Title: Mad Science
Author: Derek Tumacder
word count: 1007
Slugline: Welcome to Metroburg, the capital of Europa, where steampunk and magic come together. A Metroburg Periodical is a glimpse into that city.
Author comment: This is the first time I’ve put my work out there for others to review other than family and friends. Please give constructive criticism on anything and everything. Please pay particular attention to sentence construction/style, characterization and context. These are what I am looking to improve most on. Thank you.
A Metroburg Periodical
by Derek Tumacder
The 20th Annual Engineer’s Convention dinner was met with disaster yesterday. After the King arrived, local Professor and Engineer Edward Shlophouser created a scene, declaring tribalism dead to the modern era. This declaration was followed by an eccentric tribal dance that ended with half the dinner spread disintergrated. Continue on page 4.
The Metroburg Gazette – Octobus 19, 1852
Eddie, as he liked to be called, couldn’t muster the energy he needed to finish the complex equation to determine dynamic social tribal practices. He had destroyed his reputation at the party. He needed to warn the king that the tribes in Egyptwere slowly massing for an attack. The newspaper had it all wrong. He had not declared tribalism dead in the modern era. He had declared tribalism will kill the modern era.
All the data was there, between a football field’s length of chalk boards and the mass of brass, steel, and steam that once again whirled to life on the far wall. The machine was his most prized possession, one of 4 analysis engines in the university. Currently, it was performing the task of matching up personality matrixes within an enlarged sample group. It was a symphony to his ears that washed away his worry.
His musings were interrupted by a knock at the door. Annoyance at the interruption crossed the professor’s face. Without prompt, a young teenage boy entered the room. His eyes were as round as 5 inch cogs. Of course, the student body had already heard of his debacle. Jim was normally shy, but it looked as if he would pass out on the spot today. So much for forgetting about my anxiety, Eddie thought.
“P…professor Sh…sh…sh…shlophouser,” Jim said.
Eddie rolled his eyes to the cosmos before they landed on the student and narrowed. If anyone had been viewing the scene, the way he held the boy in place with his gaze, they would think he was actually performing magic on the lad. “Well…what?!”
“Th…th..there is a ma..ma..message for you.” The effort of forming those words was clear on Jim’s face. Sweat beaded at his brow, his face wilted before Eddie’s eyes.
“Well give it here and get.” He dismissed the boy with a gesture.
Jim handed him the letter and bolted out the door, an afterimage left in his wake. Eddie shook his head. Everyone would call him mad at that point if he were seeing doubles of people. He looked at the message:
The Sacred Ibis is on the move. Magic and Steam will not mix. Beware the delivery boy.
Eddie’s hands had begun to tremble, ripping the paper apart in the process. He did not have time to assimilate the information as the door to the lab clicked shut. Jim was still here! Eddie raced to the door, slamming it open. There was nothing but his living area on the other side of the door.
His mind raced. Perhaps it was the wind? No, there were no windows. It was how he liked it. Something closed his door…something was listening in on his…reading?
Edward laughed to himself and his paranoia. Of course he could trust Jimmy. The boy had served him well for ten years now. He shook his head and returned to his lab. The soft yet constant din of machinery once again soothed him.
Anthropology was not his first love, nor his second. But his discovery dictated his path. It was up to him to stop the invasion. Once again he looked at the two halves of the message. It was simple and clear: The combined tribes of the Egyptian nation were the Sacred Ibis. Their use of magic and science together was beyond Europa’s current understanding. It was primitive yet it was capable of accomplishing what people have tried to do for years, mix the two. All his efforts so far were for nothing. Why should he beware of Jim?
Confusion and paranoia fueled Eddie as he went back to his board. He felt dizzy…
Above the genius, a group of students and a middle aged professor observed through a mirrored window that worked one way. The man turned to his students and began lecturing in a monotone voice.
“As we observed yesterday, students, the subject is once again going through his routine. He still believes it is Octobus 20, 1852, just after the incident noted in his file. He was once a brilliant mechanical physicist, but he became obsessed withEgypt. This obsession reformed all he knew in his life, forsaking his life’s work…for anthropological data. This obsession quickly turned to paranoia. Let this be a warning to all students on the dangers of going insane. We all have a gift that has a dark side. For an artist, it is depression. For a Meister, it is succumbing to their baser emotions. For a merchant, greed. For Engineers, obsession becomes insanity.”
A female student piped up with a know it all tone, “I was told that you can’t prevent insanity. If just…is.” The girls, around her, nodded in approval.
“The subject became insane because of his obsession. Obsession equates to insanity, Ms. Galinger. Be passionate about your research, but never develop obsession, or a nice room will be waiting for you down here in the Pit.”
The gaggle of girls became somber at the threat. No one wanted to end up in the university’s asylum, where mad scientist continued their research for the betterment of mankind.
“As I was saying, “The professor paused to stare at Ms. Galinger before continuing, “for thirty years, the subject has been given different stimuli through the notes and our ‘Jim’, typically a research assistant, to produce a desired response. We hope to cure the incurable.”
“Dr. Shlophouser,” a boy raised his hand. Annoyance at the interruption crossed the professor’s face, yet he motioned for the young man to proceed, “How does one get into the study of imbalanced chemical reactions to stimuli?”
The professor looked down at the man below and fondly smiled, “You have to love your work.”