Teaser from “Laurel Finch, Laurel Finch, Where Do You Wander?” (steampunk short story)

Historical photograph of young women dressed as cowgirls

I haven't written these young women into the story yet, but they are lurking in the wings.


Another teaser from a steampunk short story I’ve been working. My codename for this world is Altered America, and this is the fifth short story I’ve placed in it.

Each time they stepped on the swaying platform between the cars, Laurel paused. Jemina couldn’t blame her. There was an exhilaration to the travel when you could feel the buffet of the passing air that was lacking when you were inside the actual cars.
They stopped outright on the last one. Laurel clenched the railing, shoulder-height for her, with both hands and looked out. Her hair lashed in the wind like an uncontrollable Medusa’s tangle.

“Will we see Indians?” she said.

“Quite probably,” Jemina said.

“And buffalo?”

“Undoubtedly.” Jemina had, as was her way, researched the trip well before embarking on it. She knew the distances between cities, and had the route plotted out on the map of the United States that hung in her head, colored with elementary school dyes, unfaded over the years.

Laurel took a deep breath of the wild air, sweet grass mingled with coal smoke, before reluctantly moving to the door.

Jemina stepped after her. They both nearly collided with the passenger coming out, who scowled at both of them, dividing the look between both and them and pronouncing them equally unsatisfactory. He was dressed in the Western style, with high-heeled boots, but with a tuft of lace at his untanned neck, a dandy’s puff that somehow set Jemina instantly against him.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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