From the recently discovered papers of Michael Faraday, collected and edited by Mr Latimer Naseby.
The apparatus was on a scale that I scare imagined could exist.
I fear I have no skill in describing it. I have seen the vast factories of Birmingham and Manchester with their ranks of incomprehensible machines, turning and grinding with such a fearful noise. But this, this was as if Hades itself had been harnessed. There was indeed, sulphur in the air. I recognised this to be from the burning of coal.A vast beam engine, of the type built by Messrs Boulton and Watt, loomed over the darkened hall. These kind of machines were not new to me, as I had studied their development from Newcommen’s engine onwards. This though, was a leviathan.
The machines it was built to power were no less impressive, and, I might add, a good deal more satanic in their appearance. Indeed, they seemed to be surrounded by a blue aura. The very air around them seemed to be burning. Great cables led from them to the wall, passing via a sealed archway into another room. I was soon to find that it was another chamber of the most curious design and construction.
I was not allowed to enter therein, but I was shown the place through a series of heavy smoked glass portholes set at intervals along the wall. The building was a form of rotunda, with many odd contraptions seemingly oriented toward, or away from the centre. I could not clearly see what was at that point from any of the angles I viewed it from. It was a light, I could not regard it long. It was as bright as the sun and as painful to look at directly.
‘But Sir’ I said ‘There’s a man lying dead inside there.’ He smiled at me ruefully, although I scarcely thought a smile was warranted. ‘There are six in there.’ The machine, or some power emanating from it, had killed six men. There were at least four others who’d escaped, only to expire shortly afterwards. Of those few that lived, most would not speak of their experience.
Boulton & Watt Rotative Steam Engine (1785) , Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia.
This is another excerpt of an ongoing fiction work ‘Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science’. I will be publishing new parts on Wednesdays and Sundays