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The light was so bright that the man had to squint. Or, he would if he could. He sat up and elbows whirred as he did. “Yes! It’s alive!” He turned to see a small man with crazy white hair, big black eyes, and even bigger glasses. He wore black rubber gloves and a white lab coat, save for a few oil stains. “I can see it now—awards, newspapers, money—my face on a cereal box! And it’s all because of you, my friend! The first ever clockwork man!” As the weird old man continued rambling, so the clockwork man decided to look about the room. It was very dusty and dark, as the only light source was a small bulb. There were tools and college degrees everywhere, and even some plates of food on the workbenches. “…And I am Timothy Tockwotton, but you may call me Doctor!” The metal man stared. “Doc-tor?” he repeated in an artificial voice. “Oh, yes! My, it seems your voice box is working perfectly. Very good, if I’m ever going to expect an answer while you work. Now, let’s go upstairs, I need to eat.” “E-e-e-at?” His voice-box lagged a little, but it worked fine. “Yes, er… refuel, so to speak.”
The basement door led to the kitchen. It was very messy, but the Doctor didn’t seem to care. He made some toast with butter and jam, and found a drink which had probably been left out since the day before. Klock watched this ritual with great curiosity, and asked, “Doc-tor, what are you dooo-ing?” “This is what I do to stay alive, so that I keep moving and thinking.” “Am I a-l-i-i-i-i-ve?” The Doctor thought about this a moment. “Technically, no. I am made of meat, and you are metal. Copper at that, very nice. I was born, and you were built. So no, you are simply a very well made dead thing, constructed by a handsome and skilled doctor, and nothing more.” “Can I e-e-e-a-t?” “No.” “Then how do I move and think?” “You run by clockwork. You have a windup key in your chest that allows you to stay moving, and you simply turn it every so often, so that you don’t stop working.” Klock said nothing. “Now then, since I am done eating, and you have nothing to do, I’d like you to clean the kitchen.” “Cle-e-an?” “Yes, I need you to pick up everything, wash it, and put it all away.” Klock didn’t think this would be fun, and he was new to life, and so replied: “No.” “Hubbada—What?! Why not?” “If this is to be my first day li—moving, I should en-joy it, y-e-e-e-s?” “I suppose… Ah! I’ve got it!” Doctor rummaged through his pockets, and took out a few paper bills and some coins. “Go get my dry cleaning, and I need some nails and screws too.” “And what is this?” he asked, holding the money. “It’s called ‘money.’ You use it to buy things. If you go into a store and give them this, they will give what you want. Now go on, you have a lot to do.”

Klock left the house and was now outside for the first time. He saw birds, trees, puppies in sweaters, buildings, a fountain, and a woman. But she didn’t look like the other meat-women. He walked closer, and noticed she was dead, like him. She was the statue in the local park, and tourists would climb it for pictures and brids would rest on her head. But she didn’t mind. She never did. She was very beautiful and grey, and her whole figure sparkled a little in the sun. “Hello-o-o-o,” Klock said, his greeting as sincere as his voice box allowed. However, the woman said nothing. “My name is Klock,” he said. As he did, he took off his boater hat, and bowed, to be polite. “I am only 24 min-utes, and 57 sec-onds old, but I-I-I would like to be your friend.” Still, the woman said nothing. “You are shy, I ass-ume. No mat-ter, I am ve-ry kind, I think. We are not made of meat, as ev-er-y-one else seems to be, and we are both dead, I be-lieve. But I think we can get a-long.” She still wouldn’t respond. “Mad-am, I do not know much, but it is ver-y pro-vo-king to speak to some-one who will not an-swer. Do you have a voice box?” The statue still didn’t speal, as stautes often do. “I su-ppose not. Per-haps you are an e-e-e-arlier than I. You look much dull-er than I do, and I am much shin-i-er. I move, yet you sim-ply stand. Can you see and hear, I wonder?” She did not respond. “No, that was rhet-or-i-cal, dear. But I will come back la-ter. I must go ex-plore life now. Good-bye.”

Klock came up to a few resturaunts, but as he could neither smell nor eat, there was no point in going inside. He came across a school, so he listened to lessons for a bit from outside, but when the ball rang it startled him, and so he ran away. He ran across a street in front of some carriages and automobiles, and angered or frightened many. He eventually found his way back to the park, though he did get his blue suit a little wet. He watched birds fly away as dogs barked, and found two old women throwing something on the ground. Klock approached the bench where they were sitting. “He-llo, la-dies, what are you do-ing?” he asked. One of them replied, “Oh my, look, Lizzie, it’s a metal man!” “Oh, how quaint! Would you like to sit with us?” Klock bowed, and took off his hat as he thanked them. “My name is Klock. I am now three hours, fif-teen min-utes and thre-e-e seconds old. Thank you for lettgin me ‘sit.’” The women giggled. “I am Lizzie, and this is Delilah. We are 24 years old—” “We wish!” Deliliah interrupted, and they both sarted laughing. Lizzie then continued, “We’re feeding the birds as we do every Sunday after Mass. Here, try it.” Klock sat down and took the bag. “What do I do now?” “Here, I’ll show you.” She took a handful of feed, and sprinkled it on the pavement. Klock repeated the gesture, and three small bluebirds approached and began to poke the ground. He was very proud that they accepted his offer, and made a noise that sounded like a happy sigh. His two friends were happy they had someone else to talk to, as their children and husbands were either dead or had moved away. “Dead like me?” “No, they’re in the ground now, and can’t feed birds or talk like you do.” “Oh, by an-y chance, do you know a-bout the woman over there?” Klock pointed to the statue. “Oh, that’s Nicole. She’s always there, and she’ll listen to all your problems and dreams, and she never gossips.”

