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Author Topic: A product of little sleep; view with caution.  (Read 1126 times)
Snr. Officer
Antarctica Antarctica

Professor's phlegmatic lackey

« on: November 20, 2007, 01:15:29 pm »

Here's what I did tonight instead of sleep (which I should have done) or edit writing I already have (which I REALLY should have done), just because I felt like it. Yes, it is probably strewn with evidence of my sleeplessness, but considering the time at which I usually write, the good points of sleepless delirium (bizarre scenarios and devices my brain would never let into the light of day, demented humor) are part of my style. Oh yes, and if you haven't noticed it in my regular posts, I heart semicolons. Tongue So, knock yourselves out!

Deep in the bowels of the old power plant, below the slanted roof above, raindrops swirling with soot beat upon the tin and a tattoo of apprehension into my chest, deep in those tunnels.
No frivolous paint graced those curved walls; there had been no reason to please the human eye, I figured--as the rumors had all stated, it was clear that I wandered in the footsteps of things not human. No five-fingered hands had ever tended the plant's boilers, turned its monstrous wheels or pulled its levers, nor had human eyes inspected the gauges--I had seen some before losing myself in this abyss of tunnels; they were the size of krakens' eyes. The only mark upon the walls was an oily splattering of graffiti, smeared beyond recognition but for the number "1852", perhaps a date. If it was, it was disturbingly recent.
Naturally, the shape of the floor was practical for no human to walk upon, and the slope pressed my feet into the center, forcing careful, slow steps, though my heart was telling me in Morse code to run--leave my curiosity in this land of black portals and flee. With the option of obedience to it scrapped by my tractionless choice of boots for the expedition, the only option remaining was to flat out defy it. Running likely would not have improved my sense of direction, anyway, and, likewise, would have led me to no door.

But then--a blessing from above! And by above, I mean that the pattering of the rain suddenly softened. Though I thought at first that the clouds outside were clearing and walked on, the noise returned when I left that spot, and racing back, it again subsided. I was beneath my ship, its envelope softening the sound.
My heart's thumping drowned out what was left as the realization paralyzed me--I had landed dead upon the center of the roof.
My feet were planted, fixed immovably, upon the spot I had been seeking.
The arcane, icy force released me; I whipped my ice pick from my back, collapsed half under its weight to my knees and set to work on the floor. The metal of the walls and floor was seamless, with nothing to pry at, so I settled for punching a hole, which I did with no difficulty; if they had been made of gold leaf, they would have crumbled and curled into a gaping maw less readily. So the pit was there...there was but one last piece of the stories to confirm, one spot to fill in. I craned my neck toward the darkness and extended the hand which, white-knuckled, gripped my lantern, not daring to allow anything else over the threshold. The lamp's beam did not stretch far enough to hit something to illuminate; the hole just kept going down...down a cave of--

A note, the click of a rusty gear casting off years of stillness startled me from the edge, and I narrowly avoided the whole choir's burst into squeals, creaks, the buzz of wings, and a xylophone of thousands upon thousands of arthropod legs of brass and steel rising--piano--mezzo forte--forte! A crescendo of motion and sound blew from the aperture! They came in a wave, though none were larger than my hand, as if one claw of a monster--drilling, clawing through, corroding the ceiling and taking no notice of me. Me, I clutched my lantern in the shadows, with the pick, which I had fallen upon in my shock, jabbing into my leg.
These perversions of clockwork were the final piece; it was all true--machine had maintained machine!
And now that their masters were long dead and their resting place opened, was it time to turn the wheels of another system? They were eager for something outside, I knew, once my senses started returning--it had not been two minutes of scraping and slicing when moonbeams pierced the tunnel from above and the last metal beast gathered its sixteen knifelike feet--for cutting pipes, I guessed--and threw them into the night air after its steely comrades.

I wasted no time--I dropped my lantern to free my hands and swung myself through the opening after it, ice pick precarious on my shoulder as it had been stuck there with trembling hands. Relieved to find my ship untouched, I hopped inside without bothering with gate or door and, swatting drill-nosed bugs from my eyes like mosquitoes, I hacked away the ropes binding it to the roof while cursing dirigibles and cold engines through my teeth. The engine I kicked to life with my right foot.

Police carriages were already trotting out of the fog on the ground; the remains of the ropes would be more evidence for them, but we had already begun to rise. We, for in the first few seconds of the ascent, the airship was borne up by both the feeble engines and the swarm of tiny machines.
Curses rose from the ground, but I could see nothing--I was in a cloud of the things. Propellers and wings sang and roared into my ears, and those without such things clung to those that did. And then Mister Eight Legs attempted to hitch a of the larger ones, it was able to throw me headfirst onto the deck. For the first time, I was aware, in the frenzy, that I was injured; a thread of blood from my forehead crossed my vision, which was otherwise filled with Eight Legs' flailing pincers.
But my sense of touch, unoccupied on my right hand. Nothing pinned it down, yet, if I was not mistaken--glass. I smashed the panel guarding the emergency engine blindly with my bare fist and slammed, ignoring the explosion of pain, the first button-like piece of metal I felt.
"What now...?" I growled.
Success--I felt the pressing G-forces; we were traveling upward at double the speed for which the craft was intended.
"You're soon going t' get lonely without your buddies, you little--"
I was cut off by the taste of steel; that was all I knew.


Haze...I awoke passing through a frozen raincloud, by hailstones bouncing off my face. Otherwise, the storm had calmed--the menaces I had released that had lacked the sense not to follow me were strewn about on the deck, rusted immobile.
I looked myself over without getting up; my wounds had been shallow and no longer flowed.
I had no interest in standing just yet, especially not in looking down. As for where I had come from, I had no interest in telling the story to my fellow townspeople or (particularly) what the police would call the crime they wanted me for. My ties from the place had snapped like the ropes on the roof of the plant, and I had drifted too far to fasten them again.

"An eruption!" I said. "We're in the chimney of an active volcano?"
"I think so," said the professor smiling, "and that's the best thing that could happen to us!"
-Journey to the Center of the Earth

"The way to my heart is through my chest, with a scalpel and a bone saw."
-Lady Anne
Mordecai Maxwell
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2007, 12:36:57 am »

A most enjoyable tale.  I think you could definitely turn that into a longer piece.
Snr. Officer
Antarctica Antarctica

Professor's phlegmatic lackey

« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2007, 05:07:49 am »

Thank much more than I deserve for it...I'm so modest. Tongue
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