Rory and Allen Get Steampunked

The wagon made it to New York City. Miss Moon foresaw the journey ahead for Rory and reached into a mini-fridge for a bag of arugula. She tapped the actuator on a modular culinary preparation machine and reduced the salad to liquid. She reached back into the fridge and pulled out a nearly frozen Piels beer. The bottle sighed as she twisted the top and poured the beer in with the green liquid. She handed the mix to Rory. He gave her a little smile and sipped a little.

“Save the rest for later,” said Memphis Minnie, “you’ll need it.” That struck Rory as weird, but he did not have time to ask her what she meant.

“We are leaving you now,” said Miss Moon. “You will see New York differently. You won’t notice the commercialized and sanitized version you’ve always known. You will experience the past in a futuristic way. the drink will give you energy to escape static ways. Your journey of discovery is turning into a battle beyond the present. Notice everything.”

“Wait!” said Rory, but it was too late. The Trio of Memphis was gone. Rory and Allen were in an unfamiliar New York. The skyline had lost its shape. Concrete was cracked and cars choked the streets. The steam was made by a fancy capacitor combined with a thing-a-ma-jig. There was so much steam that hair got frizzy, clothes stayed wrinkle free, and rust seemed to be taking over the abundance of metal that was everywhere. New York was a downtrodden warehouse district instead of the neon and glass mecca that Rory and Allen knew.

“Allen what year is it?” said Rory.

Allen picked up a newspaper and said, “June 16, 1935.”

Neither could comprehend the look of the city. Post apocalyptic would have been a good cliche to start with. Thoughts of Escape From New York and The Warriors ran through Rory’s head. “Well, what happened on this date back then?” he asked.

Allen said, “The students at Cornell graduated yesterday and heard from a Dr. Bixler.”

“Is that a big deal?” asked Rory.

“On this paper it is,” said Allen. It was the only story in the paper.

“Let me see that,” said Rory as he took the paper from Allen. Dr. Bixler told the graduates, “To fail to recognize how completely we place ourselves, at such times, under the influence of the unconscious, drives us to fail to the see the plane upon which free and creative spiritual activity can take place.”

“What’s it mean?” asked Allen.

“I don’t know, but lets start walking, see where things take us,” said Rory.

They started walking and paying attention to the way people were dressed. There was a common theme, clunky boots, leather pants, dark shirts, heavy duster coats and goggles that looked suited for mountain climbing. The clothes had angular cuts and hung off the people who moved like robots. The aura was cold, impersonal, and far removed from cool industrial chic. It was as if there had been an elimination of the human spirit and these people were just walking around as organic machines.

“Everyone is the same” said Allen.

“Why?” asked Rory. “I say we head to the Williamsburg Bridge and cross into Brooklyn to see what’s there.”

They walked to the bridge and as they were crossing a little kid who was dressed in a white suit came up to them. He said, “Find the cooper’s daughter,” before running away.

“The cooper’s daughter?” asked Rory. “Memphis screwed things up for us. We were heading home to live an easy life. No more thinking, no more discovery.”

“Hush, buttercup. I know who the cooper’s daughter is. I can’t wait to see this.”

“Tell me,” said Rory.

“Not yet.”

They walked into Brooklyn and asked people where they could find the cooper’s daughter. People would only look in one direction and finally after what must have been fifty people, Rory and Allen found the Cooper’s Shop. The smell of cedar was everywhere due to the wood shavings on the floor. The smell took Rory back to the Cooper’s Shop in Colonial Williamsburg where a black cat used to hang and the jokes of the coopers were great. This shop help that old world charm, but here too, rust was everywhere. Then there was the music, haunting and beautiful, techno smashed right into a nothing groove, Nine Inch Nails singing, Skin.

Allen rang a bell and stepped behind Rory. The cooper’s daughter came out and nearly knocked Rory over. She was beautiful and full of grace. She was also expressionless until she realized that it was Rory and Allen. A slight smile formed for just a second, but as the song changed to “Shred” she became a blank slate again.

“You’ve moved on. Drink and forget,” she said.

Rory did. He drank every drop and felt himself escaping the containment of his past. With the steam rising around him and Nine Inch Nails hammering his nerves with “Singe,” Rory prepared to let go. The cooper’s daughter helped him, “You can’t go back into the past.”

Rory woke in his bed. Allen was there. “What happened?” asked Rory.

“Dude, you’ve been tripping. Two nights ago you were dancing in the field yelling ‘I gotch you, Dr. Bixler’ and the next night you were insistent that Mr. Cooper was hanging around. I was about to put you in Eastern State.”

Rory looked around his bedroom. Everything was just right, peaceful. “What about Arizona, Memphis, and New York?”

“Nothing but a dream, killer,” said Allen.

“I need a beer,” said Rory.

“On the porch,” said Allen.

Rory walked through the house and out into the six thirty sun. He was struck by how beautiful the sunlight coming thought the trees was. He stopped short of taking a beer. There, in a cedar bucket, doubling as an ice chest was a six pack of Piels. Rory looked back to Allen who just smiled.

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