Chapter Twenty Eight – Hardware

6 Aug

I thought about asking Rosie to help me, but she probably wouldn’t be interested. So, I went looking for a hardware store instead. After all, the only tools I had back at my house were a few rusty screwdrivers which Craig had found a few months ago in the yard behind our house. Of course, we’d drunkenly done something stupid with them for a laugh and the only parts of them which were still lying in the garden were a few fragments of the handles. These, I guessed, probably couldn’t be used to dissect a sandwich, let alone a strange wooden robot.

Surprisingly, there was one right in the middle of the high street – it caught me totally by surprise. The shop space had been filled with nothing but two shiny chain-store cafes in the other world and, over a couple of years, I’d just learnt to ignore that part of the street. In fact, it was only the picture of the giant hammer in the window which had caught my attention.

In fact, it was the only thing I could see through the window. For a second, I wondered if the ink had got to this shop and filled it already. It probably wouldn’t be long before it did anyway. Still, I couldn’t see a single droplet of ink anywhere on the door. Yes, there was a lot of rust, but no ink. So, grabbing the rough handle, I pushed it. It didn’t budge.

I tried again, really putting my shoulder into it this time. Like the door of The Caffe Noire, it was reluctant to let me in unless I practically threw myself into it. But, finally it creaked open an inch at at time with a groan like a mourning god.

For a second, I couldn’t see anything. There was just gloom and a couple of shadows. No, forget that, there was a shadow. It was a single dark mound in the middle of the room which almost reached the ceiling. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see that it was made out of nothing but tools.

‘Hello, is there anyone there?’ I shouted. All I heard in response was a clock ticking and the door rattling in the wind.

I fumbled through my jacket pockets until I found my torch. Although the battery was low, it still had at least a few minutes of life left in it. In the faint orange torchlight, I could see that all of the tools were fairly old. Some were nothing more than solid blocks of rust. Still, it was better than nothing and I’d been vaccinated against tetanus years ago – so I started rifling through the pile.

Two grazes and a shallow cut later, I had everything I needed – a large saw, three chisels, a hammer and a crowbar. Yes, they probably weren’t the best tools for a dissection, but at least the pile hadn’t collapsed and they weren’t too rusty to use.

I scanned the room with my torch, but there wasn’t a bag or a counter in sight. Not wanting to provoke the hungry worm of guilt in my gut any further, I pulled a crumpled tenner out of my purse and left it by the pile before carefully gathering up the mass of sharp tools and walking towards the door.

Before I could prise the door open again, it swung open silently. Squinting against the bright gloom of the street, I could see someone standing in the doorway. The tools clattered to the ground around me as soon as I saw that it had a pencil in it’s hand. They had found me. The wooden models had cornered me in this shop and they would probably kill me. A thousand possible versions of my death flashed through my mind in vivid detail.

Staggering back, I stooped down and grabbed a chisel and pointed it at the model. Maybe I’d be lucky enough to gouge it’s face off before it did the same to me? It’s head turned to the left slightly before it began slowly tottering towards me. I kept staggering back until I heard old nails crunching under my feet and felt the end of a hammer pressing into the small of my back. I was cornered.

I drew the chisel back, poised to stab it if it kept coming. After what felt like a thousand frenzied heartbeats, it stopped about ten feet away from me before looking left again and leaning forwards. I hunched back as far as I could into the mound of tools and tensed my arm. It was making it’s move, it was going to attack.

It fell over. The noise echoed around the shop as it bounced and skittered stiffly along the floor before coming to rest at my feet. It was lying on it’s back and it’s flat and splintery torso was exposed. Very gingerly, I nudged it with my foot a couple of times and it just swayed from side to side, like any other dead lump of wood.

Trembling slightly, I put the chisel down and just stood there for a few minutes. It sounded strange, but maybe it actually wanted me to dissect it?

All I could think to ask was “why?

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