“Are you finished yet Ari?”
There was a rare hint of enticement in the voice of Lady Alexia Laplace, and Aristophanes Brown was hoping that she had perhaps prepared him a rewarding concoction of gin or somesuch for finding the rare motivation to get his accounts and invoices done within a period of less than a week. But it was not a glass, or even a steaming cup of tea, that she had prepared for him.
She was holding some odd looking, brown pieces of card filled with holes and linear, yet irregular patterns.
“What are those? Looks like moths have been at the drinks coasters.”
Alexia sighed. “These are what I call tasks for your difference engine. A set of instructions.”
Aristophanes smiled, and looked down at the typewriter sized box of electrically driven cogs and wheels that Alexia had copied from a device found as flotsam in the Poincare machine. Next to it were the invoices he had been calculating for his various journalistic enterprises, and his outgoings for the warehouse.
“At this moment in time, my dear Lady Laplace, I suspect more instructions from you is not what I need.”
“Not like these. Slot them into the back, and let me know what you think. I’m going for supper at The Seven. Carina and the moon-a-muck will be back later.”
In a twirl on auburn hair and linen, she was gone.
Aristophanes cleared the hair from his eyes with his hand, and took up the cards. He inserted one marked simply “Monsters” in Alexia’s fair hand into the back of the difference engine, and hit the carriage return on the keyboard.
At once, the roll of paper that normally displayed numerical calculations stirred, and metal stamps etched inky letters onto its surface.
“I AM A CREATURE OF THE BLACK. I AM ABOVE YOU MOVING TO THE RIGHT. DESCENDING LIKE A NIGHTMARE UPON YOU. WHAT SHALL YOU DO?”
Aristophanes did nothing other than look confused.
“YOU HAVE A GUN, FOOL. WHAT SHALL YOU DO.”
Insight flickered across Aristophanes’ face, and with an amused smile on his face, he began to type.
There, though Aristophanes. That took care of you!
“YOU MISSED. I HAVE ALREADY MOVED FURTHER RIGHT.”
Aristophanes thought for a moment and typed again.
“MOVE RIGHT TO FOLLOW.”
Clunking and whirring of small gears, clanking of cranks.
“YOU MOVE RIGHT. I AM NOW ABOVE YOU, SPITTING FIRE.”
“YOU SHOOT AGAIN. YOU ARE TOO SLOW. MY FIRE REACHES YOU FIRST. YOU ARE IMMOLATED BEYOND RECONGNITION.”
“You insolent little machine!” muttered Aristophanes. All was silent for a moment, then the faint clattering began again.
“YOU ARE RECONSTITUTED IN THE SAME PLACE, REBORN FROM THE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM. CONTINUE?”
Brown studied the keyboard.
“YOU FIRE AGAIN”
Another pause. The once again the tap of hot metal.
“YOU STRIKE THE MONSTER FULL IN THE CHEST. IT BURSTS INTO MANY PIECES, DESTROYED, REMOVED FROM EXISTENCE.
“Yes!” exulted Aristophanes. “The strange novel that writes itself shall not outwit me!”
Like a gentle clearing of a mechanical throat, the difference engine began to type again.
“72 ENTITIES RECONSTITUTE IN BEING DIRECTLY ABOVE YOU. MANY ARE EMITTING FIRE.”
Aristophanes slapped his face and cried out.
“Alexia Laplace, you swine!!!”
“WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHOOT, OR HIDE BEHIND THIS EMPLACEMENT AS IT SLOWLY DISINTEGRATES FROM ENEMY FIRE?”
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 23.11.14