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Junkyard boy

A short story

By David GilbeyPublished 11 months ago 4 min read
by TollesToertchen

Part 1

I see... I see a town, it's blurred as if by a miasma, distant in my vision-rough forms stumble in and out of sight. Where am I?

I hear a 'tick tick tick tick tick'. With each tick a new image forms a little more in front of me, as if a curtain lifting. There is no town. Before me stands a machine, a tin man, shadowed metal forming its silent stare. Bulbous armour topped by a devilish helm. There is more than one, a whole row. Rows. Hundreds.

Who am I? and why do I stand amongst such monsters?

I try to move my hand, I cannot feel it, but I hear the hiss, the wir, looking down I see the mirrored hand of the monster in front of me, the chest, the legs. I stand among monsters because I am one.

My mind wants to tremble but my body does not. Rampant, unhinged fear races in my mind. I stumble forward, lurching, down the rows of my kin, through dim halls.

Where are the people? Images flash through my clouded mind. I'm in the street, I see a boy, he runs across the rough stone, I know him. He is half-starved, he steals, he sells what he can. Who are you?

The boy disappears in ghostly smoke. Noise floods me, reality hits, and the street is fraught with onlookers. I trip, unused to my mechanical feet, and break into a shambling run, my mind doesn't think of where, my feet simply take me.

Street after street, the sun is setting now. Jagged mountains on the horizon, such warmth there. This is my home, I know it but something is wrong, my sleek armor weighs on my iron skeleton, and as I approach the dark mountain edge of metal I cannot muster the strength to move further. my adventure ends here.

I stand motionless, enveloped in a haze, a deep orange hue engulfing my disjointed, hulking form.

Part 2

The boy was wandering the streets alone. His bedraggled clothing hung limply from his body. A fierce growl from his stomach told him what he already knew. There had been no food today. The town was getting wise to his theft and nothing salvageable had come to the junkyard for some time.

The sun dipped below the jagged metal mountains of the junkyard, the boy was levering the arm of his new friend out of its socket. He had found him laying amongst the others in a twisted repose. Was it seeking repairs or resigned to its fate? The inner workings of a tin man's mind eluded him.

“I can't fix it from here, and you won't be much of a thief with no hand on the other end.”

The tin man stood like a sentry, seemingly gazing into the jagged metal mountains, an orange glow cast upon his unseeing eyes, giving them an ethereal fiery reflection.

He's a tough one, the boy thought, a fighter. Fine carving etched his armour, each swirl and whirlpool mimicking the danger he might pose, were he functioning.

How such a machine even left the central guard the boy did not know, nobody had ever known them to do anything but keep the workers enslaved, and the people impoverished. Somebody had tampered with this one, word around town was that an automaton had gone rogue, stealing, sometimes even hurting locals.

“Looks like someone got the better of you today. It's not a big deal to me if you're a thief, I've been driven to it myself a few times, especially since my brother died. Wasn't so bad when he was here, he protected me, taught me everything I know about mechanics, lucky for you, I guess”.

As the sun sank lower, feet pounded the ground of the graveyard, disturbing the peaceful rest of the metallic slaves.

The boy knew that steady march. City guards. Goons really, dressed in shining armor that they had no business wearing. Thugs for the monarchy. Panic spread through his mind and body. He was too far from home, he had surely been spotted. He ran for his alcove, to hide behind its rusted steel door.

Too late.

Too slow.

The eyes of the guards fell upon the automaton, a mixture of excitement and anger in their voices. It was surely the boy who had fled, who had tampered, who will be punished.

Heart pounding, the boy spun on his heel, he knew there was little hiding amongst the razor-sharp edges of the graveyard, and he was so weak and hungry, his body betrayed him. He curled into a ball to await his final punishment.

With triumphant strides, the guards closed in, their faces twisted with cruelty. Towering over the boy, their weapons poised for harm.

He buried his face in his knees as a sword was raised in a high arc above him.

Suddenly metal was ringing on metal, a gasp as breath left a body. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.

Curiosity overwhelmed him, the boy uncurled himself, he peeked his tear-streaked face out from his trembling knees and there stood the tin man, the automaton. The men lay on the ground in front of him, the automaton a colossus above them.

The boy stared in awe at the rusted giant. As the boy approached, trembling, he took the automaton's hand and a wave of relief washed over him. The boy felt a deep, familiar connection.

"Hello, brother" the boy whispered.

The automaton considered the boy's words, its gears whirring and clicking. Slowly, it nodded, accepting the notion of a newfound bond.

“Hello... Brother” The automaton replied in a deep metallic rumble.


About the Creator

David Gilbey

Hi, my name is David. I'm a 29 year old Englishman living in Georgia (the country, not the state).

I work as a freelance administrator and English teacher, I've done this for 4 years while travelling with my 2 dogs and my girlfriend.

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