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Posts Tagged ‘O.M. Grey’

GoS_WebBetween now and October 31st I’m giving away several Kindle copies of my works, including the new Avalon Revamped, the eclectic collection Caught in the Cogs, and the teen romance The Zombies of Mesmer. The last is in preparation of The Ghosts of Southwark (its sequel) release on November 1st.

A few of these giveaways have already come and gone. Those who “like” my FB Fan Page were the only ones in the know, so go “like” that page now. You wouldn’t want to miss out on future freebies!

For the others, stay tuned to my Amazon Author Page to see what’s free when between now and Halloween. You’ll get hints as to when the next free book is available on my FB Fan Page.

Additionally, I’ve put up several new, never-before-seen short stories on the Kindle, all for under $2. Steampunk readers will especially be interested in “The Clockwork Heart,” written in the style of H. G. Wells. Here’s what one reader says about it.

This author has captured the feel of a period piece and still engaged the reader in the manner of a modern piece of fiction. Very engaging, her writing casually sneaks in and demands your attention. I enjoyed this story thoroughly.

Here’s a list of all the short stories recently listed on Kindle:

“The Clockwork Heart” – Written in the style of H. G. Wells, this Gothic Steampunk story will make your heart bleed and your skin crawl. $1.49 (FREE with PRIME, as are the rest below)

Inevitable Enlightenment.” Trace the existential thoughts of a zombie after the apocalypse. $0.99

Come to Me.” Jason’s boring Monday turns into one full of adventure and horror when his mother’s strange affliction takes him and his sister around the world. Based in Scottish Mythology. $0.99

The Handy Man.” After losing his hand in a work accident, Linus Cosgriff adapts a new invention to please women and relieve them from symptoms of hysteria. Adult Content. $1.99

Heart of Stone, Flesh of Ice.” Several men mysteriously disappear after a night of passion during a ski vacation. Based in Japanese Mythology. $1.99

Hannah & Gabriel.” Dark Fantasy Steampunk retelling of Hansel & Gretel. $1.99 (This story is also available along with 11 others, poetry, and articles in the collection Caught in the Cogs: An Eclectic Collection for only $2.99.)

-_Q

OMG_2013Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited and its sequel Avalon Revamped. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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In just five short days, Avalon Revamped, the sequel (of sorts) to the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited, will be released to the public. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my first Steampunk Erotic Romance book, Avalon Revisited was not only a bestseller on Amazon, but it also won the Steampunk Chronicle’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Novel in 2012.

Author-signed copies are available for this long-awaited sequel until September 30th at 11:59pm PST. There’s only a limited number of author-signed copies going out, so get your order in quickly. Otherwise, you’ll have to meet me at a convention to get the book signed, and I only have one scheduled in 2014.

About Avalon Revamped:

Arthur Tudor, a vampire for nearly four-hundred years, finds himself bored with life and love, yet again. His tolerance for his newly-turned girlfriend Avalon wanes, and he’s on the prowl for fresh blood to drink and succulent flesh to pierce. While investigating a series of mysterious disappearances, the couple comes face to face with Constance, a succubus committed to exacting justice for violated women. The supernatural trio joins forces to stop a serial rapist and murderer. Set in Victorian London, this Steampunk horror novel is about justice, retribution, and redemption.

Let true justice prevail…

Here is what C. L. Stegall, author of The Blood of Others, has to say about Avalon Revamped:

Every once in a while I get the opportunity to read a piece of work that makes me think, “This is the one the will put this author on the map of the reading world.” Avalon Revamped is that book for O. M. Grey. It deals with some horrific truths and should be read by every person on the planet. It is a great adventure, with serious underpinnings that elevate it into a higher realm of genre literature.

How about them apples?

Order your author-signed copy via PayPal using THIS LINK. Otherwise, you can get your copy from Amazon.com or on the Kindle starting next Tuesday, October 1st.

Still haven’t read Avalon Revisited? It’s high time!  You can get your copy from Riverdale Ave Books, on Amazon.com, or on a variety of eBook formats. Or, if you prefer to listen to your books, there’s an audio version of Avalon Revisited available via AudioRealms.

Still not convinced? Read what others have said about my scribblings.

Find my other works for purchase, and even some for free, and view my complete works all on the pages of my blog.

