For the first time in far too long I entered the Microcosms weekly flash fiction contest with my story The Actor and the Bellboy. The theme this week was disasters and I got lift from the great spinner along with the character of an actor and the theme of Steampunk. The three go together to create The Actor and the Bellboy that you’ll find below the break. I hope you enjoy.
The Actor and the Bellboy
“Confidence my dear boy, confidence.” The words of my mentor. The face in the opulent mirror does not contain a single letter of the word. I am my voice, the greatest the London stage has ever heard. You have not heard Hamlet until you have heard my performance.
“Indeed sir.” The bellboy, the impudent quisby, arches his eyebrow like London Bridge. He is American, of course he does not respect his betters. I take out my pocket watch, in need of the polish I can’t afford. That will soon change. This audition will open up the ghastly American world of motion pictures. They are beneath me, silent dance shows accompanied by a prattling piano. I can travel to New York in under a day yet we can not record the greatest voice of our age.
The puff, puff, puff of the lift’s steam engine strains before the lift stops.
“We’ve stopped sir.”
“I can bloody see that.” My pocket watch ticks into the future. “Do something about it?”
He speaks into a brass cylinder, its sister pulled to his ear. Tick, tick tick, seconds become minutes. “It’ll be a while sir.”
Tick, tick, tick.
“Don’t know sir.”
I want to punch the boy but a gentleman never resorts to violence, not even towards an American. All I can do is stand and watch the minutes tick by. I slouch to the floor after thirty, I am late. The great gamble has failed. All I have left is in this lift, the bag beside me, clothes I wear. This savage and his infernal machine has cost me everything.
“Indeed sir,” he says with a hint of a smile.