Authors: Joseph Gatch
Tags: #phineas, #Steampunk, #frakture, #joseph, #Adventure, #gatch
Table of Contents
THE ADVENTURES OF PHINEAS FRAKTURE
© 2013 - Joseph Gatch
All rights reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserve above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief passages embodied in critical reviews and articles.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales is entirely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
The publisher does not have control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party web sites.
Managing editor - Amanda Meuwissen
Associate editor - Michelle Beames
Book layout/Cover design - Mario Hernandez
Published by BigWorldNetwork.com, LLC
202 North Rock Road | 1303 | Wichita | KS | 67206
First U.S. Edition: August 2013
Printed in the United States of America
For my beautiful wife,
, who has supported me through this endeavor. For my sons,
Michael and Creighton
; may they never lose their imaginations
I have always considered myself an artist, foremost, constantly drawing and eventually moving into painting and working with CG. So, it is still surprising to me that I have dedicated a large portion of my time to writing. I started back in the early nineties after brainstorming with my best friend on a novel that he wanted to write. He was the one who really got me started writing somewhat seriously. I began with a series of fiction which included a group of pirates (long before they became mainstream) and eventually wrote an online fan-fiction series of Star Trek, called
. After a short hiatus, I began a new trek into the past with the alternative history of Steampunk.
Phineas Frakture was a major part of my initial immersion into the Steampunk universe, in that, through him, I was able to surround myself with other talented artists and writers in the
city of New Babbage. In 2005, when I began learning about Steampunk, there was very little available on the subject. I had learned about it through a CG modeling company called DAZ with a series of models that I used in my artwork. As time went by and I researched more, I found the Steampunk city of New Babbage and created the character Phineas Frakture to interact within the program. His backstory was somewhat set, being a professor/scientist who created a device to travel between realities and then was trapped in the world where New Babbage existed. I wrote several RP’s with other citizens, had fun, learned to build (though not very well) and eventually, my time ended in the world due to life and a slow computer.
Though removed, with the exception of being part of the city’s forum website, I still wanted to expand upon and share the character’s backstory. I began what is now “Phineas Frakture and the Dolonites” and was half finished with it when another friend and former classmate introduced me to BigWorldNetwork.com. It was there that I was able to realize the extent of his backstory.
This book is for all those who have helped me to build my imagination over the years. My parents, of course, who allowed my obsession with Star Wars action figures to build my imagination, all those who read my previous fiction and sent support via emails (I still have them), my wife who doesn’t understand my brain, but tries and puts up with it just the same, my kids who are finding out that imagination is a good thing, Tawn Krakowski, who introduced me to Jim McGovern, BWN, and their wonderful staff. And, to the foremost inspiration in my writing, Robert Cload—the guy who showed me what it was like to be a writer and who still has a book in him waiting to come out on paper…and when it does, it will blow the rest out of the water. This one is for you, bud.
“General, the hill has been taken…and the view is spectacular!”
by Joseph Gatch
Parental Guidance, some themes may
be unsuitable for younger readers.
Fig. 1. — Phineas Frakture
The name alone instilled fear in the hearts of the most seasoned soldiers. Denizens of the underground, lurking in sewers and tunnels beneath the city of New York, they traveled in groups of four, and if you ever saw more than that, you had better run for your life.
They were hulking, lumbering beings dressed in environmental suits. No one alive knew what they really looked like; those who found out never lived long enough to tell. Though slow, they tenaciously pursued their quarry until they dragged him back into the underground. Always men. They never took women or children. No one knew why, and no one was ever foolish enough to follow to try and find out.
It was said that when the Dolonites first appeared and took their victims, a mob of over fifty upstanding New York citizens followed them down. Those fifty were never seen again.
The name—Dolonites—was derived from the sound their breathing apparatus made: a wheezing ‘dolo’ as they breathed whatever gas was in the monstrous tanks they carried on their backs. And they only came out at night. Parents used the term ‘Dolo Night’ to scare the children from staying out too late. Later, the government would proclaim nights likely to bring an appearance of the creatures as a ‘Dolo Night’ as well. Eventually, the term was bastardized into their name and rang out as a warning when one, or more, was sighted. A plague upon the city, there seemed no hope to cure this disease that grew under the streets. It was only a matter of time before it ruled above as well.
The three year old girl, Isabella, watched as her older brother stopped playing with his wooden soldier, his head cocked to the side, listening to the sounds of the street. But there were no sounds, she noticed. No sound of the steel hooves of the horse-drawn carriages and no animated banter of the neighbors as they loitered in the streets in the summer heat.
“Pin?” she repeated again.
Five-year-old Phineas Frakture slowly stood up. He heard a bell from somewhere in the street as footsteps pounded up the staircase.
