|Image supplied by Bliss Morgan|
A little old man sat alone in a domed room, lit by lights made a little dimmer by thin, tightly-stretched learher over the steel bracers, leading up to a single dilating window. Surrounding him, on every surface and shelf, pieces of brass and steel, plastic and iron sat, buzzed, and whirred in an unpredictable fashion, making the workroom a place of motion and madness.
He hummed a little as he worked, goggles pulled down over his eyes, resting on his long, crooked nose. His fingers clutched a screwdriver, spinning and tightening a screw on a small, lifeless machine. He had been working on it for years, unsuccessfully.
In that time, he had not seen the outside world.
He stretched, put his hands to his back, and, with a long series of pops, let out a long sigh. He had been crouched over the desk too long.
Walking away from the table, he made walked expertly between the thing that flew and crawled, bits and pieces of something that had not yet come to be or failed experiments that he had keppt for sentimental reasons. Against the wall, a large, brass cooler stood, its mechanisms making thunking noises as the gears turned. He opened the door, pulled out a can, and drank, collapsing in a chair and losing himself in thought.
After a short break, the old man shuffled back to his table, crouching down and getting to work. His torch burned, his screwdriver spun, and his ratchet clicked. Occasionally, he would shuffle off to grab something off of a table, or snatch it out of the air, and then the movement and noise from his table would resume.
At last, it was done. He held it in his bony fingers; a small beetle, unmoving until he pushed a button, causing it to spread its small wings and set off, the small opening in the ceiling opening and letting it out.
As it flew on, the old man let out a sigh, leaned over his work table, closed his eyes, and died.
Outside, people had begun to realize the depth of their folly as plantlife began to die. The smallest of creatures; one of the most simple, in reality; had died years ago: the beetle. There was no one to be found. this caused a severe imbalance to the natural order as those that fed on the beetle died and those the beetle fed on began to breed out of control.
But one small machine landed on a desk in an outdoor cafe, fluttering on the edge of a menu. The police were called, and the tiny creation was copied, a temporary solution until life could find another way.