You needn’t make such ludicrous insinuations, my boy. No one, least of all the board, thinks you are insane. All they’d like is for you to appear before a panel headed by Dr. Harkness, along with a few of the university’s neurological and psychological faculty before you return to teaching. I’ll be candid, professor. They did not say as much during the meeting, but they are set upon this course and they are affording you the dignity of appearing before them voluntarily. Just grant them this one indulgence and you’ll be back to teaching in no time!
Miles Henstridge, Junior Member in Honorable Standing of the Dathart University Board of Regents
(Off Topic) I’ve been overrun by spambots

Every day I wake up to about 10-15 new spambot reblogs/likes. Anyone have advice on dealing with this bullshit?

Ileana’s Hands

For as much as I admire the Lady Doctor’s intellect, it is her hands at which I marveled today. They are such tiny, fragile things that one might not think the doctor capable of the mechanical aptitude she possesses. Yet, I should warn any who might consider underestimating her that they will proven quite in error!

Yet, today’s meeting did not come without what I feel was undue delay.

Yet, today’s meeting did not come without what I feel was undue delay. The doctor insisted upon waiting, in her words, “another few days, at most” before coming to call, as she did not wish to waste my time doing so without the proper pieces needed to repair my arm. No amount of assurances that I should hope to share her company even without the repairs would assuage her. I could not help but wonder that she did not value my company as greatly as I hers.

This thought gnawed at me the entire week prior to our meeting, until by the time she arrived, I had grown bitter at the mistreatment, and resentful of thoughts of her. In fact, I had considered quitting the town entirely and returning home to tinker with my arm on my own.

When she arrived at Mulrainey House in her burgundy dress and carrying her pale gold parasol in one gloved hand and leather-bound toolkit in the other, all such feelings were cast aside in an instant. I welcomed her in and instructed Miss Jameson to find someone to help the doctor with her belongings, but true to her nature, Ileana handed Miss Jameson her parasol and gloves, and retained the cumbersome toolkit for herself.

As the last finger slipped free of the gloves, I at last caught full sight of the delicate hands of the doctor. I hasten to point out that her skin was tough, and scarred in more than one place. Yet for all the working hours her hands spoke of, they looked to my eye as a flower might after it had weathered a squall, its soft beauty contained in its resilient remainder. 

I am not one often prone to such deplorably vivid prose, but where Ileana is concerned I find it difficult to resist. 

After a regrettably silent lunch, Ileana and I retired to the sitting room which she turned into a makeshift workshop. I was worried about the potential damage her work might do to the end table which normally rested comfortably next to the chaise, as brass and fine cherry wood do not do well when the former is rubbed harshly against the latter. Doctor Winthrop paid it no mind, though, and set about working.

Her hands moved with such alacrity that I could not make heads or tails of what she was doing.

Her hands moved with such alacrity that I could not make heads or tails of what she was doing. She removed a long rod with a sharp snap which made me flinch. It was not a truly painful experience, but my mind conjured the echo of what such a pain might have felt like. The result was another tingling sensation in the space once occupied by my flesh limb. She discarded the brass rod on the table, whereupon it rolled off and clattered to the floor. I reached down to retrieve it, but she pressed the tips of her fingers into my chest and pushed until I sat upright again. She ignored the rod from that point on.

She withdrew a similar piece from her toolkit and snapped it into the gear assembly that had been exposed by the removal of the first. As soon as it was in place, the tingling sensation faded away. Next, Ileana took a hammer and awl and tapped two of the teeth of a gear back into place; apparently she had indeed broken the first one out. I was nothing if not thankful that metal was malleable and not brittle, like bone.

Whatever had happened to sour her to me had surfaced in that moment.

At last, when she was bolting the face plate back on to my forearm, I found the nerve to ask her why she saw fit to spurn my requests to meet socially. She replied with the wholly unsatisfactory answer that I was being impolite to ask, which now leaves more questions than answers. Whatever had happened to sour her to me had surfaced in that moment. She was discreetly casual about the time she took departing, but nor did she linger as one might around good company. At last, she bid me safe travels home.

Mister Davis, I am aware that no such device known as a flanged, reticulating cylinder exists, and I shall thank you to be less patronizing in future correspondence. To be perfectly clear: am asking you to create one. That is why I have included with this letter a more detailed schematic which I should hope a tool maker of your esteem ought to have little trouble following.
A letter from Doctor Winthrop to Charles Rook
It is most seemly that you send another in your stead, my dear. As you say, this part is but a machine and any manner of mechanic ought to be capable of handling the matter. But worry not on these affairs. I have made arrangements with New Haverdon’s steamboat mechanic, Tobias Masterson, to call upon Mr. Grey at Mulrainey House on your behalf.
Lord Elias Winthrop, speaking to Doctor Ileana Winthrop over afternoon coffee.
A Nightmare of Metal

I find the relation of dreams to be a crass and wholly improper use of one’s time. To my estimation, the unremembered and unremarked upon dream is the best sort: it provides fitting entertainment for an unproductive span of time, and politely leaves no trace upon the waking world nor the mind of the dreamer. Even the most unsocial and unmentionable acts are nothing more than harmless spectacle.

