Sunday, 25 October 2015

the tale of the handsome man

the tale of the Handsome Man pub
So um yeah this is again me playing with a format or three setting up my piece for this season of hurt and horror of fear and of legend, will this Handsome man live or die? Will the Inn burn around him or will he escape the curse? The video isn’t the best because I am not massively talented with video editing and couldn’t run it as just an audio file. The music borrowed from the amazing Nick Cave who I came across via Peaky Blinders. The images are things I have found over the years a mix of stock photos a John Convey painting and wiki entries and yes most of the voice is me.  If you don’t want to lend me 15 minutes that’s cool the text is here but please those who do give me a comment on here or youtube about whether it worked.

Tale of the Handsome Man - click me for the story as a audiobook thing. 

We Brit’s are a superstitious lot of old, a tribe more than a country, to kith and kin beholden and even in this “enlightened” age have myth, legend, tale and task. And so listeners follow me take my hand as we walk through the streets to a block of flats, up the stairs to a door and inside to a room. A room with a mirror.
And we stand and watch a young man of twenty five summers stands staring into the mirror as he dresses, strangely for this modern flat, this city of smoke and cars and light and noise, he stood in a linen shirt tied with a drawstring, a pair of heavy woolen hose and soft leather boots. The room lit with a candle. He stares into the mirror one last time before turning and placing the candle into a brass lantern box. We follow him as he walks down the stairs taking a heavy woolen coachman’s cloak off the hook and sliding it on adding scarf and heavy gloves  and taking his black hat and stepping out into the night.

Riding down out of the city impossibly unnoticed on this powerful charger, a pale horse bearing a rider in black, leaving the city noise and moving out across the lanes and across the fields. The world becoming dark and cool as he seemed to step back in time as he moved from city and car and flat and factory to country lane and brook and stream.

He arrives at a set of old stone plinths a ring around a village from a time of disease and quarantine, the point at which the afflicted couldn't stray beyond and those bringing food and drink could leave their packages without entering tainted land.  He saw the path of reed mat leading from the edge of the village boundary right to the entrance of the inn.

The Handsome Man, he could see the sign from here, incongruous among the cars and lights, it was as he remembered from the day he was cast out, the day his father died. Walls of straw and reed around a wooden frame, thatched roof, a thick weave, the sign hand painted many years ago , paint bubbling and blistered from the heat of fires long past.

He left the horse tied to the boundary line and stepped onto the reed walkway inhaling deeply as he recognised the sickly sweet aroma of petrol, he walked onward and when stood at the door of the in on the wooden step he struck a match and threw it over his left shoulder. For a brief second illuminating his dark smile and the blood red stain of his right hand. The match tumbling in the dark landing on the reed, catching the vapour alight and suddenly the dark moonless night was split by a blazing inferno as the fire consumed all he had touched. His laugh echoed over the crackling roar of the flames as he knocked on the oak door, the oak stained with his touch. A symbol of his presence and a far older legend of this all hallows eve.

I laughed at the wait and count three seconds before opening the door, these monsters so scared of the tradition so scared of who I represent. These people, whose ancestors left mine to die in order to save their village. Riding a pale horse I have returned to play my part to punish them by standing as a reminder of what and who they made a deal with to save themselves.

A man I do not recognise one who moved into this blighted place I assume stands and sneers, "Just who in God's name are you!? I've been dragged here by this lot because of that ridiculous clause in the bloody deed! Now, someone had better tell me what the hell is going on here and why I am sat in this ruddy inn watching-" here he rounded on me nostrils flaring "you stroll in as if you own all!"

I laugh and raise my hand, the red glinting in the torchlight as I turn to face the man who dared interrupt me, dared challenge me in this place, “My friend, God has nothing to do with this blighted place and as for owning all that’s because on this night in this Inn I rather think I do. I am a representation of the man these people surrounding you, well their ancestors made a deal with. The Devil walked among them” I walk around the group stroking the hair of a young child to calm them and stroking the throat of a young woman as I move through the crowd, “They sold a family into slavery and sacrificed a man to the flames for a cure for the plague that afflicted this place, My grandfather many times passed locked inside The Handsome Man as it burned to the ground after a night entertaining the Man with a red right hand, he the most traveled of the village having fought in France for our king spent the night telling tales of love and loss.”

I move angry now talking with my hands and ranting, “they watched as the Inn burned with bows and sticks to ensure he died, his young wife heavy with child forced to watch as he screamed, she gave birth and the rider took the child and promised these monsters that he would return on the year of his twenty fifth summer to speak of love and loss. A price MY Family Pay to save these wretched lives, I cannot touch the ground of the village of my birth a condition of the pact with the demon so I burn the reeds I stand on, this Inn at morning light with either be ash or razed to the ground by the churchwarden. If my tales are judged to be enough, I will be allowed to live in the land of my birth and take a bride marked for me by the demons and live to bind my child to this curse, if, if I have failed, I will burn in the Inn this night and a child will be found in the ashes, a child taken from their home and sent away to return as they reach twenty five summers.”

The man scoffs and moves to stand, “bollocks, this is rural bollocks I’m not sitting here with you country inbred’s and listening to this shit” he moves to leave and I watch impassively the door refusing to budge even as it is unlocked. The ring of flames from the reed surrounding us.

I turn to his panicked attempts to exit this place, “This isn’t a tall tale or a game sir, sit and rest and enjoy the night, eat and drink and be merry, you best start believing in tales of demons and deals, for my friend you’re in one. Has a maiden been marked by the sign” I ask and enjoy the nervousness and fear as the priest stands and nods.

“Young Eliza, eighteen and fair of face and hair, found this morn her hand dripping blood that would not stop” she stands and curtsies and moves to sit in the place by mine bearing drink and food set for the travelling man.

“the compacts have been met, the door is sealed, we are all here, from bairn to priest, from blacksmith to lord, it is time.” I grin as the thunder rolls a great wicked crack as lighting strikes the inn. This is what I’m born for, my purpose my life and tis soon time to begin. I drink and eat talking and meeting these monsters and murderers, watching those who only know of the story from tales of their parents face the guilt and weight. It’s easy for them to nod and say they understand till faced with the man they have to condemn. I take the time to talk with Eliza, she’s as they told me, everything that I would desire. The demons speak truth in that, the teller of tales rewarded by their mate being everything their heart could need. In looks, in life, in views, in thoughts, the perfect lover everything my soul could want and my body desire.

I take a sip of wine and stand moving to my seat by the fire, lit by the wicked red glow I move and start to speak, “I come from many miles from here, for to fulfill an ancient pact, to tell of things and times long past of love and loss and ash. To speak of many wonders, of hope of hate of heart. You are crowded here to pay old debts and for me to pay my part. I have ballads and story, myth and legend all which tell of love, of passion of sex and debauched joy and of faith and home and hearth. So I sit with wineskin in hand my promised bride at my knee.” I look down at Eliza adoringly, she the one good part of this bargain, that we few we marked we red handed, would find our loves early. “ The sky black, the moon hiding as the devil walks this night and I this outsider looking in this Red Handed man staring into flames will recite the words searched for over many miles and wait and hope and pray. For if those who judge my worth say naught I burn at mornings light. I pay the price I’m bound to pay, to risk my life for you, for want of a cure you cast me in this role to fight the plague. “

My voice rising as a fell wind whispers and licks across the floor, creeping through cracks and gaps raising hackles and hairs, the fire roaring up behind me and for the first time I smile at the crowd. “All are assembled who took part in the compact and our judge is on the wind, so my Lord, your Chosen Man begs leave to speak and to pay his tithe, fulfill his role” I nod to the Lord whose family traditionally owned the village and on receiving his nod I breathed and waited.

One, two, three flashes of lightning and I took up the tale again, “And now I sit and permission is given to speak and sing, tonight my monsters listen and listen well for the stories I was forced to know, to buy my freedom and my life I speak and show and sing, the ritual done, the background aired tis now time to begin, three tales I have prepared this night, love lost, love won and desire, tragic love lost and sex all weaved into the words herein. Get comfortable and get drink for tis now time to begin.”  The words spiralling from me as if I knew them all my life, words given to me by the role I play my accent thick and strong as I become the storyteller, all my family past I feel here now watching and giving strength as I weave the tales that decide whether I am to live or die. 
the handsome man's tale part 2
First of all gods, I am sorry its so quiet, had mic issues and also sorry my voice is so bloody rough and flat due to this Autumn cold and the low budget not allowing me licencing rights or hiring a singer.  The Handsome man telling his tale this one a tail of tragedy and pain. as Always I hope this tale finds you well on this all hallows eve. 

Confident that his audience of sceptics had been cowed by both his words and the eerie chill and the crackling flames he returned to his role of the showman the jester, the one man who thought mad can tell the truth in this blighted world. He leaped up onto the bar ands clapped his hands twice in a sharp staccato rhythm and began to weave his spell of otherworldly stories.

