New Story: “The Stoker Memorandum”, at Daily Science Fiction

My latest short story, The Stoker Memorandum, is now up at Daily Science Fiction – it is set in the world of The Great Game and, in fact, partly drawn from the novel – a taster, if you will!

Warning: may contain Steampunk!

Abraham Stoker’s Journal

— From the archives of the Bureau of Secret Intelligence, Pall Mall, London, Classified Ultra, for Head of Bureau Eyes Only —

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Bucharest

I had finally arrived at this city, with darkness gathering, casting upon the city a most unfavourable appearance. Having checked into my hotel I drank a glass of strong Romanian wine, accompanied by bear steak, which I am told they bring from the mountains at great expense. I had not enquired as for the recipe.

I am sitting in my room, watching the dance of gas light over the city. tomorrow I set off for the mountains, and as I write this I am filled with trepidation. I have decided to maintain this record of my mission. In the event anything were to happen to me, this journal may yet make its way, somehow, back to London.

Let me, therefore, record how I came to be at this barbarous and remote country, and the sorry tortuous route by which I came to my current predicament.

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My name is Abraham Stoker, called Abe by some, Bram by others. I am a theatrical manager, having worked for the great actor Henry Irving for many years as his personal assistant, and, on his behalf, as manager of the Lyceum Theatre in Covent Garden.

I am not a bad man, nor am I a traitor.

Nevertheless, it was in the summer of 18—that I became an unwitting assistant to a grand conspiracy against our lizardine masters, and one which I was helpless to prevent.

It had began as a great triumph for my theatrical career. Due to a fight between the great librettist W.S. Gilbert and his long-time manager, Richard D’Oyly Carte, over – of all things – a carpet, I had managed to lure Gilbert and his collaborator, the composer Arthur Sullivan, to my own theatre from D’Oyly Carte’s Savoy. We were to stage their latest work, titled The Pirates of the Carib Sea, a rousing tale of adventure and peril. The first part, and forgive me if I digress, describes our lizardine masters’ awakening on Caliban’s Island, their journey with that foul explorer Amerigo Vespucci back to the British isle, their overthrowing of our human rulers and their assumption of the throne – a historical tale set to song in the manner only G&S could possibly do it.

In the second part, we encounter the mythical pirate Wyvern, the one-eyed royal lizard who – if the stories in the London Illustrated News can be believed – had abandoned his responsibilities to his race, the royal Les Lezards, to assume the life of a blood-thirsty pirate operating in the Carib Sea, between Vespuccia and the lands of the Mexica and Aztecs, and preying on the very trade ships of his own Everlasting Empire, under her royal highness Queen Victoria, the lizard-queen.

Irving himself played – with great success, I might add! – the notorious pirate, assuming a lizard costume of some magnificence, while young Beerbohm Tree played his boatswain, Mr. Spoons, the bald, scarred, enormous human who is – so they say – Wyvern’s right-hand-man.

It was at that time that a man came to see me in my office. He was a foreigner, and did not look wealthy or, indeed, distinguished.

‘My name,’ he told me, ‘is Karl May.’ – continue reading!