Short Story – Excerpt from “An Unsubstantiated Chamber”

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present you a Sunday Steampunk Short Story. If you wish to submit your own prose for the reading pleasure of The Pandora Society please following the instructions at the end of this tale . . . 


Excerpt and Summary from

An Unsubstantiated Chamber

By William J. Jackson

Railroad City, Missouri used to be the mecca of right, of trust, of technology. When an alien element triggered the creation of paranormals, a small crew known as the Guild of Honor formed. Their actions changed the world, and moved it from Industrial Age to a time of speed and wonder.
1886: two years after the heroes are dead, victims of a jealous America. Two years of military rule in the Rail. Paranormals have gone from amazing curiosities to a dying breed. In this miasma of pain and cruelty, where good is deemed evil, a startling series of murders occurs. Can the killer be caught who leaves no bodies, no weapon, and no crime scene? Pushed into this mess is Professor Flag Epsom, the man who can see the past. Coupled with a violent femme fatale, can these two paranormals work together to find the killer, or will they end one another?

“Leave me alone, woman! You’ve got the Blue like me. What do you think they’ll do after they kill me an’everyone else, huh? You think they’ll let you live on?”

“Of course,” I answered him, even stepping boldly into his face. “I have value, superior value to the cause. You are…inferior and unusable.” It was then that I smiled and slowly backed away.

He lunged, fists flying and tongue lashing out every word against my race and gender his mind could conceive. It was then I allowed my brutes to finish their work. Easily I could have rendered Harris immobile with another talent I possess, but that one pains me. It was more prudent to utilize the hands at my disposal.

Willard Harris expired at 10: 45 that morning; cause of death listed as suicide. The process was terrifyingly simple when one considers the coroner was not allowed to examine bodies under military control. There were nineteen kicks and seventy-seven blows sent to his person, and I witnessed every one with a sensation of power and excitement.

“Bravo, Miss Astin! The Huntress in Hazel succeeds once more!”said a voice from the alley’s entrance, accompanied by slow hand clapping.

The man was Sergeant Powell, crisp and erect in uniform. He approached us with a rapid pace, the speed of which told me he was again on his own hunt. For all intents and purposes, he was my manager. Our arrangement had been simple. I hunted alone and subdue. He hunted groups of anarchists with soldiers. On odd occasions, he would summon me for more subtle cases.

“Lovely weather isn’t it?” he asked. When not in command, Powell spoke with a high nasal voice, an annoying din to be sure. Like a caring father, he wiped a smudge of blood from beneath my curvaceous lower lip.

“Perfect for pursuit,” I added.

He folded his hands behind his back and looked down on the corpse of Harris. “Who is this, some rabblerousing tyrant?”

“He was,” one sailor spoke.

A mother’s eye from me lowered his eyes back to sub ordinance. The sergeant paid my man no heed.

“Awful mess of things these anarchists are making of the nation. Have you heard about the Chicago bombing?”

I told him yes.

“No one wants to admit the severity, the magnitude, of the conspiracy,” he added coldly. “No, none realize that we operate in the heart of the crisis, which is what brings me to you this fine day.”

The thought of another chase thrilled me to no end. “Is that so?” I asked. “Are we after men, or children?”

Powell glanced at me as if he perceived weakness. I saw through him with my talent, electrical impulses and steady blood flow, a series of small black growths along the left lung I kept to myself.

The full book will be on sale June 3-10 on Amazon and is listed as part of the Empire Booksellers collection on Steampunk Empire.

If you would like to submit a short story for publication in our Sunday Steampunk Short Stories please click HERE for details and instructions.


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