Tagged: steampunk

Hunky-Dory Steampunk Story

Dear Planet Earth,

We’ve been hopping from place to place around the city all week. We kept expecting the mole people to return for a counterattack, drill snakes and steampunk guns in tow. It’s now undeniably apparent they’re not coming, either out of fear or condescending disinterest.

They have a right to be scared. We’ve fortified every inch of downtown Seattle and trained dozens of new rebels how to use some serious weapons. Oh, we’ve started calling ourselves “rebels,” too.

I helped raid a firehouse yesterday to get those flames around the Space Needle under control. We did a pretty good job considering our only training came from playing fireman in preschool. The CDC guys contained the remains of the drill snake I epically pwned, which makes for a pretty eerie picture.

Despite how hunk-dory things seem now, a lot of us are actually itching for the mole men to bring it on. Dr. Eimer compared our zeal for battle to the “geopolitical climate prior to World War I.” I think most of us rebels are imagining Star Wars IV.

That Time I Saved Us All

Dear Planet Earth,

I wish I had seen a trail of smoke arching toward the devious drill snake from my Shoulder Mounted Ass Wiper. A translucent line leading up to the gaping hole under the beast’s belly — that’s all I would need to truly know that the shot came from me. That I killed it.

The way it really happened, there was just a loud hiss and then a big BOOM a second later. The mole man weapon groaned and twitched. It moved and sounded as though it weren’t a machine at all, but something alive, something conscious. It fell to the ground with an earth-shaking THUD. Sparks and smoke came out of its many new openings.

I struggled to get up under the weight of the SMAW and the shock of just shooting a freaking missile into a freaking tank equipped with drills, saws, and Gatling guns. My allies quickly surrounded the drill snake, keeping their rifles drawn on it. They yelled things out to each other that I didn’t understand, if I heard them at all.

A small door opened on its side followed by a small man. He landed on his back and began coughing through his red-eyed mask. The soldiers yelled louder now, slowly inching toward the writhing mole man. He reached at his leg and pulled out a strange-looking pistol. It was huge compared to him, covered in blinking lights and steaming pipes. He was riddled with holes before he could get a little finger around the trigger.

When it was all over and my last drop of adrenaline had gone, I fell back to the ground. I looked at the grey Seattle skyline and the iconic Space Needle framed on all sides by fire and testosterone. And then I passed the fuck out.


Dear Planet Earth,

Sometimes all you need in life is some fried chicken and someone to call you “friend.” I was lucky enough to have both yesterday.

Karter, Maria, and I had a nice talk all through the night about the miracle that we’re all still here. It was a dark hotel room and a mostly dark conversation, though I am happy to report that they are very much an “item” now. They told me about the horrors they were put through in the labor camp. They worked sun up to sun down, building those strange towers with all the pipes — Karter thought they were some sort of power generators because of the heat they gave off.

At night, they all slept together in a large underground cavern. They could feel the red, glowing eyes of the mole people watching them as they slept on the rocky earth, and those same eyes greeted them as they awoke each morning. They carried rifles as big and alien as those towers.

Maria told me a story about a small child who slept near her each night and always cried about food or his mother. His whimpering grew softer and softer each night until one day, he wasn’t there. She didn’t have to ask what happened to him.

There were more stories — stories about the starvation, the beatings, the executions — but we tried not to focus on that. We tried to focus on the miracle. We justified our feelings of regret, shame, and loss by affirming our shared experiences as humans, allies, and above all, friends.

And then we went down to the kitchen and scored some fried chicken.


Dear Planet Earth,

Karter gave me a green bandana and told me to wrap it around my left arm. I noticed he too had a green bandana around his arm. He said it was so we could tell our own people apart from the mole men and the homies battling outside. He opened the rusty hatch that reminded me of a submarine and we were instantly propelled into a scene from a war movie.

Large plumes of smoke grew on all sides. Mortar blasts continuously pummeled groups of short people I had to assume were mole people. The steampunk towers creaked and melted from the constant volleys.

Karter lifted his rifle and started firing wildly at a troop of people clearly not wearing green bandanas. He yelled something back at me, but I had screams, explosions, and gunfire in surround sound. I followed closely behind him, crouched like a ninja, just as we did when we first tried to sneak into this tenth circle of hell.

We scrambled up the slope of a dune, climbing over the corpses of about a dozen mole men, the red eyes from their masks watching us all the way. We saw human bodies too, homies and our own people, if their left arms could be believed. I tried not to view too much of those images.

We made it to the lip of the desert bowl where we greeted by a familiar-looking boy. He was firing toward the battle below and quickly pointed his rifle toward us. The hardened look on his face swiftly changed to fear to shock to relief before letting us pass out of the contained war zone and into freedom.

An Excerpt

Dear Planet Earth,

For your perusal, an excerpt from A History of the Inheritors:

“The upworlder year of 1629 was a turning point in the ever-shifting truce between the layers. The humans developed the steam turbine, a technology that had already been in widespread use by the Inheritors for centuries.

“It appeared the upworlders were creating new tools at a more rapid rate than first predicted, and the possibility of true coexistence among all of the planet’s sentients seemed likely at long last. There were serious discussions among The Wise Ones contemplating whether or not upworlders had achieved a level of communal intellect worthy of the Inheritors’ recognition.

“All dreams of such a symbiosis quickly crumbled as humanity entered its so-called ‘Industrial Revolution’ 100 years later. They brazenly ignored the ill-effects of overusing steam and coal power on the upper crust. The environmental damage from their hasty, unnecessary innovations were drastic enough to be observed by even the most naive human, yet their unfiltered greed and arrogance blinded them to the inescapable truth that they were destroying the Earth beyond repair.

