We are at it again! Kicking off the year with a brand-new campaign: Full Steam Ahead!
Yes, we are funding more books. Yes, we would love if you would check them out, maybe show your support. But don’t think you have to do it blind. Here is a taste of Grease Monkeys: The Heart and Soul of Dieselpunk, an anthology that takes a look at the mechanics that keep the tech running and even mod it out beyond its original capabilities, striving for efficiency and peak performance or just keeping things going.
The other two books funding through the campaign are Grimm Machinations – the sequel to Gaslight & Grimm, bringing you even more steampunk faerie tales; and A Cast of Crows, a Poe-inspired steampunk collection created in conjunction with the Tell-Tale Steampunk Festival, but more on those later.
Over the course of the campaign, we will be sharing these excerpts so you can get to know our authors’s style.
Hyena Brings Death
Hyena circles the smoking wreckage, wary of any movement within the cockpit, of any flicker of flame from under the crumpled nose of the biplane. There is none—no ragged breath from the figure slumped over the instrument panel, and though the cooling engine billows clouds of burnt oil into the cold desert night, there’s no telltale scent of spilled petrol in the air.
Hyena cracks open the rumpled fuselage with a crowbar. Inside are valves and pistons, tubes and wires. There is no one around, so Hyena unwraps her tagelmust, the long, indigo scarf that covers her head and face. Better to keep the precious fabric clean than waste water washing it, especially when it comes to engine grease, which, she learned long ago, never comes out.
Hyena works with practiced ease, even in the dark, stripping the engine of its parts. She drains the oil pan into a clay jug and siphons petrol into glass bottles set (carefully) in a wooden crate, before loading them into her truck.
Sadly, the propeller is damaged beyond repair. Maybe next time, but luck hasn’t been with Hyena when it comes to propellers; more often than not, these machines tend to kiss the ground nose first.
Hyena climbs the fuselage and examines the pilot. The blood is sticky-wet on his face and on the instrument panel, but it no longer flows. In the moonlight, it looks like wet ink. The pilot is a slight man, maybe half a hand taller than Hyena, she estimates, and not too much heavier. Hyena grips the leather of his jacket and heaves, pulling him half out of the cockpit, flopping him over the side and letting gravity drag him to the soft Sahara sands, where her sisters and brothers cackle with anticipation of the feast.
The stick is broken, snapped where the pilot’s body slammed into it on impact, and one end has smashed the altimeter.
Hyena leaves the stick and the altimeter and takes the rest: compass, airspeed indicator, rudder controls. The connecting cables. She uncouples the Lewis gun from atop the upper wing and stores it safely away, along with its ammunition.
Oh, but there’s more, and Hyena wonders that there was anything left for her to salvage at all. Four twenty-pound bombs are stored under the pilot’s seat, having miraculously survived the impact. She packs them carefully in buckets of sand and loads them into her truck.
The moon is low in the sky when Hyena is done. She wipes the grease and blood from her hands, and then puts the veil back on, wrapped around her head and neck and over her face. Hyena climbs into her truck, and leaves the rest, the shell of the aeroplane and the pilot, for other scavengers.
In the old stories, Hyena brings death into the world.
The world was young, then, and a very different place: green and verdant, and people and animals lived happy and healthy lives in the shadow of heaven. When you grew old, you had only to climb the rope that bound Earth to Heaven, and you would be restored.
One day, while Hyena was climbing to Heaven, she grew hungry. But there was nothing to eat, nothing but the rope that she climbed.
“Just one bite,” she thought, “to ease my hunger.”
And then, “Just one more bite.”
When the rope snapped and Hyena fell back to the Earth, she was still hungry, and Heaven drifted off into the sky, far away and unreachable.
Now the Earth is dry and brown, a place of shifting sands and loyalties, of thirst and starvation, of war and murder and insufficient resources.
This is how Hyena brought death to the world.
Hyena has been doing this for some time: collecting, taking what people no longer need, what’s been thrown out, lost, or misplaced. Scavenging. Her truck she found half-buried after a sandstorm. The truck had belonged to two Frenchmen. She found them the following day, not far off, by following the vultures.
She lives through luck, and so what if that luck is someone else’s misfortune? The Frenchmen died, the vultures lived, and Hyena got a truck.
The sun is rising behind her as she drives, hazy through the dust her tires kick into the air. It is a long way to her den in the Aïr Mountains, and she has much to do.
There is another version of Hyena’s story, but it isn’t one that’s often told. It’s a tale of hunger, of a world where the people and animals lived and bred and kept living, until they had eaten everything green and growing, leaving nothing but sand and dust. And still they lived on, stick thin, with jutting ribs and spines and hollow cheeks and stomachs.
Do you remember that time?
Much to his embarrassment, Bernie Mojzes has outlived Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Janice Joplin and the Red Baron, without even once having been shot down over Morlancourt Ridge. Having failed to achieve a glorious martyrdom, he has instead turned his hand to the penning of paltry prose (a rather wretched example of which you currently hold in your hands), in the pathetic hope that he shall here find the notoriety that has thus far proven elusive. His work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines, including Bad-Ass Faeries II and III, Gaslight & Grimm, Betwixt Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and What Lies Beneath. In his copious free time, he published and co-edited Unlikely Story (www.unlikely-story.com) and the ever-timely Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix, as well as editing The Flesh Made Word for Circlet Press.
Learn more about Bernie Mojzes here:
Website * GoodReads * Amazon Author Page
Follow Bernie Mojzes on social media:
2 thoughts on “eSPEC EXCERPTS – BERNIE MOJZES – GREASE MONKEYS”
I am as well!