Journal Entry #1

Further developments – I’ve discovered the remains of a journal, sadly fire-damaged, in amongst the inherited detritus. From what I can make out, it’s the journal of our protagonist from “Chapter One” (published earlier). This leads me to believe either Chapter One was a self-penned work of fantasy, or a dramatised account of Philip Anthony Glass’ actual deeds by another hand.

June 19th – Visiting the Duchess

Father was angry today. I heard him shouting at mother through the pantry door. I should have been undertaking my studies but since New Year I’ve felt strangely lacking in motivation. I suppose it’s the uncertainty that is playing on my mind. At first – after the initial transmission – father was overjoyed and we enjoyed a rare closeness, but sadly I think Colonel Van Riper’s frequent visits are playing on his mind. Father’s mood darkens after every visit from the military man, and he has taken to locking his study door which is [illegible] could have seen it coming.

Overall my studies continue apace and although the drudge of schoolwork bores me so, it is in a way a relief to be back to it’s mundane nature. Chores, study and sleep are my life at the moment, the latter of which is a treat indeed. Throughout the build my back was sore, my head afuzz, and the sandman was a stranger to me. My diet also has improved since father stopped insisting I drink his bitter tea blend, the origins of which remain a mystery to me.

This evening I will be attending a [illegible] hosted by the Duchess of York. It promises to be a most exciting evening with many interesting folk in attendance. Mother has already laid out my clothes and I will look very smart. My [illegible] a good impression as he says it will be important for me to know these things in the future.

I wish father was a more popular man, for brilliant though he is, his abrasive nature has cost him dear I feel. I hope he never reads these words as I do love him so, as much as a boy can love his father, despite the unusual and backbreaking work he would have me do.

I must stop writing as mother is calling me, and our trip [illegible]

Chapter One

The boy surveyed his work. Three years of his thirteen crafting, bending, filing, sawing and polishing and the results lay before him like a sleeping dragon. Almost every corner of his father’s library was filled with pipes, pistons, bellows and wires – grapevines and tendrils in a forgotten greenhouse. It was New Year’s Eve, 1916 – 1917 would see the first successful Transmission.

Acidic smoke belched from a side-vent as the boy turned handles and frantically pumped footpedals. Some type of grit poured from an opening and was directed out of a window with funnels. An array of greasy bulbs slowly came to life as a low rumble emanated from deep in the belly of the machine. The boy wiped his forehead on his jacket sleeve and retrieved a series of punch cards from a nearby table. Leafing through them, his face lit up as his gaze alighted on one particular cardboard sheet. This was it, he thought – the Initial Transmission.

He had no doubts whatsoever that the machine would do what it was designed to do. The boy considered himself a vessel, an instrument just as the recipients of the Transmissions were also vessels. The only difference was, of course, that the mucky-faced child stood in the shadow of the machine knew his role already.

It was nearly time. The boy didn’t research the recipients personally, rather they were supplied to him by the same agency that gave him the blueprints for the machine.

The understanding was that if the Initial Transmission was a success, he could choose the next set of recipients himself. Frequently the boy had mused that in the coming years he could perhaps refine the apparatus and reduce it’s size somewhat, even relegate it to an outbuilding so his father could reach his Encyclopedias again. Perhaps create living quarters within the vast apparatus if the heat and noise didn’t make that proposition too risky.

The boy traced his finger across the rough-hewn holes in the punchcard and read the hand-written title at the top. ‘Without‘ was all it said. Of course the boy couldn’t decypher the card itself, and even when the machine had devoured and processed it the likelihood of him being able to comprehend the resulting diagnostic data was slim at best – but he would know for sure that it had worked, and the last three years of his life, three years of night-long knuckle-scraping hard work, would not have been in vain.

Three of the five bulbs were now illuminated and the low rumble had become a dense roar. The machine was ready for input, the autistic child – forgotten and left to his own devices, had built a mechanism by which art could be transmitted across time. He inserted the punch card and lungs still, pulled the lever.