Chapter of Clockmaster

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A chapter from my upcoming Novel "The Clockmaster", a continuation of my short story "Sky the Clockmaster"
Weeks after the attempted murder of the Clockmaster, Kara the inventor is in turmoil. She still cannot believe the mild mannered man she grew up with did the things he did. Blaming herself for the twisted way he turned out, she takes to wandering the city late at night, battling her inner demons through gambling.
Little does she know, she isn't the only one who seeks the comfort of the games of chance.....

Submitted: May 02, 2017

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Submitted: May 02, 2017

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As I walked down the alley I questioned my idiocy. “Why did you have to try to find a short cut?” I muttered to myself. I heard a cat yowling in the distance, and the sound of a late night rail car. I was passing a shady looking bar when it happened.

The door opened and a man was shoved out, still holding a half empty glass bottle. He landed in a mud puddle at my feet.  

“Get out of here lad you're drunk.” The bartender said before slamming the door.

The man stumbled to his feet and threw the bottle out the door, shouting slurred words and profanities. Something about the anger in his voice rang a bell but i still moved forward ready to help.

“Sir? Are you alright?” The man drunkenly spun around and fell forward onto me. “Ooof” I gasped, trying not to let him fall. I couldn’t help it and I dropped him.

“Thanks a lot…” he moaned. I bit my lip looking at the sky and then at the watch the Clockmaster made me. He would be worried if I was running late but…. I couldn’t just leave this man here passed out.

“Where do you live…” He muttered trying to get up.

“What?”

“A loft…. Above the shop…URP… Cloks….” I froze; Warren’s shop. Why would he rent to a drunk? I didn’t know but knowing Warren it had to do with money.

“Come on.. It's on my way… I’ll help you get there…” As I tugged his arm over my shoulder, the man covered his mouth and leaned away, puking into the gutter.

“Oh… god ew…” I muttered turning my head and flinching.

“Sorry Miss…”

“Its.. okay” i muttered questioning why I was helping this man I didn’t even know. I just led him, letting him stagger left and right. We reached the main street and a steam carriage rumbled past. He began to sing a drunkard's song, and I gagged again at his breath.

Somehow I managed to make it to the shop without dropping the drunk in a ditch. We reached the shop which had the clocks in the window, some running slightly slow other running slightly fast, only the grandfather in the center displaying the correct time.

“Look do you have the bloody key or am I going to have to break in?”

“Key… pocket…” I heard him mutter then he reached in his pocket and practically threw the key at me giggling as he leaned on the doorway.

I managed to pick out the key out of nearly twenty on the ring. Once more i looped his arm over me and half dragged him into the the dark shop.

“THink you can make it from here?” I asked letting him go for a moment. He swayed dangerously and started to fall again.”Guess not”

Moonlight pooled on the floor around the deep shadows of the clocks. THe shelves were cluttered, and everything seemed a mess. It was a stark contrast to the unnaturally neat office Warren once kept at his manor.

“Careful.. Don’t break things…”

“I’m not even supposed to be here….” I muttered under my breath making our way to the back of the shop. “If Warren finds out I’m here, I’m a dead woman.”

“I won’t kill you!” He snapped. I ignored the comment; he clearly didn’t know what I was talking about.

“There's a door.. Behind the curtain..” he groaned half heartedly gesturing towards the back of the room. Lifting it, the only light there was a lantern hanging over a desk covered in clock parts. A door was opposite. I opened the door and stared aghast at the narrow, steep stairs that were in front of me.

“How the hell are we going to get up these?”
I sighed and shifted us so we were sideways.

“Come on now.” I muttered, heaving him slowly up the stairs, step by step. They creaked loudly underfoot, and I was nervous; I was praying Warren wasn’t in the building. As I was cursing myself for my good hearted nature, we managed to get through the door at the very top.

I was able to make out the outline of a chaise near the door, and almost gratefully dropped the man onto it.

“There you go…”

“You smell.. Just like… she did..” He whispered quietly as I was just leaving the room.