Their mother burst into the room with a frightened expression on her face. “Hurry,” she hissed in a whispered tone. “Into the space now. Be quiet about it.”
The siblings moved quickly, knowing the drill from past performances. A ladder was pulled down from the ceiling just beyond their door in the hall, and they hastily clambered up and shut the hatch as their mother put the ladder back in place. Phineas cracked the edge of the hatch and peered out through the slit. Below, he saw his mother rush back downstairs to the parlor, dousing lights as she went. He could see the outline of his father, placing a barricade in front of the house door. They whispered as they went, making sure there was nothing missed.
The front door trembled, stopping them in their tracks. Father, tossing all caution aside, yelled for Mother to go. Hesitant at first, she turned and bolted up the staircase again as Father braced against the door. He was thrown clear as something crashed into it. Phineas could see the oaken door bow from the pressure exerted upon it from the other side.
“Hurry!” Father called up the stairs.
But at that moment, Mother appeared at the top holding a box which she already had open. Surprisingly, with her hands trembling and the unholy pounding upon the door, she had the contents ready for Father as he came up the stairs. She slapped the revolver into his outstretched hand as the front door exploded in a hundred shards.
Stunned, Father slipped as he turned to face the intruders, falling a couple of steps towards the bottom. A red lantern, mounted upon a gargantuan helmet, swept the entryway until it settled upon the man. The house became unnervingly quiet for a few seconds, and then the breather mask made the sound man feared most.
Gunshots followed it.
Phineas watched in abject horror as the bullets sparked off of the helmet of the Dolonite. All six had hit, but did nothing to slow the monster. His father threw the gun in a hopeless gesture of defense and began scrambling backwards up the stairs. A scream quickly followed as a hook slammed into his right shin, pinning him to the stair.
It happened so quickly, though so slowly in the young boy’s eyes. Another scream followed, that of his mother, as she watched the Dolonite rip the hook from Father’s leg and then grab the wounded appendage with its other hand. Beside him, Phineas realized that his sister had also begun screaming in fear. The boy shut the opening and pulled his sister to the corner, holding her to him and cupping his hand over her mouth so that they would not be discovered.
Below, their mother continued wailing, helpless to save her husband, who was being slung over the beast’s shoulder like a rag doll. Its work finished, the Dolonite lumbered back out the doorway, leaving the house one occupant shy. The children heard their mother’s screams for help, which went on for what seemed like hours. But when the Dolonites had come, help never did.
Twenty Years Later
“Professor Frakture, sir? Are you to tell me that you would not take up arms against an enemy such as the Queen? That you would stay here, hidden in a classroom, while your countrymen became heroes?”
A low murmur rolled across the classroom at the question. Everyone knew the professor’s stance on the military, but this tried and true tactic was always guaranteed to wash away any thought of a weekend assignment.
Turning from the chalkboard, his weapon of choice clutched in his hand, Professor Phineas Frakture pointed the stick of calcium carbonate at each student until it came to rest upon the perpetrator. “Mr. Wellwood. It is funny how you stay so quiet, so unassuming, until the very final moments of the class, and then you pounce with the speed and stealth of a floundering wildebeest.” The class chuckled at their mate’s failure, until the professor continued. “But as you never seem tired of hearing it, no, I would not go to war.”
Wellwood crossed his arms in mock triumph and smiled as the professor began to pace.
“It is much better to live long as a coward than to be struck down in your prime as a hero. Why would anyone want to give their lives for a cause that has nothing to do with them, while the so-called leaders of our nations sit back in their comfortable chairs, clapping and yelling ‘Bravo! Good play!’ in the safety of their strongholds, as you lay dying in a field of horse manure? I do not see that as a fitting end to one such as I. You, Wellwood, may die wherever you choose. I will stay here, in the safety of the classroom, trying to teach the youth of our nation that science is the key to our longevity, not war. Now, I know that many of you see science as a means to war. Lord knows that many good inventions have been twisted into killing machines. However!” Phineas’ voice rose and his pacing increased.
The students lived for these shows. Professor Frakture was famous for his tirades all across campus.
“There are instances where science has prevented wars. Imagine, if you will, what would have happened to this great nation if slavery had not been abolished and the automaton had not been invented. Historians have already surmised that this country would have torn itself apart in a civil war, sending millions to their deaths. But, because of one little thought, one person asking ‘What if?’ we now live in a society that is catered to by machines instead of slaves.” He glared at each student in turn, his dark brown eyes peering out from behind unruly hair. “Yes, I gladly call myself ‘coward’, but that is not the issue here. No. What really is on your minds…is how on earth am I going to write a twenty page composition on Babbage’s Thinking Computer and how he was a dolt for not including a coffee percolator. Now away with you before I add another twenty for trying to distract me.”
In a collective groan, the students picked up their packs and shuffled out the door.