By Graham Edwards (born 1965).
First appearance: Realms of Fantasy magazine, October 2005.
Reprinted in The Dragon Done It (2008).
Short story (13 pages as a PDF).
Online at Baen Books (HERE).
(Parental caution: Adult themes and language throughout.)
". . . even though I knew I should be calling the cops, I did the next best thing: I started looking through the Big Dictionary."Ordinarily your average tough guy PI, like our unnamed narrator (can you say "Mike Hammer"), has enough trouble figuring out what's going on when he first takes on a
case, but in this instance it's going to be a lot harder sorting through what a bullet-
riddled lycanthrope, a dishy but dangerous dame, and a treacherous hat have to do
with one other—necessitating a nothing-short-of-terrifying consultation with the
"Soon I heard a rumbling sound, more metallic than the throat-clearing, twice as loud and getting louder all the time. The wind gusted, blasting into me from the same direction as the approaching smear of light. Then I heard a whistle, long and glutinous, and suddenly it was on me, an immense iron lobster with two hundred wheels, all interconnected with rods and dripping sinews and sprung cables and grinding cylinders. Brakes engaged and the mammoth train screeched to a halt. Steam erupted from a thousand greasy sphincters, oil oozed through toothsome grilles, chains with links as thick as my arm cracked like whips and flaming coals spilled from a great brazier perched high behind the funnel, half a mile above my head."
Toss in a gambling syndicate run by Titans (they expect you to pay up or else), and
our gumshoe will have all he can do to be around long enough to deliver his next
wisecrack . . .
Resources:- If all of Graham Edwards's fantasy fiction is this witty, he might be worth your time; see Wikipedia (HERE) and the ISFDb (HERE).
- Wikipedia has summary articles about lycanthropes (HERE) and (HERE), but our author
has added a clever twist of his own to the legend.
- Some refresher info about the Titans can be found on Wikipedia (HERE) and (HERE).
- We highlighted another fantasyland private eye last year (HERE).