Explore! Comment! Buy!

And, above all, share on your networks and with your friends.

May you all find peace.

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Photo by Richard Alois

Photo by Richard Alois

Gothic London, its varied history, and just getting to and from places has kept me so busy and exhausted over the past month that I’ve shirked my duties as guest blogger for STEAMED. My apologies. Even now as I write this, I’m on a bus to the train station to see the editor of Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue, Patricia Ash. Unlike most places in the USA (and even many in the UK), traveling in London can be an all-day affair. If I’m out of the flat (and not indulging in a frothy mocha at a Starbucks), I’m either on a bus, on the tube, or walking up to 10 miles a day exploring this glorious city. I’ve even hired a Barclay Bicycle and tooled around a bit. Great fun. It’s not unusual that I get totally lost walking from here to there, even with my Mini A to Z, discovering many wondrous things along the way. Things, of course, that I would unlikely ever be able to find again.

I highly recommend going on guided walks in London on your visit, but not through London Walks. Although they have a varied menu of walks, it’s really hit or miss with the guide and crowd. It’s not unusual for them to have 50-100 people on a walk, and then it’s a big mess. You can’t hear the guide and your constantly moving with a huge crowd. Not fun.

For you Gothic Ghost Story fans, I can’t recommend the walks hosted by Richard Jones enough. He came highly recommended to me by my writerly colleague Leanna Renee Hieber. Richard has written something like twenty-three books on haunted London. Leanna used some of his ghosts in her fabulous Strangely Beautiful series.

Last week I had the great pleasure of meeting Richard and talking about publishing and marketing with him between the stops on the Sweeney Todd Haunted Walking Tour, which I thoroughly enjoyed. His dramatic presentation of ghost stories and history is fabulously entertaining. On his walk, I learned that many of the churchyards throughout London are higher than the rest of the city. This is because in the early 19th century, they were quite literally burying people on top of one another. The gravediggers would dig up a grave, move the existing bones out of the way, wait until after the current mourners were done saying their goodbyes, and then they’d slip the bones back in the new grave.

In the 1830s, a law was passed that closed many of the overrun graveyards in The City of London, including the Cross Bones Graveyard, on which I wrote about in June 2013. At this time, cemeteries were set up around the perimeter of London, like Kensal Green Cemetery, close to where I stay while in London. I’ll be visiting Kensal Green Cemetery shortly, and I’ll hopefully have a report on their catacombs! Seven of these cemeteries were built, known affectionately as the Magnificent Seven.

There was also a practice called “fishing” among grave robbers. Grave robbing could be a lucrative business at £12-15 per body (a considerable amount of money then), but it was also against the law. Grave robbers had to get in and out quickly before the cemetery security watch made their way back around. Family members would arrange things on the fresh grave in a particular way so they’d know if the grave had been disturbed. Thus, the grave robbers would first take note on how things, flowers and tokens and such, were arranged on the grave. Then they’d dig a thin notch across near the top of the grave, crack open the coffin with their shovel, and lower a rope down into the coffin and around the corpse. They’d pull the body out of the grave, strip it of it’s clothes and jewelry, for it was death if caught stealing personal property. A dead body, however, just carried a hearty fine. They’d put everything back the way they found it and then sell the corpses to doctors and medical schools for research.

There are hundreds of thousands of graves all over London, in the many churchyards as well as in larger cemeteries like Brompton Cemetery, also one of the Magnificent Seven. I visited Brompton Cemetery my first week here because it appears in my book Avalon Revisited. I rode a Barclay Bicycle through the ancient grounds in awe. This is where my characters Arthur and Avalon discovered the resurrected Pembertons.
O. M. Grey in London

O. M. Grey in London

I’ve had a lovely time visiting historical places, Harry Potter filming locations, and all the places in my books. I’ve made a preliminary map for readers interested in seeing the settings themselves. Perhaps 2014 will bring a proper O. M. Grey and Leanna Renee Hieber tour of London.

For now, I’ll take my leave until (hopefully) two weeks from now when I’ll have more Gothic Goodies to share. Until then, more mochas, more exploration, more walking and then even more walking.

