A word from Winter Holiday Spectacular 2022 editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch:
“The Skeptic and The Primrose” is set in England in the late nineteenth century. The story has echoes of Wells and Verne as well as a touch of Sherlockian brilliance… with heroines who manage to save the world (or their corner of it) while wearing corsets and petticoats.
This story will be up for one week only. Enjoy!
Just so you know beforehand: I don’t believe in time travel. Never have. Until…
London, December 21st, 1888
The conference had been set in the conservatory of the Royal Botanical Society’s Gardens in Regent’s Park, the air so stuffy with moisture for the exotic plants I felt my hair curling in Medusa-like wisps, escaping my carefully done bun. The temperature had convinced many in the first rows to pull off their shawls or overcoats. A few bright orange and yellow butterflies, ignoring the season outside their realm, fluttered from one exotic corolla to the next. The rich leafy scent and the trickle of water falling on a rock pond added a poetic note to the ambiance.
Those sounds and smells distracted me long enough to miss part of a question, uttered in a snarky tone by a middle-aged gentleman sporting an impressive handlebar mustache, the iron-gray tips waxed so rigid they could easily poke a too-inquisitive eye out. He sat in our front row next to Mother, his legs nonchalantly crossed in the free space ahead, exposing black dress shoes covered with whiter-than-white spats. Those kinds of too-clean shoes never went within an inch of the melted snow mixed with horse dung covering the streets.
(This story has been available from Dec. 18th to dec.25th)
Interested in this story?
There’s more on the WMG Holiday Spectacular 2022 Calendar of Short Stories
Michèle Laframboise is a Canadian SF writer, with more than 60 stories published. Her most recent story, I’ll Be Moon for Christmas, was feature on the Nov-December issue of Asimov’s SF Magazine. She is a fair low-level athlete runner, a lousy gardener, and avid birder. More on her official website here.