Hello everyone! I have an extract to share with you all today from Jonathan Fesmire, author of Bodacious Creed: A Steampunk Zombie Western. I really enjoyed reading all the chapters that JF sent me but I have chosen to share Chapter Six with everyone because not only does it set the scene for the novel perfectly, it also shows off JF’s precision and explosive writing. There is so much to appreciate about this novel, the clash of genres looks to have been handled very well. See for yourself in the extract below. Enjoy!
About Jonathan Fesmire
Author Jonathan Fesmire, originally from Santa Cruz, California, now lives in Southern California with his son. By day, he’s a copywriter, by evening a steampunk author, and at all times, a dedicated dad.
Though Jonathan started out writing fantasy, he has moved completely to steampunk, enchanted with its aesthetics, possibilities, and implications. He’s a fan of the stories, the art, and the gadgets, and enjoys interacting with the community. In fact, Jonathan regularly interviews popular members of the steampunk community for his The Wild Steampunk Blog.
His first steampunk novel, Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, is available on Amazon.
Official Synopsis for Bodacious Creed: A Steampunk Zombie Western
U.S. Marshal James Creed has known loss, starting from the untimely death of his wife and daughter in a sudden fire. His work, chasing down and arresting outlaws across the Wild West, is all he has left to live for. Then one day, in 1876, the infamous killer Corwin Blake catches Creed by surprise and guns him down/.
Creed awakes after a mysterious young woman resurrects him in a basement laboratory beneath a brothel. Half alive, Creed feels torn between his need for justice and his desire to fall back into the peace of death. Creed’s instincts drive him to protect the city of Santa Cruz, California, from the outlaws it harbors while searching for Blake.
He uncovers a secret criminal organization, likely protecting Blake, determined to use resurrection technology for its own ends. The former marshal, now faster, stronger, and a more deadly shot than ever before, must work with a brothel madam, a bounty hunter, and the remaining marshals to uncover the criminal syndicate before they can misuse the machines of rebirth and create more mindless zombies. Meanwhile, he must also stop Blake, before the outlaw kills the only people he cares about.
His own death can wait.
Bodacious Creed: A Steampunk Zombie Western by Jonathan Fesmire
Maxwell Gregg stood beside Corwin Blake’s bed, the Tesla bulbs in the ceiling dim. Why had he bothered to give the kid such fine guest accommodations? Did Blake need a bed large enough for three? Did he need two quilts and six pillows, the rocking chair, the wide table, or two shelves full of books? The air smelled of Blake’s sweat, alcohol, and the red roses in a vase on the table. Blake lay naked atop a soft quilt, a red-tinged bandage around his leg, a sheet draped over his hips and crotch.
The outlaw stared up at Gregg, blinking lazily. He had finished half a bottle of single-malt scotch, again more than Blake deserved, while the medic removed the bullet, then cleaned and sewed shut the wound with silken thread.
“We had you covered,” Gregg said. “You had to have your fun though, didn’t you?”
“What did you want me to do? Go to the back room?”
“That’s exactly what you were supposed to do.” Gregg wrung his hands behind his back. In Iron Nelly’s, Blake had ducked behind the bar just as James Creed and Bennett Nelsen had entered. Somehow, the young killer had remained quiet, though Gregg imagined he had probably worked hard to suppress laughter.
Jason knew that Gregg would evade the lawmen, and had done just what Gregg would have wanted. Seamless work for a well-run organization.
“You’re not here to tempt the law, Corwin. They’re not your playthings.”
“Ain’t they, though?”
“One more stupid move like that, and you won’t like your accommodations.”
“I don’t think your sister’s gonna like how you’re talking to me,” Blake said.
“Melba doesn’t run the Syndicate.” Gregg glared.
Blake squinted at the light above. “Well, you gotta, ah, you gotta let me do something for you. I don’t want to stay down here all the time.”
“Show me you can behave as expected.”
As Gregg headed for the door, Blake called out, “I will. You’ll see. Whatever you need.”
Creed slept soundly on the night of July third, even though the posse had not caught Blake or his accomplice. If anything, Creed suspected their search had driven the men deeper into hiding.
After a few hours of gathering deputies around town, they had a posse of just fifteen, thirteen of them from Nelsen’s trip to The House of Amber Doves.
They had worked in shifts. First, half the men rode into the Flats to ask questions of the citizenry while Creed checked records in city hall to see who owned the smoking building. The deed belonged to a Steven DeGraw, but when he asked the clerk about the man, she informed Creed that DeGraw had passed away three years prior with no heirs. The property belonged to the city.
Nelsen oversaw the investigation there, while Creed returned to Iron Nelly’s.
