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Mechanical Heart

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Thunder rumbled faintly in the distance. Dark clouds steadily rolled forward, moving closer as the minutes ticked by. Jagged streaks of white lightning repeatedly cut the air. But the two residents inside the old mechanic’s tower paid it all no mind, focusing instead on a much more pleasant sound: a violin.

The beautiful music couldn’t always be heard on the remote coastline. Years ago, when the old mechanic was still alive, he had come across a young girl washed up on shore, shivering and alone. He took the girl in and, as the years passed, made her his apprentice. While under his wing, she worked very diligently, he had noticed. “‘Just like clockwork,’” he often remarked. Before long, she had claimed the word as a nickname. Her tenacity never faltered, even after a horrid machine accident resulted in one of her arms and a leg being replaced with robotic ones.

But although the two of them had been happy together, they grew lonely after a few years. So the mechanic decided to build someone to keep them company. It took a long time, but after years of hard work he finally unveiled his creation: an android named “Adagio.” She was beautiful and dainty, with her reddish hair tied back and freckles dotting her face just below her bright blue eyes. Just as the mechanic had hoped, Clockwork got along with her fabulously. It wasn’t uncommon for the two of them to be seen hanging out together, whether it was dancing or playing the violin (although it quickly became clear Adagio was much better at both). Even now, years after the mechanic had passed away, the two women were inseparable. They had each devoted their lives to helping the other, and to this day both girls had kept this promise.

Clockwork listened to Adagio’s playing eagerly as the storm outside continued advancing. She knew every note of the melody by heart, having heard it hundreds of times over the years, yet even now she found herself mesmerized by it. It was her favorite tune, and she never tired of hearing it.

Adagio remained completely focused as her bow trailed erratically over the strings, unwavering even with the increasing commotion outside. The sound echoed throughout the small room, almost drowning out the creaking of the giant rotating gears on the walls.

And then she stopped. The song wasn’t supposed to be done yet.

Clockwork stood up from her seat, worry present on her face. “…Adagio? Everything alright?” she asked. Adagio wasn’t one to stop working on a task halfway through.

The android turned and stared blankly out the window, eyeing the storm clouds. A bat screeched and fluttered by in terror as another rumble of thunder resonated in the air.

“There’s a high chance of the approaching storm causing substantial damage to this area,” Adagio announced.

Clockwork took a moment to glance out the window as well. “You’re right. It looks really strong this time.” The mechanic’s apprentice turned to face her robotic friend. “We should probably head downstairs. It’ll be safer there.”

But Adagio instead raised her violin again and readied the bow. “I’ll finish the song for you first.”

“No no, that won’t be necessary.”

A look of perplexity spread across the android’s face. “But this song is your favorite.”

Clockwork only shook her head. “The storm’s approaching fast.” She snuck another glance towards the window, watching as a bolt of lightning struck the water a short distance away. She could hear the wind roaring. “We need to go.”

“It shouldn’t take too long…”

Clockwork’s tone grew insistent, although she did not dare raise her voice in anger. “Now.”

Her blue eyes dimming slightly due to disappointment, Adagio hesitated before placing her instrument where it was usually kept. After ensuring it was locked back up in its case, she returned to Clockwork’s side. “Alright. Let’s go.”

The mechanic’s apprentice smiled at her friend. She opened her mouth to speak, but no sooner had she taken a step towards the stairs before – crash! – the widow behind them shattered without warning. Clockwork cried out and covered her face as she was pummeled with pieces of glass, not daring to lower her arms until she was certain it was safe to do so.

Her eyes widened as she became aware of the sensation of raindrops hitting her back. Frantic, she took Adagio’s hand and led her away from the broken window as fast as possible towards the other end of the small room. She was a fragile android, as the old mechanic had done his best to make Adagio as human-like as possible when creating her. “You okay?”

No response. Clockwork’s eyes widened as she realized Adagio was currently slumped over in her grasp, large pieces of glass lodged in multiple parts of her body. Her eyes, once a bright blue, were suddenly a dull, lifeless grey.

“No!” This couldn’t be happening. She couldn’t lose her friend, not now. Panic rushed through her as she pulled the glass shards out before placing her android friend on the ground. She frantically glanced around the room for her tools and box of parts. Upon spotting them a distance away she stood, and soon began making her way towards them.

A bolt of lightning flashed outside and was immediately followed by a boom of thunder so intense that the room shook, causing Clockwork to stumble. She fell forward, landing roughly against the wooden floor as another bolt darted into the room, striking one of the gears on the wall. Sparks flew as the piece of machinery spun erratically before abruptly seizing up. To Clockwork’s horror, it began to fall, plummeting towards her. She scrambled away, desperate to get out of its path as it descended.

She couldn’t make it. The gear came crashing down, crushing Clockwork’s robotic leg underneath its massive weight. She screamed as the giant piece of metal all but demolished what was one of the old mechanic’s last gifts to her under its weight. Another rumble of thunder shook the building as the wind howled with an almost animalistic ferocity, and in that split second Clockwork found herself fearing for her own life. But the sight of Adagio lying lifeless on the floor brought her more dismay. If anything, she had to do what she could to save her friend, even if it was the last thing she ever did. Pushing with all her might, she heaved the giant gear off her leg, determined to get her required items and fix Adagio as soon as possible.

The storm was raging as the mechanic’s apprentice returned to her fallen friend and set to work getting her repaired. She worked diligently, just as she had so many times before. Wires were reconnected, gears were put back into place, and each broken piece was repaired. After finally closing Adagio back up, Clockwork held her breath, awaiting the results.

At first, nothing. The android’s eyes remained dull and lifeless. After a few brief seconds however, her face seemed to twitch, and it wasn’t long before her eyes began to glow, returning to their bright, blue color from before. Adagio sat up, blinking in confusion as the storm outside seemed to be fading away.

“…Clockwork? What-” Her eyes widened as she suddenly noticed the state her friend was in. “Your leg!”

“It doesn’t matter. Are you alright?”

“Yes, but you’re clearly not!” The android glanced over at the box of spare parts that were still left over, and soon an idea popped into her head. “Let me help you fix it.”

“You sure?”

“A hundred percent. You saved my life. Repairing your leg is the least I could do.” A smile soon appeared on her face. “And afterwards, I’ll finally finish that song for you. Okay?”

Clockwork soon smiled as well and gently took hold of Adagio’s hand. “That would be wonderful.”