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Enlarge: Tallie repairs the mechanism of the Clockwork Book

Tallie was gone for a long time.

When she became aware again of the things outside her brain, she saw the Book slumped over its pages. The room was a shambles: the remains of her mushrooms and pillows and pots were scattered from wall to wall. The Book itself was motionless. Its works were turning slowly, irregularly. It had punished itself terribly, she saw.

"Book," she said. "Are you there?"

One of its eyes irised open. She could see a broken linkage hanging from the other one. The Book didn't speak.

"We're going to have to fix you up," Tallie said gently. "I think you've had some kind of a fit."

The eye closed again. In a creaking, distant ghost of its old voice it said, "I would rather you took me apart."

Tallie patted its huge, broken hand. "You just feel that way now," she said. "It's going to be all right." She started to clear away the mess and turned a careful eye on the Book's works. It was going to be a big job, she saw, but the Book had been built to last. She'd have it ticking away again. She would.

"It was everything he dreamed of," said the Book. "It made him what he was. It was the reason he... the reason he..." Somewhere a gear ground toothlessly, pointlessly, but unable to stop itself. The Book groaned. "I've destroyed it."

"But you haven't," Tallie said, as brightly as she could. Poor, poor Book. "I heard them all: every story in the Orb. The stories aren't gone. They've just moved into me."

She wiped her eyes, picked up her toolbox, and got to work. The Book sat quietly while she reconnected its eye, and when she was done, it looked up at her.

"Tallie?" Its voice seemed very small. "... will you tell me a story?"

She smiled into its great metal face. "Of course I will," she told the Clockwork Book.

Reader Comments
There are 22 reader comments on this page.
Snapbrim says:
April 23rd, 2012 at 9:46 am

That was amazing. Thank you.

Bill says:
April 23rd, 2012 at 11:10 am

Once again I agree, great story and illustrations.

dmaestro says:
April 23rd, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Wow .. Wonderful. Thanks for the trip.

Bradley W. Schenck says:
April 23rd, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Thanks, all – I just pulled my head out of mumblemumblemumble and it’s about to go back in. And thanks for following the story!

xoxoxoBruce says:
April 23rd, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Thank You. This has been a wonderful distraction. ;o)

Paul G. says:
April 24th, 2012 at 3:44 am

It was so good; fun to read and wonderful to look at. Thank you so much. All the best to you.

Paul says:
April 24th, 2012 at 11:45 am

But… But… More? Please?

Bradley W. Schenck says:
April 24th, 2012 at 11:56 am

The Intermission feature starts on Thursday, and there’ll be something even more interesting to follow!

Sara Star says:
April 24th, 2012 at 1:19 pm

That was beautiful, brought a tear to my eye. Thank you.

andy says:
April 25th, 2012 at 11:42 pm

very nifty ending…..
I actually LOVE the way suddenly machine is once again dependent on a human.

An excellently written piece sir. And your art is consistently amazing and wonderful.

Ryan Kolter says:
April 26th, 2012 at 7:09 am

That… was… indescribably good. Thank you.

zach says:
May 7th, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Yes. I enjoyed that. I have to say, that I was mostly dissapointed that the story ended, because I wanted more of it. Thankfully, you wrapped up the plot arc, and will doubtless be giving us more interesting small stories.

Bradley W. Schenck says:
May 7th, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Thanks! The challenge for me, I think, is giving you a sort of bigger story next time… but without letting the schedule dominate my life quite as much :).

Kyllein F. MacKellerann says:
July 11th, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Wonderful storytelling! Sumptuous art! Thank you so much.

Dwight T. Oakey says:
September 20th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

A truly wonderful story and artwork. You, sir, are a master, and your work is greatly appreciated. Of all the re- -work, -loads, -boots of today’s stories, yours is original and fascinating! I look forward to more… MUCH MORE!!!

Thank you, so very much!

Benoit Fouletier says:
October 28th, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Wow that was great! Loved the mixture of 1001 Nights-short stories with unexpectedly large overarching plot… Until about 2/3 of the book I actually thought these were just random stories, and didn’t mind because just having them in a common setting was satisfying.
Ever considered making it into a video game? This would be awesome for an RPG!

Bradley W. Schenck says:
October 28th, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Thanks! I think that when I started to write the story I intended to fill it with unconnected stories – that would have been a little easier on the readers who read these while they were appearing, two pages a week – but I couldn’t resist having them aim toward a conclusion, and so that’s what I did. It’s probably better for the print edition, anyway, or for someone like you who reads the whole thing in a short time.

amoebaboy says:
February 2nd, 2013 at 8:19 pm

amazing ! loved the interconnected threads, read it in one sitting, i much prefer the future how it used to be, we seem inhabit more or less the same universe.

Uldihaa says:
February 3rd, 2013 at 1:00 pm

What a great story. I really liked the way it seems to be a series of unconnected stories, but then slowly coalesces into one over-arcing narrative. The characters were interesting, particularly Gwen and Captain Scarlet. I’m hoping that future stories will emerge about Captain Scarlet and her adventures!

The relationship between Tallie and the Book was oddly touching. I’d really like to see a short story that tells of their first meeting and/or how she becomes the Book’s caretaker and companion.

Reading this, I’ve discovered an immense fondness for the aesthetic of a future that never was (but we all secretly wanted). Thank you so much for this story. I’m really looking forward to more.

Bradley W. Schenck says:
February 3rd, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Uldihaa and amoebaboy, thanks!

I do know a thing or two about why Tallie’s there and doing what she does. But although it’s interesting – and although I know people have been curious – that in itself isn’t really a story, so for now I don’t have any plans to do something with it.

One thing that no one’s asked about is why the Book would have been designed to need a caretaker. In fact, it wasn’t. It has a horde of cat-sized robots that can do all the maintenance that Tallie does. But since they look like gigantic spiders they were a little too much for a (then) very little girl to live with, and the Book hasn’t rolled them out for a long time.

Shawn N. says:
February 4th, 2013 at 3:23 am

Wow! That was incredible, I love the story and artwork both!

Scott K. says:
November 30th, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Thank you very much for the story, I look forward for more. I love this world.

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