He slowly began to weave his tale as the audience watched spellbound by old magics, “I was in Ireland and walking across land long since empty lands filled with loss and pain and on this land I found a cross, a memorial from long past and so at midnight I returned and stood as I expected was a girl of twenty six summers dressed in skirt and blouse draped in a soldiers jacket to keep out the chill, she greeted me and we talked, she told a tale of her life and her death, she told it in song to me just as I am telling now. She was young when the war started, twas nineteen fourteen and the air was thick with patriotism and hope a war that would end all wars a war that would be fought against the hun and be over by Christmas, she had grown up the daughter of the publican and over the years caught the eye of a local boy, a young man a bookie who sold dreams and hope in a small dreary town, that brief moment on raceday where if the winds blew right copper could turn to gold. She turned to me and sang, sang of hope and love. My voice is not hers though the words are but the voice is something I can share.

The air grew thick with tenseness as the music started the music a mournful violin that though different from the original seemed to fit.

I'm a girl that's just come over,
Over from the country where they do things big;
And among the boys I've got a jolly sweetheart,
Since I got a sweetheart I don't care a fig.

For the boy I love is up in the gallery,
The boy I love is looking now at me;
There he is, can't you see him waiving off his handkerchief,
As merry as the robin that sings in the tree?
For the boy I love is up in the gallery,
The boy I love is looking now at me;
There he is, can't you see him waiving off his handkerchief,
As merry as the robin that sings in the tree?

He is not tall, but yet he's manly,
And I always see him in the same old place;
Curly head is bobbing, don't you see him nodding?
There he is! don't you see his smiling face?

For the boy I love is up in the gallery,
The boy I love is looking now at me;
There he is, can't you see him waiving off his handkerchief,
As merry as the robin that sings in the tree?
For the boy I love is up in the gallery,
The boy I love is looking now at me;
There he is, can't you see him waiving off his handkerchief,
As merry as the robin that sings in the tree?

“They fell in ,love and courted and were engaged to be married, that awkward period of unrequited affection and longing sighs, blushing smiles and nervous titters, waved neckerchiefs and notes turning to an engagement that filled the town with joy and laughter and the nervous energy of wedding bells approaching, but then as spring grew distant and the world turned, hope turned to fear as the men marched off to war, before he marched with his boyhood pals towards distant shores they wed out in the glades they had played in as children, just these two lovers promising before god that when he returned that they would truly be bound by priest and sacrament. 

He took a sip of wine and looked at his bride to be talking more to her than the spellbound audience, pouring the pain into his tale and his fears,  fears that if his words were not enough that he was damming her to a life alone unable to fill the aching burning regret and loss, the hole he would leave, maybe twas the worst of the curse, that his failure dams his mate to a life alone tortured with visions of what could have been, the one kiss they share the only love she will have if he is not enough to please the demons.

“he went to war marched off with boyhood friends, the scene could be anything from when they were young, broomsticks on shoulder playing at soldier now come true, pellet guns and shotguns now lee Enfield’s and webleys, he wrote letters home and she wept and prayed spending days in church on her knees begging for his safe return so she can spend her nights on her back or knees in pleasure not fear and prayer. The war wasn’t over by Christmas no, twas weeks longer then months then year after bloody year of dogeared letter and tale of shellscrape and machinegun nest till that fateful day, there was a knock and a letter, born by the local chaplain a old man of seventy, too old to fight left behind by the regiment to bring comfort and aid to the familys left behind. Rather than delivering it to home he took the notice to her, it was he that heard her wail of pain and loss as she knew what it was as he walked up the pathway,. That hateful black banded paper an arrow through her heart.”

He sinked to his knees in horror weeping at the scene his heart torn open as he recounted her pain, “the scream of pain the roaring howl of dying love and hope, a noise that was depressingly common in the village, the women flocked to her to support her as she lay wrapped in the boys dress uniform jacket, his casket laid down in the pub she worked for the wake, her night spent weeping over his cold form. He was buried and she was catatonic” he looked at his wife to be and held her closely, the women watching seeing this young man as human now, they saw and felt the guilt at the price he was to pay hitting them like a hammer blow as they realised that in their fear of the curse that they had forgotten that he was a boy just like theirs, he had been a babe in cloth, a child but he had known since birth that he may not be granted chance to grow old.

The guilt striking them as if a hammer blow to the chest as he murmured into his partners ear, that if he failed this night that this song was a begging plea for to live on to find a life after him. The sorrow of his cousin long dead something to be left in story alone.

I am stretched on your grave
And will lie there forever
If your hands were in mine
I'd be sure we'd not sever
My apple tree my brightness
It's time we were together
For I smell of the earth
And am worn by the weather
When my family thinks
That I'm safe in my bed
From night until morning
I am stretched at your head
Calling out to the air
With tears hot and wild
My grief for the boy
That I loved as a child
Do you remember
The night we were lost
In the shade of the blackthorn
And the chill of the frost
you swore before our god
 we’d be married  this was not just this night
As you left here for france
called me your  pillar of light
The priests and the friars
Approach me in dread
Because I still love you
My love and you're dead
I still would be your shelter
Through rain and through storm
And with you in your cold grave
I cannot sleep warm
So I'm stretched on your grave
And will lie there forever
If you hands were in mine
I'd be sure we'd not sever
My apple tree my brightness
It's time we were together
For I smell of the earth
And am worn by the weather

He finished his song and quietly began to sob into the girls chest, for his cousin for the boy who died alone drowning in the mud under the weight of the dead, for the girl he left behind dying of heartbreak and finally for the first time for himself and his love as the weight of his path hit him.  She knew in that moment that though he was the figure of legend that he needed her to be strong to love him, to be the only one in this blighted place to fight for him. She took him, guided him upstairs and kissed him frantically, hard rough and passionate, the two lovers taking the moment in the fear that it would be their first and last.
 Shedding clothes and scratching caressing nipping licking, moaning and biting. Moving to the bed moaning the rocking of the headboard shaking the rafters and those present remembering years gone by, the songs of this young woman reminding them 0f the price and the fear their thundering climax muffled by the roar of the fire and the pealing thunder in the sky, as they slaked their thirst for each other together, spurred on by the curse’s need for a fresh victim, conceiving his child as he himself was conceived, in the fear that this was the last and whipped up by the fear, his terror and his uncertainty the same aphrodisiac that the march to war gave. 

text me dirty text me quick

Ok so you remember Lola and Lukas, the textual tease and the tense texted? well this is a portal to a what I would like to think happened, not next but sometime later.

She lay back and stretched on the bed, sweaty and tired after a long lab day and a lecture before rolling across town from the campus to her trike and finally home, she grimaced as she looked down the bed, staring at the clock that read 1030pm, if it was that early why had she been asleep and why hadn't she eaten and why was it all a mess? She crawled across the bed for her click switch and turned the light on low as breathed deeply. The room smelt of sex and sweat and passion, she was sore and could feel the sting of freshly applied antiseptic, looking down she saw the covers a mess the sheet marked with blood and heard the happy sated half snore of Lukas, dead to the world and worn out by the look of things.

As she half crawled half dived for the plate of Hoisin duck wraps that her darling had prepared earlier that had obviously been forgotten in favor of more important things, she devoured them at speed and polished off a pair of bottles of shock top before she was satisfied looking at him guiltily as she tried to hide a small belch. She snuggled into the crook of his arm and drifted off into her memories to the sound of his heart remembering what got her here.

She had rolled in grabbed a sixpack and the plated duck wraps off the counter dropping them into her little trolley that clipped to the back of the chair that lived by the door, she rolled into the bedroom and paused for a second to just enjoy the view of her Lukas in a pair of black silk trousers and nothing else but his rosary that matched hers, that they had bought in Lourdes together.  Slipping that note into the locker that day hadn't been stupid, nor had allowing herself to dream and to dare, dare send a picture and dare reach out.

She grinned to herself and slipping her phone from her pocket typed a short message. Which the lounging boy looked at and smiled, her phone bleeped once more she checked it and grinned.

Whipping her hoody off in one quick movement revealing to her waiting partner the tattoo that so captivated him from the moment they met, the pink leopard spots on her right shoulder, she had others of course, ink with meaning, ink with symbols, ink to hide the scars, the blue waterfall below the pink spots hiding where her arm was rebroken by the surgeons, the ying yang of ice and fire on her left leg hiding the entry point for the wicked metal bolts holding her leg together, the other leg carrying a second ying yang of earth and air, sliding down from the chair and crawling up the bed ignoring the food that lay waiting she snaked up his body pulling himself up his legs by her arms.

