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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Balthazar Starblitz by A.J. Llewellyn

When Flip McCabe spots an unusual ad in a magazine requesting a young man or woman to train in the fine art of tea service, he's pleasantly surprised to learn that it's still available. He needs this job—any job—desperately, but his new boss, Mr. Chen, will mysteriously tell him only to report for duty at Platform Thirteen at LA's Union Station at nine o'clock the following morning.

Arriving in plenty of time, Flip becomes panic-stricken when he can't find any such platform, nor is there a tea shop listed at the bustling railway station. Frantic to get to work, he stumbles across an old line on an outdoor platform and is catapulted in another era of the station somewhere else in time.

The elegant, old-worldly Mr. Chen dispenses tea and serious help for those who need it, but his frail body is no longer up to the dangerous escapades involved with murder, mayhem and steam trains. Flip is sent back to the past to help various famous, often wrongfully convicted criminals, and then plunged back to the present to find a man who needs not only his help, but his love.

But will Flip be able to aid the dynamic, exhilarating Balthazar Starblitz, a werewolf on the run from charges related to a series of grisly murders he did not commit?

Genres: Gay/Steampunk/Dark Fantasy/Werewolf/Action/Adventure/Time Travel
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (23k words)

Read a short excerpt...

...An ad like that will get a million responses. Flip checked the time on the oven clock. Eight A.M. Mr. Chen hadn’t specified a time limit on calls. He’d only stressed that the calls should come on a weekday. Flip glanced at the publication date on the magazine. Wednesday, February 13, 2013. It was now the fourteenth. Maybe the job had been snapped up already.

It took him a second longer to square his shoulders and pick up his cell phone. He’d been frugal with it lately due to his dwindling minutes. But this was an emergency. He’d had to go cold turkey on calling his friends, even reading and sending text messages. Arggh! It had almost killed him.

He called the number and an old, quavering voice answered on the third ring.

“Chen’s Tea Service.”

“Mr. Chen?”

“Yes. To whom am I speaking?”

“My name is Flip McCabe. Well, Phillip McCabe. My friends and family call me Flip.”

“What can I do for you, Mr. McCabe?”

“I saw your ad in the Pennysaver.”

“You did?” The old man seemed surprised.

“Is the job gone?”

“We had one applicant and he never showed up. I rely on punctuality, Mr. McCabe. Are you the reliable sort?”

Mr. Chen’s voice seemed stronger, more resolute now.

“Oh, yes. Absolutely.” I think. I don’t know anymore. I’ve been on sixty-three job interviews in the last two months and my self-esteem is non-existent.

“Can you start work first thing in the morning? Nine o’clock?”

“I got the job?” Nothing like this had ever happened to Flip. He’d been through countless interviews, second interviews, vice presidential interviews, aptitude tests, credit checks, back ground checks—

“You will be given the opportunity to work with me for one day. Should you prove satisfactory, we can discuss terms.”

“What’s wrong with the job? How come it’s still open?” Aw heck! Why did I have to go and say something like that?

The old man was silent a moment. “The job is…not for everybody.”

“Right. You need someone reliable. I’m very reliable. Honest! Where do I come to?”

Another pause. “The tea shop on platform thirteen at Union Station.”


“Do you consider yourself a resourceful young man, Mr. McCabe?”

“Um…yes, I do.” Flip was busy Googling the tea shop on Snow’s computer.

“Good,” Mr. Chen said.

Flip couldn’t see anything remotely resembling the shop. “What is the name of your establishment, Mr. Chen?”

But the old man had hung up on him...

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