May 6th, 2008

Real Cool Hand

Sitting down to lunch, time for Standup

On the way to lunch, I saw a female construction worker. Unsure of the protocol, I whistled.

I ordered the "Atkins Special", not knowing what it was (I just saw meat and veggies and was happy). It came with bread.

"Performance artist" is such a pejorative phrase. I prefer "attention whore." (that's one for a t-shirt)

Thanks, folks. I'll be here all week.
  • Current Music
    DL - Hysteria
I'm working on it

Doctor Anachronos and the Girl from out of the Sun, part I

For some time now, I have been tossing around the idea of a series of steampunk adventures starring Alison (wimpdork) and myself. I came up with some characters over IRC/IM one evening and as we both think steampunk is silly fun, we were both delighted with the concept. There were two rules, as I recall it. She would have a jetpack, and I would have an airship (the finest dirigible airship this side of the 20th Century, in fact). I’ve wanted for awhile to have a Doc Savage/Allan Quartermain-style 1920’s pulp story I could work on without investing my whole heart and soul in. That is to say, if it’s not perfect (or even great) I won’t be heartbroken (unlike Roman à Clef). Just something to have fun with.

Doctor Anachronos and the Girl from out of the Sun

Chapter the First

The sun was bright that day, and high in the London sky as it was nearly midsummer. The street was full of the hustle and bustle of city life, all about their business until the hum was pierced by a shriek.


A shoddy, disheveled man parted the astonished crowd, rushing away from the woman who had raised the alarm and who, even now, was hurling imprecations at the heels of her assailant.

“Such audacity, and in the broad of day-light!” Amidst the shocked faces of the stilled crowd, there was the flutter of a long, heavy coat of black and suddenly the footfalls of the villain were joined by another’s. “Halt, varlet!” A man with cape, top hat, and cane seemed to fly from the startled crowd and the chase was joined.

Through streets and alleys they dodged, the gap between them closing but never disappearing entirely. Finally, the thief reached a fork down a back alley. He feinted right, hurling the stolen purse to throw of his pursuer, before running to the left. At this point, the gentleman in black drew up his gait and slowed, for he knew the passage to be a dead end. He retrieved the purse and then slowly made for the perpetrator, folding the bag under his arm. He drew his cane apart, revealing two halves; one of which was a blade. “Now, wretched scum, how shall you be dealt with?” Far from cowering as he should, the dog pulled forth a tarnished service revolver and brandished it directly at the would-be vigilante. Both men’s attention was drawn, however, by a great whistling noise from the sky. And the villain’s hand did tremble as there appeared a spot upon the sun. The spot grew until it blotted out all light within the alleyway. Looking to seize upon his foe’s distraction, the swordsman raised his arm as if to strike. But the cur steadied his hand and began to squeeze the trigger.

The man clad in black narrowed his eyes, and looked for all the world as if ready to parry the shot though it were fired from almost no range at all. And there was a great crack and a crash as though the world were rent in twain, and a great cloud of dust rose all about. Gradually, as the dust began to settle, the passers-by who had fled from the alley and who had retreated into their windows over-head one by one began to search the grey for signs of life. All were astonished to see the daring gentleman still standing, but not so astonished as to see what had become of the pick-pocket. He was unconscious, in a heap, beneath a suit of armor that seemed to be made of burnished brass and gold. And though he was unconscious, the armor began to move, and then to speak.

“Where am I? Who are you? Who am I?”
I'm working on it

Doctor Anachronos and the Girl from out of the Sun, part II

Chapter the Second
The armored figure stood, shakily. The gentleman in the dusty black coat moved as if to help his savior, but was rebuffed. “I asked you a question.”

“Three questions, actually,” replied the gentleman, smiling a bit mischievously. “One, you are in the city of London, England, in the kingdom of Great Britain. Two, I am called Dr. Anachronos, man of science. Three, I know not your name, but you came to my aid and I am grateful. I mean you no harm.”

“No harm is good.” The armored figure shook its head in hopes of finding some clarity. Head in heavy-gloved hands, there was a hiss as the seals on the great golden helmet were released. Underneath, short hair of gold, bronze, and copper fell loose, framing the soft face of a young girl. Gasps were heard from the crowd that had by now assembled.

“A modern-day maiden of Orleans!” exclaimed the doctor. “How do you come to these parts, falling as you did from the heavens?”

“I wish for the life of me that I knew.” She staggered a step or two, and winced in pain. “I’ll take that helping hand now, if you’ll lend it.” The doctor rushed to her only just in time to catch her armored frame.