She gasped at the contact as he moved in the way he always did, so that her sex would be dragged over his knee, his hands sliding into place and tugging at the button of her jeans and yanking them down in one easy movement, pressure from his foot dragging them off her feet and as usual forcing her slip-on trainers off with the denim.  He immediately pulled her into a kiss using nhis strength to grind her into his knee, he could feel her breath quicken and her whole body chase after this intensity of feeling as he plundered her mouth with hard kisses and bites of her bottom lip. Scrabbling for the phone she tapped out a short curt message begging for more.

In response he intensified the assault dragging her knickers down and off her body but doing nothing more than grinding her into his knee ever harder, relishing in the smaller girls silent gulping gasping cries. Her limpness in his arms as he felt one orgasm race through her before he pushed her to the bed and lay there between her thighs his breath tickling her clit as he nibbled around her sex, always seeming to hold just at the point of making contact with her wetness but never quite getting there. Holding her waiting and completely under his control.

And through this torrent of abuse and begging in black on green he simply grinned as he held her just on the edge of touching her, her sat in his lap feeling the outline of his bulge and gently running the very tip of his nail over her moist lip[s waiting for her to lose her mind.
He grinned as he saw the message, his lover losing control shown in her wriggling and her spelling and hearing that faint almost silent yelp, the only thing close to a sound he had ever heard her make. He unsheathed himself from his denim prison and while stripping, buried himself inside her as she attacked his neck and back like a wildcat. They rocked and thrashed and snaked across the down mattress almost more like a fight than a fuck, him moaning panting gasping but Lola she was forever silent still gasping, his phone filled with her screams of ecstasy and orgasm.  

They lay tangled together and sweaty covered in, sweat, tears of passion, each others explosion and not a little blood from the scratches and bites, nuzzled together in that happy dazed afterglow.
“We needed that” mumbled Lukas into her hair as he cuddled her from behind kissing her neck”

She simply nodded texting a response causing Lukas to burst into a deep belly laugh shaking her slightly making her squirm and bite her lip.

“can I ask you something”  he murmured into her hair, a question on his lips that he had wrestled with since meeting her, suddenly unsure how to phrase it, she simply nodded.
“Why don’t you speak?, not even to me?” he asked gently stroking her tummy to calm and reassure her, she paused terrified then slowly reached for her phone and painstakingly typed an answer with shaking hands. 

“when what happened?” he asked confused, she’d turned by then facing her lover the ring on her finger rubbing against his chest as she stroked his strong upper body, she looked hurt upset frustrated and not knowing what else to do pulled her closer to him.

He waited confused and wondering about the tangent and just lay enjoying the contact staring into her eyes.

As he read he grew steadily more and more angry seething as he saw the pain of remembering in her eyes and all he could do was stroke her hair and murmur promises that he would keep them away, keep her safe.

He looked sick to his stomach at the end but was strangely curious and he nodded slowly and looked into her eyes warmly and with nothing but encouragement in his heart and his expression, caressing her palm with his thumb.

She looked into his eyes before looking down at her rosary and her ring, slowly carefully looking like she was struggling immensely she in a heavily slurred gasping breath mumbled “Te Amo Maritus”
He looked gobsmacked and shocked for a second as the words went through his mind as he untangled her voice in his head, he blushed and gasped as he realised that that was her asking for what she wanted most in the world and offering a way for them to truly have spoken vows, he crushed her into his arms holding her tight and kissing her softly before mumbling “really? You’d want that? Me? A wedding? You want me of all people?”

She wriggled on his lap until she was laid her mouth next to his ear and whispered “Volo” the more he heard her the more he understood and the more his heart leapt as he pulled her close trying to calm his pounding heart as they kissed as if they needed each kiss more than air. 

sexty fiction

we are going back to school and I am trying something new, with so much of the modern world being SMS/email/whatsapp or IM can we tell a short story for the modern world, can we show a seduction in symbols, a ravish through the radio waves intercourse through the infra red?
Who knows but I will have a bloody good go.  Ben

Picture the scene, a busy High school a girl in a wheelchair bashfully slips a note in the locker of her crush, on a dare, on a lark, a girl who doesn't speak except through notes, how would she seduce or be seduced?

Lukas lay on his bed staring at the phone his mind blown by the revelations of the last few texts, Layla the girl he secretly dreamed of talking to whilst waiting for class to end not only liked him but was “Crushing on him” and she was flirting with him heavily, he blushed as he reread the last message. Fuck he was going to be frustrated tonight. He sighed, grousing under his breath as he went to bed resigned to the fact that he’d have to change the sheets in the morning and probably his pj bottoms.
Layla lay against the cool plastic of her shower-seat, the shower head in her hand, punishing jets of water soothing her aching muscles as she thought, tense in her back and in her brain as she wrestled with nerves, with fears and with dreams she had never before dared voice.

She had been daring and teasing and hoped to God it worked. She shifted her position slightly facing away from the camera so her blush couldn't be seen, her phone snapping a shot of just her hair and upper back her leopard-print  tattoo on her shoulder so she knew he would recognize it as her and not a net pic. She hit send and breathed slowly, placing the phone out of reach and pressing the shower head against her wetness gasping, riding that wave as the jets slammed into her body. Dragging her limp limbs out of the shower she crawled to bed blushing waiting for the morning.

Lukas’s phone began bleeping harshly, atonally, dragging him out of his fantasy just as he was about to reach that crescendo, grumbling swearing to himself “If that’s Steve drunk texting about an epic white castle dump again I will kill him.” he thought resigned to frustration through his dreams. He clicked through the menu seeing it was a MMS message and pausing worried it was a drunk pic of the aforementioned white castle dump.

Seeing it was from Layla he figured it was safe and clicked to open the mms message, his body firing as if gripped by some hot wet vice as he saw her soft smooth skin, the lather of soap and the tattoo he admired for its contrast.
"FUUUUUCK" he mewled. He scrawled a reply blinking in the blinding light of his iphone waiting nervously. Was she teasing, was this a message, a harbinger of more? He waited with baited breath for a reply.

What he got was teasing, coy. He could imagine her shy smile and wave, the one he saw at the end of every class. How had he missed her before? Wow!. 

He lay in bed running those words through his mind… surely she didn't, she couldn't, but maybe hopefully. . .  God I hope so!  He drifted off in a dream world of pink leopards, prowls and  purrs all entangled around a beautiful dark haired girl.

She lay tense, nervous, hoping she hadn't gone on too strong, too intense. Worried and hoping that he wanted her, that she wasn't being a fool, that this wouldn't be  spread around school as the latest joke. Like when she’d sent Larry a Valentines card in Junior High and he’d thrown it back at her and told her he didn't need a girl who licked windows instead of cocks.  She remembered the jeers and laughter from his friends. So she had hidden her attractions even as she was becoming more and more aware of her lusts, her wants, needs. She cried, watched others love and be loved, feeling guilty observing and writing, watching from the sidelines, feeling a frog as she organized the dances, the Valentines formals, and the love notes section of the paper. 

All these feelings, channeled into her art, her drive to excel, into anything but expressing her desires. She hid them to make others comfortable. Being the good asexual token cripple until that day, until she cried. Until someone saw how desperately unhappy she was behind the mask. Until that conversation with her form teacher, Ms Macyntyre, who forced her to open up, forced her to talk,  to show the world who she really was.

 The woman who talked openly of love and sex, of exploration, and told Layla that she needed to be herself and live for herself, not to make others comfortable.  Ms Macyntyre  lent her books on confidence, on writing, on sex, on sexuality and through those she found herself. She found that she needed to be herself, needed to fall in love and lust.  Found that she wanted to be human, not an asexual  token that they talked about behind her back. Not some bauble to show how inclusive they were, not some half heard,asked stupid questions of and looked at as a mascot. She wanted to work, to date, to love, even to try the things she had read about. She lay breathless and tired, exhausted by fear and arousal as she waited for the new dawn, her new world.
Welcome to the world of steam punk! Where airships rule, and mechanical devices are the coolest gadgets.  No matter what reality you land in, the steam always rises when people are in close proximity. 
A long complicated halfbuilt world of mine, questions will eventually be explained once I finish this world.

Steam Stowage
Ben Hannigan 

      The air was cool as she waited; dressed in clothes long creased with age, clothes borrowed from a trunk seldom used by any in the family, kept more as a keepsake than to be worn. The year was 1947, the thirtieth year of Our Lady of the Lord Maria the fourth, the mother of the current Pope, the leader of Catholic England and master of the land. The Orange Rebellion crushed by her forefathers and those who incited it slaughtered, with full backing of the people. 

     England was solidly Catholic. The steam barges ruled the land; a tribute to the brilliance of England’s researchers and the bravery of its sailors. It was to one of these Eliza’s path led, fleeing an arranged contract marriage aided by the nuns of her school and dressed in the clothes of a dead man.  She was ready.
     Laid upon the roof she had slept on, she watched the escape boats roll by, the shells bound for a boat to the Dutch colony of new Amsterdam on one of the working vessels. Vessels where those with the correct papers may work their passage across the sky and earn their entry fee to the colony. But of course, she had no papers, there wasn’t time to forge them.  She had to flee before sundown, flee and never be found or possibly to find a suitor before the contract was initialed. 