Jason Nash, the proprietor and bartender, claimed not to know the name of the stranger they had followed, only that the residents called him Heilong. According to rumor, he ran a criminal organization. Nash claimed that crime in the area didn’t seem organized. Creed thought it interesting that Heilong, despite the Chinese moniker, was a white man with medium brown hair and a plain, shaven face.
Rather than speak, Nash wrote all this on a note and tore it up after Creed read it.
Creed returned to Nelsen just as the men they had recruited began heading out to ask questions around town. Nelsen showed him their findings. Deputies had pried boards from the walls and floor. In the very wall where Creed had pulled off the first board, they had found a furnace, tall, flat, wide, and wired to a small power generator. A switch beneath the window activated it.
The generator had no brand markings and didn’t match any made by Morgan’s Mechanicals, making it illegal.
Next, Creed and Nelsen checked the buildings that surrounded the flower shop, where Blake had climbed the wall. The residents had no issue with letting the men look inside, though darting eyes and shaking hands gave away their fear. A helpful negro couple explained they had heard noises on their roof a few times in the last year, but thought that cats were scratching up there.
After about an hour’s search, Creed found a trapdoor hidden under the shingles on the roof of the flower shop. It opened to a space no larger than a coffin. Were there many like this?
Creed found a deputy leaving a pipe store and sent him to retrieve the rest of the posse. Within the hour, they had gained entry to a dozen buildings. Three hours later, they had found five more rooftop compartments, one where the couple had heard occasional scratches. None opened to the buildings, however. Someone had built them for the sole purpose of hiding.
Around midnight, Creed and Nelsen headed out, just as the shift of night time deputies entered Railroad Flats. Creed spotted a big man, even taller than himself, with broad shoulders, a black coat, gambler’s hat, and hair to match. That meant the night posse had done more recruiting. Good. Perhaps the big man would put some fear into Blake’s heart.
Nelsen had ridden off toward the woods, where he lived in a cabin with Heidi, just far enough out of town to enjoy the forest calm and fresh air. Had he not shied away from marriage, that might have been Creed’s life. Instead, he lived and worked alone. Family lost. Love lost. He wondered how much longer he could push aside the ache.
He washed in a bath house on Pacific Avenue then returned to the federal post to bunk down for the night. Some men, after a day like Creed’s, might have had trouble sleeping, weary but worried. Creed had worked hard on July third. Though Blake remained hidden, they would find him. He shut his eyes and within a few minutes, entered a dark sleep.
On July fourth, Creed spent the day seeking leads in Railroad Flats. Some deputies kept watch in the area while others put up wanted posters. One announced a bounty of two thousand dollars for Blake, another, one thousand for Heilong. The artist had produced a good likeness of Blake using a photograph that had made it into various newspapers. The picture of Heilong looked like a generic, beardless white man, even after Creed had brought Jason Nash in from Iron Nelly’s to describe him.
Around seven in the evening, hundreds of citizens, many in their best Sunday clothes, rode or walked through Railroad Flats to the boardwalk. American flags flew all along Beach Street. Just after eight, the fireworks started, rocketing up from the wharf over the bay. Booms, crackling, whistles, stars exploding into constellations, and fiery flashes of light filled the clear sky.
Creed rode Johann uphill on Center Street and back into town to the marshal post. Both Nelsen’s and McClary’s steeds stood hitched outside. Creed tied Johann beside them and stepped into the office where a bulb in the ceiling cast sharp light over the men, McClary sitting at the desk, spectacles half-way down his nose, Nelsen leaning over it as they studied a pile of papers.
The alluring scent of fresh coffee nearly tempted Creed to pour himself a mug, but he decided food and drink could wait for his scheduled meeting with Anna Lynn Boyd. That afternoon, Mayor Cooper had confirmed the engagement and promised that El Cuarto Trasero, where Anna would treat him, was one of the best restaurants in the city, even better than the fine food at Anna’s own parlor. Creed needed a good meal after such a dull day. The clues seemed to have dried up entirely.
“What have you learned?” Creed nodded at the notes that he, Nelsen, and their posse had taken. “Anything we’ve missed?”
Nelsen looked at him with a long frown. “Nothing we haven’t gone over a dozen times.”
“He’s bound to make an appearance soon. He’s too restless, too much of a troublemaker. He can’t hold out for long.”
“Maybe it’s the leg wound,” said Nelsen. “You’ve got great aim, and you shot him good.”
As McClary read over a page, his hand rested on a payment ledger. For those sixteen or so men helping, the money earned would be but a stipend, but Creed wished they could help more. Perhaps he could donate some of his own salary.
