Kinda steampunk. Doctor James Lambert creates something that everyone else has dreamt about: A daughter. Part of a series of short stories.
Once he was satisfied with the inside of his project he picked up a curved bit of brass with two oval holes and steel strengthening the weakness in the metal. There was a symbol etched into the brass, a pentagram with words of a long lost language around the outside of the circle. He placed the sheet of metal over the open front of his creation, winding the screws in place with another device he had created.
He snatched up an egg shaped steel ball from another bench and split it in half using yet another device. The egg was hollow and he screwed the two sides over the holes in the sheet he had just attached to his project.
His creation was nearly complete. James smiled to himself. He had made many before but none like this. He had taken extra care to give this one the best appearance and the best function. His others were powered by electricity; this one would be powered by something far greater, far more powerful, and far more mysterious. James did not even know if his latest creation would work or even if it did, how much better than his others?
Never mind that now, James thought as he picked up the bowl of thick red liquid. You just concentrate on getting this right.
He dropped some black powder into the liquid and read from a book as he did so. He dropped some other objects into the bowl as he read. He dropped in a shining black feather, a tooth, a strand of hair, a bright yellow feather, and a stone that had flecks of green all through it.
He stirred the mixture and dipped a brush into it. Using the brush he painted the liquid into the indents created by the symbol on the brass plate. As he did so he kept on reading. He poured the remaining contents of the bowl into a brass globe inside the top of his creation, closing the contents inside the globe with a soft click.
He looked around himself at his small laboratory and muttered about putting things where he could easily find them again. After rifling through a pile of blueprints and wires he found a steel dome which he brushed the dust off and smiled proudly as he took it back to his workbench where his creation waited.
He placed the metal dome on top of his masterpiece and used his screw driving device to put screws in a ring around it so that it did not fall off when his project moved.
He picked up the old book, careful not to damage the weather worn pages, and finished reading the words. When he finished reading he waited a moment and then pricked his finger with a pin. He squeezed his finger and a droplet of blood fell onto the pentagram. He raised his arms into the air and said the last word.
James was quite disappointed as you can imagine. He had gone through all that trouble for the blasted thing not to even work. Perhaps the warlock had been right; the spell would not work for something that is not of flesh and blood.
He looked down at his project, his masterpiece. It had taken him years to make its appearance a perfect imitation of the real thing. It had taken him months to create its indestructible body of brass and steel, more months to create its delicate yet powerful mechanics.
He looked down at his creation. He was more disappointed than he had ever been. He had been sure his theories were correct, he had been sure that nothing could go wrong in the process of making this thing of beauty.
James was about to turn and ask Alf to put his failed creation in a display case, when he heard a whirring sound. He stared at his creation. Could it be?
He turned his head to the side and placed his ear to the cold metal. Sure enough he heard it again, accompanied by other sounds this time. Whirr – click – click – click – whirr… James jerked away from the brass plate. Smiling to himself he placed his ear above the two egg shaped domes. B-bmp – b-bmp – b-bmp…
My creation, James lifted his head and watched the two sockets in the front of its head as the brass curves inside them slid upwards revealing two eyes of glass and steel. My creation… Its eyes moved towards James, the pupils shrinking with a soft schlick, its eyes seeming to focus on him. She lives.
James grabbed her hand. “Can you squeeze for me?”
After a second the steel fingers with their flexible brass joints squeezed his long bony ones gently.
He gripped his creations hand and pulled gently. “Can you sit up for me?”
The top half of her body jerked slightly upwards, and then proceeded to a sitting position smoothly. She swung her legs off the side of the bench, all the while never letting go of James’ hand.
“Good girl, now can you stand?” He asked. His creation turned her head to look at him. Her head jerked down then back up in a nodding gesture.
She nodded. He thought to himself. None of my others have ever nodded; none of the others have even looked at me to confirm that they can perform this task as she did just now. They mostly just do as I please without a response of any sort.
His creation lowered her feet to the ground gently and slowly rose off the bench into a standing pose, James’ hand still clasped in hers. That was another thing his creations had never done, kept holding his hand after the squeeze test.
“Can you take a few steps?” James asked.
Once again she nodded. Her left leg jerked slightly as it was raised but otherwise moved smoothly. She placed her foot on the ground, moving her other leg ahead of her left one, taking another step forward.
James smiled. “Try walking in a circle.”
She nodded again this time the two strips of flexible brass above her eyes furrowing in concentration. James was delighted. His creation had facial expressions! The gears within her face were obviously working well at moving the features around as her mouth also straightened into a determined line as she moved in a circle. When she completed her circle her mouth curved up at the ends in a triumphant smile.
She is perfect. James thought as his creation kept walking in circles, straight lines and zigzags. James smiled to himself, one final test. “Can you speak?”
The automaton stopped walking and looked over at him. Her head cocked to one side in a jerky motion and she opened her mouth. “Yes, Father.”