     For if she were to be wed then she could no longer fulfill the contract as Eliza Fairchild would no longer exist. She waited and watched for the last pod which she saw from careful previous scouting was unlocked, and equipped somewhat better than the others being the Captain’s pod. She swung across the alleyway with her pre-trimmed line and dropped into the belly of the pod, her home until the new world. As she fell she caught her head on the door-lock, a small cut that she didn’t feel at the time but would later come to change her life. 

      She lay on the hammock breathing heavy with glee as she felt the ship rock and clunk onto the vessel. Now, all there was to do was wait.  She saw she could practice her sabre work, or read, or work on forging papers but for now she had a darker goal.  Rifling through her bag she found the small bottle of brandy gifted by the nuns to use for wounds, or bribes or well indeed as one had said, steady the nerves. Prying out the cork she took a belt. Sipping at the half pint to warm her heart and quell the ill humors pumping their way through her veins, the yellow of fear and the black of loss and terror competing with the gold humour of triumph and the green of sorrow that it had come to this. She fingered her rosary as she drank and prayed for forgiveness, for protection, and for a new safe world. 

      The brandy warming her as it always had but also filling her body with feelings she knew from church as a sin, but knew from Sister Mary as desire and love.   The love GOD wills us to bear, the joy in being alive, and his love for us. For she had reasoned to the younger girl if God did not will it then we on earth would not feel it. She taught the girl of the saints that prayed with it, the angels that shared it, the ecstasy of His love. 

     Eliza felt her hands tracing the familiar steps she was taught, caressing her nipples through the soft linen shirt following the pattern, across her tummy and her thighs cupping her sex and searching through the firy heat for the nub, the symbol of HIS presence and she gasped as her nails raked across it, missing the comforting weight of the young nun’s hand, she moved faster and it was less controlled as she raked her fingers across her slit. Her back arching, her breeches down in a tangle by her feet as she exploded, asking, begging, calling for her god to  send an angel to spear her as he did St. Theresa; gasping and exploding filled with his energy, his love. 

     She slid down into the pillows exhausted, given of her body all to her pleasure what she was taught was for her god.  Sleeping, resting safe and loved she lay, blood dripping slowly, unknown to any man.  

In the world of airships, steam power and mechanical clockworks, we left Eliza stowing away on a parting airship by hiding in  an escape pod. What do you think will happen to our injured heroine?  Let's tune in to find out.  

Steamheat:  Captain Malloy
Ben Hannigan

James Malloy stood in his chambers in a simple linen shirt and leather side-laced trousers. The air was hot and humid, the brass walls dripping with the condensed water from the engine rooms below. Though he was the captain, this vessel had little room for luxury as it was dedicated to the paying customers playing at sailor. He could and did fly the vessel alone with the aid of thinking machines, allowing the “duties” of his cargo to simply be smattering of what their ancestors faced on the water crossings. Each “sailor” doing a stint swabbing deck, a stint in the galley, a stint loading and firing cannon at proddy targets conjured up by the machines, and the most onerous duty, actually the one duty with an affect on the ship, everyone did one shift shoveling coal and coke to the engine room.

Malloy was intimately connected to the ship, he could feel the engines pulsing, feel the machines ticking over. They were in flight, he had met his crew - the usual crowd of upper-class wankers who want a uniform to show off at the club. He stood relaxed, preparing for the show that he always put on halfway through the voyage. 

The ship was attacked, the crew called to arms, and the guns manned. But it’s not enough, the guns they have just aren’t enough though the crew acquit themselves well. The ship is boarded by the British navy. Those elements who betrayed the crown to support the parliament traitors. The speech was a beauty, all about glory, and love of the realm and honour and duty; the kind of third rate claptrap they ate up in the projector halls. Malloy had always been a showman, so he programmed this little stunt into every voyage.

Bellowing orders to the crew from the top deck, members of the crew on watch in the nests with marksman’s rifles and those crew walking the decks finding themselves issues shotguns by shadowy ships mates.  The ship subtly changing from an airship to a British sloop. Drawing the customers into the magic, making it real. It's why his runs were four times the price of any other, and why the company had paid for the spell, those who had experienced it could only speak of it to others who shared the same memories.

The uniforms the “flight crews” are presented with at the end of the voyage for the final inspection carrying rank based on what they had in their background. Some working class boys ending up as officers and some ruling lords being little more than deckhands; the uniforms drawn from the memories in the blood. What the persons family had been in days long past. This was the same as all other aircrew experiences. 

However, ‘Malloys Men’ were different. Their uniforms carried campaign ribbons as well as family medals. Much like the others but they always carried a new badge, one that all of the ‘Aircrew’ could see. Which made for instinctive respect and deference, much like a new unbloodied trooper would defer to one who had shed blood for his country.

This was where we would find Malloy if we were to observe; in his chamber bouncing on the balls of his feet with a sabre in hand dueling two shadowy figures.  He was an accomplished swordsman using it in honour duels. In displays, in entertainment and in order to save his life once, long ago. So he trained, each day faster and harde,r pushing himself, determined that he would not fail if attacked like that again. The sabre blurring, a pistol appearing in the other, surrounded by the dead servitor spirits he fought on until exhaustion. His bones shaking, limbs burning with the pain.  

Then the world went black. His cabin was no longer dark, murky alleyways or battlefield, no longer places from Malloy's troubled past, but instead a simple room for a sailor. A hammock strung across each windowless wall, a trunk set, a cabinet of provisions and the thinking engines, the displays, the input devices and the tape printers making a slow comforting sound that reminded him he wasn't alone, almost like the heartbeat of a lover. 

He stripped and roughly bathed himself with a soapy rag and bucket of icy water before standing under a venting steam pipe to spray him with a refreshing mist of water.  Standing there taking time to wash the last of his body, his mind returned to his swordplay.  Taking his weapon up and fighting a very different duel, focusing on the feeling, the exhilaration, and the pleasure of tasting warm skin.  The honey sweetness of a girl's kiss, the soft cream of their skin, the pink rosy nipple under his lips and trailing down the stomach tasting her, sweat mixing with her natural sweet musk.  And as he parted her legs in his mind, the blood rushing, pulsing ,sounding like a roaring tide in his ears as he tasted her scent, the rich sweet musk melding into this whirlpool of heat of desire.  The deep honeypot his to devour and explore, as he snaked his tongue deep into his woman’s entrance, hearing her screams of lust as he lost himself in exploring her every inch.  He could feel only the warmth of her on his hand, and immediately the image was gone. The warmth nothing more than the rapidly cooling emission leaking across his hand. He moaned finding himself on his knees, washed up again and lay on the hammock.

Getting some well earned rest in the quiet time of the voyage, the insistent buzzing, like the ship needed to show him something. Still an enigma to him as he wrestled with the question of what she wanted to show or tell him, he succumbed to exhaustion of mind and body and slept.
Last time  we were introduced to the Captain. His connection with the ship w as unparalleled   with other airship Captains.  His set of rigid standards firmly in place, and  orders followed.  His world is about to be thrown into chaos!

Fevered Dreams 
Ben Hannigan

Eliza lay drifting, dreaming as the hammock rocked, a makeshift cradle lulling her to sleep along with the brandy. The day had been hard, hanging from axles, avoiding Ident checks.  Her arms sliced and scratched by flying rock, the cold and the high hot humors of terror and adrenaline coursing through her. The fresh wounds from climbing and scrabbling over wood, pottery, and glass masked by her knowledge that all that mattered was the successful flight from being sold into a loveless marriage, her life as a broodmare. 

The brandy bottle empty now, a celebration and a quelling of that faint sickness and loneliness. The knowledge that she was alone and was giving up all she knew, all she loved, to flee. The bottle clattered to the floor, bouncing off the sabre by her boot. The bottle slick with her lifeblood that had soaked through her clothes, the material that had kept them closed, bandages of lucky accident. She slept, the bloody wounds tacky and weeping, the fluid flowing more now that she was warm, the booze thinning her blood.
 She felt like she was walking on air, like a strange heady cross between the time as a young girl when she was sick with the fevers and the time her “dorm sister” had first shown her the joy of communing with the Lord, the prayer of “sisters” entwined.

Lost in memories -- memories as strong as dreams -- her body feeling as it did then.  Her humours out of balance, the yellow humour rising and the red humour fighting, driving her temperature higher as she perceived it but that not manifesting in the physical world. 