“The Inheritors, by contrast, carefully measured the changing states of the crust and mantle, taking great care to maintain the most prime of conditions — and prepared for the day when they could finally liberate the planet from its most dangerous parasites.”


Dear Planet Earth,

A blinding spotlight envelops us. I frantically search for the source, fighting in vain against the formless whiteness that illuminates our exposed figures. The light fades, and in it’s place, realization, shame. The countless alien structures of pipes and steampunk dreams that we swiftly maneuvered past before now shined down on us, fulfilling their roles as intimidating guard towers. They begin to emit a high-pitched siren noise, the kind you might hear during an air raid in World War II, only adjusted so as to completely shatter glass.

Lieutenant Halston raises his rifle and manages to get off a few rounds at the towers around us before a short burst of flame turns him into a pile of ash. Linares tries to follow suit, but he suffers the same fate without even getting to touch the trigger.

And me — I fall to my knees. I drop my rifle, my head, and my pride on the sandy surface and wail like a baby. I cry at the friends I’ve lost, I cry at at the prospect of becoming lost myself, I cry at futility.

Then a mole man knocks me unconscious behind the head, has his homeless human underlings question me extensively, and throws me in this underground cell, forced to reexamine everything that’s happened and find even more mysteries than I saw before.

And I also lost a tooth.


Dear Planet Earth,

We were about a mile away from the drill, scanning every inch of the landscape as carefully as a Where’s Waldo picture. The horrors we saw were universes beyond the colorful illustrations of children’s books.

“Jesus,” Karter said before passing the binoculars to me, the last but determinedly not least.

I saw a concave bowl of desert sand encircling the enormous drill. Random groups of people were scattered all around. I adjusted the focus to get a better look. I saw hundreds of people — maybe thousands — bound together in lines with large chain links connected to thick neck braces. The heavy steel covered so much of them it was hard to make out their dirty, tattered clothing underneath. Their faces were gaunt and emaciated, dead faces. Maybe some of them were dead.

At the front and back of each line was a short, round person, someone I might have mistaken for a dwarf or child five months ago. They were wearing gas masks of some kind, with glowing red eyes. They carried ornate rifles as tall as their bodies, covered with countless switches and pipes. This was my first real good look at one of them. The mole people. The enemy.

I’ve been calling all of this an “invasion” since the beginning, without really understanding what that term entails. But after seeing my fellow man shackled and forced to build their captors’ complicated machinery that would later be used on themselves, I felt just in my use of the loaded word.

This was an invasion. This was a full-scale attack on our entire world by a technologically advanced oppressor, their ultimate goals now abundantly clear — humanity’s complete submission and enslavement.

I took the binoculars away from my face and rubbed my eyes.



Dear Planet Earth,

We were attacked. Four miles out of Gary Goldberg’s Discount Cars, I heard the first explosion.

“Holy fuck. . . ,” someone whispered.

I jumped out of my seat and ran to the back of the truck to see the flaming remains of the other transport. A thousand thoughts flew through my head in those first few seconds. I wondered if the people on board felt anything, if my friends were on that truck, if we were next.

We made a sharp turn and the soldiers around me started arming themselves, pushing me back towards my seat and the other civilians.

“Get back!” they yelled.

They moved their rifles over the dusty scene, some moving more frantically than others. I heard someone begin to wail behind me, but I didn’t dare turn away from the action before me.

“Where are they? Where are the motherfuckers?”


A fireball appeared on the right side. The troops began shooting wildly as the truck seemed to balance on the left side wheels. The driver swerved, and the truck rolled over. I hit my head on a crate, and when I got my bearings, I could see the soldiers piling out of the truck, shooting at something beyond my vision.

I followed them. I had to follow them. I could hear screaming in the background, someone calling my name. My head was throbbing with pain, a pulsing, high-pitched dial tone. A part of me knew that the truck was on its side now. That I could be consumed with swift flames and not feel anything as my seventeen year existence came to a climactic end. That nothing I did ever mattered.

I emerged from the truck into a new desert, filled with other overturned transports and countless, puny human soldiers firing their harmless weapons into a hulking monstrosity of steel. It was a 20 foot tall snake with barbarous edges and an enormous drill on the front. And when it decided it had enough of our bullets and curses, it burrowed down into the sand, leaving nothing but a giant, gaping hole.

You Have Died of Dysentery

Dear Planet Earth,

It’s been a crazy few days. We crossed over into California, chased by mole men for two days before they seemed to give up and turned around. They were using some kind of weird vehicle we hadn’t seen before, something Fred Flintstone might use if he was into steampunk.

One of the trucks broke down on Friday, so we had to fit all those people and equipment in the other ones. A tiny old woman sat on my lap for an entire day, and I tried my best not to learn anything about her in order to keep the awkwardness to a minimal level.

We didn’t see any other groups or signs of humans besides the countless abandoned cars littering the roads. No one could give me a convincing answer as to why we couldn’t just take some of those cars and find another place for Grandma’s bony butt.

We lost two oxen and I was sick with typhoid. That was a joke, by the way. An Oregon Trail joke.

We just set up camp here at a used car lot, which is about half as fun as it sounds. We’re going to try to sleep in the lobby, but it’s probably just as spacious back on the trucks.

I haven’t seen Talpa around, so I’m not sure what our next moves are. It’s good to stretch the legs out — or just leg — and I was able to juice up my computer pretty quickly. When we’re back on the road, I’m going to see if the troops will let me use those power generators, which I didn’t see them use at all before.