Writing for Circlet now is a kind of coming home for me. A little more than ten years ago, I didn't write dirty stories. I didn't write anything much at all, except for the occasional self-pitying diary entry. I did read a great deal of both smut and SF, though, so I leapt at a chance to intern with Circlet press for a semester.
At Circlet, I luuuuuved reading the slush pile (the stack of unsolicited manustripts from would-be authors). Apparently that was pretty eccentric of me. Evryone else shunned it, except for Circlet's cat, Tai Gao, who showed a great fondness for sitting in it. Some of the fiction in the sluspile was very good, and what wasn't was often bad in fascinating ways. ceciliatan eventually asked me if seeing all that terrible fiction was inspiring me write anything of my own. "Oh, absolutely," I told her, "pretty soon, I think."
A decade whizzed by before my chops and my self-confidence had blossomed enough that I wanted to take on writing a story specifically for Circlet. I'd written a bunch of naturalistic (or mundane, if you prefer) sex stories, which I'd posted to the internet, to some modest amount of very gratifying praise. I'd also been the kiss of death for a couple small anthologies which had promptly folded the moment I sent them my work.
Circlet's Steampunk ebook project intrigued me, though. So I mashed a couple different notions from my idea hopper together (more on that in a later post, I think), and banged out a rather long short story called The Ontological Engine, or, The Modern Leda. Circlet accepted it, but decided to use it in their genderqueer anthology, Up for Grabs, instead of the steampunk one. I'm excerpting the introductory section here, so it should be pretty self-explanatory. It's nicely self-contained (and reasonably filthy), but does have the downside that some of the most important characters for the subsequent story don't appear yet here. I'll tell you a little more about them later.
My troubles began when I had been a Fellow of ****** College, Cambridge for several years. In retrospect, it is clear that I was already beginning to tire of the position. A considerable family income left me free of the need for remunerative work, but I had initially hoped, foolishly, that the storied intellects of that renowned College would prove a congenial atmosphere for the life of the mind. How comically naive that seems to me now!
The laboratory facilities with which the college had provided me were, I suppose, adequate in size, though my budget was laughably small, given the importance of the work I was doing.
Nonetheless, certain of my researches demanded rather more remoteness from the prying eyes of the jealous and the small-minded than was afforded by my official accommodations. By great good fortune, I had come to be aware of a disused storage attic in **** House, and had managed to assemble an entirely adequate facility there for my more sensitive researches, with very few people the wiser for it.
The eventful May afternoon I propose to describe was a Wednesday, and being so, Mrs. Mathilde Hargreaves, wife of the Head of the College, was providing me with her inimitable assistance for the day's researches—my most ambitious exploration of ontological forces to date.
With trembling fingers, she disrobed, eager as always to aid in the cause of Science. I guided her to the padded collection platform, placed the metal circlet—which I had designed to channel the energies she produced so copiously—upon her head, and strapped her, face down, to the cushioned stand.
Once I had selected a suitable birch bundle, we commenced with the day's activities. The flagellation, oftentimes the highlight of our Wednesday research sessions, was that day the merest prelude. I did not even bother to activate the collection circuit as I briskly brought her wriggling posterior to a pleasingly roseate glow.
Coming around her, I found that the exercise had brought color to her face as well, her dark eyes now moist and sparkling. When I inquired whether she was ready for the next phase of our experiment, she nodded most avidly.
It was now time to test my newly-augmented Electrick Vibratorium. When I flipped the switch, a great throbbing hum suffused the room. Mrs. Hargreaves jumped and squirmed about despite the lack of contact. I reached between her limbs and she ground her pubis against my hand most avidly, bedewing my knuckles with the fluids of her ardour. I pressed the swollen labia apart, exposing her clitoris, and pressed the buzzing pad of the Vibratorium against it, eliciting a long groan of delight from the hot-blooded woman. With some little effort, I subdued her motions sufficiently to strap the Vibratorium in place, and then took my place at the control-panel I had assembled.
I activated the Amatory Capacitors, and a crackling noise filled the air. It joined in pleasing counterpoint to the Vibratorium's hum and Mrs. Hargreaves' groans and gasps as my Ontological Engine woke to life, powered by the trickle of Vital Energies she was emitting.
We were entering a phase of the project that demanded the utmost care and patience. I was purposing to embark on the harnessing of ontological forces on an unprecedented scale—any error could derail the undertaking, or render it gravely perilous.
My ears were to guide my labors of this time as much as my eyes. As Mrs. Hargreaves' cries rose in pitch and volume, they were joined by an acceleration in the crackling from the Ontological Engine. I twisted a knob, cutting power to the Vibratorium, and a note of dismay entered Mrs. Hargreaves's voice.
