By Tara K. Stein
“My name is Claudia.” She tried, scraping at the gritty mud with broken fingernails. “Help, please.” She swallowed. “Please.”
“You are weak.” The voice came tinny, distorted by a helmet that hissed steam, condensing. A single clockwork hand flexed with reflexive violence against the iron stock of an aether rifle. “You have no purpose.”
“No, no I do!” She reached for the clockwork mass, but her fingers fell short, unable to close the distance. “I have a purpose!”
“Hardly.” Another voice pushed into the dying haze. You had a purpose– your son, but he’s dead now, isn’t he?” A man stepped up to stand beside the clockwork executioner. “He’s dead, just like your husband is dead, just like your entire village is dead.” The man grinned. “Face it. You’re dead.”
“You murderer!” Claudia rose in the mud suddenly, threw every last ounce of strength into her movement and hurled herself at the man and his clockwork automaton.
But the automaton was faster, and as the aether plug burnt a ragged hole through her brain, Claudia smiled, found a certain solace in knowing that her husband and son couldn’t be far away.
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Tara is a business woman who lives in upper New Hampshire with her boyfriend Max, her dog Butch and her three cats, Harry, Carrie and Mary.
Labels: Tara K. Stein