“Silver Linings” came to me during a sermon at . Dennis Reid was giving the sermon — always nice as Dennis is the man — and he had a real challenge in front of him: Talking about Judas Iscariot. Not about what he did, but about Judas himself. It was when he said “I always thought Judas got a bad rap…” that I scrambled for my iPhone and started making notes. Even with Pip nudging me, a story was coming to mind; and now that story is coming soon to mp3 players and eReaders everywhere. Celebrating the upcoming release of , “Silver Linings” reunites readers with Agents Eliza D. Braun and Wellington Thornhill Books, Esq., turning the clock back to events before . Enjoy this introduction to our steampunk secret agents, and join us at for the release of this story and new adventures from the Past That Never Was.
“Ah, Cairo,” Wellington sighed as he stood on the ship’s gangway for a moment, taking in the impressive desert vista before him. “The cradle of civilization and human innovation.”
“Along with the cradle of oppressive heat, barren wastelands, and flies that you could hitch up to a hansom and use as a cheap alternative to camels,” grumbled his junior archivist as she disembarked.
Wellington Books looked down at the diminutive Eliza D. Braun, arching an eyebrow at her. Bending her lips into a frown, she quietly twirled her parasol in annoyance.
“Miss Braun, come along, are you telling me you do not find Egypt tantalizing in its history, its undiscovered mysteries, and how the foundation of modern language and even the sciences began here?”
She bit back almost as if she had prepared herself for the query. “If I were fond of this kind of heat, I would take holiday in Australia. Hold my parasol.” Eliza unwound the veil from around the top of her pith helmet, and then snatched back her modest shade from his hands.
“And here I thought you were a romantic,” he muttered.
“A romantic? Is that why you insisted on taking an airship to the Sudan so we could chug upriver on this boat?”
“Chug upriver?” Wellington asked, stunned. “It’s the Nile!”
“Oh for god’s sake,” she seethed, now adding to her arsenal against the desert a horsetail swatter. With a few swings and a somewhat perturbed glare at Wellington, she huffed, “let’s get this over with!”
It was apparent that his partner was immune to what he had heard described as “Pharaoh Fever” by travel brokers. Hefting his huge brown case, Wellington lumbered down the gangplank, ignoring Eliza’s protestations to leave it for the porters.
Perhaps this Ministry-endorsed archival audit would be nothing more than a brief stay of only a day or two, and then an airship back to London. No need to prolong this little jaunt if he had to share it with one immune to the wonders of Egypt.
“Mr. Books, Miss Braun?” a voice asked.
Wellington and Eliza turned around to see a tanned gentleman, but not so tan that he could pass for a native. He was unmistakably English in his features, particularly in the disdain etched in his face. Whether that expression was for him or for his fellow archivists from headquarters remained a mystery.
“Something I do love about being an archivist for our shadowy Ministry.” He looked as if he was about to burst out into bitter laughter. “We do not stand on ceremony or secrecy. After all, how dangerous is our position, really?”
Eliza snorted. “You’d be surprised, mate.”
Wellington did not care one jot for the way this man was sizing up both him and his partner. The man removed his pith helmet and casually fanned himself as he approached.
“Marcus Donohue, Ministry Field Director and Chief Archivist, Egypt Branch.” He motioned around him. “Welcome to Hell.”
“Dunno about that,” Eliza replied. “Australia’s outback in the summer makes this place look positively welcoming.”
“And Cairo is a pleasant change as January in London is rather biting at present. Dead of winter and all,” Wellington added. “This heat is quite nice.”
“Perhaps,” he said, looking around him as if incredibly inconvenienced. “Shall we proceed then?”
Wellington nodded and motioned to Eliza in an “After you…” manner, but her scowl assured him that her mind had been made up about their official visit to Cairo. Perhaps he would save the lure of Egypt for another trip. Between Eliza’s demeanour and the local office’s reception, brevity was most certainly in order.
Tee Morris has been writing adventures in far-off lands and far-off worlds since elementary school. Inspired by numerous titles and , he wrote not-so-short short stories of his own, unaware that working on a typewriter when sick-from-school and, later, on a computer (which was a lot quieter…that meant more time to write at night…) would pave a way for his writings.
Tee has now returned to writing fiction with series, written with his wife, . Their first title in the series, , won the 2011 Airship Award for Best in Steampunk Literature, while both Phoenix Rising and were finalists in Goodreads Best in Science Fiction of 2011 and 2012. In 2013 Tee and Pip released , an original anthology of short stories set in the Ministry universe. Now in 2014, following a Parsec win for their companion podcast, , Tee and Pip celebrate the arrival of their third book, . When Tee is not creating something on his Macintosh, he enjoys a good run, a good swim, and putting together new playlists to write by. His other hobbies include cigars and scotch, which he regards the same way as anime and graphic novels: “I don’t know everything about them, but I know what I like.” (And he likes Avo and Arturo Fuente for his smoke, Highland Park for his scotch!) He enjoys life in Virginia alongside Pip, his daughter, and three cats.