“Mighty marvels! It is as if it weighs nothing at all! I wonder if it is hollow, like the bones of an avian…”

“I assure you, it feels quite heavy to me. And while I normally hate to interrupt, I would greatly appreciate a chance to get away from these gawking faces. Do you practice medicine as well as science, doctor?” asked the girl, trying to muster a smile though painfully holding her head.

“I shall do my best,” he said, solemnly. “But first,” having noted the purse-theft victim among the staring faces, he handed her bag back to her with a tip of his hat and a quick, “Ma’am.” She feebly attempted a curtsey, struck full of awe as she was. And with surprising quickness, they were gone.
I'm working on it

Doctor Anachronos and the Girl from out of the Sun, part III

Chapter the Third
The doctor took his new associate through a maze of back alleys, designed to confound any pursuer, before finally arriving at a clandestine entrance to his residence. After taking a moment to assure their secrecy, he whisked the armored amnesiac into his chambers. He set her down in his most comfortable chair before heading downstairs to request the landlady put on some tea.

“Just knock twice, then leave it by my door, Mrs. Watson. I do not wish to be disturbed, my thanks.” He spoke these words through the crack in the door, moments before easing it closed. “There, now!” he dashed off to a hutch and began rifling through the drawers and cabinets for his medical kit. “That was truly the most original way I have ever made someone’s acquaintance. A pity the landing jarred your memory so. You say you cannot even remember your name?” he asked, from behind a cabinet door.

“No, nothing,” replied his houseguest, now removing her cumbersome armor in a piecewise fashion. “I cannot even remember how I came into your presence. Can you describe for me the incident?”

The doctor did not reply instantly, but rather seemed lost in thought. “Eureka!” he announced, before pulling a black bag from an entirely different chest of drawers than he had been searching. As he grasped the bag in one hand, he checked his pocket watch with the other. Just as his path took him in front of the door to his quarters, there were two sharp raps. “Punctual as ever.” Then: “Thank you, Mrs. Watson.” He brought the tea and his medicine kit to the side of the young girl with the golden hair. “Now we shall get you properly well, but quick!” He filled the lone cup on the tray with a greenish-brown liquid, and left it to steep. “Lean forward.” She did so, and he began to bandage her head quickly and efficiently. “It was the most phenomenal thing. It was as if you fell from the Sun. I’m sorry I cannot give your memory more than that to coax it from hiding.”

Despite having her head handled by a strange man, the girl looked thoughtful. “The sun… my name. My name is the sun. Or from the sun. Of the sun? All the sun? That’s it!” She jumped up from her seat, upsetting the tea and also very nearly the doctor. “Alison. My name is Alison!” She held extended her ungauntleted hand, as in first greeting.

“Well met, Alison.” He shook her hand firmly. “And if we are using first names, I am Doctor Nathaniel Anachronos. That is not, of course, my real name. I fear to use my real name lest I should rupture the time-stream.” Her face was puzzlement. “Ah, I can see I need explain a bit further. Very well, regain your seat and I will try to salvage both the tea and my reputation in your eyes.”

He slowly and deliberately gathered the teacup and saucer from the carpet, resetting them on the tray. He poured some more tea for his guest, urging her to drink up. “Can’t stand the stuff, myself, but these British live and die by the stuff. They fight wars over it, and no, that is not a jest. So, “when in Rome” and all; I must keep up appearances. But come, drink, it does have some restorative powers after all.” He then finally removed his dusty black coat and made himself as at home. It was a long pause before he spoke again, filled only by the sound of tea and china. Once he was seated, he began again.

“You heard correctly; I am not British. I am not from this place, nor from this time. I cannot use my real name because I may yet affect my predecessors, who I fear shall follow me as were they my heirs. But again, I speak too cryptically.

“I came to be here by means unknown to me. But I tell you true as you fell from the sky today, remembering or not, that I am in reality yet to be born. I come from the twenty-first century. Queen Victoria has been dead for over a hundred years; of natural causes, do not worry. I have seen things far beyond the Industrial Revolution, things which I spend my time here, quietly trying to recreate for myself. First and foremost among those is searching for the secret of travel through time so that I might be joined again with my friends, my family, and my beloved. Which is why I was so desperately surprised to see you here, in this day and age. Have you any idea the nature of this device which was strapped to your back?” He indicated with his foot the giant brass knapsack she had laid next to her chair. She shook her head in the negative. “Where I come from, this is called a jet- or rocket-pack. And though examples exist in my time, none are workable to the point of convenience. This looks to be the technology of the future, and you may just be my sister in temporal displacement.

