Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Steampunk Astral Projector

I am not a brave person. I have wandered through catacombs and fought zombies, but, fundamentally, I do not feel the need to face danger and risk life and limb. Others can do so with fewer gray hairs – some even like the danger – and I firmly believe in the concept of comparative advantage. It’s not always clear where mine lies, but taking risks is not it.

Sometimes, however, danger finds me.

This preface is a roundabout way of explaining how I found myself on a corner of Aether Isle, staring at a silo-like structure that had recently appeared. “Try the Steampunk Astral Projector” read a card slipped under my door one evening, giving this location but no more information. I sighed. Risking life and limb seemed more like Kathy’s bailiwick, and creating situations that threatened life and limb seemed more like Professor Luminos’s area of expertise, but here I was.

Astral Projection, for those who have insatiable Curiosity, involves the ability to leave one’s body to travel in the astral plane, or the world of the planetary spheres, generally said to be occupied by angels or other spirits. One cannot do this, of course. Pure poppycock. But Steampunk Astral Projection…now, that sounded like another kettle of fish entirely. Steam, as we know, can work miracles. I prepared to have my soul enter the planetary spheres.

Entering the silo, I saw the equipment to my left, clearly prepared to generate a great deal of steam pressure. One of the pipes was already leaking steam, which did nothing to soothe my nerves. To my right was a control panel. Dead center was a chair. My optimal course of action seemed clear enough: run like hell. But no, that would not do. Regaining control of my nerves, I walked to the control panel and threw the switch. The machinery started to hum, the lights dimmed, and the sounds of steam pressure building rose in my ears.

I sat in the chair. No sooner had I done so when the doors closed. The hydraulic mechanism engaged, and the chair began to rise. The sound of hissing steam became much louder. The chair stopped, and brass rods descended. A deafening clap was heard, and I was enveloped in an electric field that grew in strength until I was blinded. Then…

…everything around me disappeared. Was I dead? Was this some sort of eerie afterlife? (Author’s note: no, merely well above 3000 meters. How is the air up there? the Bangles once asked. Mighty thin, if you ask me.) As my vision cleared, I began to see celestial orbs glimmering in the distance. They came nearer, then receded. The pattern repeated itself. I was definitely having some sort of metaphysical experience, though I was strongly reminded of a good absinthe jag. And no angels presented themselves – doubtless wanting nothing to do with such as me.

My God - it's full of stars!

Ultimately, the vision became too much for me. I must have fainted, for the next thing I knew, I was lying on the floor of my house. Astral projection: try it if you dare.

(Thanks to Miss Fogwoman Gray and her endlessly inventive ways to simultaneously torture and amuse.)

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