In less peculiar circumstances I would be loathe to to even acknowledge that I have dreams

In less peculiar circumstances I would be loathe to to even acknowledge that I have dreams, as no proper conversation results from that admission; it is almost certainly followed by idle questions about details of the dream itself which naturally follow no coherent plot and make for underwhelming storytelling. Thus, the esteem of the speaker is suitably lowered in the mind of the listener for even admitting to dreaming.

However, given my present state, and the nature of these Morphean visions, I feel compelled to record them. I should hope my qualities as a skeptic and as a scientist are not unduly jeopardized by this act. Nay, I appeal to the inquisitive mind to recognize that good science begins with good observation, and good observation is only as valuable as the completeness of one’s records.

I am aided in this recording by the fact that these dreams have visited me nightly and have been strikingly similar in all instances. The initial details have varied in ways one ought to expect dreams might, filled with familiar places one has never been, familiar people credulously uttering aberrations of logic, and all manner of sensations to delight and amaze.

But invariably there is a place which is cold, or foreign.

But invariably there is a place (in as much as the sense of where exists within dreams) which is cold, or foreign. It is there, ahead and to the right of wherever I am, no matter which direction I face. Awareness of it comes as an itch might: without thought or intention I acknowledge its unwelcome existence and try to remedy it. But where an itch is a physiological phenomenon with a physical solution, this is entirely ephemeral and there exists no such cure.

All I am given is a choice of whether to go to this unknowable place, or remain in whatever fantasy my mind has conjured to entertain me that evening. Sometimes I am too entranced to pay it any heed. On those nights it grows like an aching sore until it cannot be ignored. I grow steadily less comfortable but I know not why. A sense of passionate dread overcomes me, but it is matched by an equal part longing. 

On nights I expend effort to avoid acknowledging its existence, I am compelled by dream-logic to be immediately transported there. You see, in the waking world one might say, “There exists no such thing as a gold-winged canine,” and in so doing one has only created the idea of such a beast. Their statement that it does not exist remains fully and completely true. But in a dream, to create the idea is to create nothing less than the thing itself, and thereby enact whatever course of action next strikes the dreamer’s fancy. 

So in both cases I am inexorably drawn to this fateful place.

So in both cases I am inexorably drawn to this fateful place. Each step I take, and each dreamlike leap of unimaginable distance brings me toward my goal and yet it remains as distant as ever. No matter whether I wake after a full night’s rest, or whether I am roused by the noisy fumblings of Miss Jameson as she cleans, (the Guru, for his part, is quiet even when one wishes he were not) I never reach this place. It forever exists over the next hill or beyond the next horizon. 

I do surmise in these, my waking hours, that what I am experiencing is nothing more or less than the presence of my new hand. I have not told Ileana of these matters, and I have solicited the opinions of no other, for I should expect any claiming expertise on this to be a fraud of the first water. I fear even Ileana would be equipped only to speculate on these matters. While I would find such a conversation as pleasant as any other involving the good doctor, I would much prefer to discuss more pleasant matters. Failing that, I should like to discuss the state of my hand and its mechanical elements, as there simply are no others capable of speaking with authority.

I admit some trepidation that this alien metal wrongness will somehow break free of my nightmares and invade my waking senses.

The doctor’s workmanship is exemplary, and the merits of this device deserve whole volumes to describe properly. I find it worrisome that the metal appendage that my body and mind welcome so readily by day is nothing if not estranged from the same by night. I do not know or understand what this portends; it is my hope that as I become accustomed to this new limb and it is more fully incorporated into my sense of self that these visions will cease. I admit some trepidation that this alien metal wrongness will somehow break free of my nightmares and invade my waking senses.

When Professor Grey was invited to the mechanical biology symposium, he thought he had finally gained the respect of his peers. In truth, his colleagues simply could not be bothered. Their loss, for that was where the professor met the brilliant (and by all accounts sociopathic) Doctor Ileana Winthrop, and his mechanomorphosis began.

Told in epistolary form, Parts documents the journey of Professor Grey in his most remarkable mechanomorphosis. It originally appeared online, and is republished in complete form here. 

Available now!

And thank you for your support so far.

-Miss Bradley

I Am Whole Once More!