I froze. “What?”

“Vanilla and… sometimes flowers… “ he murmured before giggling to himself. He tried to stand up, but I stepped over and pushed him back down on the chaise.

“SIr just… just wait a moment I’m going to find a light.” I told him. I began to drag my hands on the walls until something hit my face; a string hanging from the ceiling. A single, bare light ball in the center of the room lit up.

As soon as I saw the man on the chaise I gasped. His blond hair had gotten long, and his normally pristine clothes were filthy from the mud puddle. Stubble decorated his chin in a way I never saw before as he had always been neatly shaven. Despite being drunker than a skunk, there was no mistaking Warren Pijahn.

My hand found the gun at my waist, but Warren just rolled over on his back and muttered “She was pretty… so pretty…. I loved her… at one point… I truly did…” I sighed. He was obviously so drunk he didn’t recognize me.

Deciding it was safe, I looked around the rather barren room, slightly surprised that Warren wasn’t living in the manor his father left him. Some of the furnishings I recognized from rooms here and there in the manor; the olive chaise, the artisan welded chairs and table from the sun room, the paintings from hall. A huge fireplace was in between two windows directly across from the staircase. An icebox was next to it.

“Warren… stay right there.” I commanded him. He smiled and saluted me before letting his arm flop to his side. Moving over to the doors, I peeked through both of them One was a bathroom the other his bedroom, also furnished with a hodgepodge of furniture.

I sighed biting my lip. I wanted so desperately to leave and go home to our clocktower, but I had a feeling if I didn’t stay at least a little Warren may try to go to another tavern. And I didn’t want to be responsible for letting this drunken, unstable man out into the streets.

“Up…” I sighed, grabbing his arm and tugging him. He just slid onto the floor. “Are you kidding me?!”
I tried to get him to stand out, but it seemed he was out cold. “Dammit…” I mtutered. Rather than leave him out cold on the floorboards, I gripped his forearm and tugged. He slid along the floor easy enough. I dragged him slowly around and into the bedroom.

Somehow I managed to lift him up onto the bed, but i left him passed out sideways on the bed. As I was leaving i heard him murmur a name that went down my spine in a shiver. “Kara…” he breathed sighing almost happily.

I went into the front room and looked around sighing mightily. The Clockmaster wasn’t going to be happy I was so late. But I could deal with anger; I dealt with it all the time with my father. I pulled the chaise in front of the stairwell door and laid on it, staring at the ceiling. My eyes drifted to the cracked walls and I could hear the banging of the steam pipes in the walls.

When my eyes met the light ball, it almost seemed to sway. I blinked a few times, stifling a yawn. I could just barely see the clocktower through a window; about ten more minutes and I would leave. I wanted to make sure he was good and passed out before going

My mind turned to what Warren had said in his last few minutes of consciousness.

“I loved her… at one point.. I truly did”

“You smell. Like her…”

“Kara…”

Was he referring to me? Did he just inadvertently confess his love to me? I shook my head. Warren didn’t love anyone he was a cruel, cold hearted man whose heart lay with money and the alcohol that intoxicated him. He couldn’t love anyone.

As I thought I didn’t notice my eyelids drooping or my body slowly sinking further into the plush cushioning. It was without warning, I plunged into slumber.

* * *

The ocean crashed barely twenty feet away from where i sat, and seagulls ran across the sand pecking here and there at the bubbles. The sky was a beautiful, deep blue, and the ocean mildly reflected it.

I tugged the sun hat down a little more; mother would be angry if I got sunburned. I was 15 again, still so innocent, still trying to be the perfect little lady my parents so desperately wanted me to be. We were at our summer home, south by nearly a two day trip by steam car from the Great City.

My eyes wandered over to the cliffs, twenty yards away from where I was sitting. I could see the shapes of Warren and Daniel on the top, roughhousing usual. I lifted a gloved hand and waved at them. My twin waved back briefly before Warren Tackled him. I longed to join them, but instead i buried my toes in the sand, smoothing my skirt.

