My story, The Ontological Engine, or, The Modern Leda is now available for sale as about half (it's pretty long) of the Circlet Press e-book anthology Up For Grabs. It's a Victorian tale of a mad scientist of questionable moral standards, his dashing young assistant, a minister's daugher with an extraordinary talent, and three extremely amorous flying geoducks. My partner says she thinks it's the best thing I've written yet, and I'm inclined to agree with her.
In addition, final production work is being done on a four-part podcast of me reading the story aloud. which should be available on Circlet's site in the next couple weeks.
In the following excerpt, the narrator, Daedalus Tesla, is searching for a suitable source for the Vital Fluids which emanate from human beings in a state of sexual arousal, and which he hopes to use to power his mysterious Ontological Engine. To this end, his attention has fallen on Eleanor Pertwee, daughter of the local vicar. His assistant, Victor Dalrymple, has also taken an interest in Miss Pertwee, but for more conventional reasons.
With diligence, we completed several new, more robust Erotometers before the appointed time. We were upstairs in time to receive our guest, who, removed from her father's baleful penumbra, proved herself to be a reasonably charming young lady, bright and warm of manner, albeit with a sprinkling of freckles about her nose that bespoke an unseemly degree of exposure to sunlight.
After a short time, I excused myself, citing pressing work, and admonished the youths to be on their very best behavior.
In the laboratory, I removed the tele-phone from the hook, having previously taken like measure in the parlor. I pressed my ear to it just in time to hear Victor directing the girl to the seat she had occupied previously. The needle sprang to a position that, in Mrs. Hargreaves (for example) would have denoted the very acme of excitement.
From the earpiece I heard:
"I know that you are Mr. Tesla's assistant, but I do not quite grasp what you assist him at."
"Oh, business. Keeping the books, buying and selling, managing affairs, buying and selling, all that dreadful rubbish."
Eleanor nodded politely. "So then it was you who oversaw the purchase of those three massive steam-engines last summer?"
"Oh, yes yes. That was I, " he said quite truthfully. I winced, recognizing the trap the cunning little mix had laid. "Quite a lot of bother it was too. Deuced things were unbelievably expensive."
"I'm sure. But what were they for?"
"For..? Oh, oh. Science. Scientific research. Thrilling, terribly modern stuff. Don't really understand it all that well myself. You'll have to ask old Daedalus to explain it to you some time."
The buck, as the Americans say, had been ably passed. It was not a conversation I looked forward to.
"Then he is really doing scientific research? Because..." she paused, and the needle on the Erotometer crept upward. "Rumor down in town has it that you two are up here rogering each other all the time."
A coughing fit from Victor followed. Apparently she had managed to time her remark to coincide with a mouthful of cake. When he got his breath back, he replied: "Oh, how perfectly ridiculous! I mean, we are, rather, from time to time. You know, when the mood strikes us. But not like that. I mean, I'm as fond of the ladies of the next fellow."
"Are you?" Eleanor said politely.
"Well, not to excess, of course," he appended, laughing nervously. "I mean, moderation in all things, what? I mean, I like some more than others, you know. I mean, dash it all, Miss Pertwee. I mean to say, I find you awfully charming." The needle responded to his confession with another modest gain. Miss Pertwee's output of Vital Fluids was now at approximately three times an ordinary Mathilde Hargreaves orgasm.
Eleanor laughed merrily. "You do have a certain fumbling charm yourself, Mr. Dalrymple," she conceded.
Soft sighs, and the gentle smacking sounds of tentative osculation followed, accompanied by a continued rise in the Erotometer's readings. The dial reached its maximum capacity, and I hastily unscrewed it and attached an even sturdier one I had prepared for such a contingency.
"Mr. Dalrymple," Miss Pertwee gasped after a time, "you take such liberties. Pray continue."
A bit later, Victor spoke: "Oh, Miss Pertwee, you are so lovely. May I call you Eleanor?"
"You may, dear Victor. Tell me: Have you copulated with a great many women?"
"Oh, er, I say. That's a rather personal question, isn't it?"
There was a silence.
"Several," he ventured at last.
"That is more than adequate. Might I induce you to initiate me into these mysteries?"