The feel of a hand on her brow causing moans and mewls of joy, the doctor smiling, ordering the Mother Superior to ensure that she was never alone, whispering, “The girl responds to skin contact, this girl has been bereft of love in her life. I can feel it from the way her body cries out for touch for love, for comfort.” The woman nodded and discussed the abusive coldness of the young ward’s keeper. She herself took the first watch as her daughter the doctor smiled and told the others of her orders.

Eliza felt the touch as if she were there. She felt those emotions, the shock at watching this figure of strength and faith as she disrobed. The first time she had seen the woman without her habit, admiring the rosary that she wore. The Mother Superior sliding  into her arms, looping the boxwood rosary around her young charge, pulling her close to her breast. Eliza for the first time since the death of her mother felt the incorruptible love of a parent.  A love that asked for nothing, strong like Iron yet warm like a hot flip, comforting and safe. Eliza felt the burning of her skin cool at the contact, just like she had the first time. The heartbeat of the older woman comforting her, her hair stroked, caressed as the older woman sang, not hymns as she was used too but lullabies.

Eliza felt as she did then, a nipple between her lips, felt the comforting touch and drifted, drifted into the clouds and slept, the fever still raging but the nightmares and pressure abated. She remembered the shock and embarrassment flushing through as she woke, the murmured apologies and the throaty laugh of her Mother figure.  

“Childling, do not fret, I was asked to comfort you with contact. It could have  been a hand in yours or a hand on your forehead, but I chose this. Looping you inside my rosary, offering you a mother figure, a mothers comfort, my childling on my breast. I chose not to disturb you as you slept, I chose to bear your weight on my breast and I chose to offer you the bond of feeding from me, of my love, my trust, my strength and the milk of my body. I offered that because you need the love. Here at this house of God, we are open with the joy of touch, of expressing our love. I know you are not used to touch, but you always have the love of us here. I offered this in this place, to strengthen our bond and to give freely of my love for you, as the Lord gives his love to us all.”

Eliza remembered parts of her life in her hot fevered dream as she bled into the hammock. Remembered her shock as she toyed with her rosary of silver chain, and toyed with the boxwood teaching rosary that hung around them both, a physical symbol of their connection. The cross laid across her bare tummy as she did over the older nun.

“ It’s ok to be loved, to revel in our love for each other” she half said, half asked as the older woman nodded. “Mother, can I call you that?” The older woman gave a sound that Eliza even now was shocked by, she squealed like a young girl, a sound of love, shock, and joy.

“Yes! My childling. Thank you for the gift, the honour. We all love you and as you sleep, I will tell your sisters of the honour and love you give us all.” She kissed the younger girl on the forehead and stayed until she drifted, the fever subsiding. Eliza in her fevered dreamings saw then that it was a fever of faith, of trial, a teaching fever, the Lord showing her love and safety.

The world spun and she threw up as she was flung into her next dream. Too weak to realize this was her life flashing through her eyes as her life force waned. She was eighteen and sick again, a fever of the same, this time however the Mother Superior was not the one to sit with her. Instead her dorm sister, her mentor, Mary; the woman she came to with questions, worries, shared prayers, the girl who read her prayers with her, who guided her through her first rosary, Her Sister of the heart, her best friend.

The older girl lay with her as she shivered and sweated, fretting, wracked with night terrors, the dream girl thrashing as much as the girl laying on the hammock. The touch of the older girl spooned behind her not quelling the fears. Mary’s heart breaking at the begging murmurs and shouts, cries begging not to be left, pleading not to be hurt. The worry turned to rage as the waifish girl screamed through old memories, memories of pain and abuse, retelling as if trapped back there. Mary called for the Mother for advice. She sat and listened to the howls of pain, to the begging, the screams as the girl relived being violated. Hearing the reliving of her trust torn, her pain and her anger at a God that didn’t protect her from her uncle. She had been treated as property, learning that she was abandoned when she was too old to pique his interest.

They talked as the young girl slumped into an exhausted unconsciousness, aided by an herbal potion designed to soothe her throat and keep her calmed. They understood why she was scared to be touched, now understood why the eleven year old that came to them had to be dragged to bathe, why she didn’t eat, why she conspired to remain filthy, hiding her waifish beauty behind feralness and filth. When she ate she hunched over her food guarding it and hiding food in her room. They had learned from her screams that she ate with the hounds at home, was beaten randomly and routinely raped by her uncle and his staff.  

They had missed it when the doctors had checked her over because he had kept her saleable virtue intact using instead her other entrance, committing crimes against God and child. 

They understood her ideas, that if she didn’t eat she remained out of the kitchen and out of reach, not having to trade for food. When her resolve broke and she was hungry she stole from the kitchens, guarded her food from the dogs, and others who would take it and demand payment in the sins of the flesh for its return. They understood her desire to be too filthy to touch, drawing safety from that. They understood also why she couldn’t and didn’t sleep in the dorms, sleeping instead on the roof with a blanket, or in the smallest cubbyhole she could find.

The girl dying in the hammock, blood dripping on the floor both watched this conversation and relieved the terror of her younger self. She watched as if from a disembodied view her Mother of choice nod to Mary after she confessed her love for her charge. Eliza listened to Mary confess her desire to share the Love of God with her, show her the Lord gave her joy and ecstasy in her body, show her the joy of prayer together, sharing that intimate connection.

She felt the conversation, the explanation of Mary’s feelings. She remembered breaking down and admitting she had been buggered; confessed the guilt she felt.  She remembered praying with her Mother and her new lover for forgiveness, being shaken by the Mother Superior and told that she does not need forgiveness for being violated. Her mother gave a blessing and left.

Mary moved around her younger partner, sliding over her body a knee slid between her legs parting her thighs and pulling her by her Rosary into a deep kiss. As she lay bleeding into the hemp rope, her hand between her legs unconsciously fingering her wet slit as she focused on the dream, her new lover showing her everything with wild abandon, joyous kisses and touches.

That first time was all about her, Mary would come later. The first time was about healing the hurt of rejection, healing the hurt of hate, healing the fear of sexuality. Blood-soaked and lost in a happier past as she crossed that edge between here and the Styxian realm, she exploded in orgasm.  In her head she was exploding onto Mary’s hand, shivering, shaking, curled into a ball surrounded by love. Mary’s mouth on her neck, her legs wrapped around her tangled in both coverlet and lover. Mary’s wetness sliding over her slit as she screamed her desire. She exploded onto her hand as she went limp, both from the power of her climax and from blood-loss; weak and lost. She woke in a field of green where her birth mother stood dressed in white at a crossroads.

“My child, my love. You have a choice to make. Walk with me today; now, here or go back. Back to your body, to your life, to the chance of real love.”

“Mother,” she gasped. Crying, slumping into her arms, kissing her and losing herself in the tearful joy of reunion. “Mother guide me, what do I do?”

“My child, I want you to stay with every fibre of my being. My heart, my joy, my love wants you to stay. But, I can see a future for you. A young man and the new world; a new love and safety. The love and the life you deserve. Please, though it tears my heart in two, walk back to your body.”

“Come with me mother, please! I can’t lose you again.”

Her mother made a gesture and a ball of light appeared; blurring, spinning in her hand. As it shrank it condensed into a metal, a chain and a locket. “I can’t go back. My time is done. However, this locket bears a gift. A small way of saying I’m sorry. There is a photo of me holding you as a baby and a lock of my hair. When you feel scared or tired, simply hold it and you will feel the love I have for you. My childling. Please remember I love you. When the time is right, the ring your father gave me will appear, the ring that gives you the family wealth and titles.”

They walked together to the crossroads and stood, neither wanting the love and joy to end. Her mother leaned in and kissed her daughter, the kiss starting chaste but they lost themselves in the need for each other. The daughter opened her mouth in a bolder kiss, a desperate attempt to draw, to feel the love and faith in her mother. They kissed like lovers until the world began to spin again and she felt herself drifting, drifting back into the room, feeling herself sinking back onto the hammock, into herself, knowing she was close to death. The only proof it was real was the locket against her breast and the faint taste of elderflower and honey on her lips.

