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Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual
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Enlarge: Tallie installs the drilling machine, and wonders what it's for

Tallie double checked her position. She'd arrived right at the spot where the Book had told her to install the drilling machine. Its timer was ticking away and its depth adjustment had been set. It was aimed directly overhead at the ceiling of the tunnel.

The last thing she had to do was to turn it, the Book had said, until its long curved chute pointed back the way she'd come.

It now squatted in the underground tunnel and waited for its appointed moment. Tallie was supposed to get out of here now: but she found herself studying the machine.

She sort of understood the drill - it was going to chew away at the tunnel ceiling until it reached a particular height. She did not understand the chute, though, or the spherical cradle that sat at the chute's top just below the drilling head. She looked back the way she'd come. There was a long straight stretch of tunnel, then a series of turns, and another stretch that led right to the Book's door. She looked back at the cradle and started to get the picture.

She was torn between her need to get back to the Clockwork Book and its televideo screens, and a longing to stay right here and see what was going to happen. But whatever the Book was doing was taking a serious toll on its mechanism. It might need her.

Tallie lit out down the tunnel and ran as fast as she could back to the Clockwork Boo

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