-_Q

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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1860RickettSteamCarriage_zpsf033c0ee

As promised last month, meet another piece of historical Steampunk technology: The Rickett Carriage. This steam-powered car was made in 1860 by Thomas Rickett, a Castle Foundry manager in Buckingham. His impressive work with steam engines inspired the Marquess of Stafford to order a steam carriage. It had a maximum speed of 19mph. Here is how Wikipedia describes it:

This vehicle had three wheels, the single wheel at the front, and a rear-mounted coal-fired boiler and two-cylinder engine. The boiler pressure was 110 psi, and the cylinders had a bore of 76 mm and stroke of 178 mm. Transmission was by chain to the right-hand rear wheel. A maximum speed of 19 mph was claimed. A boilerman was seated at the rear, and three passengers could sit side by side at the front with the one on the right operating a tiller steering and the regulator, reversing lever and brake. The wheels had iron “tyres”, with the brakes operating on the rear wheels.

Rickett made a second model with a slightly different style for an Earl who used the car to drive an astounding 146 miles in Scotland!

Historically, the machine was short-lived and not terribly many sold, even for the low, low price of £200, but in my novel, Nickie Nick the Vampire Hunter reads about them in the paper and even sees one for herself!

This magnificent machine made it into my teen paranormal romance novel in a chapter called “Nickie Nick Sees a Rickett.” My description of a Rickett in The Zombies of Mesmer:

The alley was quiet this time when I emerged, and the smell of the blood was fading in the freshly falling snow. I went up to the mouth of the alley and stood just out of the light from the nearby gaslamp. The night had barely begun and the streets were rather busy with carriages and full of the sounds of clopping hoofbeats. My mind went back to the beautiful stranger. Where had he come from? Where had he gone to? One hears stories about how something very bad could be happening in an alleyway just adjacent a very busy street, but no one comes to help. I found that hard to believe before tonight.

Yet he had come to help. He had probably saved Conrad’s life.

And he knew vampires existed, that was a definite benefit.

Then the strangest contraption caught my eye. It was a carriage without a horse, clattering down the street with the rest of the carriages. Being the daughter of industrialists, I certainly was not ignorant of modern machinery. After all, mother and father had some quite impressive steam machines that facilitated production in their textile factory. Even Franklin himself came up with truly ingenious inventions just from assembling junk and such, but this was like nothing I had ever seen up close. It looked every bit like a carriage, only instead of four wheels, it only had three, two large ones in back and a smaller one in front. From the large back wheels, chains ran from gears on the wheels to other gears extending from an axle beneath the carriage’s floor. A man sat on the right, fully dressed for the evening in a top hat and fine overcoat, holding onto the steering rod with his left hand and another lever with his right. A woman wrapped in a fur stole and earmuffs sat beside him.

Stepping up to get a closer look as the thing puttered by, I saw that there was a mechanism beneath the carriage floor that turned the gears, which in turn, turned the wheels. I stooped down to get a look of the thing from beneath, but it had already passed. There on the back sat the engine. It looked like a coal boiler and a long pipe extending up from it belched out steam.

“Interesting, no? A far cry from a penny-farthing,” a smooth voice above me said. I stood up quickly to find that it was none other than my beautiful stranger.

“Yes. It is a Rickett Carriage. I read about them, but I have never seen one before. Simply amazing,” I responded calmly, although some rather large fluttery things had taken up residence in my stomach.

“You read, do you? Also interesting. This evening is just full of surprises, is it not, Nick?”

“How do you know my name.” It came out as a whisper, for I was breathless. He filled my world. It was as if all of London fell away from my vision, and there was only him. Black eyes twinkling in the gaslight. One side of his cinnamon lips curled up in a half-smile. Pale skin covered in soot and jaw-hugging sideburns. I shivered, and it was not the cold December night that caused it.

“Your friend said it before. It is beneficial to pay attention to the details in life, don’t you find? I am called Ashe.” He offered a gloved hand. “We were not properly introduced before.”

I took his hand and gave it a manly shake, which was not too difficult with my new strength.

“Strong, too, for such a young lad,” he said, putting his hand back in his pocket.

I felt my brows furrow at this. He thought me a boy, and a kid at that. I was no kid. I was The Protector, after all.