As she lay bleeding, dying, an alarm began pealing in the captains stateroom. His intimate connection with the ship rousing him, instantly flashing a map of the ship with the wounded girl’s location highlighted in red. Her life-force flashed, pulsing, flickering as she crosses the line betwixt life and death. He swore, grabbing a sabre and pepperbox pistol in confusion.
Sprinting towards the escape pods worried because that part of the ship was a perfect place for a quiet murder or duel. Sprinting, panting and gasping he reached the deck and began to follow the spatters of blood that had dripped a trail across the deck. He followed the trail to the pod confused, “What in heavens? That’s my private pod!”
He reached the door and banged on it, shouting for whoever was inside to drop their weapons and answer to him. “I am captain! My word is law on this vessel”.  He unlocked it with his personal code, submitting to the ancient brass needle drawing his blood, his humour from him and allowing him access.
Once inside, he saw there was no attacker just a young boy curled on a hammock, mewling. His neck and shoulder wounded, the blood loss serious. He decided he would worry about the how and why he was there and concentrate on saving his life first. He bound his leg with his shirt and put pressure on the shoulder and neck wound from the first aid kit on the pod.
His face like thunder, discouraging any comment or question from the crew, the unknown boy a light weight in his arms as he made his way 'cross decks, coming to his chambers. He lay this mystery person on his own hammock before slumping into his chair.  The leather cool on his skin as he drifted, rested waiting for his patient to awaken, waiting for answers to unasked questions. Who is he?  Why did he sneak aboard and what the hell should he, the captain do?
Eliza is in a weakened condition when Captain Malloy finds her stowed away.  What consequences will she have to face? Will he turn around and  turn her in for warrant or something else?  

Steamheat:  Beginning Lust
Ben Hannigan

     There was a clicking sound in the back of Eliza’s mind; a low gentle sound that interrupted her dreams. Though she couldn’t place it, she felt her ‘Sister’s’ mouth on her neck and sighed sinking into the embrace as the older woman trailed her fingers down her tummy. Her nails scratching over her nipples, her happy squeals echoing around the room.  But still, what was that mysterious clicking noise? 

     The heat rushing to her cunt, her heart pounding and writhing inside her chest, but still she couldn’t escape into the image. Eventually she sighed, swearing inside her head. She would have to wake.  The noise was obviously outside of her dreams, which meant she had gone left not right at the path, that she had not succumbed to the desire formed in childhood, the desire to just sink in her mothers arms and stay there somewhere safe, but instead she sank back into her body and slowly drifting back into the present. She blearily blinked and groaned as the pain hit, her heart pounding as she felt the pain from her injuries push to the forefront of her focus. She was greeted by a man, naked from the waist up covered with a healthy sheen of sweat and the ships thinking machine cogs moving and clicking as it appeared she was deep in the heart of the mechanical beast sweating in the heat of the room below the engine.

     “Good morning, sieur??” 

     She froze for  a second knowing that her real name would trigger the scans and she would be dragged home to her fate as a sleeve for the cock of a drunken abusive gambler, a cum-rag, a broodmare and potentially a chip to wager in the future. 

     “Eli she reasoned she would recognise the first syllable so she would answer easily. “I am Sieur Eli and you are?”

     “I am Captain James Malloy and lad be honest, it’s more Master than Sieur.”

     “Aye"  She finally replied, panicking as the man who saved her listed off the injuries she had sustained. 

     “Thank you. I fled from an abusive apprenticeship, and a master who intended to….” She took a breath. “I was traded between masters as part of a bet, and well he intended to plunder my virtue.” she remembered that the best lie always had at its centre a nugget of truth. After all, she isn’t lying she reasoned, so she wasn't a bad girl. “He tried and I ran and I found the pod, I was hungry, tired and cold, I'd been running since I don’t know when. Thank you, please don’t send me back Sieur Captain, I will do anything…..”

     Though it wasn’t said, the unspoken offer hung in the air like something they could both almost taste, involuntarily she found herself wet at the thought, suddenly soaked and clenching her thighs, riding  a wave of release into the cotton panties. 
      As she did he found himself raking his eyes over her slight frame and just for a split second he thought “gender be dammed” shaking his head to clear the image of the young slight boy he believed her to be under him as he filled him, his hand cupping his partner’s rod. “No, I would not, cannot, such an action is immoral, I will neither force, nor allow ANYONE to force you."

     Her thanks explosive and effusive as she hugged the older man. It felt so right that they were both reluctant to break the contact.  They smiled shyly then waited and talked, They shared stories of their lives both editing a little until Eliza asked about the ships features, of the ship for those who were crew rather than play-acting crew. Specifically the bathroom facilities. 

     He grinned and opened a window, and grasped a rope that looped around the rafters. Dropping his trousers and kicking them off he climbed onto the ledge and naked braced himself against the wood and brass leaning out holding to the rope as he pissed down onto the waters of the ocean below. 

     She looked nervous and hid the arousal behind a blush, staring at the thick pipework on display. 

      Seeing the boys nerves he grinned,  “Ok I will teach you confidence the way my first ship's master did with me.” He swung back into the ship proper and half lifted, half supported his patient's rise from the bed. 

     ‘Eli’ lowered his breeches and kicked them off thankful for the long shirt that hid her strapped down breasts and wet cunt and walked towards him gasping a little at the welcome coolness licking around her bare thighs. 

      “Yeah, it’s much too hot for full clothing in this room below the engine bay, I make it a habit of wearing next to nowt unless I be needed on deck with the guests.” he explained. “Now come here” he motioned to the window where he had lashed a second rope, he swung naked into position bracing his legs against the outer brass wall. “Now, just like my master taught me as a cabin boy, I will teach my new cabin boy.  Right, grasp the rope and lean out slow, for your first two or three times I will support you.” 

      She dropped into position almost nestling into his strong chest, she did what she needed, blushing at the fact she could feel so achingly close to her slit his piece. She squatted for a while relieving herself and swung up and into the room spotting the toilet paper hanging off a nail driven into the oak, wiping an throwing the white streamer out into the murky blue depths. She nodded to him “Cabin boy it is captain, I will serve you and work my passage.”

     "Excellent" he grinned, "now all the sailors on this demented pleasure cruise do a spell in the boiler room, and you and I are no exception.  I do the first as a demo and I do the last allowing them to prance around getting into their uniforms to appear dashing. Come on, we have a lesson to prepare. He grabbed his lightweight linen shirt and scavenged for something similar for his cabin boy, handing her a tight cotton pair of leggings, dressed and ready they walked to the main deck, on the way he briefed her on her duties in the attack, he grinned at the fact that his new crew-mate was willing to play the role to the hilt. Playing both the captured victim needing the captain to duel for his safety, but also the example to the guests, a crew-member taught by “THE BLACK CAPTAIN” The dashing, confident, dirty fighting, honourable officer. He found she could handle a blade and a pistol and grinned punching the numbers in the thinking engine for a scenario not done since his own master piloted the ship.

     The captain stood on deck in his long frock-coat, shirt, and leggings. The cabin boy scrambling up the rigging to the great bell, the bell that the guest/crew had been briefed to expect, the noise that signified playtime was over and the ‘work’ was to begin. With a nod from her captain, Eliza lept onto the long rope hanging from the clapper of the great bell that hung under the nose of the airship gas blimp. The bell easily thrice the height of a man and five or six times width echoing, swinging off the rope she dove down and back flipped onto the deck to stand next to her master. Her gymnastics as a child helping with the showmanship. 

     The captain nodded to her and she hit the button that created the simulacrum first mate who stood to the captains left. “Alright Maggots, you all be worthless rats but you WILL be silent when our Lord and Masterthe Captain speaks.  Aboard this vessel, He is god, he is judge, he is jury, he is in control. 

     “That will do Christian” he nodded at the flickering image with practiced ease and began to speak. “Welcome to the Cloud Dancer. She is MYship and you will respect her. We have one small matter of discipline to deal with and then I will show you the duty you will all have to do at some point in this voyage.” He nodded to Eliza who gulped as two simulated hulking great Marines appeared and dragged her towards the crowd. “We have a stowaway,  though he is now signed onto the crew-list as my Cabin Boy, he must be flogged.” the Marine held her down and the other produced a wicked cat  ‘o nine tails and began to methodically, mechanically strike her with the fearsome weapon. 

     She held her breath as the first blow hit feeling a pulsing shock, and the second, and third, her heart pounding in her ears.  It took five blows of the twenty before she felt the strangeness in a way that she understood. Rather than pain she felt the thinking machine find the strongest unfulfilled feeling pulsing through her, the naked lust and desire for the Captain.  The blows rained down as her thighs pulsed and she gasped and winced with each blow. The bows shredding her shirt as far as the customers could she. She got hotter and clenched her legs together as the machine manipulated her pleasure centers as if she was being roughly tongued by her lover till finally, she collapsed in what appeared to be pain but was instead the screaming, begging, teary eyed throes of an orgasm.  The machine's tendrils in her head better than anything she had ever felt before, slumping to the floor in a pool of sweat and exhilaration she collapsed shaking, the source and focus of her desires watching and smirking inwardly at the reaction of the crowd and what he naively assumed was simply a flair for the dramatic in his Cabin Boy.

     After the frightened murmurs of the crowd subside and the shakes and tremors subsided she stood nodding shakily and mumbled a short but sincere “Thank you sir.” Looking down appearing to be the very image of a contrite and somewhat overawed freshly punished young half boy/man, with the impromptu show dealt with, he moved through the crowd beckoning them to follow his cabin boy at his heels looking down. 

