October 25, 2012 by Steampunkish Graphic Novels
It was early morning and Jacob was in love. He had just had the best breakfast since he couldn’t say when and the morning sunshine, the hustle-bustle, all the people – he couldn’t help himself. He loved New York. There seemed to always be something going on. Unfortunately,Jacob was leaving New York that morning and he was overdue at work. Frustrating, but he knew he’d be back soon.
Jacob turned to the woman’s voice.
“Can you tell me how to find the Diane? I’m afraid I’m lost and I don’t where the port is.”
She was beautiful. Wearing a crimson red dress with white lace, she was obviously from wealth and Jacob had no business staring at her. He had never been very good at minding his business, however. He saw her face flush a little under his gaze, but she didn’t look offended by his attention.
“Ma’am, it’s your lucky day. I happen to be a member of her crew. Right this way, just a few blocks.”
As they walked, Jacob asked questions to make conversation – and exchange smiles. She was from Conneticut, unfamiliar with New York streets. He talked about Boston, his hometown, but how much New York had to offer. She was used to the rail, but she had been encouraged by a friend to try passage to Philadelphia on a Sailship. Upon their arrival in the airship port, he turned her attention to the biggest, most streamlined vessel on the platforms.
“I present to you – the Diane.”
The Sailship loomed above the others, its balloon spinning slowly in the light wind of the port. No matter how many times Jacob had seen it, the Diane still amazed him. The vessel could dwarf most apartment buildings, being somewhere between 5 to 6 stories tall.
He turned to her, and saw concern on her face.
“Don’t worry,” he said, “the Diane is the safest in the fleet. Professor Lowe is the knowledgeable balloonist alive and he put a lot of care into its construction.” She smile nervously, but seemed distracted.
“Did you send your bags ahead of you? Why don’t we go find them?”
She nodded and they stepped through the crowd to the Diane. People were already boarding. These were well-dressed people with wide smiles and the typical excitement associated with travel aboard a Sailship.
Jacob made much pomp-and-circumstance of insuring her traveling bags were well cared for, always smiling back at her. Her smiles became wider and less shy, which made Jacob’s chest swell with hope. Irrational, of course. No woman of her station would ever stoop for a lower class fellow like himself – but no matter. He would enjoy the dream as long as he could.
“Well, I believe that is all you will need, ma’am. You should expect the Diane to take-off at some time in the next half hour.”
“May I ask your name?” asked the woman.
“Yes, ma’am. It’s Jacob, ma’am.”
Then she looked in an unapologetically, sultry way which took Jacob by surprise.
“Jacob. Thank you for your assistance, Jacob.” With that, she stepped into the cabin.
Jacob beamed as he climbed ropes into the rigging. He was met by crew members looking at him critically. They said nothing, but it wasn’t hard to tell the message they were sending. He ignored it as usual, like they hadn’t done the same at his age?
The tethers holding down the Diane were removed and the ship began to rise, slowly at first. Then, the wind caught the balloon and it began to spin quicker and quicker. While Sailships were not designed to hold vast amounts of gas, the spinning affect of the balloon had been proven to give tremendous lift, sending the sailship into the sky.
Jacob held ropes on top of the ship’s cabin and closed his eyes, feeling the buffering wind of the balloon softly counteract the daily seaborne winds. He signalled affirmative responses to the other members of the crew. The wind picked up immediately, snapping sail fabric and ropes taut across the whole vessel.
Within 2 minutes, the Diane over a thousand feet in the air and pushing 40 miles to the hour, tracing the coastlines toward Philadelphia.
It was a good day for travel.