“You think I’m from the future?” she asked, astonished.

“It’s quite possible. Even if you yourself are not, you may hold the key to my return to my proper time… and my proper life. It’s funny,” here he laughed, half-heartedly. “I always wanted to travel through time, to see what other eras and other cultures were like without the bias of history. But I never figured on being stranded.”

“Well, you’re not alone anymore. We can get you back to your time and get me my memory back at the same time. Two heads are better than one. And I have a jet-pack.”

“Then you will help me? Does that mean you believe my story?”

She smiled over her tea at him. “Sure, why not? I mean, what do I have to lose by believing it? As long as you’re pledged to help me in return, I think we’re golden.”

“Then we are agreed! With my mind and your might, none shall stand in our path.” At this he stood, and she in return. At this moment, the irony of his words struck him back full force; lacking her armor, the girl Alison was a full foot shorter than he. And suddenly the great weight occupying the room departed in a fit of laughter, which seized them both. It was disrupted by footfalls upon the stair. “Mrs. Watson!” He hushed the both of them.

“Have you company, Doctor? I thought I heard a woman’s laughter within your chambers. You know my rules about lady callers!” She was nearly at his door now.

“Mrs. Watson, for shame! Have we not discussed you listening at my doorstep? I told you, I must not be disturbed when working at my inventions.” Here, he opened the door but a crack and hissed through, “I was at work upon my voiced telegraphy machine. My very SECRET voiced telegraphy machine. I understand with the current market here in London, it would not due for you to lose a tenant who pays as punctually as I due to a breach in his personal security that threatens his very livelihood. There is no telling the nature of riff-raff a landlady might have to accept in order to meet her debtors’ demands. You know my work and my word, and I trust the combination of the two will suffice for me to bid you a very cordial good day.” At this, he gently but very firmly closed the door again, listening for the sound of a grumbling Mrs. Watson’s retreat.

“A very dear old woman, for the time period. Dispel that look on your face; she adores me for all her sturm und drang. Keeping up appearances and all. But still, I cannot keep you here. We will need to devise arrangements for you. We may ruminate on these matters while I show you some of my inventions.” He led his guest towards his study. “A few words about what I am to show you. Of these, I only sell what I must to make ends meet. You understand, of course, many of these things are not yet due to appear in the world for some time yet, and as such, must be kept in the most absolute of secrecy…”

Other things:
• I’d like to work with Dr. Anachronos’ history a bit; throw in some doubt that he’s actually from the future (how could you prove such a thing in an immediate, repeatable fashion?)
• Travel – first to New York, then to San Francisco. Both classic 19th Century nostalgic destinations. (nostalginations?) First TransAtlantic airship journey?
• Dr. A’s cool “retroventions”
• I hope to hell this Victorian crap gets easier with time. Has it really been almost 20 years since I read Sherlock Holmes? So hard to go gaslight after so long away… Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be perfect (or even good), just fun! But I’m totally going to use “vouchsafe” every chance I get.
• More dialogue for Alison! Plus, kittens. I would like to give her a kittie so we can do the whole warrior/catlady thing up right.
• Should figure out a living arrangement for the Girl from out of the Sun. It’s not politic for an unmarried man and woman to be living together in London; but neither is it easy for a single woman with no family to find lodgings in Victorian England where she can still run out to do superhero things as need be (warrior-governess positions are few and far between)
• Maybe if I offer him some Scooby Snacks, I can get sobriquet to draw up some art to accompany the stories. Alison: Short hair, goggles, jetpack. Armor or leather flightsuit somewhere between steampunk versions of Iron Man and the Rocketeer. Nathaniel: Long cape-like trenchcoat, swordcane, somewhat mussy/dusty Victorian men’s suit but with workman’s boots (outwardly and most immediately looks like a gentleman, but little things belie his disregard for his appearance in the face of utility and the quest for knowledge). The best bit is Chris knows what we both look like, and as a mutual friend is, I think, uniquely qualified to draw us.

  • When we get to SF, I hope we can meet Carlotta Valdes.
  • Dr. Anachronos will suggest "Nemo" for a surname for Alison, based on his love of the character. She will maintain a daylight cover as a harpsichord instructor (and so the in-jokes begin). This is how she will maintain her 'lifestyle' and yet keep the freedom to adventure as need be.