Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Excerpt from: American Vampire

Electric dragons roamed the warehouse. Birthed from copper and steel obelisks, they flew to the center of the shop, leaving a wake of sapphires. He shoveled one last load of compressed coal into the boiler’s mouth and stepped back. His conglomeration of magnets and locomotive parts conducted a beautiful symphony: coal fire from the boiler shot compressed steam to each of the four magneto towers, forcing the magnets across copper screws which pulled electricity to the domes atop each column.

Above the boiler, insulated from its hellfire by layers of Comanche fabric, sat a crystal dodecahedron 12 inches across. The dragons swarmed a filament ascending from the box and plunged inside.

Protected by the crystal and glowing with electricity, sat a human heart. Each snapping dragon made it dance. The man stepped to a small dial atop the boiler and nudged it clockwise. The pistons increased their intensity. Sparks flew faster, stronger, until one dragon chomped the tail of the next into continuous arcs of power. Electrons sputtered from the machine, condensing an electric cloud over the man’s head.

He lowered blacktinted goggles and peered at the heart glistening inside the crystal box.

The heart beat. It was alive.

The man fell to his knees and cried in savage ecstasy. Electricity rained over his hands, his eyes, until his veins ran blue and he was indistinguishable from the cloud above him. The dragons, weary of their mechanical master, began to fly free through the shop. They exploded vials like glass bombs. They kindled errant papers and wood like struck matches.

Even for one who can not die, the chaos proved too much. Frantic to save the machine, to preserve the two tons of steel and 78 years of toil, he lunged to the copper kill switch glinting from the boiler. The machine shrieked in agony, bleeding molten metal. The pistons halted, the steam fizzled and died.

The familiar dark draped over his eyes. In the haze between life and death, the man saw a strange beast—maybe imagined—roaming his workshop. A chimera of water and flesh doused the shop, squelching the hungry fires. The water-beast hovered to where the man lay, stooped down to his face. He opened his mouth to speak but the curtain of consciousness dropped, plunging him again into the unfathomable abyss.

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