Kentville

town

Found at Pinterest

“Grandpa has ears that truly listen, arms that always hold, love that’s never-ending, and a heart that’s made of gold.” –Anonymous

Keisha marveled at her first sight of Kentville as Isaiah navigated the steam-driven Fliver-B out of the tunnel and into the morning sun. Like the entrance to the Batcave, the camouflaged doors swung shut, and to the casual eye, they blended in with the rest of the mountain.

She was sitting beside Isaiah in the passenger seat, her large hat brim shading her eyes from the sunlight. Unlike San Francisco, this was a quaint little town nestled in the wooded mountains of a state park, quaint that is, except for the outrageous contraptions moving to and fro in the streets, adorning every building and even every person.

There were windmills driving cogs, turning sprockets, pushing rods, pumping water through fountains, turning fans that cleaned the sidewalks, and working escalators that led into the sides of shops, hotels, and apartment buildings.

Then there was the enormous brass clock face mounted on a tower at the south side of the town square. It was just striking nine o’clock, and a brass man took jerking steps out of an aperture set just below the clock, raised a large hammer with both hands, and then struck an equally brass anvil. “Clang.” He raised the hammer again and it fell, hitting the anvil with a “Clang,” and repeated that action seven more times. The brass man turned to face the square, and in a voice made of springs and metal filings announced, “Nine O’Clock in the morning.” In one final declaration of time telling, a steam whistle blew shrill notes. After that, the brass man retreated to the sanctuary of his robotic den to await the coming of another hour.

“That would get really annoying if you were trying to sleep.”

Isaiah chuckled, “I imagine it would, Miss Davis.”

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Subterranean Hideaway

Mt Tam

Mt.Tamalpais State Park, CA – Found at Trip Advisor

“Grandpas bring a little wisdom, happiness, warmth, and love to every life they touch” –Anonymous

Keisha could hear the two Spads veer off to either side just after the machine gun clatter stopped. Her eyes were squeezed shut and she’d bent forward in her chair as far as she could, covering her head with her arms.

She felt her body being pulled forward even more, which meant the Kestrel was going into a dive.

“Miss Davis, are you alright?” It was Isaiah! He was alive.

“I’m okay. How’s Josiah?” She opened her eyes and looked to her right but her view of the man and boy was obscured by clouds of mist.

“I’m fine except for being scared out of my wits.”

“We made it,” Granger shouted. “Get us down, Oscar. We’ve got to ditch the zeppelin’s superstructure.

“Duck soup, Boss.”

“Don’t give me that mush. It’s curtains for us if we don’t land this tub, and we’ll have to hit on all sixes to get the job done.”

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Worthy

collage 41

Collage found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

“Raise your words, not your voice. It is the rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” –Rumi

It wasn’t Santiago’s blindness that had caused him to neglect his gardening tools, because after all, he did not need to see in order to tend the heucheras, campanulas, and sedum sunsparklers. It was the machine took up all of his time. He chuckled to himself as he recalled the sculpture of the brass buddha welded on the steel beam next to the fused length of chain.

“Keep the balance, eh?” He adjusted one of the control cogs and then let out a length of cable from beneath what his family called “the contraption.”

Even in an age where the steam engine dominated every aspect of life and culture, his “contraption” was a curiosity. It was a marvel of over-design and the monument to mechanical mash-ups. The main wheel was taken from the broken down wagon he once used to haul peat moss and manure home for his azaleas. He’d used a common steam boiler which could be heated by any fuel that would burn. The piping he had scavenged from a warehouse that had been condemned three months ago. The materials for the intricate gearing systems was the “gift” of his departed wife’s collection of clocks, a choice of which his children did not approve.

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Death by Airship

steampunk zeppelin

Steampunk zeppelin wallpaper image found at wallhere.com.

“Grandfathers are just antique little boys.” –Unknown

They got a lot farther than Keisha thought they would. Adrenaline and panic drove her and young Josiah up the first quarter of the trail, but after that, fatigue started to set in. Then fear rose again as they encountered the first unconscious mech man about halfway up. Some of the cogs and gears on his mechanical body parts were still spinning and whirring, as if trying to get the organic mass they were attached to back up and running.

What made the climb worse was the massive, clunky breathing masks which fit over their heads like helmets, and had goggles and a nose pieces that jutted out like an insect’s. Her breathing, already labored because she was trying to run uphill, sounded more like Darth Vader. Why was this taking so long? Isaiah needed them and Keisha couldn’t let the nine-year-old boy lose both his Mom and Dad.

Finally they reached the top of the trail. The gas was much thicker here and the drone of the airship louder. The teenager looked up, but amazingly couldn’t see the enormous dirigible for all the gas and smoke. What had happened to Isaiah?

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Assault on Red Rock Island

red rock island

Red Rock Island – San Francisco Bay – This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

“Young people need something stable to hang on to, a culture connection, a sense of their own past, a hope for their own future. Most of all, they need what grandparents can give them.” –Jay Kesler

“Still no sign of the warship, Isaiah. It’s been four hours.” Keisha was whispering in the hot, humid air of the Dakuwaqa’s control room. Both Isaiah and his son Josiah were at their stations, trying to remain as motionless as possible.

The man at the helm looked back at the chronometer over the engineering station. “Yes, Miss Davis. The danger is still present, should the Navy ship be playing the same silent waiting game as we, but we must risk moving our submersible. Son. Apply minimum power to the screws and I’ll raise us marginally off of the bottom.”

