A quick-fire response to Diana’s May photo prompt. Steam punk isn’t my thing, so this is a first for me, and it isn’t even a story…

Pixabay image by Brigitte Werner

Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 10.20.06

The world whispered and sighed to the sound of wheels turning, valves hissing and the soft clicking of gears. Horse hooves beat time, and the pistons of steam engines rattled louder than anything but thunder. Cities had risen and spread in a regular, ordered fashion and society acquiesced to a hierarchy that never changed. The secret lay in the great clock that ticked at the heart of the earth.

Time had ticked since the methodical unfurling of the first fern and the faint throb of bioluminescent proto-fish in the ocean depths. It ticked soft and gentle for millennia and millennia, regular and unfailing. Bird throats chirruped steadily; clip-clopping and pattering animals stepped in time to the universal dance. The hidden iron-nickel wheels turned, stirring the earth’s molten core and sending waves through its magnetic field to draw up tides, swell oceans, bowl winds and storms across the distant outer crust where the ferns grew taller and the fish grew monstrous and famished.

Wheels and gears shifted and the ticking grew louder, more insistent. Time called for a new era to begin and sent the waves into flux, drawing and pulling new spirals of DNA and twisting them into a new creature that would order the anarchy of the crust. Man.

Man sprang from the tepid swamps and desert winds and walked to the higher ground, clearing it of invasive and threatening species multiplying with the regularity of turning wheels and cogs. Wheels and cogs, then pistons using the motion of fire and steam, man fashioned the world after his own image, to function unfailingly, undying, with no irregularity, no flights of fantasy, no wondering why or how. Man, made in the image of the creator, functioned. And the great clock at the centre of the world ticked in satisfaction and saw that is was good.

Time ticked.