     They moved down, down, down through twisting tunnels of pig iron and brass till immersed in the very bowels of the ship. The cavernous coal store opening out into the boilers, the flaming mouths gulping hungrily at the coal in them before their eyes. The crowd stood restless as they realized they would have to spend an eight hour shift shoveling, feeding these great belching beasts to earn their cheap route. Their panic subsided like a wave as hey heard the captain's words and saw him begin to demonstrate the shoveling, the smooth constant motion required to stoke the furnaces.  They watched as his hands blurred shoveling the coals, his cabin boy slowly matching his rhythm, no one wanted to be the first to leave, to break the spell but eventually after fifteen minutes the two were alone.

     The rhythm pounded as sweat oozed off their frames, the captain soon discarding his shirt and breeches, wondering why his cabin boy did not do the same. 

     She simply sweated and over the next twenty minutes began to slow; breathing hard, struggling to suck in each lungful of hot, sticky, muggy air. Fighting to keep from panting, panicking, thinking, there being no way to drive the air into her lungs. Sucking, gulping and flailing at the end as she collapsed.  The man she lusted for in the secret recesses of her dreams, rushed and caught her before she stumbled, saving her from splitting her skull on the piled fuel. Seeing her laid not breathing he sliced the shirt open to access the cabin boys chest finding rather than bare skin a series of bindings over her lithe body. Raising her up to unwind the crudely tied linen, he was confronted with a budding pair of breasts; small, crushed, and delicate. Resolving to find the excuses and origins of this “boy” later, he placed his hand on the centre of her chest and rolled his hand across her sternum. Her small breast cupped in her hand as he forced air into her lungs, so obviously overcome by heat. 

     Eventually after false starts that chilled him he was rewarded with the tortured first gasp weak as a newborn. He left the filling of the boiler to the arcane servitor in the corner take the slack before carrying her with care back through the labyrinthe through to his chambers. Laying her gently down to rest he slowly began to undress his patient, bathing each strip of skin unveiled with great tenderness till she was naked and clean before him. Feeling her heart beating with the joy of one just saved, he sat in the chair conflicted, not sure whether to be angry at the lie or aroused by the vision of heaven he faced.

     Naked, laid on the hammock, the rough sisal and hemp fibres covered by his silk lined cloak as she breathed hard her chest rising, she was cream skinned as if always covered but her hands had a  healthy glow as did her neck and face. It was clear that she was no stranger to hard work but there was also evidence of a rough past, faint half faded scars littered her legs and spine; marks from whips, belts, and feet, with a few small licks from a blade --a marking of a brand. A brand of ownership, a challenge, the mark of a family as if a signet ring was allowed to glow white before she was thumped, that mark on the inside of her hipbones. 

     Suddenly things said, things whispered began to make sense.  She wasn’t running from a marriage as the groom but the bride. He took a guess and ran her name through the thinking machines with just an initial. Seeing not only the warrant for arrest for running, she traced back to her mothers death and her fathers murder, there were rumors of mistreatment from her uncle, the nunnery putting forth their concerns about her bruises,  her feral nature, and as he read he sank into a bottle astonished at the cruelty shown to her.

      The woman had been used as a toy without breaking her value, the nurses marking the injuries and old damage and slowly beginning to fix her body, her mind -- well that was a longer undertaking the nunnery challenging her but not pushing her. A relationship with the others of love as they built for her the family she so desperately needed, he read of the love shown in her health and sickness, he blushed heavily stealing glances at the girl “to just make sure she is ok” he told himself, even as his mind was awash with the images from the reports.

     Frank reportage of the relationship Eliza shared with her ‘sister of the heart’, the Mother Superior not only allowing the relationship to remain monogamous because of the love-starved girl’s need for a devoted supporter, but encouraging it. The other girls sharing and swapping affection in their prayers easily and despite the rivalry and frustrated complaints of several of the others at the nunnery, the other girls demanding and sharing their dreams, desires, and bodies as their desires fit. It came to blows several times, Sister Lucy scratched and attacked by those who were jealous at the blanket refusal of her young love to ‘help’, the more forceful girls having to be pushed away and causing feral responses. 

      The girl who crept into Eliza’s bed one night and holding her down and forcibly digitally penetrating herself with her hand as she returned the favour, was attacked by the girl as she woke, scratching and gouging at her eyes; the bright eyed, supportive, loving, well educated woman with iron strong faith returning to the wide eyed feral seven year old, recoiling from any touch, biting at those who reach for her, stealing food and climbing into the rafters, squeezing her way into the smallest overhead cupboards, laying in the dark, shaking and watching warily.

     He read, deeply sickened at the horrors and cheering in his chest for the actions of the Mother Superior taking the girls involved to task, explaining the terrors that the girl had seen. Those who were old enough to understand, the woman shaking with anger as she tore strips off those who had attempted to use the girl for their own ends, she screamed her anger in her tone, in her movements, describing each and every act they knew had happened.  Using the thinking machines to place each and every attacker, each and every woman who touched her without consent into the attack only for a second as they felt the pain, the terror, the fear, in that one flash in her eyes as they reached for her after she had said no, they felt the agony of being trapped in old memories.

     Working off impulse without thinking he sent a vocal message to two people, talking to the woman who saved her and also the woman who loved her as a partner, as a whole person. Letting them know that she was safe, that she was ok and she was safe and almost, in some ways asking permission of the parent and the best friend to attempt to court this angel, her hair short and jaggedly cut, her body showing her inner strength, her breasts small and budding full but small yet somehow large for her frame. She was to him perfectly formed. He remembered the delicious nervousness when they brushed against each other, the comforting warmth, feeling her against him when she required support and when he carried hr slight form through the bowels of the ship.
      He watched her as he talked, as he left a message -- more prayer than request --feeling his body burning with nervous energy and lust, his eyes devouring her body as if without her he would die of thirst. His body flushed and frustrated, he unbuckled his breeches and stroked desperately as he lost himself in hopes exploding on his hand, his chest sticky with sweat and relief. He didn’t notice in his frantic pumping of his hand the two eyes wide in the darkness watching and the small hitching moans as he exploded, nor her confusion, deep confusion at why he didn’t simply take her.  Then it cliked as she came. He was like sister Lucy!  He wouldn’t take unless she wanted and at that point as he covered his chest with his come, she desperately wished she could taste him off his chest, feel him rushing in to put out the fire, his whispered conversation with her  “family” and the frantic pumping of his hand had ignited.   The brushing against each other, the shy glances, the tension, all tinder for the flame; the flame fed by his trust, his support his iron will and movels and the spark provided by that conversation, him asking permission to even try; and fanned into life by watching his impending release. She NEEDED him.

Steamheat: Forbidden Desires
Ben Hannigan

I lay watching him sleep; he's perfect, beautiful and sweet. I heard him call my love and my mother figure to ask what he should do. Asking whether he deserved the chance to ask for me. I feel safe with this man, feel like I can let down my guard. He hasn’t touched me other than healing me, he hasn’t laid a finger on me even as I lay naked, legs spread, unconscious and ready to be used.

I expected him to take me, expected I’d have to use the last of the brandy to steady my nerves in order to pay for my passage by letting him use me, but I’m still chaste. Why?  I still ask that, still half expect that I’m to be used; any kindness something I fear I have to pay for.

And yet, I lay here and watch him and I feel something new, something terrifying in its intensity. I feel guilt, fear. nerves, and arousal. Nerves because this is new; this hunger, this emptiness, and this need. The guilt; am I betraying Mary? I want this man to do everything that was done to me for money before, everything that my heart sister has done with me, to me - I want with him. Am I hurting her? Committing adultery?   But she said it was OK, that she has taken a male lover before and after meeting me. 
I remember I cried, lying in our bed curled up waiting for her to return that first time. Terrified she wouldn’t, that she would be hurt, beaten or would decide not to come to me or to our bed.  Will she feel that worry?  That fear?   Will I hurt her by acting on the other feelings?  Acting on my lust, my desire?

He is a beautiful man in his actions, in his stance, his poise. I have been wanting him since that first day of awareness. Pressed into his body as I used the loo I hungered for more than his thigh to press into my bottom and hated myself for it.

Feeling the fake bulge in my breeches that I used on her advice to make it real in accidental contact and appearance.  It being used to make me feel male as his body ground against me, as he brushed past me. Feeling his heat, his pressure, his mind,  his caring -- he was perfect.   

My nights are filled with secret lusting glances at his nude body on his rack and frantic workings of the toy I used as protection of my secret, the movement looking like a masturbating male. The occasion where he awoke and caught the movement making my image as a boy somehow more real. The guilty look and the blush making me seem the awkward teen male I professed to be. The constant companion of my arousal was a nervous guilt and a fair sickness at my betrayal but...

