Time: 15 minutes
Prompt: "...the ear would come back some day"
Source: Great Kernplatz Experiment by A. Conan Doyle
I was probably a good deal too young, at the age of eight, to have been Mother's laboratory assistant. I realize that now, and she came to the same conclusion by the end of her life. At the time, though, she needed someone. I was there.
She was careful to isolate me from the hazards of her work. Sometimes that meant locking me in the bunker below the wine cellar with food, water, books, and later, when I was older, a telegnoster console. More often, my mother would send me on errands, and when I returned, the dangerous elements of her work would be accomplished. I was never there to witness anything spectacular, except for once.
"Gwilam, come in here." I followed Mother's voice from my own little work shed into her laboratory.
"I need you to ride to town," she said. She stood beside a machine that I had never seen before, though many of its parts were familiar: the synchronic array from a prism replicator, the power supply from an annihilator beam shear, a symbol generator from a deconfabulator module that had never worked, and at least a hundred mirror lens magnets mounted in staggered rows to the surface of a carbon resonosphere.
"What is it?" I said. I wanted to touch the new creation, to tongue its taste keys and whistle its windswitches.
"I need an ear of corn," said Mother. "If you ride fast, you'll make it before the market closes."
"But I want to see the new—"
"Gwilam, do as you're told," she said. "Take money from my bureau—you know where. Be quick, now."
I cast another wishful glance at the sparkling toe loops that dangled from the new device's polished belly, and I left.
Lightning was the name of my pedaldrive. It was the pride of my existence. Mother and I had built it together and I did all of the maintenance. I cleaned Lightning's chain and cogs. I polished its spokes and repaired chips to the paint on Lightning's frame. I patched its tyres when need arose. Although I regretted having to leave Mother's new machine, permission to ride Lightning all the way to town on my own—even down the spiral ramp at the relay— did much to soften my disappointment.
[about my timed writing exercises]