“Kara! Come join us!” Warren shouted. I shook my head, but as I did I turned to look at the summer home. I could just make out mother sitting in the shade of the pavilion, working on her embroidery. Servants moved around her, making sure she had everything she could possibly need. Father was no doubt inside, arguing with Warren’s father about some business contract or another. Even on holiday, he never rested.

I once more looked at the boys longingly. They were now dropping pebbles into the shallow, rocky water below, whooping happily. I sighed and stood up brushing off my skirt and grabbing my parasol.

Opening it, I headed for the cliff's base pretending to the best of my ability to make it a stroll. The closer I got, the harder it was to see Daniel and Warren until i couldn’t see them at all. I picked over the rocks trying to decide the way up that would cause the least damage to my dress.

I began to climb, having dropped my parasol in the waves as they pushed in and out around my ankles, truly not caring that it swept my parasol away. I was only ten feet up the cliff when it happened. Out of the corner of my eye a navy blue blur sped past heading for the ground and I heard Warren shout in horror. I looked down. I wish I hadn’t.

“DANIEL” I screamed letting go of the rocks, no longer caring if my dress ripped as I slid down the rocky slope. My feet slapped the ground as I ran toward the broken form of my brother, not completely registering Warren’s cries for help aimed at the house. He lay perfectly still, his eyes staring at the sky. A slight bubble of blood formed at the corner of his mouth, it pooling from a wound in his head, turning the foamy water red.

“Danny!” I shouted as closed the distance between us, landing on my knees in the water. His  green eyes met mine, and they showed nothing but fear.

“K-K-Kara…” he sputted. I pressed my hand to the wound, tears streaming down my face.

“It's okay Danny! It's okay! A doctor will be here soon.” But even as I reassured him, the light slowly faded from his eyes.

“Danny wake up. Stop playing!” I snapped shaking him slightly. The eyes stayed as blank as glass. “Danny come on…” “

Kara…” Warren said arriving at my shoulder. “Kara, he’s gone.”

“No he isn’t he’s just playing around.” I said almost desperately, trying to shake him again. Warren gently grabbed my arms and pulled me up to a standing position. Warren made me look at him dead in the eyes.

“Kara.” He said firmly.

“No Warren he can’t be. He’s just unconscious we have to get him to a doctor.”

It was only when i heard the horrified shriek of my mother, looking at the body of her son, that it registered.

“NOOO!” I wailed, falling forward into Warren’s arms. His arms enveloped me as I sobbed. “No Danny…” I whimpered.

“Kara it's okay…. It's okay…”

“It's okay Kara. You’re safe. Stop thrash-- OW” My fist connected with face hitting the person attempting to hold me down. I sat up quickly, expecting to see the worst day of my life. Instead of a beautiful beach day, I saw run down walls and faded floors. Warren stood over my gripping his nose then checking for blood.

“Damn…” He muttered shaking his head. Slightly and moving away from me.

“You still hit hard…” I then remembered what had transpired the following night, and that Warren was no longer the good natured young man I once knew.

He barely blinked as I aimed my revolver at him.

“What your going to shoot me?” He laugh disbelievingly, moving over to the fireplace. I paused.

“Why didn't you kill me?”

“Simple you didn't kill me.” He said matter of factly, using tongs to pull forward an old kettle that was sitting on a grate in the fireplace.
“I don’t remember much of last night, but when I woke up I remember I kind woman had helped me get home. When I came out here to make breakfast, apparently she was still here.” I just glared at him, not lowering my gun. He just kept his back to me.
“I was at my most vulnerable last night yet you still showed me kindness. I repay my enemies in kind.” He turned and seeing my gun again he shrugged and said “You can put the damn thing down. If I was going to hurt you I would have while you were asleep.”

Realizing his logic, I reholstered my gun and sat down not keeping my eyes off him.

“Here. Let's have a breakfast like we used to.” He said thrusting a chipped mug into my hands. I watched him waiting for him to take a sip of his before drinking mine. He wince slightly gripping his head. He muttered “Damn hangover.” before taking another sip.
Something compelled me to speak.

