The Spotlight: Mechanistry

Check out this hilarious flash fiction by Christopher Herron. It’s a steampunk fantasy featuring a brutish mad scientist and his latest “invention.” You can definitely expect a few chuckles with this one! Herron’s comedic writing style is reminiscent of the late great Terry Pratchett, one of my all-time favorite authors.

You can find the first 300-ish words below. You’ll have to follow the link to his website for the rest.



(Rough Draft  –  1,300 words  –  Fantasy Comedy)

Nalt lifted his clipboard like a protective shield. “Is it supposed to do that?”

The mechanical dog began to shake, smoke billowing from its hindquarters. Nalt coughed as the acrid cloud began to fill the campus courtyard. It obscured the mismatched patchwork of buildings that surrounded the small clearing.

“Course it is,” Stokes raised an eyebrow as if daring Nalt to argue. “What else did you expect it to do?” The dog gave a loud bang.

Nalt tried to cover more of himself with the wafer thin barrier. As luck would have it he had just the right amount of muscle tone to actually fit.

This appeared to mollify Stokes. His mustache bristled as he knelt beside the patchwork pup. After a quick inspection, he began the technical process of tuning its internal logic matrix. The process comprised of clanging a brass hammer against its left haunch. The smoke sputtered and died. So did the rest of the dog. “Hand me that precision omni-torsion adjuster.”

“Omni-what?” Nalt reached into an overflowing toolbox.

Stokes sighed. “The screwdriver.”

Nalt’s brow furrowed. He hauled out a screwdriver that looked more suited to battle than tightening screws. He wasn’t sure why a screwdriver would need four prongs, a serrated blade, and a small level. But someone had felt the need to weld them on. Stokes snatched the travesty from Nalt’s outstretched hands.

It looked tiny in his massive grip. But then again Stokes was the kind of man that could use a shovel as a spoon and nobody would notice. Nalt pushed his safety glasses further up on his thin nose and took a long step back, half expecting . . . Well, he didn’t know what he was expecting. But standard safety protocol stated that when assisting a senior Mechanist the recommended distance to stand was ‘keep running.’

. . .


Go forth and conquer,

J. D.

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