Thursday, 20 December 2012


This week steam punk czar Tim Hart offers a Christmas tale - enjoy...

So rather than the standard blog post I shall treat you to a small short piece of Victoriana fiction I call. ‘Gideon’s Christmas’.

The Notebook of Domonick McWater December 18th 1884.

So currently I am investigating in Bristol town in a warm establishment called ‘The Filling Station’ and the sense of the season is certainly rife. Pine fills the room and the mulled wine is pungent and aromatic. I myself have taken residence near the front door to observe the comings and goings of the patrons; every time the door opens I feel the cold bit my unexposed skin like a vengeful rat. But I do not mind, for it is the Yuletide season and I can for a maybe a brief moment think of what it will be like back at home in a week at the family house. Christmas was something I missed greatly on my stint in the Middle East studying the Mythologies and Occult things. The desert gets cold at night l can tell you different. Books and Dutch gin can keep you warm for only so long. A pretty girl can help, but sadly Jezebel was tavern owners daughter and lived up to her Biblical namesake.
But I digress; now the good Lord blesses us with sights that can only be parts of Heaven spilling into our world. A Rhubarb coloured sunset or the sound of the woodlands when the storm has halted. But as I looked out the window into the gas lamp streets and falling flakes of snow I noticed something. Among the carolers and markets stalls selling all manner of festive treats I saw Gideon. Now I must explain that Gideon isn’t a person, inasmuch as an automaton. He is specifically a Mark 3 BarrowBot made in Sheffield. But if you look carefully you can see his Identification plate, which is covered acid burned numbers, shows he is the first off the production line. Now these Automaton are special my friends, because to collectors they are worth a fortune, but old Tobias Ellis would have him working and takes rather a liking to the Barrowbot he named after his father.

But in the gloom amidst the sounds of the carolers  he is being accosted, not by the criminal element (none would risk, BarrowBots are designed to lift crates and to snap a human limb would impress a swan), but by the public. Workmen are coming up and shaking his hand and slapping him on his back, young ladies are running up to him and kissing him on his face plate and running away giggling and small children are pressing Christmas cards into his merchandise tray.

I look out at Gideon and for a moment try to understand. Psychology is a big part of what we do at the Agency you see. For Gideon, he must wonder quite what is going on. The strange human thing they call Christmas. People are being nice to each other; they do not bicker and argue. They smile more, something which Gideon cannot do as his mouth is a slot. The most curious of all is the sense of oneness, people are united in a common cause, to spread cheer and celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus. Gideon looks at the cards he has been given and will put them up in his recharging station to consider later who this Jesus fellow is and why he is so important.  
And in the soft yellow light of the streets I make eye contact with him through the window and he waves at me. The gears turn and pneumatics hiss as his hand gently sways from side to side.

I return the gesture with a raised glass in toast and a nod of the head. I must talk to him tomorrow; he’s one of my best informants in the Southwest.

So I finish with one thought, Humans are curious creatures and frankly I wouldn’t have them any other way.

Merry Christmas 

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