Steampunk Family


May 21, 2010
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»


Adolphus attacked the control panel with hammer and pliers, looking for wire or cable sturdy enough to hold the weight of any of the children. Having been forced to admit that he could not rebuild the airship into a raft before they all drowned, he was working on harnessing himself and his siblings to one or two of the gas balloons that even now kept them from sinking into the underground river.

Mirabelle and Annabelle were helping him, but the younger two were struggling to keep the yeti’s head above the water seeping into their ship. The creature was huge and heavy, and showed no inclination to float.

“If Claire hadn’t taken all the line without a word to anyone,” Adolphus muttered, “we’d be flying out of this mess by now.”

“She must have had her reasons,” Mirabelle said. She wrenched open a panel, splintering the wood veneer. “Though I wish she’d told me….Ooh, here’s a cable!” She traced it through the wall of the little ship, her brother obligingly smashing through and prying open the interior walls with a hammer to recover the entire length.

“Gerhardt, you’re next.”

They had already fitted Bettina with a harness made of the boys’ suspenders. Mirabelle fashioned Gerhardt’s harness while Adolphus continued the search for supplies. Annabelle was crawling through the rising water prying up the floor on the assumption that there had to be belt drives somewhere. Too close to the yeti, she ripped up a section of floor that knocked the creature’s head under water. Bettina yelled and Gerhardt grabbed at the creature. Annabelle dove to help him and together they got it propped on a pile of broken floorboards. Their winter coats floated away, caught in the swirling current.

Annabelle stood up, surveying the destruction around her. Her hands trembled until she balled them into fists. She screamed and kicked a sheet of water at the yeti.

“Wake up wake up you stupid thing! We are all going to die down here and you’re going to die first if you don’t get up get up get up!” She threw herself onto the creature, shaking it and beating on its chest. Bettina watched, wide-eyed and afraid. Gerhardt steadied the yeti against her assault, but Mirabelle threw Gerhardt’s half-finished harness at Adolphus and grabbed her sister.

“Quiet love, quiet. We’ll do what we can and then we’ll go. I’m sorry for it too, but we are not going to let each other die down here.”

Annabelle let out another sob, then shook her head. “It’s not fair. It’s not fair that Claire let the Count go and we have to leave the yeti to die.”

“It’s time to pull Claire back in,” Adolphus said. “Past time. Then we can use the line to harness ourselves to the balloons.” He peered at his siblings in the golden light of the algae lamp, the only light still working. “I’m afraid we’ll all have to pitch in and pull. We can’t help the yeti any more.”

More than one tear was shed as the children considered their options. To abandon a helpless creature to die made them sick at heart, but the water rose and Claire was gone, already lost perhaps, though no one would say it.



This story began with On Grandmothers. The previous episode is Where is Claire? and the next is Into the Drink!
Entries in this series:
  1. On Grandmothers
  2. With A Bang!
  3. In Search of Ancient Angiosperms
  4. Assault on the Galley
  5. The Sorrows of Chef
  6. Faeries, Helpful Siblings, and other Mythological Creatures
  7. Meanwhile, Back in the Lab
  8. A Day of Discovery
  9. The Children’s Hypothesis
  10. A Research Date
  11. Aboard the Schmetterling
  12. The Cave
  13. The Cage
  14. Knee of the Yeti
  15. Kidnapped!
  16. A Clue
  17. The Yeti and the Comb
  18. Fighting the Count
  19. Fighting the Yeti
  20. Falling
  21. Breadcrumbs
  22. The Search is On
  23. Flight to Saigon
  24. On the Streets of Saigon
  25. The Sad Man
  26. At the Grandiere Club Aeronautique
  27. If you Give a Count a Cookie
  28. Out of Cookies
  29. Stuck!
  30. Airships Float?
  31. Where is Claire?
  32. Drowning
  33. Into the Drink!
  34. Boat!
  35. Mushroom Trip
  36. Ambush
  37. The Variegated Strangler
  38. In a Strange Land
  39. Hand over Hand
  40. The Last of the Gouda
  41. An Unusual Breakfast
  42. Downstream
  43. What's for Dinner?
  44. Axe and Fire
  45. Meanwhile, Back at the Airship
  46. Over the Gobi
  47. Return of the Grandmothers
  48. Warning from Huang
  49. Anxious Hours
  50. Ulrik Prepares
  51. Destruction by Dawn
  52. Finding Philomena
  53. No Luck in Pekin
  54. The Children Rescue...Something
  55. Corndog Liberation
  56. The Fate of Corndogs
  57. Have you Tea?
  58. Antafrican Hosptitality
  59. Onion Porridge
  60. Homesick
  61. On the Hunt
  62. Farm Living
  63. Singing for Supper
  64. You Say Potato...
  65. Curiosity is the Foundation of Discovery
  66. An Awkward Position
  67. Trouble Comes Riding
  68. Capsicum Capture
  69. To the Palace
  70. The Death of the Lincoln
  71. War Wings
  72. A Long Way Down
  73. Enter the Lightning
  74. Before the Queen
  75. You are a Tomato!
  76. A Sunken Ship
  77. Eglantine Aubergine
  78. Children of the Soil
  79. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  80. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  81. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  82. The Price of Popcorn
  83. Ulrik and Chef
  84. Fire!
  85. Claire's Bluff
  86. Tomato Queen and Aubergine
  87. It's Going to Blow!
  88. Rhodri in the Gardens
  89. The Servant's Fountain
  90. History Revealed
  91. Fight at the Fountain
  92. Repercussions
  93. Father Discovers the Yeti
  94. Aboard the Lucy Stone
  95. Summoned
  96. The Queen's Accusation
  97. The Queen's Rage
  98. The Khan
  99. The Last War Wing
  100. Eglantine Departs
  101. Thumping Rhodri
  102. Bad News from the Boys
  103. Where's the Count?
  104. In Search of the Count
  105. Spying on the Queen
  106. Confronting the Count
  107. Orphaned?
  108. Orphaned?
  109. Montesanto's Experiments
  110. Montesanto's Experiments
  111. The Queen's Tantrum
  112. Bettina's Tantrum
  113. The Flaming Queen
  114. Uprising!
  115. Uprising!
  116. Escape
  117. On the Run
  118. The Mysterious Coach
  119. Red Racer!
  120. Revolution Reset
  121. By the Acid Sea
  122. Farewell Antafrica
  123. Home Again!
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