As a thank you for coming over to take a look at my site, I’m posting a snippet from one of my works-in-progress. Though my first releases will be science fiction, this is a clockwork/steampunk story that I hope to finish and revise soon. This is from my Clockwork Empire universe. Let me know what you think.
A Rainy Courtyard
(Or How the Troubles Became Apparent)
Her foot slid on the wet pavers of the courtyard as she rounded the corner from the street. The university courtyard was empty. Classes were about to start but the dark, dank drizzle had driven everyone, even the students inside already. A hand brushed the wall of the laboratory building and Kia pushed off it, regaining her balance without slowing down.
She couldn’t afford to be late, not again.
She skidded to a stop as a small bot trundled out in front of her. A sidestep and a pivot on her heel pointed her back in the right direction and with barely a pause she was off running again. The bells hadn’t tolled the hour yet, and she wasn’t late until they did.
A metal pincer snatched at her as she rounded the corner to the lecture hall, but Kia gave it a push as she gathered her cloak in her off hand. The cloak snagged on the bot the arm belonged to, but came free with little more than a shake. She was through the door and out of the rain before the bot could try again.
Kia slowed to a fast walk. Getting caught running in the halls would be almost as bad as being late and it wouldn’t do to arrive at class out of breath and disheveled. The boys could do it, but science forbid that she, the lone female in her class, should. It wasn’t “lady-like” after all. Which made absolutely no sense, since nothing the students did in the course of their studies could be considered ladylike. But that was the way it was and it was no use complaining about it or wishing it different.
Her hands unconsciously smoothed her her and skirts as she walked toward the large, dark stained door of the lecture room. Closed of course, even though class hadn’t yet started. She wouldn’t be able to sneak in this time.
Kia paused and took a deep breath as she laid her hand on the door handle. One second, no more, then she pulled the door open and stepped inside. As the door swung closed, the faint sound of the hour bells could be heard.
“I see you made it on time, Miss Hargrave, if barely.” The patronizing, nasal voice came from the front of the room and Kia felt her face flush hotly.
“I’m sorry, professor. Someone left their mechanical experiments in the courtyard and they slowed me down.” There was no point in telling Professor Jergen that the bots had probably been set to wait for her and try to slow her. He would just attribute it to the practical jokes that almost all the students played on each other as they mastered new skills.
Kia stood, waiting for his attention to pass so that she could slip into one of the empty seats. She was uncomfortable under his beady, oh-so-superior gaze and she had a feeling that the professor knew it. He let her stand there for another minute before shaking his head ever so slightly. “I’m sure that whoever left their toys in the courtyard will clean them up, Miss Hargrave.” He turned away, moving to the slate board at the front of the room. “Now that we are all present and accounted for, I do believe that we can begin today’s lesson. Listen carefully as you will need to understand this information for tomorrow’s experiments in the laboratory.”
Kia slipped into a seat and glanced around the room. They weren’t all there, despite what the professor said. At least 2 of the boys were missing. Most likely they’d stayed home. Both were from the upper levels and could well afford to miss a class, financially and in standing.
Ah well, it wasn’t anything she wasn’t well used to by now. The room flashed bright for a split second as lightened struck the courtyard outside. With any luck, it fried one of those bots, she thought. Even in the lecture room, the sound of the wind and rain picking up were audible, and Kia smiled slightly as she leaned back in her chair and took her notebook from her satchel. Whoever those bots belonged to was going to be cold and unhappy when they went to retrieve them.