Finished up a rough draft of my story for Nick Gevers’ steampunk anthology. I don’t think it’s in any way a shoe-in to be accepted, because it’s kind of an anti-steampunk story by the end. Kind of same effect as if you see a cartoon with one character beating the crap out of another character…well, that’s funny. But if you make it live-action, suddenly it’s deadly serious.
Shyver found it on the beach, entangled in the seaweed, dull metal scoured by the sea, limpits and barnacles stuck to its torso. It smelled like rust and oil still, but only faintly. He brought me from the village when he could not lift it from the sand.
“It’s good salvage, at least,” Shyver said. “Maybe more.”
“Or maybe less,” I said. I’d worked for the salvagers before–whatever caught and held in the thoughts behind their magpie gaze, they took. The rest, they discarded, no matter how prime.
To me, in the late afternoon sun, the thing looked a little like a man, but made of metal. It had lamps for eyes, although they were but the dying impression of sparks. There was no expression on the broad pitted expanse of metal that might have been called a face. As soon as I saw it, I called it “Hanover,” after a character I had seen in an old movie back when the projector still worked.
“Hanover?” Shyver said with a trace of contempt as we dragged it up the dirt track toward the village.
“Hanover never gave away what he thought,” I said. Much like me, I could have said. I’d lived in the village for almost ten years, taking on odd jobs, and still I’d never let them know anything about me. They liked me not for what I said, but for what I did: I always did a good job. Someone reliable meant a lot in such an isolated place, in such uncertain times.
“‘Hanover,’ whoever or whatever he is, has given up much more than thoughts,” Shyver said.
Everyone knew what Shyver thought, about everything. He’d lived in the village his whole life. He’d never leave it. I might never leave it, either, but I’d seen the world beyond.
One thing about Hanover: he was heavy, and I had difficulty keeping my grip on his arm, despite the rust. By the time we’d made it to the courtyard at the center of the village, both Shyver and I were breathing hard.