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Gross Bodies and Light Convertible — new short story publication

Oceans of the Mind has just published an alternate history story, set in Victorian London, and based on the idea that the 1848 Revolutions were successful. Here’s a taste, and you can download the whole thing from Oceans of the Mind. ($5 for a single issue, $11.95 for a whole year’s subscription).

Gross Bodies and Light Convertible

by Mark A. Rayner
Our enemy pushed his way through the sweaty crowds surging around Wellington’s statue.

Beyond the Iron Duke sat the neoclassical edifice of the Royal Exchange, thronged with people. In the summer of 1854, the business of Britannia and her empire could not be kept down
by the worst heat wave in memory, nor even a raging cholera epidemic. At the base of the statue, our foe, Dr. Klaus Vandermeer looked up, and concentrated; he ignored a group of old women who were trying to sell wilting bouquets made for buttonholes. Their faces were wrapped with heavy cloth, no doubt to protect them from the miasma causing the plague; the facemasks didn’t make their flowers more appealing. It didn’t do much for their diction either.

“Flowa’ sir?” one of the harpies said, thrusting a nosegay upward.

Vandermeer glanced at the proffered bouquet; as he did the flowers wilted. He grinned, a ghastly thing that frightened the old woman as much as her merchandise’s sudden decay. Vandermeer’s teeth were still good, but he had a long red scar running down the side of his neck that bunched angrily when he tried to smile. He held a tube-like monocle in one eye that gave him a squinty demeanour, and his looks were not helped by a weak chin and bald pate, covered now by a top hat that Vandermeer despised. To gain entrance to the Exchange he needed to look like a proper gentleman, even if sweat was running down his temples.

The old woman screamed as the flowers burst into flames, burning her hand.

He moved away as quickly as the crowd would allow, and only the other flower-sellers took notice of their colleague’s discomfort.

My young charge, twelve-year-old Edgar Altemus, watched from across the street. He was disguised as a match-seller, and he had a wolfish appearance — as though he was taller than his years should account for — despite that, he looked far healthier than any real match-boy would.

Get the rest of the story at Oceans of the Mind..>