you, too, old man, unless you give us whatever valuables you have.”
“Do I look like the sort who owns any valuables?” He gestured to his raggedy clothes. He wore a dingy, ill-fitting vest and a button-down shirt that may have once been white. His trousers were covered in salt stains and worn through in one knee.
“Well, if you have nothing of value, maybe we should just put you down,” Alexi said, raising his pistol and aiming at the old man.
“Don’t you dare!” Nikolai shouted, rushing toward Alexi. Fyodr turned his pistol on Nikolai and drew a sword. Alexi drew his sword as well. Zoya and Demyan moved to Nikolai’s side, guarding his body with their own.
“Your two minutes are almost up,” Alexi told the group. “I’d get moving if I were you.”
“You can’t just kill an innocent man!” Lilia protested. “He hasn’t done anything wrong!” Fyodr sheathed his sword and grabbed Lilia by the arm, shoving her toward the girls’ cabin.
“Get packing, miss!” he ordered. “This doesn’t concern you!”
Zoya took the opportunity to grab for Fyodr’s gun. He twisted around and slammed her into the wall, his forearm pressed against her neck. Zoya gasped and clawed at his arm. Demyan yelled and charged toward him, knocking his arm away from Zoya’s throat. Alexi shot his pistol into the air.
“Enough!” he shouted.
“That’s right, enough!” A third pirate appeared. This pirate was older, with scarred tan skin and black hair that was turning gray. The pinky and ring finger of his left hand were missing, as was half of the middle finger on his right. His eyes were large, and Nikolai thought he saw a kindness in them.
“Pavel,” Alexi said. His face flushed red and he lowered his pistol.
“Stop acting tough, Alexi,” Pavel said. “This old man hasn’t done anything wrong, let him be. The captain is almost ready to leave.” Pavel then regarded the group of friends. “Recruiting, are we?”
“Pavel, this bunch says they have no valuables,” Fyodr said. “They look pretty valuable to me.”
“So, try not to damage them.” Pavel smirked. “Let’s go. The captain is waiting.”
Pavel’s presence seemed to pacify Alexi and Fyodr, who watched silently as the friends gathered their things. Nikolai and Demyan packed quickly then joined the girls in their cabin to help them. Anya, having already packed her bags, stood in the doorway and glowered at the pirates.
“Zoya, what do we do?” Lilia whispered as she fastened her suitcase.
“I don’t know,” Zoya admitted. “They have guns and swords. I’ve got wrenches and screwdrivers. I don’t think we stand a chance.”
Nikolai watched as Zoya dug out her gloves. Her shaking hands knocked her gadget out of the bag. It rolled halfway to the door before she caught it. Fyodr and Pavel weren’t looking, but Alexi saw it and looked at Zoya coolly.
“It’s nothing,” Zoya muttered quickly, fumbling to hide the object.
“Put that away and hurry up,” Alexi replied. “We don’t have all night.” Zoya exchanged a concerned look with Nikolai as they finished packing and stood.
“Alright!” Pavel announced with a smile. “Let’s go introduce you to your captain!”
What’s that? More? No no I’m sorry I haven’t got time for that, I’m a busy man, albeit a dead one, if you want to know what happens to Zoya and her friends I suggest you pick up a copy of Grigory’s Gadget yourself…
Or connect with the author online….
Now then I really must insist you go, I have important work to be getting on with, not least, putting pay to these dreadful rumours that I am a woman… or at least the ghost of a woman…. I may from time to time possess the bodies of young women, wear dresses and call myself Pearl, but that is purely for professional reasons …. well how very dare you! Good Night! Oh, er…leave the bottle though…