"Take me, yes."
"Miss Pertwee, wherever did you get such ideas?"
"French novels, of course. I had a school friend with a remarkably extensive collection. And I believe you have permission to address me as Eleanor."
"French novels. Of course," Victor echoed. The needle on the Erotometer was starting to flag a bit.
"I, er...I would be delighted to assist you in such an endeavor,” he ventured. “Really, extremely delighted,.
“Marvelous,” said Eleanor. “The moment I saw you, I thought you might be just the man to instruct me in these matters. I am certain you are not one of those dreary fellows one reads of who demand that their lady friends be in possession of a maidenhead. Mine was taken by a marrow two years ago."
"A marrow, Miss Pertwee? The vegetable. That the Italians call il zucchine?"
"The very same. A most particularly bold and impetuous hot-house marrow. It was quite the ravishment, I can assure you."
"I consider it no dishonor at all to be preceded by so noble a vegetable. But...er...this is most probably neither the place nor the time. Servants will still be about. Perhaps we can meet at a later hour...?"
"Are you certain? I think if you were to pursue the matter now, you might find me quite...receptive."
There was a rustling sound. The meter jumped, but it was Victor who gasped. "Oh lord," he breathed, barely audible through the speaker, "how hot your cunny is."
"Are you certain we haven't time for a brief lesson today? Oh! That does feel quite lovely. I shall, ohhh, still require, aaaah, more extensive training at a—oh my!—later date."
"Well, I suppose a, a brief lesson is unlikely to do any harm. Let us see...Could you recline here over this ottoman?
The Erotometer flagged as Miss Pertwee moved from the center of the collection field to its perimeter.
“Now let me just raise up these skirts..." Victor said. “What a beautiful bottom you have!”
The needle began to rise again.
"Oh, my,” came Eleanor's voice. “What is that lovely smell?"
"Smell? I'm afraid I don't..."
The needle's rise, rather than leveling off, was increasing in rapidity.
"Victor, dear. I find myself quite urgently in need. Pray, pray, do not make me wait."
"Certainly not, my precious dove. Here, do you feel me at your—"
He was interrupted by a piercing shriek from Eleanor. I attempted to adjust the angle of the Erotometer collection trumpet, and recoiled, singed by the heat radiating from the device.
"Hush, hush," he urged her anxiously. "There are others about."
Her joyous shrieks subsided somewhat, but did not cease.
"Harder" she called out. "Fuck me harummmff—!" Clearly Victor had clamped a hand over her mouth, effectively muffling her screams of delight. My eyes were fixed to the telephone in amazement, which proved fortunate a moment later when the Erotometer's dial exploded, showering the back of my head with shards of glass, and producing a sudden silence above.
"What was that?" said Victor.
"It sounded terribly close-by," Eleanor said breathlessly.
The muffled sounds of hasty rearrangement followed, followed by a leave-taking characterized by discomfort and ardor. Anxious to resume their lesson, they arranged to meet for supper in his apartments the very next day. She promised that she would find some way to mollify her father on this point; he promised her an abundance of privacy, and with numerous protestations of eagerness for the following evening, they parted
Scant moments later, I was at the sink, carefully picking shards of glass out of my hair, when the door to the laboratory swung open, and Victor bounded down the steps. “I must have her!” the two of us said at the same moment.
“I say!” Victor declared. “I won't have you experimenting upon Eleanor like some...crabapple! She is far too delicate and precious a creature for that!”
“And you are far to malleable and sentimental a creature for Science,” I retorted. “But have no fear, my friend. I have no interest in experimenting upon her. No I want her as a source of motive force. I needn't lay hands upon her at all, it it offends your delicate sensibilities so very much.
“Is this another of your jesuitical sophistries, Tesla? If you don't intend to touch her, how to you purpose to extract her Vital Fluids?”
“My dear fellow, she is obviously besotted with you,” I said smoothly. “I am certain that if you were to induce her to come down here for you to make love to her, she would positively jump at the notion.”
“I suppose.... Besotted, you say? You really think so?”
And a moment later: “Great Scott! What happened to our lovely Erotometer?”
I smiled. “Your delicate and precious creature blasted it to Hades with the force of her lust.