Sunday, May 12, 2013

Circumstance Of Victims

Title: Circumstance Of Victims
Word Count: 700
Name or Twitter Handle: Jeffrey Hollar @klingorengi
Category: Diesel
Content label : Safe For All

To the esteemed Jawarhalal Nehru:

Envision an India not a chattel state but an acknowledged partner of those nations dedicated to technological advancement and modern thought. Imagine an India with unquestioned sovereignty, freely exercising its right to self-determination unhindered by circumstances. To that end, our representative is prepared to meet with you to discuss what can be accomplished by dedicated men working toward common goals. If this proposal is amenable then raise and lower the window shades of your office at precisely noon today. By that signal will our agent proceed with our offer. Be advised that, should no signal be provided, you bid fair to doom your homeland to continue in its servile state likely for the remainder of your days. 

The letter bore no signature or other identifying device and, at first, Nehru thought it to be an incredibly poor joke. Nevertheless, every fiber of his being cried out it was not. He had, for some time, been at polite but undeniable odds with the Mahatma. Though he respected the depths of his mentor’s belief in diplomacy and passive resistance, they often argued as to whether, at some point, more…aggressive measures might be called for.

As morning passed and the moment for decision was nigh, Nehru realized he was unwilling to dismiss any possibility for his homeland to achieve the greatness he knew was so deserved. No sooner had he lowered the blinds back when a knock came at his door.

The man who entered was of middle age, strongly built and dressed in a linen suit of Western cut. His skin was browned as one who had spent much time out of doors. He held himself at ease, setting down a large valise before offering a slight bow. Had Nehru felt astonished by the letter, a feather could have knocked him senseless at the realization of who this mysterious agent was.

“Why, you are…” Nehru stammered.

The man nodded curtly, “Yes, I am Joseph Rudyard Kipling and you are Jawarhalal Nehru. That being settled shall we get to the business at hand? Lest you wonder, my position as an author of some repute allows me travel to unaccustomed places and to meet with unexpected individuals without arousing undue suspicions. Now, have a seat and listen.” Nehru complied.

“I represent a consortium of men who feel it necessary to intervene in the matters of India. You are aware, I am sure, Misters Woodrow Wilson and David Lloyd George are no friends of India…nor, of late, of each other. Suffice to say those stinking Ottoman bastards bear you no good will either.” His grin was decidedly disconcerting.

Reaching into the valise, Kipling withdrew a single large rifle cartridge and what appeared to be an incredibly small telescope. “This bullet is .45 caliber and is fired from a rifle capable of firing five such without reloading. Fitted with this sighting scope here, that rifle can strike a target over half a mile away. The combination is courtesy of two of our dedicated membership…an American chap named Browning and an odd little Swiss fellow…Carl Zeiss, I believe.”

“Upon receipt of a coded telegram, our men on the ground will be dispatched to send a leaden message to the brain pans of Wilson, Lloyd George, a few Ottoman dignitaries and, likely, a dozen or so others just to muddy the waters a bit. It is our belief with no clear culprits to blame, the inevitable finger pointing and recriminations will provide an atmosphere of unparalleled uncertainty and discord in the world. We feel this confluence of events would present a…unique opportunity to a man with prior knowledge to exploit matters to his benefit. We feel you are such a man. Now, if we are mistaken, only say so and that will be that. Pray remember, though, we’ve placed ourselves in a most vulnerable position telling you of our…options. I am sure you must realize that would be a position we could not allow to exist if you decline our aid. I give you until morning to consider.”

Nehru sat pondering long into the night before, at length, convincing himself a deal made with the Devil could be made for the greater good.

This story was written for the Dirty Goggles Blog Hop  sponsored by Jenn (Brewed Bohemian)Steven Paul Watson & Ruth Long. This is my first attempt at writing steampunk/dieselpunk and may or may not have hit the mark. It was, in any event, a LOT of fun and, if nothing else, is some darned intriguing alternative history.  


  1. Making yet another alternate reality, where India rises. Like the proposal. Thanks for writing.

  2. A fascinating insight into what could have been, and an intriguing story Jeff!

  3. Oh Jeff you put a lot of hard work in there.. Well done. Excellent..x

  4. A lot of work went into this and you did not disappoint. Great dialog, set up. Very good piece!

  5. I found myself googling some of the names here out of interest and curiosity as to who the Indian fellow was. . I am soo bad at not knowing that . . .
    A fad story of deceit, plotting, cunning and murder for the greater good. xx

    1. I took a real chance people would either be familiar with the dramatis personae or curious enough to figure out how they might be involved. So much hinged on that I am pleased if it resolved itself.

  6. Jeffrey, this is beautifully, richly, written. Although I haven't read every single piece you've written, I feel like this is the first time you've written in this historical fiction style. I encourage you to write more! Your phrasing, evident in even your fun, 5 sentence fiction posts, is so well suited to this genre. I have no idea if it is steampunk or not but it IS quality writing.

  7. Can't add much to what has been said before but this is a great piece of writing, :)

  8. Oh, that was such a clever play on historical figures! Well done:)

  9. LOVE this take on alternate reality! Always enjoy your storytelling but when you pull out the stops and hit us with these historical details, I am always amazed and delighted!! So so so glad you joined the hop!! :)

  10. Excellent piece, man. I love alternative histories and this is killer. Kipling as a spy is the cherry on top. Great work.