A scientist and her lab assistant smuggle an illegal experiment out of the country. Meanwhile, a mystery lies unsolved in the shadows...
By day I was Lady Edwina Meadowes; idolized by some, pitied by most. I heard the whispers about me at the social functions I threw for the aristocratic hypocrites.
“Poor Edwina, she’s got no family and a big empty house. She must get lonely considering no man in these parts would marry her. Maybe if she acted more like a lady, but honestly…”
They snickered behind their fancy lace fans as they got drunk off of my champagne and danced to the music played by the orchestra that I paid for. It didn’t bother me, though, as these parties served two different purposes—one of which was unaware to my distasteful guests.
I hosted these weekly affairs to raise money for the low-class citizens and the children on the street. It made high society feel better about their disgusting spending habits and obnoxious shows of wealth. On a more personal note, gathering them all underneath my roof once a week excused me from their watchful eyes for the rest of it when I disappeared from all social circles.
By night the corset and the petticoat came off and I became my true self. A lone figure dressed in a man’s vest and trousers, hair pulled up into a hat, traversing the city’s dark underbelly with just a dagger at my waist for protection. If anyone passing by got a close look at me they would see a young man with delicate features and a light patch of peach fuzz on his chin. By night I was Eddy Olive.
I had no fear of the people here. The vagabonds, the outcasts and the homeless knew me as they had known my father. Out of loyalty they would have died rather than betray our secret.
On the most important night since my father’s death I got a little careless. I didn’t even bother checking to see if anyone witnessed me emerging from my house as my alter ego. I was jittery from excitement because after almost 4 years I had finally cracked the cipher my father’s journal was written in. In it was printed the location and combination for a safe which held the key ingredient for Jace Meadowes’ final experiment.
Like a thief I crept through the shadows until I arrived at my favorite place in the world. The laboratory was a foreboding sight from the outside, giving passersby the illusion of a condemned building. On the inside it was a colorful picture of colossal coils, constantly sparking bolts of electricity between each other. Everything in the lab was powered by a monstrous steam engine created by Jace with the help of his engineer confidant, Elgin Holloway.
The walls were lined with various inventions from weapons to vehicle prototypes to alternative power sources that could utilize steam. I knew that the Royal Army would kill to get their hands on this lab, so I fought every day to keep it from prying eyes.
I walked to a table in the back where the mystery box that my father worked so hard to keep secret was located. Next to a box lay a supine figure covered with a sheet. Gently I punched in the numbered key to unlock it, only to jump back in surprise at what was inside.
“It can’t be,” I whispered to myself, reaching tentatively for the box’s contents.
Inside was a human brain, impeccably frozen from what appeared to be a mobile cryogenic container. As a woman, experimenting with science was illegal in and of itself, but to splice human DNA with artificial was an even bigger crime. I wasn’t about to let a little matter of law come between me and the completion of my father’s dream.
I pulled back the sheet to reveal the epicenter of all the work I’ve done over the last four years in this laboratory. My father left me with an exoskeleton with a mini steam engine for a beating heart. He was building me a partner so I wouldn’t have to brave this cruel, forlorn world alone but was killed before he could finish. I gave it skin, hair, eyes, and a name—all of its features so very much like my father’s. I called it Jacer. No matter what I tried, which engineer or fellow scientist I conferred with I couldn’t give Jacer life. The little steam engine allowed for movement, but there was no reason in Jacer. All he was missing was a brain.
I spent 6 hours working on Jacer that night. With the utmost care I opened up his skull and melded sinew to metal. It was something that had never before been done and all I had was the theory written in a coded journal. I studied the words like it was the last thing I would ever read in my life. After carefully sealing Jacer’s skull and molding his skin back into place, it was time for the moment of truth.
With a deep breath I placed my hand on his chest where his heart was located and gave a sharp push, kicking the gears into motion. Instantly green eyes fluttered open and focused on my face.
“Welcome to the world, brother,” I said, blinking back tears.