Nate Poole was bound for San Francisco...
...and a heavyweight title bout with a hefty prize. That meant a train trip over Donner Pass: not something done lightly in 1876. But there was more than blizzards and avalanches to worry about, as he soon discovered.
She grabbed my lapels with one hand and lifted me effortlessly, holding me suspended at arm's length. "Nathaniel," she said as if she was talking to a child. "Who iss the man in your compartment?"
"He's...he's a copper..."
"What did he tell you about me?"
She turned and leaned out over the side of the platform, dangling me helplessly at arm's length over the track whipping past below. My derby blew off, and she snatched it out of mid-air as it flew past. "Nathaniel, what did he tell you about me?" Her voice was as cool as her icy blue eyes.
"...you're...a...criminal...from the future..."
"I ney am a criminal, Nathaniel, regardless of what he told you," she said. "I am a revolutionary."
For some reason, this story fought me tooth and nail all through the first draft, editing, and even into the final paste-up. That's odd, seeing as I am fascinated with trains, and am well familiar with the history of the period. Be that as it may, this was my first attempt at Period Sci Fi, and I daresay it came out well. It has all the requesites of good genre fiction: exotic location, esoteric characters, very real and serious conflict, rising tension, hard-hitting action - and I managed to make some pointed observations about our society (where it came from and where it's going) in the process. For all the hell it put me through, I am pleased with the outcome, and the characters are among my favorites.
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