“I’m not all that young.” I deepened my voice perhaps a little too much. My cheeks suddenly felt very hot and flushed, so I turned my face into the cold wind and let the snowflakes cool my no-doubt-rosy-cheeks down. “Bet I’m as old as you.”

Great. That sounded quite mature, Nicole.

“Do you now?” he said. “Thought I told you to stay safe and inside. This is no place for children. Where is your friend. Is he all right?”

I bit my lip to stop from scolding this infuriating man, and I turned back to him, ready to do so anyway. As soon as I caught his eyes again, however, I was unable to speak. Literally. The ability to form words completely escaped me.

Read the rest of the Chapter, or even more of the book, for free on my blog, Caught in the Cogs, or get your very own copy from Amazon.

Return again in two weeks to learn more about real history in fiction.

-_Q

 

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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I love cemeteries. Always have. In college, we had a particularly old one in the historic Texas town where I grew up. Sam Houston, once president of Texas, is buried there among the ancient tombstones and moss-covered monuments. Two of the most popular statues therein are those college students referred to as the Black Jesus, a bronze statue of Christ, and the Angel of Death, a quite beautiful statue of an angel whose crevices are stained with mildew. One, by the way, I would view quite differently now after BLINK (as Whovians would understand). We’d go there in the middle of the night, tripping on whatever psychedelic we had taken that night in the early 90s, and talk, dream, philosophize, etc. After reading Anne Rice my freshman year, my Gothic nature was both defined and solidified.

My fiction leans more toward the Gothic fantasy side of Steampunk than the highly technological science fiction side of Steampunk’s beginnings. Sure, my work has sprinklings of fantastic Steampunk technology, but the dark themes of my work almost always deal with death and loss in one way or another. From my Gothic short stories, like the erotic, Steampunk Chronicle’s Readers’ Choice Award-winning “A Kiss in the Rain” to my novels Avalon Revisited and The Zombies of Mesmer, when it comes to my taste in fiction, reading or writing it: the darker, the better.

Imagine my delight when I discovered the Cross Bones Graveyard in my research, home of “The Outcast Dead.” Stretching back to medieval times, the graveyard became home to the unwanted, the poor, and the working girls between the 16th to 19th centuries. Those too poor to be buried properly in hallowed ground at the nearby Southwark Cathedral, then known as St. Saviour’s, found their final resting place at Cross Bones. Many a prostitute throughout that time, including the infamous “Winchester Geese,” prostitues licensed to work by the Bishop of Winchester, from the 18th century, are among the hundreds buried in this tiny plot of land. In 1853, the graveyard was closed “on the grounds that it was ‘completely overcharged with dead’ and that ‘further burials’ would be ‘inconsistent with a due regard for the public health and public decency’.”

In 1990, a partial excavation was done at the site, removing some 148 skeletons. It’s estimated that’s less that 1% of all the 15,000 buried on those tiny grounds.

Situated on Redcross Way, it’s iron gates have become a colorful shrine to the forgotten dead as well as others lost by visitors. Glorious colorful ribbons and roses cover the entrance to this once-shamed place, telling its inhabitants and the world that every decent person is worthy of respect and remembrance, despite their livelihood or economic status.

The amazing Julie Mollins, the same reporter who wrote an article on me for Reuters in 2011, reported on Cross Bones and John Constable, the man who breathed life back into the graveyard with The Southwark Mysterys plays and monthly ritual honoring the forgotten dead.

Next month, I’ll be traveling to London in part to plan an O. M. Grey Tour of London for 2014, where I will personally take readers to the places found in my novels and short stories. On that tour that will take us all from Bedlam to Gray’s Inn Road to Hyde Park and beyond, the Cross Bones Graveyard will be one of the many stops in the Gothic borough of Southwark.

The Cross Bones Graveyard appears in my forthcoming novel The Ghosts of Southwark, the sequel to The Zombies of Mesmer: A Nickie Nick Vampire Hunter Novel which is available on Amazon, Kindle, and serialized on my blog for free, either in print or via podcast.

-_Q

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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The lovely Lolitas of STEAMED! have asked me to contribute twice a month, and I am quite honored to do so. Initially, at least, my articles will revolve around the interesting historical tidbits of the Victorian Era that appear in my novels and stories.

