Wednesday February 28th, 2018

The exercise:

Write about: the contraption.


Greg said...

We had this morning about 30cm of dry, powdery snow and it's been snowing lightly all day so far. It's lovely, but since the Ukrainians think I'm mad for not wearing enough clothes I've had to work out how to say "я снеговик" -- I'm a snowman. So there shall be snow in my writing today :)

The contraption
There was a high-pitched squeak and a drawn-out crack and Jen shuddered. It was already below -10C and the ice started to make odd noises in that level of cold. It behaved oddly as well: some of the icicles outside seemed as hard as steel and about as friendly. Something popped, and though she quickly quelled her startled reaction she still felt sweat break out on her forehead.
She rubbed it away with the back of her gloved hand, and focused on the contraption she was trying to fix. Stefan had said that it was logical but his idea of logical was a lot colder and more ordered than hers, and she kept checking and rechecking things, worrying that she'd made a mistake. She counted the number of buffers again, and got eighteen once more. Which was, according to Stefan's notes, correct. She swung the top panel shut, and bent down to look in the lower one. Outside a clump of snow, probably dislodged by a bird, fell off the branches of a tree and crashed to the ground.
The bottom panel was also, according to Stefan's notes, correct. She closed up the contraption and stared at it. All she had to do was turn it on... but Stefan had done that two days ago, and then disappeared. Was this wise?
She reached out for the on-off switch. She'd got no sleep last night debating this over and over. She would turn it on, and either she'd go where he was, or he'd come back. It had to be one of the two. It had to be.
The switched clicked into the on position and the contraption hummed softly. She watched it for thirty seconds, counting the time in her head. No door opened, no-one walked in or called her name. She would just have to go and check every room in the small house herself then.
As she walked from the workshop into the kitchen someone called her name. Or maybe it was the ice outside, creaking in the unyielding cold and she just wanted to hear her name. But she quickened her pace. The lounge was empty, but the stairs to the bedroom were there; maybe he was upstairs. As she set her foot on the first stair she heard the sound (name?) again, from behind her. She turned, her stomach sinking: that meant it had to be the ice outside and not Stefan.
There was nothing behind her. Something thumped, and she resignedly knew it was more snow. Then a cold hand slipped over her mouth and strong arms pulled her backwards, off balance because her feet were hindered by the staircase. An icy chill spread over her head, numbing her and making her vision grey and cloudy and then she was being picked up: more arms and hands seized her feet and she was carried out of the house into the snow. They halted for a moment and she blinked, trying to see. Stefan loomed in front of her, leaning close to her so she could see him.
"The contraption just summons the Ilmatu," he said, and she wondered that his breath didn't condense on the air. "I'm very sorry, but you're not one of us."
"Wha-" she managed, though her lips were so cold that she thought her face might shatter.
"You should have left it alone," he said. "Then we could have left you alone."

morganna said...

Well, that was freaky. My contraption is much smaller, and sweeter.
Carefully arranged
Only one
Thing missing, a
Really important
Put away carefully by Mommy
Tiptoe past her
Impatient to complete the machine
Oh no, spotted by Mommy! The work dismantled,
Never to be completed.

Marc said...

Greg - I have no trouble whatsoever imagining that snowman conversation...

Dang it, Greg. I need an Ilmatu warning at the start of these stories. That way I'll know better than to read them late at night, alone in the dark, when I'm about to go to bed.

Morganna - another fine acrostic, though am I left wondering what exactly was being attempted here... and what the important apparatus is too!