A Splendid Day’s Work by David B. Riley

Please consider previewing our short story collection prior to voting at High Chaparral during WWWC.

These are the entries for our Short Story contest as hosted by our wonderful Director of Charity and Immersion, Christin Pike!

Abigail adjusted the heat to try and conserve water. Her destination was not much farther and she did not really want to land and take on more water. Suddenly, the clouds seemed to part and there was a town below. Steampunk Tusonica didn’t look too promising, but it wasn’t any worse than a lot of the dumps she stayed in. As she looked for a place to land, she noticed a lot of smoke was billowing up on the backside of the hotel. She thought the place might be on fire, then realized it was coming from a chimney mounted on some sort of wheeled vehicle. She passed through the smoke and landed the ornithopper next to the other conveyance. 

“Are you here for the Fairy Festival?” a man wearing a suit and bowler hat inquired. “Just passing through,” she assured him. She brushed the wrinkles off her white duster and ran her hand through her blond hair. Flying in the open air ornithopper was a terror on her appearance. 

“Dr. John Watson.” He extended his hand. “And this is Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Holmes here has a well developed photographic memory. Get it? He has a well developed photographic memory.” 

“I got it,” she insisted. “At times Dr. Watson can be rather amusing,” Holmes said. “But this isn’t one of them.” He extended his hand. 

“How do,” she said.. “Abigail Perkins. Is that your contraption?” She pointed over at the belching monstrosity. 

“Indeed it is. We call it the steam sedan.” “What kind of fuel does it burn?” she asked. ”We got a special deal from a local rancher. Right now it’s burning steer manure. Can’t you tell?” Watson inhaled a deep breath. “Splendiferous,” he declared. “I love that smell.” 

“Well, you smell it all you want. My machine uses clean burning alcohol.” “You look pekid. Are you feeling well, Miss Perkins?” Dr. Watson asked. “Perhaps I should drop by later and give you an examination?” 

“No thanks, I’m fine,” she said. She took her carpet bag out of the storage compartment of the ornithopper and headed into the hotel. 

“If I’m not mistaken, Holmes, I’d swear she was wearing a badge. And, if I’m not mistaken, she was wearing pants.” 

“Watson, nothing gets past you. It was a badge from the Pinkerton Detective Agency, no less,” Holmes pointed out. 

Later that evening, Watson was crouching in the hallway just outside Abigail’s hotel room. He was trying to look through the keyhole. He suddenly let out a yell and buckled over. Holmes opened their hotel room door to see what was the matter. 

“Holmes, that she devil has sprayed me with some caustic chemical. I’m blind,” Watson declared. 

“It’s pepper spray,” Abigail said through the door. “Go wash your face.” 

*** After a half hour Watson stopped complaining about his eyes and decided it was time for bed. He stripped off completely. “I love sleeping all natural and letting the cool breeze blow 

over my body.” He laid down on the bed, one of two in the room. “Holmes, would you like a back rub?” 

“You just stay on your side of the room,” Holmes warned. 

*** 

The next morning Abigail found herself in the hotel café. “I’ll have the wigglewort omelette with the MacGuffin potatoes. Who names your menu items?” 

“We’ll get that right out. Uh, you have a badge on?” the waitress inquired. “The Pinkertons have a contract to catch train robbers for the railroad,” she replied. “That must be exciting.” She hesitated. “Oh, here he comes. At least they’re checking out today.” 

“Good morning ladies,” Dr. Watson greeted. “It was, anyway,” Abigail said. “You’re looking a bit pekid,” Dr. Watson said. “Let me listen to your heart.” He waved a stethoscope in her face, then tried to unbutton her blouse. 

Abigail took a swipe at him with a small box with two external probes, but she missed. “Get away from me, you perverted jackass.” 

“What is that glorious gadget?” Holmes asked. He was now standing next to Watson. “It’s a Pinkerton item. It disables criminals with an electric charge.” She reached over and struck Watson on the back of his hand. There were blue sparks and Watson fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes. “Like that.” 

Watson eventually was able to walk again. “We’ll be checking out,” Watson said. After Holmes and Watson departed, Abigail enjoyed her food, even though the names were rather silly. 

She got her carpet bag out of her room and loaded it into the ornithopper. She pressed the ignition and the rotors started up. She climbed onto the seat and belted herself in. She pulled on the throttle and the conveyance lifted into the sky. She headed west and lined up her compass for Yuma. 

Five minutes later she noticed the Yuma bound train was stopped. There was a lot of smoke coming up. She thought it might be on fire, then realized it was something else causing the smoke. The steam sedan was parked next to the mail car, which had a hole in the wall. Watson was loading canvass bags into the boot. 

The smoke allowed her to approach the train undetected. 

*** 

“That’s it for the bank bags,” Sherlock said. “Sherlock Holmes is on the case.” “No shit, Sherlock.” It was Abigail. Holmes suddenly realized she was standing at the entrance to the mail car. Watson was lying on the ground outside with his hands handcuffed behind his back. He also realized she was pointing a Colt revolver at his head. 

The steam sedan cam rolling back into Steampunk Tusonica and came to a stop in front of the marshal’s office. The ornithopper was in tow behind the vehicle. 

“Let’s go inside, boys,” Abigail said. The two robbers climbed out of the steam sedan. It was not easy with handcuffs on. Almost immediately some of the local children started chanting “Sherlock Holmes got arrested by a girl,” over and over again. 

The End