The Crossroads of the Aether
Chapter The First
The domestication of the Undead is still a relative rarity in modern industrial Britain. Although it has been practiced widely in the Colonies since the middle 50s.
With the publication of “The labour of the Lost” by Sir Osmond Pinchsnive in the July 1889 number of “Midlands Engineer” there has been an increasing acceptance of this practice primarily along the Birmingham Canal where those unfortunates fulfil a most useful purpose by towing coal barges at a fraction of the cost of horsepower. As few as eight of the lost souls, known in the parlance of the barge foremen as “Ghoul Gangs” can tow an exceptional tonnage without the need of sustenance or rest for many days at a time.
The Kennet and Avon canal adopted this practice briefly in 1883 but public outcry was such that the practice was withdrawn. It was suggested that a gentleman of good breeding was walking near Devizes one fine spring morning of that year when his senses were foully assailed by a sight of such ghastliness that he could barely contain his composure. He claimed that the lead “perambulator” (as the poor souls are referred to in the trade) appeared to be a gentleman of good standing, renowned for his charity work with the poor and needy who had passed some six weeks previously and was widely known throughout the town, a scandal followed and the use of perambulators was banned by local statutes.
It is considered by learned men who are conversant with the economic realities of the canal systems, that the residents of the Southern Counties are too genteel to tolerate the sight of their former acquaintances enslaved for to walk the earth in perpetuity. It has therefore been decided to expand the practice to several more networks including the Liverpool and Leeds Canal where such sensitivities are considered wet.
In the learned opinion of this correspondent the economic advantages of “perambulator gangs” could be put to good use throughout heavy industry and other activities requiring unskilled labour, thus releasing the services of the working classes for purposes such as domestic service, mining and of course soldiering for which that class is so eminently suited.
Jasper. A. Hothgried, Engineering Correspondent.