Harold Marold was confident his new discovery was going to be big. Really big. Sure, his previous inventions hadn’t all turned out as he hoped. The periscoping contact lenses caused vertigo and motion sickness. His electro-socks to eliminate foot sweat were “shocking” — as he’d found out the hard way. And his chainsaw-equipped drone for trimming high tree limbs had its drawbacks. But his current project couldn’t miss. It was going to bring about world peace.
Jerry Cornelius knelt by the side of his Norton motorcycle, laid his Lee-Enfield over the saddle, and sighted at the airship as it chuffed past, half a mile away. The musket was a new design with a rifled barrel. His shot hit the airship’s boiler and a jet of steam and water gushed out. The rear propeller slowed and stopped almost at once. The ship was at the mercy of the wind, its pilot, Telford Stephenson, would have to land and make repairs if he wanted to deliver the stolen ironclad warship plans to the rebel government in the North. Jerry Cornelius, being an agent of the British Government in London, had no intention of letting Stephenson deliver the plans to York, the Northern Alliance’s capital city.
You’re alone hurrying by under cloudy night skies.
I’m lost in the shadows on the lips of the fetid alley. I’m feverish, near fainting, fading, fading away. You catch a glimpse of me, spy me, eye me, wonder, imagine me. You race away to lock your doors, check your windows.
In your simple underwear you slip between smooth, clean, cotton sheets and dream me, dream me tall, slender, strong.
Over the years, I’ve interviewed a lot of people who wanted to discuss the end of the world with me, but Jeremy Smedley was a bird of a different color. He didn’t have a standard preferred pseudonym, for one. He was willing to speak with me on the phone without turning on any dodgy homemade anti-surveillance devices. Most significantly, I didn’t have to meet him in a church sub-basement, a hidden personal library, or anything one might describe as a bunker. Jeremy felt no need to conceal his galactic insights, instead offering to meet me on a charming grassy hill overlooking an otherwise charmless Midwestern town.
The ridiculous battle, hopelessly lopsided in the enemy’s favor, sent deserters scattering into the flaming woods, shot hopeful messengers down in their tracks, and, perhaps as an afterthought, stuffed the triage tent to the flaps with wounded soldiers. The overblown histrionics, the saucy horse that trotted into the tent strapped with dynamite, might have struck a jaded audience as faintly humorous.
May liked to set out bits of meat for the big birds. It was one of her few pleasures. She would dice up some cheap round steak and set it out in cubes along the porch rail. The part she loved, the thing about the ravens she adored was, they left her presents. She left them food and they left her a fake pearl, a thimble, little shiny things.
Well, I’ll tell it to you straight, my life has gone to poop. Here’s how I ruined it: