The Clockwork Mannequin

Avatar Author: Jim Stitzel I dabble a little in a lot of things -- writing, webcomics, gaming, photography, web design, music, and more. I'm a full-time code-wrangler and a part-time farmer with 40 acres, a lot of animals, and far, far too much to do. Read Bio

Sand blew through the broken glass and ticked against the metal skin of the clockwork mannequin behind it. Dressed in a tattered waistcoat, its gears and joints shrieked and popped in the dead air as it attempted to pivot on its rusted pedestal.

“Greetings, Loyal Customerâ„¢!” it called out to no one. “We have the best boots and buskins—”

A harsh whine of metal.

“—try a pair on!”

The wind howled through the dusty street before the mannequin, shifting small dunes from one side to the other. Tumbleweeds raced past, bouncing off broken buildings on their way to nowhere.

“Corsets, top hats, monocles! We have—”

Clanging, banging gears. A puff of smoke and the smell of burning copper.

“—al Customerâ„¢! You have only to ask!” The mannequin continued its pitch in spite of itself. It jerked right, once, and became still, its voice holding out just a moment longer.

“Loyal. Loyal. Loyal. Loy—”

And then it froze, silent as the human shadows burned into the boardwalk beneath it.

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Comments (7 so far!)

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  1. Avatar Princess Binky Lemontwist (LoA)

    Awww so sad. I would buy a corset from that poor mannequin. :/

  2. Avatar Garsecg

    It’s fitting you wrote this now, after Ray Bradbury’s death because it has a lot of affinity in theme and mood with some of the Martian Chronicles stories.

  3. Avatar Jim Stitzel

    I actually did think, as I was putting the final polish on this today, that this piece could easily have been set on Mars.

  4. Avatar Wednesday [PJ] ((LoA))

    If a clockwork mannequin chants a sales piece and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?

    This is fantastic. You write a lot of brilliant stuff but this surely is up there with the best! The imagery is fantastic, and there’s emotion there without an intelligent presence.

  5. Avatar Jim Stitzel

    Better question — “If a clockwork mannequin continues the hard sales pitch when there is no one around to hear it, is it still marketing?” :)

  6. Avatar Vanessa

    I could almost feel the mannequin fighting it’s own death. Like the way you travel through time and choose a place to dwell for an instant, then move the reader on to another place.

  7. Avatar Jim Stitzel

    I’m just surprised it lasted as long as it did. That blasted landscape is harsh place to ‘live.’

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