Bedtime Tales: The Clockwork Child


Once upon a time was a boy named Me. Me wasn’t like other boys you know, though. Me was made of gears and metal and steam. He would come to school and clank up the stairs and sit in his seat and hiss all throughout his classes as warm steam shot out of his ears. He was quite popular in the winter, as all the girls would try to huddle close enough to him, to use him as a radiator. Most of the time, though, the other children avoided him. No one played with him at recess because he was just too weird.

But there was a little girl in his class named Olivia. She wasn’t Me’s friend, but she was very, very interested in Me. You see, she liked to take things apart and put them back together. She would disassemble her pencil and put it back together every class. She would take apart her books and put them back together, though sometimes she would mix up the order of the chapters. And she wanted to take apart Me and put him back together again. It’s not that Olivia didn’t like Me any more than any of the other children did. She didn’t hate him. She just liked taking things apart and putting them back together!

Well, one day, Me got in trouble. Mr. Mercer asked everyone to give over their homework, and Me couldn’t. “Why, Me, what happened?” asked Mr. Mercer.

I can’t give you my homework,” Me replied. “The dog ate it.”

Mr. Mercer told Me he had to stay inside during recess.

Olivia saw her chance. As the children lined up for recess, she “accidentally” stepped on Mr. Mercer’s foot.

Olivia! Apologize!”

But Olivia said nothing.

She, too, sat in her desk during recess.

She found herself staring at Me, just a desk up and over. And she…

…she did nothing.

She opened her mouth to speak.

She said nothing.

Me turned around and looked at her. He rolled his clockwork eyes. The gears in his head tick, tick, ticked. He stood and clanged down the short distance between their desks, and he reached behind her neck. She felt him doing something there. And suddenly… she felt she could speak again.

Me’s mechanical voice clicked at her, “Your gears have worn down. You must oil them.”

All Olivia could say was, “What?”

Your gears are running down.”

And then the bell rang, and all the children stumbled in from recess. Me went back to his desk.

Olivia ran up to the teacher’s desk. “Mr. Mercer, am I a clockwork child?”

Mr. Mercer looked sadly at Olivia. “Yes.”

But… but why? I thought I was a normal girl!”

I can’t answer that, Olivia. You need to talk to your parents. It’s their business.”

And that night Olivia did. “Am I a clockwork child?” she asked as her parents were trying to do the dishes. They didn’t let her do the dishes anymore after she disassembled all the plates one night.

Her parents looked at each other. And they sighed. And they explained: She was not the first little girl in their family named Olivia. But one day there had been a fire, and now they couldn’t see that first Olivia again. So they got this Olivia. But it was ok, because they loved her like a real child.

Why didn’t you tell me?”

Because… because we wanted you to have a normal childhood.”

And they hugged her. And even though she was a clockwork girl, even though she wasn’t what she thought she was, her parents loved her just as much. And wasn’t that good enough?

Wasn’t it?

She went back to school the next day, and she and Me began to talk. And soon they became best of friends.

The end.


Sometimes I make up stories for my children at bedtime with their help. They help guide the story, and give the characters their voices. I roll with whatever twists and turns they come up with. Tonight, we told this story. And now I repeat it for you. 


Crosswind: The First Sark Brothers Tale
by Steve Rzasa

If Joss Whedon decided to mashup Firefly and Newsies right after he’d finished playing Final Fantasy, he might well have written Crosswind. Oh, also if he was Christian.

If you want to find the center of aviation in the Sawtooth Mountains, you want to visit the city-state of Perch. Cope Sark, daredevil pilot, helps protect the city from air bandits. His big brother, Winch, reports for one of the town’s weekly papers.

Winch also happens to belong to that strange religion that worships some fool that got himself killed down in Trestleway about ten years ago. Winch says he came back from the dead after three days, but can you really trust that nutty new religion?

When an expert aeroplane pilot crashes, Winch and Cope investigate and uncover a looming threat to the city. Are the railway barons of Trestleway attempting to muscle aeroplane competition in Perch out of the picture? Or is something even darker lurking in the shadows?

Gunfights, dogfights, blimps and mastadons all await in Crosswind. Continue reading

Clockwork: The Tyranny of Grass

Mercator shivered. “So that’s it?”

David answered, “Eat some more coal; your boilers are getting low! Yeah, that’s the Green House, your new home.”

The barge floated closer to the mound of green that rose from the bog’s mists. Muddy rises dotted the obscured landscape; this seemed to be the only solid ground as far as the eye could see.

Mercator tossed a dark lump into his mouth and allowed his body to absorb the carbon. His gears warmed and lent heat to his flesh. “So. How much by way of supplies will you be leaving me?”

David eyed him. “You’ll have these crates.” He helped himself to a lump of coal. “I hate coming here. All my gears seize up.”

“Just these? How am I supposed to keep functioning? You said you only visit once a month!”

“After what you did? You deserve no more.” David pressed his lips together and shrugged. “At least, that’s what they tell me. By the way, these crates are for everyone to share, not just you.” Glancing up, he called out, “Oars up!” Continue reading