Destination Chapter 2 - Clockwork
I'm writing absurdly short chapters of 800 words or so - this takes a few minutes to read and I'd love it if you could take a look. If you like it, force your friends to read it too, and comment back to me!
Chapter 2. Clockwork
A wooden smile greets Mia from a wooden face, the head on which it sits being tipped slightly to one side, as though thinking. Bland wooden eyes blink once, and the jaw drops down in surprise, revealing strings inside. On the things head is red hair, and it looks as if it is slicked back but Mia knows it isn’t real – it’s painted on. And just above the two-part mouth is a thick ginger moustache, but this is painted on too. It’s red eyebrows are made of separate pieces from the rest of the face, rather like the eyes and mouth, and they wiggle in surprise at her while the mouth now moves up and down.
The conductor is sitting down, but it is obvious that beneath his uniform (a smart suit with unnecessary lapels) he is not real – both his legs and his arms are jointed pieces of wood, centred around a block torso from which Mia can hear a ticking. She wonders if he is clockwork powered, and if so, who winds him up to make him go?
The thing grins at her again – but it isn’t capable of looking sad.
“Will you be joining us on our voyage?”
The voice is tinny and comes from the conductor’s chest, but its mouth moves in unison with the words so that it appears to be speaking for itself.
“Yes,” Mia replied, because she couldn’t think what else to do. She contemplated the weird clockwork man for a moment. “Do you have a name?”
The man nodded jerkily. “I have many. Call me Davy, it’s what my mother called me.”
How could this thing have a mother? Mia shrugged to herself. If she was dead now, then anything was possible. After all, it was odd that she was still thinking, and breathing, and having odd conversations on trains.
“That’s the one.” He had produced a clipboard as wooden as himself, and was scanning it in a robotic fashion. “Mia Turner?”
She nods, perplexed. “How did you know my name?”
“It’s all on the register. Now please take a seat, someone will be round shortly with refreshments.”
Mia didn’t have much choice but to obey the tinny voice emanating from Davy’s ticking chest, so she turned to her right and opened the old fashioned, creaking, wooden door and stepped into the carriage.
It looks like any train carriage would do – the seats are in pairs and fours, facing each other with tables in between, but everything is that little bit older. The seats are like pews in an old chapel – wooden, straight backed and padded with something a little like carpet, and the tables too are wooden, and not even fixed onto the floor, so when the engine restarts again Mia can see them teetering here and there, which worries her. She takes a seat by the table that seems the most stable, but a disconcerting ticking noise startles her, and she sees at once that the table across the aisle from her has a small item on top of it.
It’s a clock – an old-fashioned wind-up type, and the time reads half past twelve, but Mia is sure that’s wrong so she gets up to change it. She picks it up and tries to wind the hands back, but they won’t shift and she’s not strong enough. The train begins to pick up speed and she returns to her seat, but not before noticing another clock, hanging on the wall nearby. The time on this one is five to one… Mia shrugs and decides to ignore it, gazing out of the window as the train speeds away from the treetop.
She glances down again, unable to resist staring at her own dead body as the paramedics produce two metal plates, rubbing them slowly together. The further away from the scene the train gets, the slower the image becomes, as though time itself is dragging itself to a standstill.
The train chugs its way onwards for what feels like hours, but the clocks have barely moved ten minutes on when the train begins to slow. A tiny voice squeaks through the carriage, emanating from invisible speakers perhaps.
“Now approaching Snuff. This is not your final destination.”
Mia stares out of the windows as the descend towards ground level, and is surprised to see the wreckage of what looks like an old bi-plane, the kind first flown by those two brothers… she wished she could remember their names. Beside the wreckage sits a strangely dressed man, looking oddly impatient, and as soon as the train stops he jumps on and Mia distantly hears him speaking to the conductor.
“I was hoping for something that flies, you know,” a human voice complains, and the clockwork man is replying as briefly as he can. Then the door to the carriage slides open, and there he is.
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