“What the hell happened to the Mansion on Chestnut Drive?”

“Things.” he spat almost venomously before taking another drink.

“So this is all you have left?”

“Shut up.”

“Wow so kind.” I muttered hesitating as I sipped at my drink.

“You were dreaming about Daniel weren’t you?” I sputtered coffee back into the cup. “How the hell--”

“You were screaming his name.”

His blue eyes stared at me imploringly and I finally nodded.

“Yes I was. About the day he died.” I shot daggers at him with my eyes.

“Thats kind of stupid to dwell on it. It happened, it's over, heis gone.” He set setting his mug on the table, leaning against it.

“I don’t dwell on it… it's been years since I’ve dreamt of him..”

“You blame me for what happened.” he said, suddenly.

“What? No, really what ever gave you that idea?” I spat.

“I really want to say I don’t care, but Daniel was like my brother.”

“Oh I forgot, and my parents were like your second parents that's why you tried to kill them and me!” He shrugged, setting down his mug and interlacing his fingers.

“All in the name of big business my dear.”

“What the hell happened to you?” i sighed shaking my head slightly

“What on earth do you mean?”

“You used to be different… more… kind…. You didn’t care about money, you didn’t care about fame. Then you changed.”

He said “Yeah I grew up. Unlike you obviously.”

“I grew up Warren. I’m no longer the little girl I used to be. I don’t rely on others for my happiness.”

“You seem to rely on that clock making fool.”

“He isn’t a fool.”

“I beg to differ” “Besides I don’t rely on him.” “Yes you do. You rely on others for your happiness Kara you always have. I don’t. I make my own.”

I was never good at holding my tongue.

“You don’t make your own Warren. People who are happy don’t attempt murder and get plastered at a bar in a weekday.” It was then I noticed the deck of cards barely hanging it out of his pocket, and it clicked.

“Warren, are you gambling again?”

“What no, I--” “Don’t lie to me” His whole demeanor had changed; gone was the face of cool calculation and cold words. Now he suddenly seemed like a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar.
I stood up quickly nearly overturning my chair.

“Warren are you?”

“So what if I am?!” He nearly shouted.

“YOU IDIOT!” I shouted, throwing my mug at the ground in frustration shattering it. I was so angry, everything was clicking into place. “Don’t you remember the last time? What your father had to do to bail you out? What nearly happened to you?”

The room was silent but it seemed to echo with the sounds of the past. Warren was breathing heavily, trying desperately to hold his composure. He managed to mutter the words

“You did it..” I nearly lost it on him.

“Yes I did but I knew when to stop! I knew not to bet more then I had! I never went to a loan shark like you! I didn’t nearly give away my whole inheritance!” Warren suddenly lashed out, punching the wall. His fist went through the drywall. I took a step back, gripping my gun again.

“You don’t know anything….” he hissed.

“You always thought I was stupid. You think I didn't know how you got those bruises?” I managed to say “How when you suddenly disappeared for a few days, and your father suddenly lost money in the stock market? You couldn’t pay the loan sharks and they were going to kill you, and your father had to pay them off!” Warren looked like he could rip my head off.

“So What? SO what that happend I”m smarter now! I have a system” I snorted.

“A system that made you loose your home and your money?!” This time Warren lashed out on me. He lunged forward gripping my throat, lifting me in the air against the wall.

“SHUT YOUR MOUTH” He roared. My hands gripped his wrists, choking.

“Shut your mouth…. You don’t know what your talking about…” He squeezed again and I lashed out with my legs trying to kick him but to no avail. I was fearing for my life but my eyes met his and suddenly, he dropped me to the floor.

“Get out… now.” He growled keeping his arms straight and shaking in fury. Clutching at the wall I crawled my way up, not taking my eyes off of him.

“Go. Go back to that cog loving imbecile before I decide to finish what I started when you came home.” I didn’t say a word as I moved over to the stairs, leaving him standing in the center of the room.


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