One my favorite things about writing Steampunk is the research. It’s fascinating, really. So often in my fiction, I incorporate historical people or events or places or even technology. My imagination for technology is rather limited, I’m afraid, as my strengths as a writer are characterization, emotional depth, and dialogue. Technology and world-building are far down the list, so I work with what’s already there, although much of what I incorporate into my work has been all but lost to history. These little-known facts and events and gadgets find new life in my work. With that splendid thing known as creative license, I embellish and bend historical events and 19th century technology to fit the needs of my story.

Today, I’ll focus on The Air Loom: The Human Influencing Machine, something devised in 1810, even before the Victoria’s Reign began in 1837. While doing research on the notorious Bedlam (Bethlehem Hospital, aka Bethlem) Asylum for a guest post called “Lunatics in London” for Bitten by Books during a blog tour, I watched a fascinating documentary on the infamous hospital. Within, they introduced one James Tilly Matthews, the first documented paranoid schizophrenic. I was immediately fascinated by this person and his concept of The Air Loom, so I vowed to work it into my next novel.

In my Steampunk teen romance The Zombies of Mesmer, we visit the horrible Bethlehem Asylum. Although set in 1880, my Bedlam’s halls contain the misery and pain seen in the hospital in Matthews’ time there. After being released from a three-year stint in a French prison for suspicion of being a double agent, Matthews returned to London and proceeded to accuse the Home Secretary of treason in a rather dramatic and publicly disruptive way. Matthews was committed to Bethlem Asylum in 1797 as a lunatic. Fortunately for Matthews, a resident of the hospital for over a decade, he had a relatively cushy room there and ended up drawing plans for the renovation of Bethlem Hospital among many other helpful things. In 1810, he wrote a book called Illustrations of Madness in which he illustrated the influencing machine in great detail both in design and description of purpose. Matthews believed that scientist spies, experts in “pneumatic chemistry,” had set up near Bedlam and was tormenting him by means of rays emitted from The Air Loom.

The Air Loom was a piece of advanced technology, but in the early part of the industrial age advanced technology often meant enormous machinery, rather than the increasing minutarisation that characterise the 21st century. The Air Loom was enormous. The mechanism stood seven metres tall and occupied a footprint of nine square metres, and it was constructed from oak with machined brass fittings.

It was surrounded by barrels that fed noxious gases through oiled leather pipes into the main body of the machine. The gases were derived from substances including ‘gas from the horse’s anus’, ‘seminal fluid’, ‘putrid human breath’ and ‘effluvia of dogs’. (Source)

The machine’s rays exacted such horrendous tortures onto Matthews’ mind like “kiteing,” where ideas were forced into his brain; “thought-making,” where thoughts were removed and replaced by others of the scientist’s choosing; and Lobster Cracking, where “the external pressure of the magnetic atmosphere surrounding the person assailed was increased, ‘so as to stagnate his circulation, impede his vital motions, and produce instant death’.” Other torments included “lengthening of the brain,” “thigh talking,” “fluid locking,” and “bomb bursting.”

Read more about this fascinating machine and see images of The Air Loom, built by artist Rod Dickinson using Matthews’ illustrations at http://www.theairloom.org.

An altered version of The Air Loom appears in my forthcoming novel The Ghosts of Southwark, the sequel to The Zombies of Mesmer: A Nickie Nick Vampire Hunter Novel which is available on Amazon, Kindle, and serialized on my blog for free, either in print or via podcast.

-_Q

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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Today we welcome O.M. Grey as she drops by on her blog tour…

O. M. Grey Blog Tour: Steampunk ParaRomance and Tiara Giveaway

Photo by Greg Daniels

Thank you so much for hosting me today, Suzanne, and all the Lovely Lolitas at STEAMED! It’s so great to be back!

Today I’d like to give all STEAMED readers a chance to win my YA Steampunk Paranormal Romance novel, The Zombies of Mesmer, along with this lovely tiara/necklace made by EJP Creations. I’m wearing it in this picture from my Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue photo shoot. This was my favorite picture without the red hair, but it didn’t make it into the final issue, although several other lovely pictures did. But before we get to the contest portion, please enjoy my short story “Hannah & Gabriel,” a Steampunk retelling of the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.”

Hannah & Gabriel

“Gabe! Gabe, wake up!” Hannah urged her brother in a desperate whisper, shaking him.

