Retro-futurist fiction

Sarah Parker has been a part of Australian Fandom for 14 years, having attended one Worldcon (Melbourne), thirteen Swancons, three Continuums, two Fandomedias, one Wastelands, one Nights’ Edge and a partridge in a pear tree. She has been secretly writing for five years and has already won a Tin Duck for her Zombie Apocalypse posts on her blog. She’s written a retro-futurist story. If it inspires you, why not enter the ASFF Natcon Fifty Short Story Competition?

Miss Wilhemina strolled along Cobblestone Way, her arm tucked firmly into Charlie’s, and her eyes on the horizon.

“Careful Miss,” Charlie said a few times as she almost tripped on uneven stones and rubbish.

The night sky was lit from below with warm gold. She couldn’t see anything further than the clouds and rooftops, but all of London knew what was going on tonight. They turned the last corner, and her hand on Charlie’s arm squeezed in excitement.

“Oh,” she breathed as she took in the marvellous views of men running around the base of the emerald silk balloon. The glare of a thousand lanterns brightened the faces of curious houses, every window open with onlookers hanging out for a better view.

“Look at that,” Charlie said, pointing to the basket. Men shouted over the roar of gas burners as silk laboured and flapped above them. Her cheeks were tinged with the heat of the burners against a chill wind.

With such a large balloon tugging at the lines, she expected something much bigger, but the basket had barely room for four men. She knew it to be well provisioned. Fine webs of knots and rope moored the impatient contraption to the tiny people below. The square was awash with strangers, their faces alight with the glow of the future.

“They’ve never tried to go so high before,” Charlie said.

“Well,” said Miss Wilhemina as she gave a small laugh. “No one has ever tried to reach the moon by balloon before!”

“I wish I was going with you,” Charlie said distantly.

“Don’t worry,” she said, and squeezed his arm again. “Once Sir Julius and I have returned, I am sure they will offer such escapades for a fee.” As his assistant she knew of Sir Julius’ hopes and dreams well in advance of others.

“Perhaps we could get married on the moon, Miss Wilhemina,” Charlie said, his gaze capturing hers. She gave a delighted giggle, and could feel the colour rushing to her cheeks.

“Of course, Mr Charlie, of course! That can be my next Luna adventure!”