I’m Day 8 of a blog tour to celebrate the release of Carnal Machines! Folks ask me all the time why I write for these collections. They’re short. The pay stinks. My name’s not on the cover. What I tell them is that I love being in the company of great writers. That readers who’ve never read me might discover me. That shorts give me a chance to try something new.
I’ve never done Steampunk. To me, it’s a fascinting, frightening genre. So much to learn. A huge world to build. And I’m not very mechanically oriented. So writing a story for this particular collection was a challenge I couldn’t resist. A chance to dip my toes in strange waters. I was thrilled when my story made the cut!
I will admit, I didn’t fly very far from the truth in my fantasy. I researched Victorian sexual practices, remembering from an old Amanda Quick book a common treatment for “female hysteria”, then researched machinery that actually was used to stimulate women into orgasm in those times, for purely medicinal reasons, and then building on those. Yes, my story’s all about sex. I hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt I’ve provided here from Dr. Mullaley’s Cure.
If you’d like a peak at the other authors and stories that are part of the collection, edited by D.L. King, here’s a list of blogs and dates. Some have already past so you’ll have plenty to sample already!
May 1 D. L. King
May 2 Teresa Noelle Roberts
May 3 Kathleen Bradean
May 4 Jay Lawrence
May 5 Kannan Feng
May 6 Essemoh Teepee
May 7 Elizabeth Schechter
May 8 Delilah Devlin
May 9 Tracey Shellito
May 10 Renee Michaels
May 11 Elias St. James
May 12 Lisabet Sarai
May 13 Janine Ashbless
The Victorians wrote some of the best and most enduring erotica. For such a tightly-laced age, people spent a lot of time thinking about things carnal. Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, et al enthralled us with their visions of new possibilities. The rich and slightly decadent visuals of the steam age lend themselves perfectly to the new carnality of post-punk era. And, of course, what is repressed will be even more exciting once the corset is unlaced. Steampunk, even without sex, is erotic; with sex, it’s over-the-top hot. A widowed lady engineer invents a small device that can store the energy from sexual frustration and convert it to electricity to help power a home. Teresa Noelle Roberts shows us what it can do, confronted with sexual fulfillment. What volume of steampunk would be complete without a tale of sailing ships and the men who sail them? If your taste runs to sexy pirates in space, Poe Von Page will delight you with the mutinous crew of the Danika Blue and their new captain.
Then there’s the very special room on the top floor in the House of the Sable Locks, a brothel where sexually discriminating men go to have their fantasies fulfilled. Even if a man daren’t put those fantasies into words, Elizabeth Schechter’s “Succubus” will give the madam all the information she needs with which to make her clients happy. There are brothels, flying machines, steam-powered conveyances, manor houses, spiritualist societies. The following stories afford intelligently written, beautifully crafted glimpses into other worlds, where the Carnal Machines won’t fail to seduce you, get you wet or make you hard so, lie back, relax; a happy ending is guaranteed.
I’d been warned that the doctor was a bit eccentric. That he dabbled in machinery and had been ostracized by others in his profession for the lengths he went to please his patients.
“You’ll never find another employer,” I was told. “Not once they see your only reference is Doctor Mullaley.” The mad Irishman. The charlatan who promised cures to bored housewives and whose waiting room hadn’t been empty since I arrived for my first day’s work. If I hadn’t already been turned away at every other respectable physician’s practice, I might have heeded the advice. However, those warnings only served to stir my interest.
I was intensely curious about the nature of the doctor’s cures, and even more so about the conditions he treated, but they were only spoken of in whispers and never in the presence of an unmarried woman. Which made me wonder why he’d hired me. Not that I complained. One glance at his tall rangy frame, frosty blue eyes and dark, slicked-back hair, and my misgivings evaporated.
However, my curiosity about the man and his practice wasn’t to be satisfied at that moment because the doctor waved me toward the reception desk where I worked at fitting in patients who walked in without an appointment. A task I found akin to cinching in the waist of a corset. There was only so much ribbon one could pull before something gave.
That something was the inimitable Mrs. Davies. She arrived in a dudgeon. Cheeks flushed, eyes a little wild. It was a very balmy afternoon, and the painstaking curls at the sides of her cheeks had wilted and were stretching toward her jaw like earthworms. I couldn’t help staring while she tapped the counter with her finger insisting her needs were of the highest import. If she didn’t receive a treatment that afternoon, somebody would hear about it.
At wit’s end, I gave her a false smile, said I’d find the doctor, and escaped down the corridor to the treatment rooms.
The corridor was as handsomely appointed as the waiting room with rich oak paneling below the rail, and burgundy brocade above it. But gaslight sconces were placed so far apart that shadows loomed between the doorways.
I paused at the first room to listen, hoping to hear the low timbre of the doctor’s voice. Faint moans came through the door, but since they didn’t have an urgent edge, I hurried to the next and pressed my ear against the wood.
Hands curved over my shoulder. “Pardon me, Nurse Percy.” The doctor firmly pushed me to the side and strode into the room.
Glancing around his tall frame, I spotted Mrs. Headley who lay on a table that tilted with the lower half split in two.
My jaw sagged as I noted that while she was clothed in a sack-like gown, Mrs. Headley lay bared from the waist down, her legs strapped to the split “legs” of the table. Her fingers dug into padded handles at the sides. Most curious, there was a long, slender trough running from a tank latched to the ceiling, very like a toilet’s reservoir. The trough emptied into a funnel, which ran into a tube. The tube passed through a device with turning wheels that clicked like a clock’s inner gears, and then ended at a nozzle that spurted water in rhythmic pulses toward the juncture of Mrs. Headley’s thighs.
How odd, I thought.
Mrs. Headley moaned. Her gaze roved restlessly until she lighted on the doctor. “Please, Raymond, I can’t take much more. I’m very sure I’m ready for the next stage of my treatment.”
The doctor stood between me and Mrs. Headley so I couldn’t see what he did, but then he aimed a frown over his shoulder. When he turned back, I entered the room and shut the door behind me, staying quiet as a mouse. He turned off the nozzle. The rhythmic splashes stopped, but wet slurping sounds filled the silence.
“I feel…nearly…oh, the agony…oh, doctor!” Mrs. Headley gave a choked little scream, her upper body arching on the table before settling again. Her flushed cheeks shone with sweat, but the smile she gave the doctor was so filled with gratitude I felt a stirring of something akin to pride for the doctor’s skill.
However, pride wasn’t what tightened the feminine parts of me. Somehow, just knowing where the doctor’s hands were made the room feel quite warm.
Doctor Mullaley pulled down his patient’s gown, patted her hand and turned, drawing up short when he spotted me standing in front of the door. He jerked his chin to indicate I should precede him.
Feeling nervous and a little embarrassed by what I’d witnessed, I stepped into the hall and wrung my hands. “I wouldn’t have interrupted, doctor,” I blurted, “but there’s a woman at the reception desk demanding an appointment. Frankly, I thought she’d push right past me to find you if I hadn’t said I would go.”
“Let me guess, Mrs. Davies?”
He sighed and looked up and down the hallway. “I have another hydropathy machine in treatment room at the end of the hallway. “While you were spying, did you happen to notice what I did to turn it off?
“The hose from the reservoir? Yes.”
“The reverse turns it on. Take Mrs. Davies there. Find her a gown and help her out of her clothes. Start the machine. I’ll be along when the others have finished their treatments.” He gave me a narrowed glance that seemed to note my appearance for the first time. “After you’ve settled her, find me. I think you might work out after all.”