John R. White is the author of the Airship Neverland series of steampunk fantasy novels. This story, The Inspector, is a new, previously unpublished work representing some of the back story of villain in the series’ third book, TALES OF THE AIRSHIP NEVERLAND Volume III: DUST AND ASH. This story and more are available for free at’s publishing imprint, Helium Beach.

The Inspector, by John R. White

The communique had arrived at his Scotland Yard office at fifteen minutes after the hour of ten in the morning. Inspector Hanson would address and review it as soon as he had managed all the work up to that time, and not a second before. Hanson placed into his letterbox, which was arranged by the posts time of arrival. Hanson found chaos useless and counter-productive to the man’s work. 

The Inspector was thirty-six and unmarried. In point of fact, he had never been betrothed, nor did he date, as women found his obsessive-compulsive nature distressing and the man entirely unpleasant. Delacorte Hanson found that quite acceptable because romantic relationships required too much useless and time-consuming activities. Pitching woo, attending shows, and such like would be the downfall of civilization to his mind.

Noon arrived, and the proper gentleman ate his lunch at his desk. It consisted of a dried pork sandwich, two hard-boiled eggs, and cold tea. At twenty minutes after noon, he read the message:

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