They had given permission so logically Mary won’t mind if I take her up on her offered acceptance. And to know he wants me as well but knowing I cannot tell him I know because I was meant to be asleep. How does one court a man? My experience of the male has been a monetary transaction and the girls at home approached sex and requests for sex as nonchalantly as borrowing a pen. Do I ask him to fuck me at breakfast as Layla did to me on my 17th birthday or do I lay naked on his bed artfully posed in a position that leaves no doubt to whether he has permission as I did for Mary on hers?

What is a relationship? Can I have the love, the acceptance, the shared togetherness with a man? Can I trust myself to be brave enough to try to reach out?  Because I’m scared of reaching in case his desire is from my dependence; my injury being his desire, a product of our close contact or because I dress like a boy, swear like a boy, because he believed me to be a boy? Is my desire because I know he's safe? Because he wants Ellis rather than Eliza? God, do I want that? I have the bulge and the knowledge to use it. Could I be that for him if it gives me the man I want? Yes, I think I could.

 I look up nervous. Once sure I’m alone, the Captain on his night patrol, I wet the toy in my slit and rub it across the place I had forbidden my lover, even myself to touch. The "moneymaker", the reason my uncle did so well at cards. I run a finger across and shiver. I repeat it, moistening myself with my own arousal. I’m on my hands and knees on his hammock in the shirt he dressed me in after my collapse. It still smelling of his sweat, his scent. My face buried in his pillow engulfed, wrapped in his leather, his cinnamon, and his smoky citrus.

My breeches round my ankles still playing the boy.  On my few excursions on deck as I recovered, my injury having been explained by a coal slide.  The 6" hard rubber leather wrapped toy in my hand,  wet from my lips and my flower; an obscene image no doubt as I wet it. My mind returning to my training, working the toy as if it was his.

Finally, I was ready. Moistened and turned on with a fire I had seldom found in my self-reflection, I rubbed the head over my ring. Oh gods! It was tearing me apart. My eyes rolling back in my head, gasping into the goose down. I shook and worked it in slowly. The pain, some delicious pleasure! The more it slid in, the more I worked it; this amazing burning desire spread.  Faster, faster, my hand shaking with the strain, moving as if struck with a palsy as I lost my mind to the image of him rogering his cabin boy.

My eyes rolled back, I slammed the toy in, clenched in a vice of my muscle and arched my back almost squatting on my haunches to drive it deeper.  His pillow wedged between my thighs to put a pressure on my wetness and I screamed for more, screamed his name and as I came, shouting "Please Captain Malloy. Gods fuck me, use me. Use your cabin boy's arse! Keep me as a fucktoy at sea! I screamed all this in a breathy growling gasp; the gasp that sister Mary so loved.  The gasp that hardened her nipples just at the sound.  The voice she swore could make her come, listening to me begging for more and more intense, perverse acts. A way for me to break her resolve or trigger an orgasm as she sat working on an illuminated manuscript, my masturbation both sating me and demanding her attention.

My vision blurred and I shook for a second as I tried to rebuild my world. The difference between the magic imagined world and the real always difficult to bridge. Distancing myself from the mind crafted feelings of a partners touch, skin, and hot breath from the reality of solo gratification.

I heard a whistling sound of appreciation and my heart pounded.  But before I could process anything I heard a growl and the sound of breaches and sword belt hitting the floor. 

“Fine” he growled before I felt his skin on mine, my shirt pushed up and teeth on my shoulder. The toy moved away. I watched it land in front of my eyes covered in my wetness and my release. This was new. Bigger, thicker, stretching me! My thighs pushed wider and I was being lifted, dragged, and bent over the windowsill we used as a bathroom ledge.  Hanging half out of the ship the breeze in my lungs, my carer suddenly harsh,  my master buggering his cabin boy on the ship.

The last thing my mind -- clouded by desire, pleasure, and lust -- focused on was a comment overheard from my lover to my captain was: "If she offers you a situation where she is the weak, the submissive, she trusts you. She wants it and she has found safety and a home. If it’s offered take it first and talk later. It’s how I found her as a lover and a partner. I managed to get her to explain once. She doesn’t have the words for love, for trust.  She can’t explain to people what she feels because when she was young it wasn’t there, wasn’t taught, it just wasn’t her life. She saw bodies offered for 'love' to be kept and those who felt safe offering sex. If she doesn’t want you, doesn’t feel safe and doesn’t have an emotional connection, she will offer sex as payment, as a returning of a favour, but it will be empty. Her body will be limp, any moves mechanical, clinical. If she feels safe she will show desire and if she loves you, she will be vulnerable. She will shut her eyes and just feel. She will let you inside her mind, will become one with you.”

I heard this conversation in my head as some sort of voice over as he worked me. I smiled and felt him move us again onto the mat on his floor. The sheepskin an electric pleasure on my bare skin, a feeling of decadence, being engulfed and caressed. I looked up at him and deliberately rolled my hips onto his cock and took his hand guiding it to the toy I had returned to my cunt him gripping the dildo inside, my hand making him masturbate his 'boy'. He moaned with the touch mumbling “So erotic. Fuck! It looks so hot, but I’m straight. But all I can think of is fucking my boy,my girl,  whatever u are.”

I looked into his eyes and softly stated  “I’ll be whatever you want. Whatever you need.”He grunted with desire and shook as I clenched on him making sure his attention was mine.  He stared into my eyes and I slowly and deliberately shut mine.  He gasped again, grunting. “Fuuuuck, shit you do.”I smiled and did something I thought I’d never do, I just let myself feel with a man. Not replacing Mary, never that.  I had found a second lover that day.  I have found heaven.
When the Pressure Drops, Will the Fire Still Burn?
Ben Hannigan
    She lay against the metal of the boiler room door because noisy as it was, it was somewhere 
to think where she wouldn’t be disturbed: tucked away in a corner, hidden by the clouds of 
condensation. She needed the noise, needed time to think, to wonder. 
    She was scared, scared that what happened the night before was a result of pressure. Her 
and his joining as a release, blowing off steam. It was too much too fast too intense. She knew 
that she desired him but wasn’t sure what would be beyond that.  Is desire enough?
     She had heard him talking to her family, but was that simply because she was close to him? Was
that because she was there on the ship?  And really, what did she want?  Did she want that night to be
the fling they had on ship and when she hit terra firma in the new world, for her to set down in new
Amsterdam and leave him forever?  Or. . . . Is it more?  Does she want a life either in the new world or
back and forth? If she wants him, she has to face the contract, find out the truth. 
     So she wrote a letter, a long letter explaining her fears, her hopes, her dreams, and walked up through
the decks of the ship.  Up and up to the crows nest tucked away atop the balloon of the ship and
curled up. Long jacket and windproof goggles with an oxygen mask bundling her up, looking like the
storm trooper of the first world war. The jacket an ochre, the mask bleak and stark against her pale
     The letter had been left on his desk, the coat and mask taken from the chest of his old clothes.  All she
had to do now was wait.  It wasn’t long, maybe thirty minutes before she heard his voice on the
intercom.  He talked softly, slowly, not touching her just talked, asking her every question.
“What do you want from us?”
“I don’t know. I just, I cant say goodbye in new Amsterdam like nothing has happened. I just cant do
that. I will still need to know you are OK, that you are sleeping, eating, that you're happy.”
“What do you want from new Amsterdam, from the colonies?”
“I wanted to run, to hide, to bury Eliza (insert last name) and to start again, but now I am close to doing
that, I cant. I cant lose myself to their greed.  The fear and the loss has been replaced with a cold
burning anger, a need, a thirst to find out why: why I was chosen, why my life was destroyed.”
“I’ll help.  We can travel, take leave and ask questions.”
“What do you want? Do you want Ellis? Eliza? A cabin boy? Or me as a person? Do you want this to be
real? To be an equal partnership?”
“I want whatever you are prepared to give me.  It's why I didn’t run to you now, why I am not up there
trying to prove to you by holding you tightly and reassuring you. It's why I am here at the bottom of
the stairs waiting, talking through the intercom.”
She paused and stared at the hatch back into the ship, she was close to deciding.  She could choose
anything here.  She took a deep breath and unlocked the device that pressurized the entrance and

stepped inside. Each step clanged on the heavy brass and iron staircase. The steps echoing inside her
head to the rhythm of her heartbeat. She breathed deeply as she reached his position the pair
dressed identically. As they began the walk back to their shared chambers she moved her
hand slowly, taking an age it seemed, but eventually sliding into his hand. Through the gloves he felt
her warmth, her nerves, and her future.
He smiled inside the mask. It wasnt a passionate, erotic, toe curling kiss. It wasn’t a long drawn out
hug exploring each other. It wasn’t him being pushed against the bulkhead and plundered but it was
a start.  Somehow a comfort that the pace was slowing and he focused as they walked on the heat
and the promise in her eyes behind the visor. The promise in her voice of time, of togetherness, of
something more.