Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Steampunk Christmas, Part 1

Just in time for Christmas, three heartwarming stories of one Christmas Eve in Caledon. Apologies in advance for trampling on timeless children's classics, and any avatars that are mentioned along the way. - RJ

Part 1: Frosty, The Steam Man

The day broke clear and cold. A fresh blanket of snow lay on the ground, covering the soot-covered walkways and streets, and making everything look new again. By the time Kathy found her way to my house to help me prepare for a Christmas Eve dinner, the sun was well up in the sky.

She greeted me as I opened the door, “Hello, sister. Did you know there was a metal man in your front yard?”

I looked beyond Kathy and, indeed, a brass man stood in my yard. The new snowfall had accumulated around his feet, and some remained on his shoulders and head. A small puff of steam would occasionally emanate from his head, which helped to melt any local accumulation. “Well, that’s something one doesn’t see every day,” I observed.

“What do you plan to do about it?”

“It’s not clear there is anything to do about it. I suppose some scientist misplaced his creation, and will eventually be by to collect it. In the meanwhile,…” I opened a closet door and found an old top had left behind by my absent-minded Uncle Roland. Throwing a cloak around my shoulders and pulling on a pair of wellies, I walked outside.

“Rhianon, what are you planning to do?”

“Until someone collects him, he can be our snowman. He just needs this top hat to make the look complete.”

I placed the hat on his head. Before my hand had completely left the hat, the smoke started coming out of the machine at a more rapid rate, and I heard gears start up. “Uh-oh,” Kathy said.

The eyes of the mechanical man opened. “Hello, madam. My sensors indicate that you are not my mistress. I am not programmed to obey your instructions. My previous programming overrides any new instructions. Destination: North Pole.” With that, he started walking at a measured pace. A few moments took him out of my yard, and a short time later he had vanished from my sight.

“I hope Roland wasn’t terribly attached to that hat.”

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