“What?” Balled fists rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.

“Listen. Come here and listen.” Before Gabriel could find his bearings, Hannah was yanking him across the room. “Listen,” she whispered again.

Through the wall, Gabriel could hear his parents talking in hushed tones. His own breathing drowned out their words, so he held his breath and listened.

“No.” It was his father’s voice. “I will not, woman. There must be another way.”

“You know there isn’t.” Gabriel’s step-mother did not speak as softly. “There is no work, Oscar. No work means no food. Do you want us all to die?”

“Of course not, but they are only children.”

“Exactly, they will probably be found by someone who will care for them. We’ll dress them in their best and send them on their way. They’ll be better off.”

“What are they talking about?” Gabriel asked his sister.

“Shhhh. They’ll hear you.” Hannah climbed back into her bed and pulled her knees in tight. All was suddenly silent. The voices in the adjacent room had quieted, and all Gabe heard was the sounds of the night. Then bare feet padding across the wooden floor. Gabriel dove back into bed and pulled the covers up to his chin just as the door opened. His last sight before clamping his eyes shut was his sister feigning sleep.

“See.” His step-mother’s voice. “Sound asleep. You worry too much.” Her fading footfalls told Gabriel she had returned to her room, but he never heard his door close. He chanced a peek through his eyelashes and saw a blurred version of his father standing in the doorway, just watching them. After what seemed like forever, his father brushed the back of his hand across his cheek and closed the door.

“Hannah,” Gabe whispered after all had been quiet for awhile, but there was no answer. “Hannah!” Nothing. His eyes started to burn and the fear filled his chest, suffocating him. Covering his face with the covers, he muted the sounds of weeping and tried to tell himself everything would be all right. His lips formed the words over and over again. “Everything will be all right. Everything will be all right.” The mantra mixed with his emotional exhaustion finally lulled him to sleep.

A loud clanging noise startled him from his dreams. Gabe sprung up, his hands covering his ears against the offensive racket. His step-mother stood in their doorway, banging a wooden spoon on an iron pot. “Wake up! Wake up! Important day today, my doves. Put on your finest, for we are going on a journey.”

After he and his sister dressed in silence, they made their way into their father’s workshop. They found him as he always was in his waking state: hunched over a clock or pocket watch, peering through his special work glasses, each side held three separate magnifying lenses affixed to tiny arms fanned above the frames like bizarre eyebrows. Some of the very tiny watch parts could only be properly seen with magnification.

“Father?” Hannah began in her small voice. “Where are we going today?”

Oscar looked up from his work, and Gabriel had to suppress a laugh. One of his father’s eyes looked four times as big as the other through his work glasses. It felt good to smile, but Gabe’s smile quickly turned into a sinking feeling. He wished he had laughed out loud instead of holding it in, for that might be his final feeling of joy for quite some time.

“Your mother is taking you for a special treat! A picnic in the forest, just the three of you. She’s even made a fresh pie to enjoy,” he said, removing the glasses. His eyes were rimmed red, as if he hadn’t slept all night. The bottom lid filled with tears, reflecting Gabriel’s own eyes. He turned to his sister and saw her tears streaming down her cheeks, so Gabe bit his lip and swallowed hard, determined to be strong for Hannah. Whatever was going to happen today, they would be together.

Their father gathered them up in his arms and squeezed them tight. Upon seeing his father’s small bin of extra and broken watch gears, Gabriel suddenly had an idea. While still grasped desperately by their father in his farewell embrace, Gabe reached out and grabbed a handful of small brass cogs and pocketed them.

“Children!” Their step-mother’s shrill voice entered the room just before she did. “Time to go. Come on. It will be a fine treat. I’ve packed some little morsels for a nice picnic. It’s a lovely day, but it will take us much time to get there, so we must leave now.”

“Why are we dressed up for a picnic in the woods? Won’t we get our fine clothes dirty?” Gabriel knew exactly why, but he just couldn’t resist saying something.

The hard woman clenched her jaw and her eyes glared at them for a moment before softening. “It is a game, my duck. We are going to enjoy the day like we are rich and have not a care in the world. It shall be like a holiday.” Although her voice was pleasant and her expression gentle for a change, when her bony hand clamped down on Gabriel’s and Hannah’s shoulders, her fingers dug in deep, urging them along without another word.

