Mr. Clank woke suddenly, as he always did, and looked around, blinking. The sun was still somewhat bright through the wisps of storm clouds, The great city glittering in the distance, as bright and fresh as new silver. Mr. Clank stretched, feeling the smooth roll of clockworks along his spine. It had been a hard choice, but even a flickering life was still a life. The key turned slowly, tapping out like a second heartbeat, a cool reminder that he was, indeed, alive. He started walking, smiling as the gears kept perfect time, the fields and small trees passing by in an easy rhythm. Even if it had taken some questionable steps, at least he was still able to continue to journey.
The city was still far off hours later, but Mr. Clank wasn't worried. He was making good time, and was still able to take in the scenery. The high mountains, the glittering lake, it was all bathed in a freshness, as if seen with new eyes. Which, in a way, might not be far off. Mr. Clank smiled, walking to a tall, wide tree, leaning against the bark and watching the leaves drift and flutter. Poor Mr. Redd, he'd never get to see any of this…maybe Mr. Clank could tell him about it, give him a small sample of these wonders. The clicking slowed, easing down as the key stilled, so tired now…just a small rest, before the road
Mr. Clank woke suddenly, as he always did, looking around with a start. A hazy nicotine-yellow sun burned down through sooty clouds, bathing everything in a hazy twilight. The city loomed up across a sprawl of squat, dark homes, a few small gardens and thin trees standing out in the haze. Mr. Clank stretched, feeling a harsh click as the gears in his shoulders and arms engaged, his spine shuddering hard once before smoothing out, the key clicking time like a metronome at a military march. He started walking, slowly, feeling his steps and watching the homes, wondering why he'd chosen this way, this path, this idea. The thick cogs jutting from his back caught a cool breeze between the homes, chilling him deeply.
The crumbled outskirts of the city were around him, hours later. Moldering heaps of rusted metal made Mr. Clank shiver involuntarily, wondering where the sun was now. Time seemed to be passing like the coppery dust on the streets, everything seeming to carry a kind of crumbling frailness, a timeless age. The silvery shards were streaked with rust and soot, the sound of a sick dog barking breaking the stillness for only a second. Mr. Clank sighed, feeling a shudder in his chest, leaning against a crumbling doorway. Mr Redd had said something, but he couldn't remember. Mr. Clank worried, his memory feeling a little fuzzy now. There had been a tree, a silver…something. He was so tired, his clockworks shivering and seizing with a jolt. Exhausted, he slid down to rest, eyes flickering over the road
Mr. Clank woke suddenly, as he always did, a squealing gasp rising from his lips as his eyes ratcheted open. The endless walls and towers of the city loomed like the walls of an oubliette, a few damaged and sputtering gas lamps the only light along the grimy, uneven street. Mr. Clank stretched, moaning as the flywheels and screws refused to catch, missing their sockets several times before clicking in, his twitching, sputtering arms ratcheting down, chest piston wheezing out of sync with the pitted key. He turned his head, slowly, shivering as timing gears missed, confused about where he had gone, why he had gone there. The thin, gray flesh of his face and legs looked icy, but the squealing of his joints took his mind from it. He hardly noticed the thin, black fluid his feet were leaking as he stated his jittering march.
Hours later, he might have been standing still. Mr. Clank felt claustrophobic, the endless walls seeming to shrink after every turn. Mr. Clank ran in a shuddering lurch, unaware of the time, sure he was late. For what, he wasn't sure, the thread of thought scattering as he saw something point at him, its face a black, fuzzy pit. Mr. Clank was lost, his clockworks squealing and sticking deep in his brain, an oily bile leaking from his mouth unnoticed as he panted. Mr. Redd was there…Mr. Redd had been there? Mr. Redd was coming. He whimpered in time to the slipping key, refusing to look behind at the squealing sound far behind him. Mr. Clank tripped and fell, skidding into a heap of oozing garbage, lying there, too exhausted to move. His clockworks locked tight, bringing a soundless scream…then let go, only to lock again moments later. Mr. Clank whimpered, for help or release he wasn't sure, feeling a dimness seep up from the cracked road
Mr. Clank woke suddenly, as he always did, crying ashy tears as his eyes slowly clicked open. The twilight was real, the bloated, boiling sun framed around trash fires and burning oil on the open plane. Mr. Clank screamed thinly, trying to cry as his rusted, pitted frame ratcheted up in a squeal of frozen bolts and rusty haze. Trying to grit his teeth against the agony, he found his lower jaw was gone, his exposed teeth dry and brittle in the thick air. The city walls were a unbroken wall behind him, his path from there forgotten, his way forward a stumbling, slow-motion shamble among slag, burning oil pipes, and shifting trash. Forward. His legs dug in on worn spines, steely points fogging rust. Forward.
Hours later, Mr. Clank lay, twitching and clicking, at the edge of the pit. Night had fallen like a slimy sheet, smothering vision, thought and breath in an oily tarp. Time was passing over him like ants, Mr. Clank lying like a dead thing, moaning in a raspy squeal as he watched the searing sun. Mr. Redd was…waiting…needing? Missing. Wishing. Listening? The words were shards, jabbing and freezing his stripped and sputtering gears. Sparks hissed and arched, a belt stretching and going slack, the memory of breath coming in torturous, moaning gasps. The Pit. Mr. Clank twitched and flexed, trying to get in, but his eyes glazed, frozen in a blank stare, watching the slow undulation of the road
Mr. Clank woke suddenly, as he always did, lidless eyes fixed on the pulsing walls. The blackness was total, and yet he saw. His body hissed and squealed, a paralyzed mass, brassy orbs mocking sight from the mass of screws. The rust was gnawing cancer, rats in his skin, maggots in his nerves, a endless itching with no arms to scratch. The paths before and behind were obscured, frozen eyes fixed on the leaking, sore-riddled flesh of the ceiling. He hated the softness under him. Hated the easy, sick fluid dripping and seeping. Hated the flexibility. Hated with a mass that had moved beyond feeling.
Hours later, he dropped like a numb, dead stone, landing on a heap of hissing, sputtering hulks. The darkness defied even his endless eyes, the vague humps of rusty, crumbling metal rolling in a sea of black pus. Mr. Redd. Mr. Reeedddd. Reeeeddddddddd. The squealing notes rose in a croaking monotone. He had taken. Given. It did not happen. There had been silver. There had been gold. There is rust. Mr. Clank raged, strained, snapping and shattering as he flexed out, clawing a helpless rage into the fleshy floor, digging for the bottom, for the escape, for the end, for the road
Mr. Clank woke suddenly, as he always did, and refused to open his eyes.
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