The Pat O’Malley Historical Steampunk Mystery Trilogy by Jim Musgrave

9 Sep

* * *

When he came to consciousness, Edgar could smell the odor of alcohol all over his person.  As a recently sworn member of the Sons of Temperance, this appearance of inebriety was most unseemly to him.  He no longer wore his black frock coat and cravat.  Instead, he wore tattered pantaloons that were too short and a long-sleeved white shirt and a black Bombazine alpaca coat that was soiled, ripped at the seams and reeking of robust spirits. 

As his blurry vision improved, he looked around.  He was downtown in Baltimore, and he was sitting on a bench in front of a tavern.  He could hear the loud shouts of the patrons inside and the odor of burning cigars and pipes made his stomach lurch.  He felt the top of his head, and it was adorned with a frazzled straw hat, something he would have never worn.  Strangely, he still had the cane given to him by Dr. Carter.  The blackguards had not taken that.  He absent-mindedly twisted the gold hound’s head at the top of the cane and it unscrewed and pulled forth to reveal an eight-inch blade.  Dr. Carter’s cane was also a weapon, it seemed, and something he had no use for now.  His Italian pistol, of course, had been confiscated, and he had been dropped off in front of this tavern.  He turned around to see the name on the building’s façade:  Gunner’s Hall.

He could barely stand, and his mind kept playing tricks on him.  Was it a fever that seemed to be spreading throughout his body?  He grabbed the cane and lurched toward the entrance to the tavern.  Perhaps he could get help from someone inside.  However, when the swinging doors opened, he saw dozens of men standing about, and they each had the head of a cat!  The pointed ears, the large pupils, the needle whiskers sprouting from a furry snout, and they all turned toward him in unison and snarled to reveal their sharp fangs!  Was he insane? 

Edgar turned around and staggered back out onto the boardwalk.  The earth began to spin, out of control, and he sat backward down on the bench.  He remembered the story he once wrote about a black cat that was buried inside the wall along with the murder victim.  He felt as if he had been buried inside himself, as he could not make sense of his own thoughts as they tried to assemble in his brain.  Instead, he lay down on the bench, and his throat constricted like it was inside a noose, and then he screamed, at the top of his lungs, “Reynolds!  You bastard!  Reynolds!” The darkness closed in upon him, and he passed into a state of delirium, never to fully revive again upon this earth.            

Jim Musgrave

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Genre – Historical Steampunk Mystery

Rating – PG13

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