In A Flash: The Contraption

Jules Amostel had been tinkerer all his days, from his youth when his parents gave him a chemistry set to play with, through his time at university in the engineering department, where he was constantly toying with circuits in the lab or in his dorm room, and later as he found himself a job working for the city’s transit department. The first thing he did upon the purchase of a house, after marrying his longtime girlfriend, was to turn the unfinished basement into a lab space for the various projects he embarked on.

Jules had never been particularly social, and while he enjoyed going out and meeting with friends, and got on well with all his co-workers, he needed time to himself to do as he pleased and found it in the basement. His wife Amy was a patient woman and recognized it as a release of sorts from the stresses of day to day living. Every now and again she would notice him spending too much time alone down there and would remind him that he needed to spend time with her and his friends. She did not ask much about what he did there and he volunteered little, showing her the odd device he built, but they mostly confused her.

Soon they had children and their lives became busier still. Jules found time when he could for his work in the basement, though admittedly less now. It did not bother him, his daughters were far more intriguing than anything he might work on down below. As they grew into their teens and became more independent, he found he had more time that he could devote to his work and he returned to it with a renewed vigor. Sunday became his day dedicated to his devices and he would descend below after breakfast while Amy and his daughters entertained themselves.

Finally, after twenty five years of intermittent work, Jules finished what he had begun so long ago in his university dorm room. The individual devises that had so confused Amy were but a part of a much grander whole—a vast contraption—that, when he finally assembled it, took up much of the basement. It was capable of traversing time and space, perhaps even the fabric of the universe itself.

It was his life’s work, his grand design, but for many weeks he did not engage the contraption, would not enter it. Fear stopped him short. What if he turned it on and he was sent somewhere or sometime and could not return? Worse, what if nothing happened at all? It was difficult to say which of those possibilities scared him most.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

Support me on Patreon

Image Credit

Advertisements

Now Available: Beware! The Seas Are Angry This Night

Beware scaled

“Captain, I don’t know what to tell you. The game has changed.”

And so it has, but the Captain is determined not to lose. He faces a host of problems though: the man he was supposed to make a deal with has betrayed him, turning on the Infernal Contraption which means death to everyone near it, and now he is forced flee passing through a city descending into chaos and violence. And then there is the Grand Jefe…

A short story by  Clint Westgard
Available at Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords

The Game Has Changed

“Captain, I don’t know what to tell you. The game has changed.”

The dwarf peered sullenly through the haze filled cavern, rank with the smell of refuse, at the dandy who was smiling and smoking a thin cigarillo.

“Anger troubles the blood,” the dandy said in a sympathetic voice, his smile deepening. The expression on the henchman who stood behind him, his hands hanging free at his sides, as though he were waiting an excuse to use them, did not change.

“Daftness,” the dwarf said. He was dressed in sailor’s clothes, as was his companion, a giant of a man with hands as large as the dwarf’s head. They had docked that afternoon and made their way through the city and then below, through the sewers, to this room, as had been agreed. The sewers were ancient and huge, no longer in use, the sole memories of a long extinct civilization. They still retained the shadow of the grandeur that had once existed aboveground, long disappeared, replaced by haphazard and crumbling edifices.

“The Grand Jefe will not be happy. He’s no faro man.”

“He will play,” the dandy said. “It’s all been arranged. There’s no need to trouble yourself with his concerns.”

“I will decide what to trouble myself with.”

The dandy shrugged.

“Daftness,” the dwarf said and spat on the ground. “What have you done?”

“As I said, it has all been arranged. A new sun rises tomorrow,” the dandy said, spreading his hands. He looked at the henchman as if he might confirm that indeed it was so.

“Arranged? What daftness is this? What’s been arranged? What have you done?” Spittle flew from the dwarf’s mouth as he said it.

“It hardly matters to you, but I am keeping the Infernal Contraption. It is no longer for sale.”

“It has already been promised to someone. We set sail tonight.”

“The seas are angry this night, captain.”

“All nights.”

The dandy made a show of looking at his shoes, though he still kept his eyes on the two of them. He threw the stub of his cigarillo away and stepped toward the dwarf, holding both hands before him.

“I don’t know what else to tell you. It is not for sale.”

“The thing is not yours. It is for the Grand Jefe to decide,” the dwarf growled. “Now let’s stop with this nonsense. The hour’s getting late.”

Here the dandy’s smile grew. “As to that, there are great many things that are no longer for the Grand Jefe to decide.”

“We’ll see what he has to say when I tell him that you’ve squared the deal.”

“You’ll not be seeing him anytime soon.”

As the dandy spoke the henchman stepped from behind him holding an antiquated handpiece. Before anyone had a chance to move further the giant leapt towards the henchman, moving with a surprising quickness, and got hold of his wrist and neck in his massive hands. The sound of grinding bone was followed by an airless scream from the henchman, more felt by the two who watched than heard. The gun fell from the henchman’s hand and the echoes of its clattering had only just dimmed when he followed it to the ground. The dandy watched with disbelieving eyes.

“The game is changed,” the dwarf said and was at the dandy’s throat with a knife.

From Beware! The Seas Are Angry This Night by Clint Westgard

Forthcoming: Beware! The Seas Are Angry This Night

Beware scaled

“Captain, I don’t know what to tell you. The game has changed.”

And so it has, but the Captain is determined not to lose. He faces a host of problems though: the man he was supposed to make a deal with has betrayed him, turning on the Infernal Contraption which means death to everyone near it, and now he is forced flee passing through a city descending into chaos and violence. And then there is the Grand Jefe…

A short story by  Clint Westgard
Forthcoming May 2013