Klock’s new friends had to leave for tea, so Klock went to go see Nicole again. “Hell-o, Ni-cole. He-llo Nic-ole…” he rehearsed to himself on the way. Then he stopped. He bent down to pick up some flowers and grass, as he had passed by a painting earlier of a man singing to someone and giving them flowers. He thought he should try it. But when he got to his stony beloved, he bent on one knee, held up the flowers, but then he remembered the man was singing, and Klock didn’t know how to sing. And when he tried, nothing happened. He felt, so to speak, that his gears were too loose in his arms and legs, and the ones in his head were spinning too fast. If he were made of meat, his chest would hurt, his stomach would be tight, and his palms sweaty. He couldn’t do it. He gently left the flowers, and fled.
“Doc-tor! Doc-tor!” Klock said, as panicked as he could manage while he ran into the house. “What? They didn’t mess up my pants again, did they?” “No, I think I’m bro-ken!” “Broken? How could you be broken, I made you!” “Well, I met some-one, but I don’t know how to im-press her. I tried to sing, but nothing happened. I don’t know how to sing. I don’t know a-ny songs.” The doctor laugh ed for a while and then said, “Come here, and I’ll give you something.”
After a few minutes of drilling and screwing, and wiring, and connecting thingamabobs to whozamawhatsits, it was done. “Just press his button when you want to sing, and turn the knob to change the song. This is called a ‘radio.’” “R-r-r-radio?” “Yup! It plays whatever you want!” Klock went back to see Nicole after his not-so graceful experience. She waited in the same spot, as she had all day. The flowers were still there. “Oh good. You kept them.” She said nothing. “I’m sorry for runn-ing off like that, but I was nervous. You see, you’ve been alive—and I use that term loosely—much longer than I have, I’m sure. And, we are very similar, although I can move, and you can’t. But you d know how it feels not to be made of meat, and yet still app-re-ci-ate the world, yes? I wonder who made you? Does he live here? Sorry, I’m babb-ling, ar-en’t I? Oh, I have to show you something!” Klock stood up, pressed the button on his chest, and turned the knob a little. It switched to a classical music station. Nicole said nothing, but Klock was sure that she was happy that he visited. He came everyday afterward to play his radio and simply talk. He’d even bring an extra umbrella in the rain for her. He’d even wash her sometimes, and was careful not to get to much soap or water in his joints, for he heard metal tends to rust. (But he was made of copper which doesn’t rust, but he didn’t know that.)
Klock still talked to Lizzie and Delilah of course, but Nicole was all he thought about. Klock noticed that he still had money in his pocket from four weeks ago, and decided to spend it on a present for Nicole. “There is no point in buy-ing food, baecause she can-not eat. Per-haps a neck-lace?” He walked over to the jewelery store and looked around. “Hello sir, may I help you?” “Yes, I am look-ing for a neck-lace.” “Is she clockwork too?” “No.” “Aha! A meat woman, then?” “No, she is a ‘statue.’ The one in the park, named Nic-ole.” “Oh, I see. This one’s perfect then.” The man unlocked the glass display cabinet, and took out a gold necklace with a heart-shaped locket. Klock stared for a minute. “No, thank you.” “What? But it’s one of our best! Why not?” “Well, it’s rea-lly ra-ther hor-rid, if you don’t mind my say-ing so. Per-haps I can make my own. Good-bye.” The jeweler stared in disbelief as as the strange clockwork man turned on his heel and leave the store. (Which did ruin the floor, but he was too stunned to notice.)
Klock returned home, wound up his chest, for he was a little tired. He went all around the house, hunting for supplies for his necklace. He eventually found a spool of orange thread, three pieces of macaroni, two springs, five gears, and 4 buttons. He put these on a much too long piece of thread, and tied a knot with the ends. This took a while, because at first it took a while to figure out how to make a knot, but when he finished this, he went to the park.

Past the playground, benches, fountain, and trees, stood Nicole as beautiful as ever. Klock walked up to her, and he was a bit nervous, but wouldn’t let it show even if he could. “Um, Miss Ni-cole, I w-a-a-a-s won-der-ing—uh, ho-ping—would you ac-cept this? I made it my-self. for you, that is—and so, would you wear this?” He stood on Nicole’s pedestal and put the makeshift necklace on her gravel neck. If he could, he would smile with satisfaction and pride. He sat down and turned on his radio to his favorite station for classical music. Passerby would later say that they saw her smile lovingly, but they couldn’t be sure. They were sure, however, that they were the two happiest dead people anyone would ever see.

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Papergirl

Joined August 2009

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Artist's Description

A short story I wrote a while back; I think it’s rather cute.

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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