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Authors: Quincy J. Allen

Tags: #short story, #science fiction, #steampunk, #sci fi, #paranormal, #fantasy, #horror

Out Through the Attic

BOOK: Out Through the Attic
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BOOK DESCRIPTION

Thirteen fantastic tales from the cavorting, twisted mind of Quincy J. Allen,
Out Through the Attic
covers everything from steampunk and fantasy to sci fi and horror. It’s a cross-genre smorgasbord that’s sure to hit the right spot, with a dose or two of straight-up genre fiction for the meat-and-taters appetite.

Cross Genre Short Stories

By

OUT THROUGH THE ATTIC
A Novel Collaboration Collection
© 2014 7DS Books & Twisted Core Press.
Individual stories © 2014 Quincy J. Allen.

ISBN: 978-0692204566

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced or transferred without written consent.

 

Published by
Twisted Core Press Short Story imprint 7DS Books
Smithfield, North Carolina, U.S.A.

 

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity with real persons or events is purely coincidental. Persons, events, and locations are either the product of the author's imagination, or used fictitiously.

Contents

Book Description

Title Page

Acknowledgments

Family Heirloom

Brainstorm

Cornelius

17

Lasater’s Lucky Left

Cap’n Plat and the Wrath of Caan

Baby WEI

Entropy Seed

Vessels of Abaddon

The Resurrection of Samhain

Salting Dogwood

Out Through the Attic

About the Author

Other 7DS Books

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

It’s been almost five years since I set out to become a professional writer. I’m not there yet, and by that I mean I do not yet earn my entire living from my fiction. As King Arthur said in
Excalibur
, “It is a dream I have.”

I do, however, continue to cross milestones from time to time. This short story collection is such a marker … and an important one. To have a publisher willing to produce something like this is a feather in my cap, an accolade of sorts, and it’s something I’m proud of.

As a result, I wanted to first thank Michelle Picarella at 7DS books for believing in my writing. Her enthusiasm and support casts sunshine from time to time on those dark days when, like most writers, I doubt my competence. I must also thank A.T. Russell at Twisted Core Press. He is a comrade in arms when it comes to the mighty pen, and an excellent sounding board for this crazy business we’re in; he understands how the Huns (namely, independent authors) are turning the publishing empire upside down.

Thanks also to Daniel Picarella for working so well with me on the cover, which I think turned out really well, and thanks to Valarie Kinney for the final edit that tidied up a few bits and bytes throughout this sordid amalgam of fiction.

Finally, and as usual, thanks to Kathryn for putting up with this writing life I’ve chosen. She’s a paragon of patience and virtue. She’s also wise enough to recognize an ogre—and treat him as such—before he’s had his coffee.

 

Q

FA
MILY HEIRLO
OM

Appeared originally in the inaugural edition of
Steampunk Trails
published by Science Fiction Trails, September, 2013

July 7
th
, 1916

My father and I were picking strawberries when we heard a chattery, thumping noise coming out of the rising sun. We put down our baskets and walked to the front of the house just as the chattering cut off.

When we cleared the corner we saw a machine descending towards us, lining up over the dirt road that cut through our swaying oat fields. Grandpa Billy had come in his latest invention.

The spinning blades atop the machine made a
swoosh-swoosh-swoosh
as they spun. The machine touched down a hundred yards from the house, bounced once, and rolled towards us with a hissing crunch of gravel beneath its wheels.

“Well, I guess he got another one working,” my father said with a smile and a shake of his head. We waited as Grandpa came to a stop in front of our gate.

His machine had a triangular, metal frame about ten feet long. Up front was a bathtub-like cockpit built for two. Behind the cockpit squatted a motor half the size of a hay bale, with a four-foot propeller sticking out the back. The tail section stretched behind the motor on long struts, and the fins made a cross that Grandpa had painted bright red. A thick, steel shaft rose up above the motor, canted backwards slightly, and the two long steel blades spun on its axis.

Grandpa climbed out of the cockpit. His faded overalls were clean as always, but the permanent oil stains speckling the fabric were ever-present. Tan workbooks, similarly speckled, stuck out from the rolled-up cuffs of his pants. His curly, white hair puffed out around the strap of his goggles, and the brass frames set a stark contrast to his ebony skin.

Grandpa had been working on the two-seater for months. He’d already built a couple of single-seaters, and he called them
choppers
, on account of the blades, I suppose.

He opened the gate and walked up to us, a serious sort of look on his face.

“Good morning, Papa,” my father said, smiling.

“Son.” Grandpa nodded his head once. I’d only ever seen him smiling, and I wondered what was bothering my favorite Grandpa.

“I want to take her to Evansville,” he said, looking at my father. There was a pained look on his face. “I want to show her … and tell her the story I never told you.”

My heart soared. Evansville was sixty miles away. I was going to go up in Grandpa’s flying machine!