“We have unconfirmed sightings,” McClary said, “and a dozen mismatching descriptions of Blake. Anyone who can afford a paper should know exactly what he looks like.”
Creed shook his head. “People don’t always make a lot of sense. I’ve got some notes to take, then my meeting with the madam.”
“Don’t get your hopes up. She’s not a working dove anymore.” McClary put one page down and grabbed another.
Creed ignored the comment and retrieved a few sheets of paper, a pen, and ink from Nelsen’s desk. He considered typing his notes, but they amounted to little. He could write them quickly enough. Ten years ago, there had been no electric lights and no steam generators, aside from train and steamboat engines, and no typewriters.
The fireworks, banging and popping like guns, ended about twenty minutes after they started. Creed continued to work and at last checked his pocket watch. Ten minutes to nine, it read, which meant time to ride to the restaurant to meet Anna Boyd.
He set his notes aside and went to the front door. “I will see you fellas in the morning.”
“You watch out for her,” Nelsen said.
“She’s a prostitute, why else?”
“Former,” said McClary. “Don’t you listen? She runs a fine establishment. You go ahead, James. Let her pay her respects to you. You’ve earned it.”
Creed tipped his hat and stepped outside.
Streetlamps lit the road like early twilight, and a chill drifted in from the ocean. It would take Creed just a few minutes astride Johann to reach the restaurant, across the San Lorenzo River. If the madam had already arrived, he felt sure she could wait.
Just as Creed began riding up Center street, behind him came a deafening boom. Another firework? It couldn’t be. Too loud.
Creed looked back and gasped in horror.
Flames licked at the station window. Smoke rose as the fire danced along the edge of the roof. On the breeze rose a smell like burned bananas. Johann reared back and Creed held tight to the reins.
“Down!” he called. Johann staggered and the marshal leaped from its back. He swatted his steed’s behind. “Go!” Johann was loyal like a good dog and he knew they’d find each other.
Creed thought he might be able to enter the building and pull the other marshals free. He dashed toward the door when another explosion thundered inside. Fire erupted across the roof. Creed hoped his jacket would protect him long enough to save both men.
In a second he flew up the porch. The door handle burned his flesh. Inside, his breath quickly became ragged. Heat rippled across his face and dried his throat.
McClary lay in the doorway to Nelsen’s office. Creed stepped back. The fire was thick around the man’s crisping body. No, Creed thought, around the halves of his body. McClary’s midsection was gone, and his upper torso and legs burned. It seemed he had pounced on a stick of dynamite.
Nelsen lay by the desk, shirt and pants on fire, but possibly alive. Creed lifted his friend and backed him out the door and down the stairs. He dragged him a good ninety feet into the road, removed his own coat, and squelched the flames on his friend.
Creed glanced up at a cacophony of cries. From windows above, and in front of nearby buildings, Santa Cruzans stared, faces aghast.
The fire spread fast over the outside of the federal marshal post. “Hold on, partner,” Creed said to Nelsen and rushed to free the horses. A breeze blew smoke into the street, but he could still make out the suffering animals, bucking in fear.
“You shot me, you son of a bitch!” came a shout.
Creed drew a pistol and wheeled toward the voice of Corwin Blake.
The outlaw strode through the haziness and fired.
Creed shot back, but pain flared in his chest, and his own bullet went wild. He fell, scarcely noticing how hard his coccyx hit the packed earth. The marshal rolled to his side and tried to aim steadily, but his hands burned and his arm shook.
Blake turned to Nelsen, who had risen to his knees. Nelsen pointed his gun. Two shots banged and splatter left the back of Nelsen’s head. He tumbled, knees still bent.
Creed’s scream came out nearly silent as he fired over and over, all shots speeding past Blake’s head. The outlaw sauntered forward with a wicked smile. His gun cracked and Creed’s right shoulder jerked back. A second shot tore across his cheek.
A high voice shouted “No!” It seemed so faint that as he toppled back, Creed wondered if it came from the afterlife. Perhaps his wife, calling him home.
Somehow, as Blake turned and ran, Creed still lived. A silhouette in the smoke, Blake unhitched Nelsen’s horse, mounted, and rode northward.
From somewhere behind the blazing post rode a large man on a chestnut steed, black coat streaming behind him, a metal ball at his horse’s side glistening red with the flames.
To the screams of the crowd, U.S. Marshal James “Bodacious” Creed died.
Thanks again for stopping by to check out another brilliant extract! I am constantly looking for fantastic authors from a wide range of authors that I can promote to you all. Enjoy the extract and if you do pick up the book then please leave a link in the comments to the review. I have an interview with Jonathan Fesmire coming up soon so keep an eye out for that.