Steampunk Family
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»


Having no idea of the time of day, but a great deal of anxiety at the thought of being caught out after dark in this strange and dangerous land, the children decided to make camp on the small sandy beach. It wasn’t much bigger than the overturned mushroom boat, but they ventured into the woods and found sturdy fallen branches and propped up the riverside edge of the boat, making it into a lean-to shelter. Then they returned to the woods for firewood and soon had a cheery blaze between them and the water. Feeling thus secured from threats by land or sea, the twins shared out the last of the gouda.

They took turns washing the worst of the dried mud off themselves and drying by the fire. Another clump of dead vines spun past them and the twins plunged in after it (to Claire’s horror), dragging it back to shore. Working together they tied it into a fishing net, hoping to catch something while they slept. Their emergency tin of cheeses was not at all enough for six of them.

“Is it getting darker, or is it just the fire making it look darker?” Mirabelle asked.

Adolphus climbed the bank behind them to reconnoiter. “It’s getting dark all right.” He jumped back down, spraying sand on his exasperated sisters. “But there was never any sunset! This is a weird place. Do you think it’s Fiji or something?”

“Father’s been to Fiji,” Claire said. “He would have mentioned if there was no sun.”

“Some other remote Pacific island, then. With a volcano belching creepy swirly purple clouds.”

“No sun in the center of the earth,” Gerhardt mumbled. He was nearly asleep, lying next to Bettina, who already was.

The twins finished their net and tied rocks to the bottom for weights and wood to the top for floats. Then all four waded into the water and placed the net, then settled back by the fire to dry.

“I hope that works,” Adolphus said, “I’m already hungry.”

“I don’t know what else we’ll find to eat,” Claire said. “We don’t recognize any plants here – how will we know what’s edible?”

“The same way anyone does. When you go to a restaurant in a new country, you order what the locals order.” Mirabelle said.

“That’s fine if we could find a restaurant! We’re in the wilderness!” Adolphus said.

“We can still watch what other animals eat,” she replied.

“But we haven’t seen any animals yet,” Annabelle put in. “Only heard them. We’ll have to set a watch tomorrow, be quieter.”

“We can’t stay here, it’s too crowded. If I stretch out my feet will be in the river.”

Claire, who was nearly a head taller than her brother, ignored this. “We can’t get too far away from water, though. One may survive longer with no food than with no water.”

Mirabelle yawned, and they could not help but follow her example.

“I’ll take first watch,” Adolphus said.

Annabelle smiled. “You’ve always wanted to say that.”

“True. I always thought it would be more fun, though.”



This story began with On Grandmothers and continues weekly. The last episode was Hand over Hand, the next episode is An Unusual Breakfast.
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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