Yesterday evening it was decided that my at-home RPG group, the one where I’m the GM, will begin a campaign of Blades in The Dark (created by the brilliant John Harper) our next session. I’m very excited to be running this system. I’ve been watching a fair few games of it played online and the mechanics seem awesome, and the aesthetics are great. It’s sort of… Victorian grimdark steampunk but with ghosts and demon blood instead of steam. Ghostpunk? It’s very cool, either way, so for my flash fiction Friday today I decided to write a short piece in that setting in order to start the appropriate wheels in my head turning. Here it is:
The fog was rolling in. The again, in this wretched place the only time the fog wasn’t rolling was when it already had. The fisherwoman shivered in her overcoat and pulled the top of the collar, where a button was missing, closed with her gloved left hand.
In her right hand was the pipe, the glove shoved into her pocket. It was too damned cold to go gloveless, but the leather made her fumble and she had seen too many times in her mind’s eye the finely painted ceramic shaft of the pipe, the most precious thing she owned and passed down from her uncle, shattering against the cold cobblestones. So she let the fog and the chill wind the perpetually haunted the docks at night bite at her knuckles and walked slightly hunched forward in her coat, puffing as she went. It was too damned cold to go walking at night at all, but the missus would have no smoking in the house. In the first few years of their marriage, the fisherwoman had tried to argue for lenience on this point with reference to the perpetually bad weather, but she had long since accepted that when she moved into Mary’s home, she moved into Mary’s rules. Every night at around nine she took her pipe for a walk along the docks with her head kept down sufficiently that any trouble that ran into her would know she made an effort not to see or hear things, and leave her well alone.
There was always trouble on the docks. Thugs and drunks and people in the shadows doing things one didn’t want to know about. Every day it seemed the bells would toll and a body would be found in some barely recognizable state. She sometimes heard old men, mending their nets or nursing a pint in some bar, talk of the good old days before everything went to hell. Men her age, she supposed, though she couldn’t remember things ever having been better. She’d been younger, sure, but that wasn’t the same thing.
The shout of a crow cut through the night and the fisherwoman paused in her step, looking around. She scanned the rooftops nearby but she could not spot the animal, nor anything else of note. Still, the sound unsettled her. Crows were bad news. Finally, she tore her gaze from the skyline and pulled her collar closed again to resume her walk. A splash of color by her feet caught her eye and she glanced down.
The hand was a limp, bloodless thing, the wrist a mess of wrenched flesh and sinew. In the midst of the gore, a spot of bright white stood out in the dark. The fisherwoman started, reflexively stepping back. Her hand twitched around the pipe, then she clutched it tight so as to not drop it. She stared at the severed appendage, breathing heavily, then whipped her head to the left and right. She saw no-one, heard no steps retreating into the dark. Struggling against the impulse to keep looking around, to keep her guard up, she tucked her head back between her shoulders and pulled her collar up again. Best to pretend she had seen nothing. Too speedy a retreat, and someone might think she was running to the authorities.
Stuffing the pipe into her pocket, she steered her hurried steps toward home.
I think it sort of catches the vibe, though not as well as I’d like. Can’t wait to run this game! It’s gonna be brilliant.
Good night, lovelies.