Caleb Rushton has come from a life at sea to the village of Vanitas, where he assumes a job as church sexton. One day, a circus passes through the village. Rushton is not interested, but he does catch glimpse of a female bareback rider during the procession. Late that same night, a fire rips through the makeshift tent city of the circus, killing and destroying all in its path.
The church choirmaster, Petro Mezzoni, approaches Caleb, and inquires whether he has knowledge of steam engine repair, and shows him a large piece of machinery that has survived within the ruins of a circus tent. Mezzoni's plan is to rebuild the machine into the grandest, most powerful church organ ever.
Caleb agrees to work on the project, and the church Elders are supportive. But soon, Mezzoni seems to become obsessed with the project. Not long after, an apparition within the church is seen by more and more people. The superstitious back away from the project, but Mezzoni presses forward. As Christmas approaches, along with the unveiling of the new church organ, all of Mezzoni's plans will be revealed.
Vanitas is a super short that will serve to both rivet you to its text and fascinate you to the very end. The characters are raw and unpredictable. The story combines elements of steampunk and horror that are new and fresh. This story also proves that sex, gore, and graphic violence are not needed to write a powerful story. Vanitas is a definite must read this season.
When he arrived at the New England town of Vanitas, all that Caleb Rushton wanted was an escape from the life of a seaman. What he found there included murder, a ghost-like apparition, a multi-layered trail of deception, and a need for his carpentry skills to help in the building of a gigantic church organ powered by steam.
A great blend of steampunk and horror from our Orbits sci-fi/fantasy short story line.