As they followed their step-mother into the woods, Gabriel held his sister’s hand, squeezing it affectionately every time he heard her sniffle. With his free hand, he held the watch gears, dropping one every ten steps. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten, drop. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten, drop. This helped keep his mind focused and the fear at bay, for he knew his horrid step-mother meant to leave them alone in the woods. But he’d show her. They would follow the path of cogs back home, and their father would be so glad to see them that he will hug them and kiss their heads. Then he would throw that horrid witch out on her oversized bustle. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten, drop.

But the time came that Gabe ran out of cogs and they kept walking. He watched his step-mother’s determined gait just ahead of them, and he tried to pay attention to his surroundings, but all the trees looked the same after awhile.

They came to a clearing in the woods, and their step-mother stopped short. She told them to spread out the blanket she had carried under her arm while she went to find some firewood, for the air was a tad nippy and stung the sweat gathering around Gabriel’s collar.

“I’ll go with you,” Gabriel said.

“No, you stay here with your sister. Here–” She pulled a small parcel wrapped up in a napkin out of her basket and handed it to Gabriel. “Share with your sister.”

Gabe unwrapped it, expecting to see the fresh pie Father had spoken of, but it was just two crusts of bread spread with some congealed honey. Same as usual. The crusts that no one else wanted, this was her treat for them.

“Please don’t go, mummy,” Hannah said through her tears. Gabe knew she was really scared if she was calling that witch ‘mummy.’ She was not their real mother, for no mother would abandon her children out in the forest. Father married this harpy a year after their real mother had died. Didn’t make it through the winter because she gave most of her share of the food to her children. Although Hannah is too young to remember much of her, she still knew this hard woman before them was no nurturing mother. Hannah was terrified, and for good reason. She hadn’t stopped crying the entire way there. For hours they had walked, and now her fear was also mixed with exhaustion.

“Why are you crying, Hannah? Here. Let us play a game before I gather wood. We’re still warm enough from the walk, but the air is chill. We will cool down soon enough, and you will wish for a fire. But no matter, we shall play a game first. How about Hide & Go Seek?”

“Yes!” Hannah exclaimed, smiling. “Let’s! You can be ‘IT,’ and me and Gabe will hide.”

“Gabe and I,” their step-mother corrected.

“Yes, Gabe and I will hide.”

“That would be no fun, for I am much more clever than you are. It would be harder for you to find me, besides, I wouldn’t want you two to get lost in the woods while hiding.”

“You’re really not going to leave us here?” Hannah said.

“Silly child! Where did you ever get such an idea? Now, be a good girl and close your eyes. You, too, Gabriel. Close them tight. That’s right, put your hands over your eyes. No peeking!” Gabriel felt her bony hand on his shoulder and she began turning him around and around until he thought he might fall down. “Now, count to thirty while I hide. No peeking!”

“But–” Hannah said between her wrists.

“Fret not, my duck. I shall keep you both in sight. Count to thirty.”

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven….” Gabriel listened closely to the sound of her footsteps as they got further and further away. He did not count all the way to thirty. When he could no longer hear her rustling in the fallen leaves, he uncovered his eyes and looked all around.

They were alone.

Please read the rest of the story on my blog, Caught in the Cogs.

You can also listen to “Hannah & Gabriel,” as well as other stories on my fiction podcast at Caught in the Cogs.

Book & Tiara Giveaway

But before you go read the rest of the story, please enter the contest to win an author-signed copy of The Zombies of Mesmer and this lovely clock-hand tiara (pictured above) by leaving a comment and asking me a question below. In addition to this giveaway, I’m running several more this week during my blog tour, so please visit my blog for the full schedule and links.


O. M. Grey
Author. Poet. Romantic.
http://omgrey.wordpress.com
http://twitter.com/omgrey

About AVALON REVISITED~
Arthur Tudor has made his existence as a vampire bearable for over three hundred years by immersing himself in blood and debauchery. Aboard an airship gala, he meets Avalon, an aspiring vampire slayer who sparks fire into Arthur’s shriveled heart. Together they try to solve the mystery of several horrendous murders on the dark streets of London. Cultures clash and pressures rise in this sexy Steampunk Romance.

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