Tempus Automata – three


“I can tell you of my existence… “

Its voice no longer spoke into the wind, but only grew louder within the mind.  The peculiar monkey creature seemed to snicker as both my companion and I pressed our hands to our ears and cried out in pain.

“…if that is what you truly wish.”

Papers flew haphazardly through the air of an archaic laboratory before they settled like leaflets on the ground during a revolution in full swing.  The dull eyes of what appeared to be a life sized doll stared blankly at the crazed man in the center of the room as he pulled at his hair.

“Oh, if I could go back in time!” cried the wizened inventor.  “If only to study with the master Pierre Jacquet-Droz and to finally grasp at the analog straws of memory and its relation to output.  To learn at the feet of Jacques de Vaucanson and in the fine construction of his pieces.”

With a huff, the inventor knelt and slowly gathered the loose sheaf of papers which now littered the floor.   He carefully laid the sheets down on his overburdened desk before his hands clenched the edge fiercely, “But why stop there?  Why not travel back to meet with Ben Franklin and his wondrous Philadelphia Man?  Why not go back to help Leonardo da Vinci build his mechanical knight?”

Another sigh escaped him as he stared at his creation, but the unresponsive camera lenses in the expressionless face only reflected his image back.   Sadness etched its way into the inventor’s cheeks as he turned away and settled back into the beaten leather chair at his desk.

A slight grin colored his lips, “If all of time was an option, why settle for only those?”  He sprung out of his chair and grabbed the hands of the doll, “We could go to Ancient Zhou and see how the great artificer Yan Shi made his dancing man.  We could even ask Jabir in Hayyan the secrets of the Book of Stones!”

The inventor spun back to his table and rifled through his old notebooks.  Pages were violently flipped through before a book would be launched over his shoulder or dropped to the floor.  His movements grew more frantic until his eyes spied the unopened box near the window.

“When did this one come in?” he muttered while he checked the delivery date.  “Last week, eh?  How did I miss it?”  A sardonic laugh burst from him, “How can I question mail sent to me by me but from long ago?  Oh, the eccentricities of life!”

His small pocketknife sawed at the fibrous tape that kept the box closed until he was able to rip the lid in two.    Glee lit his eyes as he withdrew a brass and copper instrument.  Gears clicked as he tripped the small levers.  The multiple readings across the face of the device indicated the time, placement in the galaxy and height above sea level.  He kept at it, but nothing seemed to happen.

Perturbed, he reached into the box and pulled out a handwritten note;

   The mechanism requires a power source. 

   Perhaps the project’s will do?

The inventor chortled as he brought the mechanism over and proceeded to install it inside the open cavity in the chest of his doll.  A wire was connected into the housing before the cover was replaced.

The eyes on the doll lit up and began to scan the laboratory before they settled on the inventor, “Creator.  How may I be of service?”

“Let’s see what wondrous things we can do, my friend.”

Author: jongraylang

Novel Writer, Screenwriter, Filmmaker & occasionally an Actor. Handy with a Sword, Ukulele, and Skis. Author of Nun With a Gun: The Town with No Name, The Matilda, Twistin' Matilda, Black Matilda, and Secret Matilda. Writer of the upcoming Sci-Fi sequel, Waltzing Matilda.

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