Thursday March 10th, 2016

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: clockwork.

Yeah, the Wastelands haven't left my thoughts quite yet...

I spent this morning rearranging furniture and organizing stuff in Max's room. There's a lot more space for him to play in there now and I think the layout works better in general. Thankfully he approved of the changes when he got home from daycare.

This afternoon I got started on filing our taxes for 2015. Not my favorite thing ever, but it was good to get it started and I'm hoping to finish it off tomorrow morning.


The ache of my broken wrist is a constant companion. My only one, so I can't help but treasure it just a little. It is a reminder that I am still alive, that all of this is not some unending nightmare.

How many days have come and gone since my airship was blasted out of the sky? Five, I think. They blend together in my memory. Though the landscape changes as I continue westward, it all feels the same. Boulder after boulder, dusty ravine after dusty ravine, with no signs of wildlife to be found other than the distant, screeching calls of falcons high above.

I chase the western horizon, as best I can, because this is the way Captain Miranda had been taking us. Perhaps, if I survive long enough, I will find what she was seeking. Whatever in the hell that might be.

My canteen is empty now. It has been a day (or is it two now?) since I last discovered clean water. My throat aches at the memory. If things continue like this, it is difficult to imagine me lasting much longer. But I continue to drag one foot in front of the other, for what choice do I have?

I reach the end of my most recent canyon and the path rises steeply before me. Under ideal circumstances it would only take me five minutes to reach the crest; I probably wouldn't even really notice the incline. But now... now I shudder in dread at the mere sight of it. The climb takes too much out of me, and far too long. I have to crawl the last few feet and don't attempt to rise until my heart stops threatening to burst through my chest.

"Up we go," I mutter through cracked lips, pushing myself off the ground.

"Who goes there?" The voice is not fully human. There is a metallic quality about it that is vaguely unsettling. On my hands and knees I am reluctant to look up. "I repeat: who goes there?"

"Xavier Daniels," I say. "Helmsman to a fallen airship. I come from the -"

"That is more information than I require at this time." I hear clicking and grinding as I feel a shape bend over me. "Can you stand?"

"I... could use a hand."

"That I do not have to offer." More clicks, some whirring now. "However, I do have this."

Something grabs hold of the back of my shirt and hauls me upward until my feet are dangling a few inches off the ground. I look up slowly, taking in dull brass legs, an abdomen covered with turning gears and dials, up to a face dominated by two large, oval pieces of glass. They look like they belong at the end of a telescope.

Only they are moving as though they are looking at me in the same manner as I was just looking at it.

"You are badly injured and malnourished." I want to ask it not to harvest me for parts but I don't have the energy to crack the joke. "I will take you to my master. He may be able to help you."

"May?" I repeat as I let my head sag back down. I watch the ground move below me for a few jerking steps before deciding closing my eyes is a better idea. "I like the sound of those odds."


Greg said...

I'm trying to picture Max standing there with his hands on his hips ordering you to put his room back the way it was. I suspect you'd be confessing to having had another grumpy day at that point :)
It's been a little while since the Wastelands but it's still fresh in my memory, which says something about your writing so far. This is a nice addition to the tale, with some neat details, a nice use of zeugma and an interesting (if possibly a touch clich├ęd) clockwork automaton there at the end. Excellent writing!

The canonical hours are called by horns;
Measured out by the water clocks
That spill precious fluid from brass troughs
Into a porcelain basin whose manufacture
Was lost a hundred years ago.
Candles burn at a steady rate and seconds
and minutes incandesce away
Sparkling momentarily like mayflies adance
In the eternal length of a summer's day.
Sand flows through the pinched glass neck
Of an hourglass bound in bronze.
Each crystal that falls and mounds initiates an avalanche
That sweeps away an amount of a man's life
Equal to the breadth of the eyelash of a gnat.
We tend these timepieces with diligence and patience.
We ensure the clock work happens.

Marc said...

Greg - thanks for the kind words on mine :)

Some pretty fantastic word choices and imagery in yours. Not sure I can pick a favorite line, but I suspect that 'Candles burn at a steady rate and seconds and minutes incandesce away' is up there near the top. Beautiful.