Short Stories by Dan Rabarts


Waking the Taniwha

Published: March 2013 in Wily Writers Audible Fiction

Genre: steampunk

Length: 13 pages

Setting: New Zealand, 1855

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Morgan Kent is a Royal Ethnographer in the British government, stationed in New Zealand. When the HMS Kestrel goes missing, Mister Faulkner is brought in to investigate. Kent is certain the Kestrel was destroyed by a taniwha, and he hopes to impress Faulkner with his skills and be invited into the Office of the Preternatural. It turns out, the ship was destroyed by a steam machine cobbled together by the Maori, but Kent gets his wish when he convinces a tohunga to briefly wake a taniwha and destroy the machine.

Final thoughts: I loved the setting of this story. It is your typical steam punk, set during the Victorian England era, with ornithopters and other gadgetry about. However, Rabarts interweaves Maori folklore in with the more traditional British characters to create something fresh and new.

Title comes from: The taniwha is a Maori supernatural creature who usually sleeps in deep places around the ocean. Kent was afraid a taniwha had woken and was destroying ships in the sea.

The Crooked Mile

BCS-cover-225x300Published: August, 2013 in Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Genre: weird Western

Length: 17 pages

Setting: a random Western town, during the Wild West era

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Rosco is just the young deputy, but he’s in charge when the purported wizard killer rides into town. Rosco sends the man into the Crooked Mile to find the sheriff in order to collect his bounty. When the sheriffs horse comes wandering into town later that night, covered in blood, Rosco knows he has to go in after them. Rosco finds both the stranger and the sheriff, on opposite sides of a gun battle. Each tries to convince Rosco they are in the right and the other man is evil and should be killed. Ultimately, Rosco kills them both (for different reasons), taking on the mantle of sheriff.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed this story as well. Again, the setting had a strong influence on the story. Rosco seemed a bit simple, seeing the world in lawful and not, and both the stranger, the sheriff, and the evil creatures in the Crooked Mile tried to take advantage of that fact to sway Rosco to their side of the argument. While it seemed that the evil creatures won (since Rosco killed both men), Rosco realized what they were doing and killed the men for his own reasons (they had broken the law). Rosco was definitely in a tricky spot – both men said he was telling the truth and the other man was lying. Who do you believe in that case? Yourself.

If you’re interested in either story, you can read them online for free at the links provided.

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