You may or may not know this about me, but I love all things fiction or fantasy related. Clothing you could imagine an elf wearing, LOTR memorabilia (which we’ve seen a good deal of here in New Zealand!) and anything really strange or uncommon in that vein. So to me, the name “Steampunk HQ” possessed a distinct flavor of adventure and allure.
It was tucked away in a quaint little corner of a quaint little town, the name of which escapes my memory. I have to say, I’m not yet used to the weird names they have here. It’s strange to be in an English speaking country and still be feeling completely illiterate in some ways. All I remember of the name of this particular town was seeing it written on a sign in a fancy, curling script, and trying to pronounce it. I tried a few times, and eventually gave up. I have a sneaking suspicion that if a Kiwi heard me, she’d laugh until she cried, but all well! It really wouldn’t bother me.
It was a gorgeous town, and I wish I could have explored it longer. The shops were small, there weren’t many people, and the buildings were clean and beautiful. It looked like a model town. Until you reached the little perfect train station and walked just past it. That’s where things went from perfect (which, let’s admit, can get a bit boring after a while) to interesting. Just across the street, right next to the tracks, a massive black train reared up from the ground. Its twisting, cone shaped nose pointed to the sky, jagged metal cannons aiming at the sea birds that floated above. Behind it stood an old building, a gigantic metal blimp hanging from its lefthand corner. Painted on a board high above the door were the words, “Steampunk H.Q.” A metal skull grinned down at us from where it sat above a twisted grate decorated with gears that was set just above the door. We entered, curious as to what lay inside. We could never have imagined the things we found there.
A small child sat on a stool behind a metal counter. Her hair was as pale as the skin of an onion; her beautiful eyes looked far too large in her delicate face. She couldn’t have been more than seven. Quietly, she gathered the entry fee from us, twenty dollars total, and then silently watched as we filed through the little door into the next room.
I found myself in a world of steam and turning gears, of waxen skeletons and whirring machines.
In one corner, a massive clock lay on the floor, a man standing over it with tools in hand. In another, a gigantic machine with a slowly turning fan crouched near the door. From a far-off quadrant of space, the plaque read, a visitor had arrived and had gifted the Steampunk H.Q. with this machine. It was capable of creating power for every machine in the H.Q. Interestingly enough, it could also make an excellent cup of tea. Of course, it was mostly just used for its extraordinary tea making capabilities. Obviously, these people had their priorities straight.
I walked on. A large mattress/pillow with a TV for a head and robotic arms greeted me. A boat filled with intricate machinery turned its gears and emitted a belch of steam that fell to the floor and floated over my ankles. I discovered a room made of pipes, gears, and knobs. “Portal,” the plaque read. Apparently, this piece of twisted metal was a portal to other dimensions, or something like that. Unfortunately, it had broken down, and no one had been able to fix it. It had been unusable for so long, no one really remembered what was wrong with it or where one was supposed to travel with it. I took a look at it anyway. Maybe, just maybe, I’d figure it out and BAM! I’d be transported to another world, another time, another dimension. Alas, after a minute of fiddling with dials and staring at the hideous demon head inside, I took a peek outside and whaddya know? I was exactly where I had started. At least, as far as I know. Maybe I actually have traveled to a different world and time, and for some reason this one and the last one are identical. Who knows?
Outside, there were a dozen more creations made of twisted metal (or, as one car said, ancient gorilla bones, turned to metal over thousands of years). Train cars turned trucks, bristling with weapons, massive cannons, and old cars. A worthless scrapyard turned to a work of art, or (and some might think this better) an out-of-this-world playground.
Want to see for yourself?