Author: Jack Wallenmore from this user
Mainspring – a quaint town removed from time and era. Powered by steam and clockwork, Mainspring has enjoyed decades of peace and prosperity … until, from a far-away land known as The Keep of Keys, Hieronymus Ebauche unleashes Hell.
Born of a long-forgotten vendetta, Ebauche transports his clockwork demons through a trans-dimensional portal to exact his revenge. Mainspring’s only hope – Nathan Gage and Olivia Nightingale; the proprietors of the Klockwerk Kabaret, where desire is brought to life with flesh and clockwork. When the doors to the Kabaret close, Gage and Nightingale slip into the shadows as vigilante crime fighters. The fight leads them to The Keep of Keys where they discover a much darker truth.
As the clock winds down, so too does the hope of Mainspring.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Perps and Winders of all clockwork motion, welcome to the Klockwerk Kabaret! Here you dine on dreams and drink the nectar of Gods you never knew existed. Our entertainment will astonish, stun and maybe even – dare I say – arouse you. For not only do we offer you the one and only, the delicious and lascivious, Olivia Nightingale, but the Kabaret has something in store not one man, woman, Winder, or Perp has laid eyes on. Tonight, we unveil an act so incredible, I promise you, your lives will be forever changed. Ladies and gentlemen, when the curtain rises something truly unique will dance and sing so deftly around your heart and soul, you will swear you have looked into the eyes of the Watchmaker and witnessed the future. If you please, clap your hands together in four-four time and call forth ... the Klockwerk Dolls!”
The Dolls were the creation of Dollia L'Escapement, Mainspring's premier maker who only crafted the finest Perps and Winders. She began as a toymaker: puzzles, wind-up tin monkeys and backflipping squirrels. Her skills far surpassed her creations until she finally realized her dream – the Winder. A full-sized wind-up being, nearly perfect in shape and form. Once wound, the Winder could almost be mistaken for a Bio. The movement and the voice: flawless.
Her creations caught the attention of the aristocracy of Mainspring and her Winders became as much a status symbol as a work of perfect art. Never happy to rest on her accomplishments, Dollia continued to hone her craft. Her goal: create a Winder indistinguishable from a Bio. Word got out of her new obsession, which led to a commission from the wealthiest of the aristocracy. Sir Thomas Tillman paid Dollia L'Escapement untold riches to create life from a machine.
The task took nearly five years to complete. In the end, what L'Escapement accomplished was considered miraculous by some, damnable by others.
Perps. Perpetual motion. Exquisite reflections of man and woman. They never needed winding and existed in complete parallel to their Bio counterparts.
The demand for Perps was enormous, although beyond the budget of ninety-nine percent of the city. Her Winders were just as beautiful and fell within the budget of the majority of Mainspring's citizenry. The only caveat to the Winder? Manual winding. I didn't mind having to wind the Dolls. Not only did it save me a coal-tank of cash, it prevented one of the Dolls from bailing on me. Not that they'd have any reason to bail. The Klockwerk Kabaret was the finest establishment of its kind, and I treated my employees well. Some might say, too well. It was a reputation I could live with. So long as my Dolls could dance and my customers find a temporary escape, all was well at the Kabaret.
The slow, steady beat of the crowd's applause eventually fell into perfect synchronization. I turned and gave Lemulé – the best stage manager in all of Mainspring – the sign to raise the curtain. Slowly, the burgundy velvet drape rose to reveal a stage, black as pitch. The audience fell silent. I nodded to Darcy to turn the crank on the Orchestron. Her lace-gloved fingers gripped the winder and slowly turned it clockwise. Once wound, the basso notes of the steam-powered pipe organ pumped a deep, hypnotic rhythm.
Audience members of the Kabaret were accustomed to the unexpected. The entertainment I provided fell into, shall we say, a rather darker category. For years, the town of Mainspring suffered under the tyrannical leadership of Denube Detant. During his reign, nearly everything was forbidden: flesh, fantasy, booze, sex ... the color black and any heel higher than his pinky finger. His iron-fisted rule was a knee-jerk reaction to the spread of Dark Chemistry. When the steam train finally made its way into Mainspring, it brought along with it pleasures from faraway lands. It also brought darkness. Detant did everything he could to fight off the rise of Dark Chemistry – only he went too far.
When Denube Detant's clock finally wound down, his predecessor did everything she could to revitalize our spirits, our hearts, and our economy. That meant the repealing of the laws forbidding establishments such as the Klockwerk Kabaret. So now, I was able to bring to the people I loved so dearly pleasures they hadn't known in such a long time.
The Orchestron pumped out a thunderous beat the patrons had never experienced. The strange and wondrous music was a necessity – given what everyone was about to behold – and had to transport them away to another time, another place, an age and a land of wonder.
Gaslights dotted the stage with pinpoints of light. It was at that moment the audience realized the stage wasn't actually empty. In a perfect row, across the hardwood floor, stood the Dolls – the Klockwerk Dolls. They were Winders like no one had ever seen. Perfect, graceful, exotic. The Dolls were porcelain-skinned beauties who could seduce anyone with little more than a flip of the wrist and a twist of the neck.
Each Doll was costumed in variations of the black-leather corset dress so often seen on the moonlit streets of Mainspring – only the skirts were shorter and the necklines lower. They stood atop dangerously high heels but moved as if they were barefoot. Their lips and cheeks were painted to perfection (thanks to the miraculous hand of my love of loves).
A grace under pressure like no other.
In gentle, perfect time with the music, each Doll floated her right hand, led by a delicately pointed index finger, so it was parallel with the floor. This simple motion stole the breath of the audience. As the Dolls held their arms aloft they ducked their heads and spun three hundred and sixty degrees. Not an arm so much as twitched. The motion was as fluid as well-oiled axles.
The “oohs” and “ahhhs” from the audience ebbed and flowed, as the Dolls continued their routine. As challenging as it was, I managed to pull my gaze from the stage and look out over the audience. Not an eye strayed, not a jaw closed. We had them.
I rushed backstage. The sound of the Orchestron rose and fell behind me as I wound my way through the candle- and gas-lit halls.
A vase with a single black rose caught my attention.
I pulled the rose from the vase and checked my visage in a nearby mirror. My black-velvet, high-neck shirt glistened as if liquid mercury ran through its warp and weft. My signature kilt allowed the slightest bit of skin to peek through before my boots took over. The outfit was her favorite. It did things for her ... in turn, she did things for me.
Down the hall and to the left, her iron-clad dressing room door stood sentinel to guard my love from Dark Chemistry or other ill will. It could not, however, keep out true love.
True love did, however, knock. Olivia didn't much care for anyone (even me) bursting into her dressing room unannounced.
My knuckles tapped out the secret code we used to let the other know it was safe.
“Enter,” Olivia's otherworldly voice called from the other side of the heavy door.
I placed my hand on the gear-shaped handle and gave it a turn.
“Locked. Damn it.”
Olivia loved her little games. Truth be told, I loved her little games. My dearest was a playful woman at heart – her laughter alone could bring tears of joy to the coldest soul.