“Yes, Pa.” The nine-year-old expertly worked the knobs, wheels, and levers on the tin, brass, and wooden panel in front of him, and Keisha could detect the faint hum of the engines from the rear of the boat. At the same time, Isaiah pulled back on the helm gently, activating the Barsoonian charge which restored just a slight bit of buoyancy to their craft. Power was also increased to the atmospheric circulation system, refreshing the air aboard.

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The Upside of the Downside

airship

© Vadim Voitekhovitch – Found at Deviant Art

Three times before, eighteen-year-old Keisha Davis had been transported into an alternate universe. For her, only a year passed between each transition, but in the world where the Covington family had become her own, each leap put her twenty years into their future.

Standing inside her Grandpa’s workshop located at the edge of her small, northern California town, she stared into the vastness of the converted warehouse. The first time she saw it when she was fifteen, she didn’t understand why he had built such an eclectic collection of odd technologies, but now it was painfully clear. Each one was a doorway.

“Grandpa, I know why you did this to me. Cancer took you too soon or you discovered the other world too late. Either way, you were never able to take on the missions yourself. You knew I would be the only one who’d understand what you needed and what kind of help that strange alternate Earth needed. Now it’s like your ghost is telling me I can’t go back again, not to him anyway, not where and when he lives in Atomworld.”

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Forlorn Rendezvous

goat island

Goat Island (now Yerba Buena Island) in San Francisco Bay.

“A child’s eyes light up when they see their Grandpa.” –Catherine Pulsifer

“Where is she? Are she and Leah well? Don’t just sit there man!” Isaiah was as frantic as Keisha had ever seen him during the short time they’d known each other. At the first mention of his Mom’s name, Josiah rushed over to his Dad. The teenager from another universe stood and waited.

The lighthouse keeper was rapidly writing on a pad and then put the pencil down. “She’s ceased transmitting. A moment, Isaiah.” Joachim began tapping at the telegraph key. Grandpa had taught Keisha Morse Code when she was little since one of the projects they’d worked on was building a working signaling system, but Rosenstein’s finger was moving too fast for her to understand the message. Then he stopped and listened.

“Sorry. I think she was cut off in the middle of her transmission. She’s not answering now.”

Isaiah put his arm around his son and took a deep breath. “Can you read out what you got?”

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Farallon Sojourn

farallon island lighthouse

A historic photo of the lighthouse on Southeast Farallon Island, with mule – found at Wikipedia

“My grandfather was a man, when he talked about freedom, his attitude was really interesting. His view was that you had obligations or you had responsibilities, and when you fulfilled those obligations or responsibilities, that then gave you the liberty to do other things.” –Clarence Thomas

It was a communications console. That’s what Isaiah had intended to be Keisha’s “post” on board the Dakuwaqa. In spite of its ornate decorations and clockwork design, it functioned a lot like the wireless device on the Delight, which let her hear the engineer’s voice for the first time after she arrived in what the teen had started to call “Steamworld.”

“You know, when you explain it, the panels don’t seem that hard to work. I mean, radio is radio, and this section to the left also lets me run the acoustical equipment so I can hear nearby ships, whales, and stuff.”

“Exactly, Miss Davis.”

While Josiah guided the submarine past the Golden Gate and out into the Pacific Ocean, Isaiah gave Keisha a crash course in submersible operations, with a focus on radio and sound. Although, either could also be accessed from the pilot’s and engineer’s consoles, the wireless panel let her have much finer control over the inputs. If need be, she could also send messages, but she had no idea who she’d call, since they were supposed to be hiding out.

“Pa, I’d say we were at the halfway point now. You might want to take a look up topside to make sure we haven’t drifted.”

“Thank you, Josiah. I believe my navigational skills are up to snuff, but your suggestion is valid. Miss Davis, don your headgear and listen for the approach of any vessels. Though it is still night, we don’t want the optiscope lens to be seen by chance.”

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Prelude to Piracy

golden gate bridge

A black-and-white photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge – circa 1930s

“My grandfather was a wonderful role model. Through him I got to know the gentle side of men.” –Sarah Long

Keisha’s body jerked as she woke up. She remembered falling, but everything was dark and still around her. No, not everything.

“Miss Davis, you’re going to be fine. You just had a frightful dream, is all.”

“Josiah? Where am I?”

“Your cabin, Ma’am.”

“How did I get here? I was on the Bridge.”

“Pa found you passed out at the Helm.”

“Passed out? I thought…” She faintly remembered being chased by someone in a diver’s suit. She must have fallen asleep again.

“You’re not to blame,” the child replied as if he could read her mind. “There was a fault in the air return for the Control Room. You weren’t getting enough air.”

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Below the Waves

shark

Photo: Discovery Channel

A grandpa is someone you never outgrow your need for… –Anonymous

Isaiah Covington stared death in the face, and her eyes were cold, glass buttons peering out of two tons of a nearly mindless eating machine. Sweat beaded on his face as she drew closer, her gaping mouth revealing grim rows of pointed, serrated teeth designed to tear and rend flesh.

He thought of the torch on his belt, but the heavy clumsiness of his undersea suit’s gloves made it uncertain if he could bring it to bear and ignite it in time to use as a weapon.

He looked into death’s eyes while muttering a prayer to the God of Daniel, Peter, and Paul, and death stared back.

With less than two meters between them, the Great White Shark suddenly veered off to her left and vanished into the murky waters of the Bay.

“Keep praying, children. She may come back.”

“Pa?”

Isaiah thought his son’s voice sounded meek and uncertain in his ears, but Lord knows he had good reason for it.

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