The traumatic life of an inhuman child.
Once upon a time, not quite as far away as you may want to believe, there was a clockwork boy. A boy made of gears and springs, hopes and wishes. The boy was so happy and oblivious to how mean the world could be. He loved to interact with the people who created him. He loved his quaint little town. He loved to play with little clockwork toys that did not work quite like he did.
The people that created him had such high aspirations for their little clockwork boy. They knew they created something special, something of great potential. The townsmen watched their small creation grow. They did their best to only add good parts, and correct the parts that turned out to be bad.
So went on this happy little boy of parts; growing and enjoying a simple, carefree life.
One day, the clockwork boy met a man who came from the world outside his town. The cruel man decided it would be fun to break the clockwork boy. Breaking him was not enough though. The cruel man took out good parts and put in bad parts that were tiny and hidden deep within the gears and springs, so that the townspeople might not be able to ever fix him again.
It was not long until the townspeople found their boy. They knew something was wrong, but they could not imagine would had happened. Their clockwork boy was not happy anymore. He became a very different boy. He would not accept any parts offered, nor could the townsmen find the bad pieces that needed to be replaced.
The boy was too broken to express what had truly occurred. The gears that worked his memories were shattered. The gears that worked his heart were crushed. His relationship with the townsfolk only became more and more strained, as he could not work the way they wanted any longer.
The townsfolk gave up eventually, settled with the fact that they had done their best and failed. The pieces they gave him must have been bad, and there was no finding where they had gone wrong at that point. They did not have the heart to dismantle their boy and try again. Though he was a constant reminder of their failure. They could not fix their clockwork boy. They could only watch his broken body stumble through their town.
The burden of his broken existence was worsening the clockwork boy's already fragile being. His good parts were working harder to try to compensate for the bad ones. He wandered the town, crying for someone to fix him. Even if someone could understand his broken cries, they still would have no idea how to help.
As time went on, more parts went bad as he tried desperately to repair himself. The broken cries faded. The townsfolk went on with their routine lives. The hopes and wishes that made the clockwork boy so special were not held in the minds of any. The clockwork boy became just another machine.
Until one day, the clockwork boy wandered away from the town. He was not sure why he left. He had become numb to hope. He had let what parts worth saving rust. Perhaps, somewhere deep inside, a gear refused to stop turning. It demanded that he continue to function, if only to find ruin. The clockwork boy decided to welcome what may come: be it destruction or a chance to start anew.
The clockwork boy traveled vast distances. He saw places that came from his old picture books and some that he could not believe existed. He met good people who tried to help fix him. He met bad people who seemed only intent on breaking him even more. Still, some little piece inside drove him on. He searched, having no idea what he truly was trying to find. He had become content with the idea that he was simply trying to fill the void within himself with new experiences to keep himself interested in functioning.
Chapter 2 – Surprise
After a long, hard journey, the clockwork boy found himself in a forest. It was pristine and beautiful regardless of the time of day or season. The morning dew was beautiful. The freshly fallen snow was beautiful. So was the night sky and the sunlight trying to get under the canopy. Here, the clockwork boy met someone who would change his life forever. Someone he could not believe existed, but stood before him as if in defiance of doubt.
Her beauty put the forest to shame. Her petite form was the darkest ebony. In stark contrast were her eyes, hair, and wings, which burned with the oranges, yellows, and reds of a wildfire. The pixie giggled at the clockwork boy when she saw him and continued her way through the forest.
Gears inside the clockwork boy he had forgotten existed turned with a driving force that cried for life. This was not just a new experience. This was something even his decaying good parts knew was right. He had to know this little winged fantasy, had to talk to her and find what was it that sparked such a chain reaction inside of himself.
Every day he would search the forest for her. As he journeyed deeper into the forest with each passing day, he saw more of her kind, but she was the only one who held his interest. She was always just out of his reach. She would flutter about, teasing him with smiles and flashing eyes that promised him all the things the cruel man took away and more.
