“The Black Banshee” will be found in the forthcoming publication (2013) of Machina Mortis from Fringe Works.
An Excerpt from “The Black Banshee.”
The butler took his leave and Kate turned her attention back to the small piece of parchment covered material in her hand. It was a stylized version of the ones that they had in their collection.
Edison’s phonograph was one of Kate’s favorite inventions of the last century. She remembered Maximus taking her to see the man himself present the machine when he was traveling the country. They had ordered their very own that night and it had been placed in her sitting room.
As she walked toward the machine, she removed the ribbon and withdrew the wax-covered paper of the phonogram. She then lifted the needle of the phonograph and placed the small disc of paper on the machine.
The scratching from the wax record came softly through the phonograph, followed by a hint of flowing music. Kate waited a full minute before the familiar voice of Major Richard Blackburn slid out of the funnel as a snake from its hole. “Dearest friends, I would like to invite you to join me and many others of our society and station on the first voyage of the Black Banshee, my newest and fastest locomotive. We will travel the outskirts of the city and cross both rivers in a matter of an hour, breaking the record of two hours and twenty-eight minutes by half. Your presence is requested this Saturday at dusk. Dinner will be provided before the journey and celebratory drinks will be had after. I am assured that you will join Blackburn Rails on this historic occasion. I leave you now to the charming sounds of Lafayetta playing a lost concerto of the great maestro Chopin.”
Once the speaking ended, the slow notes of a piano drifted out of the phonograph. The song was haunting, moving through soft notes and raising in volume as it crashed into others. Like the waves of the river Styx washing up near the gates of Hell itself.
A chill moved quickly up Kate’s spine and she removed the needle from the wax-covered disc. She had heard that song before. She knew that Lafayetta, Blackburn’s Cameroonian medium, was not playing the piece with her own hands.