Next weekend, I’m honored to be a guest at Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium. You can read all about the convention at hrmsteam.com. The Symposium is being held aboard the Queen Mary, which is permanently docked in Long Beach, California. The Queen Mary began service in 1936 and had a long and distinguished career up until 1966.
One of the things I love about visiting the Queen Mary is that it provides a window into what traveling from Europe to North America was like in the 1930s and 1940s. You can spend nights in the staterooms, dine in the restaurants and visit the control areas and engine room. I also find it interesting that the Queen Mary’s early years of service overlapped with the last years of the great airships. I’ve always had a fascination with the Hindenburg and the Graf Zeppelin and would love to travel on an airship.
Last year Hungur magazine ran a story about Desmond Drake (also known as Desmond Lord Draco), traveling aboard the Hindenburg during it’s fateful final voyage in 1937. Here’s a snippet.
After passing a few hours in the ship’s bow, Drake decided it was late enough that he could venture toward the passenger area. He stepped down the stairs that led from the bow to the lower catwalk. Moving past the officer’s cabins and the radio room, he came to the passenger cabins. Climbing up a set of stairs, and turning off the main corridor, he came to the cabin of an air ministry colonel named Erdmann. Drake didn’t mind taking blood from loyal Nazis.
Just as he reached down to grab the handle, an eerie green glow began pulsating along the doorframe.
A rustling and chattering started within the rooms. Drake melted into the shadows as people emerged from their cabins and drifted toward the passenger lounge on the ship’s starboard side. Stealthily, Drake followed, keeping to the shadows, which proved difficult with the eerie green light pulsating along all the metal support structures.
As Drake reached the lounge, the green glow began to fade. Near the entrance to the luxurious room, Captain Ernst Lehman held up his hands. Lehman wasn’t in command of the ship, but he was aboard as director of the Zeppelin Company. “The light is perfectly ordinary, nothing to worry about,” he said. “It’s just St. Elmo’s Fire. We see it much of the time when we pass near storms. It’s just the result of charge building up on our hull. As you can see it’s already dissipating.”
The passengers murmured and nodded, then most shuffled back to their cabins. Some moved toward the bar, instead. Drake presumed they were looking for something to drink, to help settle their nerves. He decided it would be a while longer before things settled down enough for him to feed.
Emerging from the shadows, he pretended to be a bleary-eyed passenger. He stepped over to the large promenade windows. Looking outside, he saw that the storm was dissipating. Icebergs drifted on the water below. Turning around, he admired the simple, clean décor of the lounge. A world map adorned one wall. Aside from that, the walls were white. Aluminum-framed, brown-upholstered chairs sat at tidy little tables. The ancient vampire felt as though he was looking at the world of the future, and he liked what he saw.
If you enjoyed this excerpt and would like to read the rest of the story, it’s in the autumn 2011 issue of Hungur Magazine. There’s also an exclusive interview with me in the issue. Of course you can find more of Desmond Drake’s adventures in my novels Dragon’s Fall and Vampires of the Scarlet Order. Clicking on the covers below will take you to places where you may purchase the books.