His rusty, metal heart swelled each time he saw her, but he was filled with doubt. How could he, who was broken, be of any use to her? Be desired by her? He did not even have the voice to express the new, fantastic things she made him feel. Still he let the moth in himself be drawn to the flame inside her.
He watched the fairies day in and out as they tended to the forest. They would move sprouting plants into areas where the sunlight would reach them better. They would purge trees of infesting insects and remove leeching vines. He even saw one singing to newborn chicks in a high nest. Though his eyes always searched for his ebony angel with her fiery hair and wings. She put many of her kindred to shame. She not only worked her orchard with an insatiable ambition, but would care for her kin instead of resting for the day ahead.
Her strive sometimes worried the clockwork boy. He would try to aid her, forcing his clumsy, broken body to handle a chore with delicacy. More often than not, she would simply shoo him out of her orchard no matter how earnestly he wanted to help, giving him the same line every time.
“I can't lean on you. I have to stand on my own,” she would say in a dark, honeyed voice.
It would put him off for a while, but he would always end up trying to help again.
On a quiet afternoon, watching his ebony angel, he felt a chill in his gears. Brooding clouds were growing thick and heavy at the horizon, opposite the setting sun, with a startling speed. The fairies took no heed. They were preoccupied with finishing their work before the sun was fully set, and the darkness on the other side of the sky seemed only to be the night on its way to the unobservant eye.
As the light of day faded, the tiny illuminations of the fairies were seen across the forest. The fairies settled onto tree limbs, ready for their deserved rest. As the clouds hid the stars, a wind came into their forest howling like a mad beast.
Chapter 3 – Sacrifice
The clockwork boy ran through the forest, not caring if the slicing rain rusted him into nothingness. The fairies were screaming. They were scrambling to find the smallest nook in a tree to find refuge from the storm. Some could only weep from their chance shelter as they watched some of their sisters get snatched by the wind and sent tumbling into a dark that even their lights could not pierce.
He had to find his ebony angel. He would give any of his parts if it meant he could save her from being swallowed by the storm. He looked for every sprout he thought she might try to save. He furiously tried every hollow trunk, looked under every shrub, he even dared to climb the trees that feebly supported his metal mass to scour the area for her fiery light.
His gears cried against the sound of the wind. His broken voice swore at the storm. A crack of lighting laughed at his plight. It was taking too long to find her. His legs were becoming sluggish. They began to squeal and grind as he waded in thick mud. If she was safe and hidden in a tree, deep enough for her light to not give her away, then he was ruining himself for naught. He fought himself to decide whether it was better to override self-preservation to make sure she was safe, or to save himself if it meant he could be whole enough to still follow her if the morrow came and she was alright.
The storm did not give him a chance to choose. The hill beside the orchard crumbled from the rain. The mud slid at the orchard like an avalanche. He turned and pushed his body as hard as he could, ignoring the strain of his gears. He struggled, using every upturned root or low branch he could to take at least a step unburdened by the mud.
Then he saw her. She was clinging to two smaller fairies. Her blazing wings, beat as hard as they could, demanding to stay lit against the onslaught of rain. The two smaller fairies had flown against the wind until their lights were gone and could only cling to her arms to keep from being cast out into the hungry dark.
Before he could make it to her, lightning struck. Thunder cackled in its wake. Again and again, splitting trees from the first towards his ebony angel. A bolt came like a thief, and tore a fairy from her grip. Before she could scream, a second snatched the other.
The clockwork boy grabbed her and ran as if determined to have his legs fall apart. He would not let the storm take this one. The lightning pursued as the thunder laughed, all the while the mudslide drew closer. Before the slide engulfed them, he barreled up the side of a tree. The force of the slide and his weight was working against them though. The tree swayed and creaked as the trunk began to split.
He hurled his metal fist into the tree to break it in the direction he chose. As it fell, he threw himself for the branch of another tree. He made the grab, and set the fairy on the limb to free his hand and enable him to climb. Determined to deter him, the lightning cracked against the sky and set fly, eager to take his beloved fairy.
The clockwork boy summoned up what was left of his strength. He felt his gears and springs break, but held onto his hopes and dreams, as he threw himself in the way of the oncoming blast.