I awoke today in what I am assured will be the final day of my stay at the New Haverdon Hospital for Surgery and Disease, and I shall return this evening to Mulrainey House to rest for the rest of my recovery. My fever has broken, and the remainder of my recuperation is, in fact, mechanical repairs.

Doctor Winthrop has left New Haverdon by steam buggy to visit Luthefurd some sixty kilometers away to acquire the necessary parts for my repairs and will not be returning this evening, therefore she will not be able to call upon me to enjoy a celebratory highball. I was informed by messenger that I must make do with only four of my five digits functioning. I must also rotate my arm at the shoulder and not the elbow when positioning my new appendage because the drive assembly has slipped out of alignment. The soonest she will be able to complete the repairs is Wednesday. I feel she deserves to be thanked in person now that I have regained my full faculties, but I shall be equally satisfied to see her in two days time.

My stay at New Haverdon’s medical hospital is a mix of displaced images and half-remembered words.

Fevers and fits have troubled me these several days since my ordeal to such degree that I recall little of them. My stay at New Haverdon’s medical hospital is a mix of displaced images and half-remembered words. The nurses at the hospital assured me that I was conscious and raving in a manner that the other patients had insisted that they send for a preacher at once to exorcise my demons. I have no recollection of these events and I am forced to take them at their word. I should note here that I had been housed in a recovery hall with perhaps a dozen other patients. I had been carted in during the night and by morning a sheet had been erected to spare the other patients the sight of my arm. Instead, they were treated to the horrors of fevered moaning coming from someone they had never laid eyes on. 

I say now, though, that no such holy man was, or ever shall be necessary. It was a malady of the mind brought on by humorous imbalance and nothing more. Moreover, had a priest come and doused me in holy water, it should have done nothing to expedite the breaking of my fever. To my knowledge, a dribbling quantity of holy water has no greater antipyretic effect than a dribbling of the same quantity of storm runoff. 

I have no divine providence thank for either my fever breaking, or my new arm. 

No, I have no divine providence thank for either my fever breaking, nor my new arm. No prayers were uttered on my behalf, and if they had been I must call them no more than wasted breath. If I am to give confession, I shall confess only to this: It is to science I give thanks, to engineering I give respect, to medicine I give gratitude, and to Doctor Ileana Winthrop I give credit. 

I was born a man with two arms, and by the whims of fate one was taken from me. Had Doctor Winthrop been deterred by the objections of her peers, or had her peers been dissuaded by the grumblings in the pulpit, I would still be a man with one arm, comforted only by the thought that someday my body would be restored in some metaphysical realm where I should have no need of it anyway. I would have been forced to live out the remainder of this life, the only life I have, the only life I know, as something less than a complete man.

Yet I have not been relegated to a life of less than. I have been rescued from that fate by the ingenuity and tenacity of a fellow person.

So I say in triumph: by the skills of Doctor Ileana Winthrop, I, Edwin Montgomery Grey, am whole once more!

The Egg Has Hatched

From the desk of your humble author to you, dear reader,

So concludes section one of Parts: Egg. In the coming days I will be collating and properly formatting the posts thus far for publishing as a single eBook via Smashwords, to be made available at places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBooks store. I hope you have enjoyed the story so far as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. 

As a teaser of section two: Larva, I will say that things will be getting worse for Professor Grey. So if you thought the restoration of his lost limb would bring sunshine and happiness forever, boy are you in for a surprise. (Or not, as the case may be.)

And if you were afraid the story would end with a fancy prosthetic arm, then fear not, my dear intrepid biomechanopunk. Professor Grey has more Parts where that arm came from!

Your Incorrigible Artifex,

Miss Bradley

P.S. If you simply cannot wait for more, I have two short stories available as eBooks: "Mercy Killing the Dragon" and "The Last Warband". The price is whatever you feel they are worth, but they will be going to a fixed price in September. If nothing else, you may “buy” them with a tweet, Facebook, or blog post linking to them, and you may consider any moral obligation you feel to compensate artists for their work fulfilled. :) (And by Tesla’s Death Ray, if you make a full blog post, send me a link!)

Doctor Winthrop, I appreciate your enthusiasm for what stands to be a great achievement, but here at New Haverdon Hospital for Surgery and Disease, it is the patient’s health which is paramount. We were kind enough to indulge your ethically questionable procedure, but your focus upon the mechanical and not the biological casts serious doubts upon your competence to continue acting as monitoring physicker to Mister Grey. But more importantly, this does not meet the high standards we expect here at New Haverdon. Please cease all mention of your contraption in your reports in the future.
Doctor Gasterhaut, “Memorandum to Lady Ileana Winthrop, Concerning Reports On the Condition of Patient Edwin Grey”