“Oh, pray, Mr. Tesla! Do not pause—I was so very close!”
“All in good time, dear lady,” I assured her. “The day is yet young.”
Impatiently, she struggled with her bonds, striving to press herself more firmly against the Vibratorium. Whistling merrily, I once more looked over the Engine's connections and switches, the lusty woman's desperate moans sweet music to my ears.
Arrayed on the work table before me was a divers array of exotic materials from the Americas, each singularly rich, according to my instruments, in Vital Fluid.
Long did I ply that dial, ever and again raising Mrs. Hargreaves's pleasure to the utmost, then denying her the release she so urgently craved, while the crackling of the Ontological Engine, and its unearthly blue glow, rose and fell with the lady's excitement.
“I think things may be nearly in readiness,” I told the writhing woman at last, but the observation was met merely with gasps as she strove to regain her breath.
“Do you think you would like to spend now?” I inquired.
At this she found breath. “Oh, yes, yes! I cannot abide another moment of this abominable teasing!”
I had made something of a study of this woman's particular tastes, and I possessed a smattering of knowledge of how to maximize her excitement, and thus her output of Vital Fluids.
“Beg,” I said coldly.
“Oh, pray, Mr. Tesla,” she gasped, “I beg of you, allow me to spend. Oh, I crave it so! I shall be your servant in all things, if only you permit it!”
Not particularly ingenious, but one must make allowances for circumstance. Slowly, slowly, I began to turn the dial upward.
Moans gave way to cries, cries to shrieks. Much of my attention was consumed with adjustments to the Ontological Engine, as I made ready to marshal its forces to best effect.
The moment of Mrs. Hargreaves' maximum pleasure came, and the room was suffused with a flickering blue light. I threw the switch. The Ontological Engine came fully to life, throwing its powers on the arrayed materials. Small vortices of ontological energies formed, drifting away from the table before dissipating into the air. One struck a potted ficus by the window, which opened golden slitted eyes and watched the proceedings intently; another brushed the sleeve of my coat, where good brown Irish tweed blushed a vulgar scarlet, turning to crushed velvet for a few seconds before fading to tweed once more.
My attention to these processes was interrupted by a splintering bang as the locked door to the storage room was forced open.
“Mathilde!” Professor Hargreaves' bellow was as unmistakable as it was unwelcome.
“Fear not, darling! I am here to rescue you!” he cried out.
On the worktable, my materials were merging, taking on new forms, new aspects. On the collection stand, Mrs Hargreaves was still trembling violently against the Vibratorium; I suspect that her cries had covered the arrival of her spouse and would-be rescuer, such that she remained blissfully unaware of his arrival.
“As for you, Tesla, you foul beast,” Hargreaves continued, gathering rhetorical momentum, “it's the gallows for you now! Criminal! Rapist!”
“Do you mind, Hargreaves?” I said. “I'm a bit busy at the moment. Could we perhaps discuss this at another time?”
Hargreaves was undeterred. “Charlatan!” he persisted. “Mountebank!”
I whirled on him in a fury. “You dare—?” I began. But the reckless oaf was charging me like a bull. Before I could defend myself from this unprovoked assault, he struck, and the two of us were tumbling against my control panel, bringing it to the ground with a monstrous clatter. Inertia carried us backward, until a cable caught my foot, and I went sprawling to the floor. Hargreaves, however, ran up against the work table, his head falling into the beam of blue light cast upon it.
In my attempts to free myself from the cable, I detached the engine from the amatory collector, and the light faded.
I stood, and ascertaining my parts to be largely undamaged, looked about. In the aftermath of the engine's radiance, I could make out naught but vague shapes in the store-room's gloom. I strode to a window and threw open the blinds, allowing the daylight to stream in, revealing a tableau that shall remain always in my memory.
Nearest me, the ficus shielded its lambent eyes from the sudden glare with two furry grey paws, dragging itself away from the window with another four such.
On the Collection Stand, Mrs. Hargreaves had at last recovered sufficiently from her massive climax to become somewhat cognizant of the changes in her surroundings, constrained though she was by the straps that yet held her in place. “Augustus?” she said, looking in confusion at her husband.
For his part, he sat on the floor, mouth agape, feeling tentatively with his pudgy hands at the pair of incongruously handsome antlers which now sprouted proudly from his broad, gleaming forehead, rendering his marital status all-too visible.
Beside him, on the work-table which had previously supported naught but my inert ingredients, three tiny creatures gurgled and squawked. Adjudging the day's experiment to be—if not complete, then at least terminated—I gathered to creatures on the work-table to my bosom and made my exit, leaving the Hargreaveses to discuss the day's events amongst themselves.