Monday, April 13

Mechanical Creature

My heart is racing. I've checked and rechecked the attic door to make sure it's locked.

Part of the attic is an improvised nursery for my seedlings. Old kitchen pots, pans, and fancier seed starter trays are stacked on overturned crates beneath the windows. The room is finished, wall papered in yellow with white flowers. White curtains on the windows and oil lamps mounted on the walls. There are bits of fabric and thread on the bare wooden floor so it may have been a sewing room.

There is a back wall covered in fancy leather paneling that divides the attic in two. Curious about the missing space, I took a sledgehammer to the center of the wall. Of course, I knocked for the beams so I wouldn't cave the roof in. I busted an area between studs just wide enough for me to get through. Covered in dust and weary, I realized I hadn't brought a lantern up. I fetched one from the kitchen.

I stepped through the hole into a windowless lab with flickering lamp light illuminating total ruin. The analytical engine screen was smashed. Broken flasks were strewn about. Tools scattered across the floor. Slumped against a wooden table in the center of the room was a copper mechanism with the dress and face of a little girl. Setting the lamp on the table, I kneeled for a closer look. Her or it's skin was dry, dirty on the cheeks, and stretched a bit too thin across a metal skeletal structure. The face was riveted to the metal skull in several places. The eyes were open. They seemed like glass and the pupils didn't adjust to the light. The poor things hair, a blond little wig, was cocked to one side. There were tiny brown panels in on it's scuffed shoes and on the back of it's head. I felt a steam valve under the dress in the back. I dared not turn it. I was afraid the thing would move. It's metal hand protruded from torn white gloves that had splinters embedded in the fabric. What was this thing? Had it ever been alive?

I stood and looked around the lab. Saw a string hanging from the ceiling, pulled it, and electric lamp lights buzzed on overhead. There were scratches and chiseled areas all along the wall at child's height. On a wall post there was a carved heart with the initials J.L. and the word mommy.

I picked up my lantern and fled the room making sure the attic door was firmly latched. I'm sure I left the electricity on. In the couple weeks I've been here, I've never heard any stirrings in the attic. None at all. I must find out who that little girl was.

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