Blown away. I was completely blown away at the entries for our Cassie Clare steampunk writing contest! We asked you to step it up a notch and you responded by sending us fantastic, imaginative pieces that literally had me asking for more! Some contests are difficult to judge but this was a pleasure … I only wish we had enough prize packs for everyone! However, we did scare up some Novel Novice bookmarks to send to everyone else who entered!
The winners each receive a prize pack including a finished (hardcover) of the book, a journal and a poster (all courtesy Simon & Schuster).
We’ll be posting all of the winners’ entries over the next week (in no particular order) so check back to read them all. Here’s the first one by Tess A.
A kiss on the cheek, a hot mug of tea, breakfast on the table. “Good morning, dear. Sleep well?”
“I haven’t slept well since December, Ethel. You know that.” The clink of silverware on china, a strictly neutral voice.
“You’ll have to get used to the annexation eventually, William. It’s happened and it’s not likely to change. You tried your best, but now it’s over.” The whir of the dog as it wakes up, the clink and grind of its legs and gears as it walks to the door.
“You think I’m exaggerating.” The dog returns with the newspaper. William scratches the dog behind the ears, takes the paper, flips it open. “I’m not, you know.”
“You are.” Ethel takes the dishes from William, puts them in the sink, starts to wash them. The twins wake up, start to squall. William goes for them. “We’re still Brooklynites, you know,” when he returns. “That hasn’t changed.”
“You’ve been listening to McKelway.” William’s voice is not accusatory, merely amused.
“So have you, evidently.” Ethel takes one of the twins, rocks him gently. William laughs slightly, pets the dog again. “I don’t know why you bother petting that thing. It can’t feel it.”
“It’s a dog. Petting dogs is the norm.” This is an argument neither side can win.
“It’s not a dog. Dogs died out twenty years ago. That is a Canitron. A mechanical pet.”
“A pet you agreed to own. And they are called dogs, despite your issue with it.” William puts the dog down. It glares at Ethel, clanks to a corner.
“I have nothing against them. I just think it’s folly to mistake them for the real thing.” The baby in Ethel’s arms starts to cry again. Ethel sits down, prepares to nurse.
“I see what you’ve done.” William sounds knowing. “You’ve distracted me from the annexation. Or attempted to, at any rate.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, William.” Nursing makes Ethel irritable. “It has been almost three months since Brooklyn joined New York City. The world has not ended yet. I think it might be time to let it go.”
William stands, pours Ethel a cup of tea. “I will make you a deal, Mrs. Alcott.” They are newly enough married that the name still makes her smile. “I shall keep my politics out of the house for a year. If life has not changed appreciably, the matter will be dropped entirely. If it has, I reserve the right to complain at home again.” He smiles. So does Ethel.
“Your terms are acceptable.” Ethel looks into the corner, where a battle is taking place. The mouse population has gone up since the extinction of the household dog. The advent of the Canitron has brought it down a bit, but not enough. “Are you going hunting with John today?”
“Yes, I am. Marie is coming to help you with the twins after lunch.” William hands her the tea. She sips gratefully. The baby stops nursing. The dog kills the mouse. “I’d better be off or we’ll be late. Will you be all right until Marie gets here?”
“I’ll be fine, William.” Ethel stands, takes the other baby from her husband’s hands. “Go, enjoy yourself, be safe. We’ll be fine here.” William kisses her goodbye. He pointedly pets the dog as he leaves.
Ethel puts the twins down for a nap shortly before noon, fixes herself lunch. She makes extra for Marie, John’s daughter. Marie fears the Canitrons. Sometimes Ethel does too.
Ethel takes up her sewing after she has finished lunch – William is hard on his clothes, as are the twins. Marie is late. Ethel does not worry; the girl is not known for being punctual. One of the twins sniffles from the other room. Oh, drat, that blasted cold has made its way here.
The dog raises its head at the sniffle, looks down the hallway. “Down.” The dog does not respond. “Down, it’s nothing for you to concern yourself about.” The dog turns to look at her. Suddenly Ethel cannot call it a dog anymore. It is nothing remotely like a dog. It is pure machine. Its cold eyes are trained on hers.
Ethel shakes herself mentally, turns back to her sewing. The Canitron lowers its head, becoming a dog again. Nothing. It was nothing. I’m just worrying about Marie, she’s never usually this late. Where can that girl be?
The Canitron is looking at her again. For a split second, Ethel sees red eyes staring at her. She blinks. They are bronze-colored gears again. You are being silly, Ethel. The dog – machine – moves closer to her, curls up at her feet. Ethel suppresses the urge to kick it across the room with difficulty.
One of the twins starts to cry in earnest now. Ethel puts her sewing aside, starts to stand. The metal beast at her feet growls as her hands go to the arms of her chair, barks as she stands. It bites at her ankles when she takes a step. She hurriedly sits back down.
Subsequent attempts to stand produce the same results, always with the Canitron returning to rest when Ethel sits. And so Ethel sits, too tense to sew, waiting for Marie to come.
The baby continues to cry.
Wow – that is eerie! And a cliffhanger! I love the way the writing style matches the tone of the piece!
I was totally getting into this and then doh! I’m left hanging. This was truely very good reading! I want the rest though – lol
No that that’s over (lol), congrats to all the winners! I can’t wait to read all the entries over the next coming week.
This one is such a cliffhanger! I love the name Canitron too. I want more too! 😀