Change Display Name
Started first draft of short story.
The knock was soft enough to not reverberate through stone or startle the rats. Nor would it alert beggars to the presence of Ruk’s workshop amid the junk and debris of the abandoned catacombs. Ignoring it, Ruk knew it could only be Nell. Seeing as she was smart enough to unlock the door without a key, he concentrated on adjusting the steam conduits in the wings stretched out on the bench in front of him.
He barely heard the door open, barely heard her approach.
“Ruk,” Nell said softly. “I have something to ensure that your wings will be more than a means of escape.”
Ruk paused. Although some accident of birth had left Nell with the habit of twitching like a broken metronome, she was the sanest person he knew. She would not interrupt him unless it was important.
“I believe your wings will fly,” she said. “But I fear their clockwork will be loud. You’ll not have the benefit of stealth. Even at night.”
Ruk put down his screwdriver. “I wasn’t planning to attack anyone.”
“I wasn’t suggesting you were. But how will you prevent someone from attacking you?”
Ruk contemplated the wings – beautiful constructions twice the length of his height, a tapestry of copper-wire veins, tempered glass and leather pinions modelled on the aerodynamics of swan wings. When they were done, he would take them to the clock tower, strap them to his back and leave Forsham City to at last be free.
He rubbed his chin, admitting defeat. In his haste to get the job done, he’d refused to consider that the rattle of clockwork would indeed be a problem. “What do you suggest?”
He turned to find Nell already seated in his patched and re-stuffed armchair. Light from the jury-rigged gas lamp flickered over her face, making her blue eyes look as dark as the shadowed walls behind her. She twitched her nose like a nervous mouse, but looked confident nevertheless, leaning back with the disrespectful grace he’d always admired in her. She tossed a lock of hair from her forehead, sniffed, grimaced and then eased her feet out of her grime-streaked boots. Resting her legs on Ruk’s table next to his teapot and cups, she crossed her ankles to reveal tights worn thin at the toes and the ragged frills of knee-length bloomers beneath her skirt.
(“The Silence of Clockwork” reprinted in The Year’s best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2013 ed. Liz Gryzb & Talie Helene (2014) Ticonderoga Publications).
|What I Write||
I write science fiction and fantasy with lots of weird thrown in for good measure.
Over a dozen short stories in Australian small press anthologies. More details at my website bibliography.
Write, edit and submit at least one short story.
I’m happy with whatever people can donate to this worthy cause.