I looked up at my father, expectant and hopeful, but dreading he would say no.

My father had a funny look on his face, sort of surprised and sad all at once. They stared at each other for a few seconds, and then my father nodded his head and silently walked back towards the house.

At first I was surprised he didn’t object to me going. Father rarely got between Grandpa and me—me being Grandpa’s favorite and all—but I would have thought going up in a flying machine was something else entirely. I was thrilled at the thought, but I couldn’t help thinking about the looks on both their faces.

When my father disappeared into the house, I turned to Grandpa.

“What is it you want to show me?” I asked, worried excitement pitching my voice up.

It seemed as if something was eating at him, flattening the laugh-lines around his eyes in a way that made me more and more uneasy.

For as long as anyone could remember, Grandpa Billy had always been the one smiling, even when things went wrong. He was the one who cured it all. Scraped knees, pets that went to Heaven, broken hearts … they all melted in the warmth of his smiles.

He didn’t answer my question. He just handed me a pair of goggles and said, “You’ll see.”

We went through the gate, and I slipped on my goggles. Grandpa helped me into the back seat and fastened my harness, cinching it up tightly. He leaned forward, flipped a switch on the control panel, and reached up, grabbing one of the big, upper blades. With a heave he started it to spinning, grabbing the next blade and pushing harder. With a satisfied nod he stepped behind the motor and gave a mighty pull on the propeller. The motor coughed once, kicked over, started chattering as the propeller spun faster than I could see.

My whole body vibrated with the steady rhythm, and I shivered with excitement.

Grandpa hopped into the front seat and buckled himself in. He turned in his seat and watched the fins of the tail section move as he shifted the control stick between his legs.

“You ready, Baby-girl?” he shouted over the sound of the motor.

I nodded my head quickly, too excited to say anything.

Grandpa moved a lever on his right, and the motor roared. We started rolling forward faster and faster. With a lurch we lifted off the ground, and Grandpa angled the nose upward. My heart did a somersault, inside my chest.

I was flying!

The ground slipped away from us, and the machine turned in a wide circle. Grandpa eased back on the lever, and the sound of the motor softened as we leveled out.

Wind streamed by my face. I was giddy and worried and scared all at once as we sailed over the rolling oat and corn fields of Indiana. The Ohio River was on my left, and Grandpa seemed to be following it southwest.

The sun rode low on the horizon behind us, casting long shadows from the tall oaks and white farmhouses that passed below. Shadows stretched away in long dark lines, pointing like signposts towards our destination.

I couldn’t say anything as we flew. My emotions were all mixed up. In spite of flying for the first time, I couldn’t keep from thinking about what might have stolen his smile away.

Almost an hour later we were sailing over Evansville. I could only guess, but I figured we were five-hundred feet off the ground. It was strange to see the crooked, dusty streets spread out below us. The blotch of brown roofs made Evansville look almost like a scab on the green skin of Indiana. People, horses, and a few auto-carriages dotted the streets, going about their business. Some of the folks even pointed up at us as we flew over.

It must have been only a few miles past Evansville when we started descending towards the trees along the Ohio River. Grandpa angled away from the water, lining up with a dirt road that cut through acres of swaying oat fields. As we descended, the trees and tall grass became an even faster blur than when we’d taken off, and I realized just how fast we must be going.

Grandpa flipped a switch and the motor cut off. There was only the sound of wind rushing by and the
swoosh-swoosh
of the blades above
.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to laugh. I was so excited and scared that I almost peed my pants, but I tensed up as the wheels bounced off the dirt road and came down again with a jolt. We rolled along for another hundred yards or so, slowing until we came to a quiet, dirt-crunching stop.

The blades above kept spinning as Grandpa hopped out of the chopper and unbuckled my harness. He helped me out and slowly took off his goggles, tossing them onto the front seat. The band had left an indent in his tight, curly white hair, and where the goggles had been his dark skin gleamed with sweat.

I took my goggles off and threw them into the back seat.

He lifted the front seat, pulled out a picnic basket, and then looked down at me, his eyes searching mine. He pursed his lips, licked them once, and frowned, as if he was having trouble deciding what to do.

He sighed finally, a long sound that seemed to carry an unimaginable weight with it, and then he said, “C’mon, Baby-girl. The grave’s back this way.”

Without another word he turned and started walking towards the river through waist-high oat grass.

“Grave?” I called out, confused.

He didn’t turn. He just gave a wave to get me moving as he walked slowly towards a giant oak that stood along atop a short hill near the river.

I stood there for a few heartbeats, frightened and curious. I looked around. There wasn’t anything for miles except fields and trees. It seemed like a strange place for a cemetery.

I swallowed hard and set off after him. The grass swished around me as I walked. I ran my hands over the fuzzy stalks of oats that rippled like water in all directions. I felt nervous—and a little scared.

BOOK: Out Through the Attic
6.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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