Ladies and gents of the Jackverse, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about one of my upcoming releases — my first steampunk novel. So excited am I, that I am going to share with you a portion of the first chapter of this book. And so, without further adieu, I give you chapter 1:00 O’CLOCK from the first draft of Klockwerk Cabaret.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Perps and Winders of all clockwork motion, welcome to the Klockwerk Kabaret! Here you dine on dreams and drink the nectar of Gods you never knew existed. Our entertainment will astonish, stun, and maybe even, dare I say, arouse you. For not only do we offer you the one and only, the delicious and lascivious, Olivia Nightingale; the Kabaret has something in store not one man, woman, Winder, or Perp has laid eyes on. Tonight, we unveil an act so incredible, I promise you your lives will be forever changed. Ladies and gentlemen, when the curtain rises something truly unique will dance and sing so deftly around your heart and soul, you will swear you have looked into the eyes of the Watchmaker and witnessed the future. If you please, clap your hands together in a four-four time and call forth… the Klockwerk Dolls!”
The Dolls were the creation of Dollia L’Escapement. She was Mainspring’s premier maker and only crafted the finest Perps and Winders. Her Perps were exquisite, but beyond the budget of ninety-nine percent of the city. Her Winders were just as beautiful, only they required manual winding. I didn’t mind having to wind the Dolls. Not only did it save me coal-tank of cash, it prevented one of the Dolls from bailing. Not that they’d have any reason to bail. The Klockwerk Kabaret was the finest establishment of its kind; and I treated my employees well. Some might say, ‘Too well’. It was a reputation I could live with. So long as my Dolls could dance and my customers found a temporary escape, all was well at the Kabaret.
The slow, steady beat of the crowd’s applause eventually fell into perfect synchronization. I turned and gave Lemulé, the best stage manager in all of Mainspring, the sign to raise the curtain. Slowly the burgundy velvet drape rose to reveal a stage, black as pitch. The audience fell silent. I nodded to Darcy to turn the crank on the Orchestron. Her lace-gloved fingers gripped the winder and slowly turned clockwise. Once wound, the basso notes of the steam-powered pipe organ pumped a deep, hypnotic rhythm.
Audience members of the Kabaret were accustomed to the unexpected. The entertainment I provided fell into, shall we say, a rather darker category. For years, the town of Mainspring suffered under the tyrannical leadership of Denube Detant. During his reign, nearly everything was forbidden. Flesh, fantasy, booze, sex… the color black and any heel higher than his pinky finger. His iron-fisted rule was a knee-jerk reaction to the spread of Dark Chemistry. When the steam train finally made its way into Mainspring, it brought along with it pleasures from far away lands. It also brought darkness. Detant did everything he could to fight off the rise of Chemistry – only he went too far.
When Denube Detant’s clock finally wound down, his predecessor did everything she could to revitalize our spirits, our hearts, and our economy. That meant the repealing of the laws forbidding establishments such as the Klockwerk Kabaret. So now, I am able to bring to the people I love so dearly, pleasures they hadn’t known in such a long time.
The Orchestron pumped out a thunderous beat the patrons had never before experienced. The strange and wondrous music was a necessity – given what everyone was about to behold — and had to transport them away to another time, another place, an age and a land of wonder.
Pinpoint gaslights lit the stage with dots of light. It was at that moment, the audience realized the stage wasn’t actually empty. In a perfect row, across the hardwood floor, stood the Dolls – the Klockwerk Dolls. They were Winders like no one had ever seen.
Perfect, graceful, exotic. The Dolls were porcelain-skinned beauties who could seduce anyone with little more than a flip of the wrist and bend and a twist of the neck.
Each doll was costumed in variations of the black-leather corset dress so often seen on the moonlit streets of Mainspring – only the skits were shorter and the necklines lower. They stood atop dangerously high heels, but moved as if they were barefoot. Their lips and cheeks, painted to perfection (thanks to the miraculous hand of my love of loves).
A grace under pressure like no other.
Expect Klockwerk Kabaret to hit the shelves mid-to-late summer 2013! Now, to help get you in a steampunk mood, take a look at this How to Make a Steampunk Outfit, by Threadbanger.