>Go West

You pop another sour key into your mouth and wince. These are some of your favourite sweets and you love the fizzy sugar on your tongue, it’s just that the initial burst of sourness makes your face involuntarily twist into a grotesque expression. You’re glad that your siblings aren’t here to laugh at you. That’s a thought – siblings, do you actually have any siblings? You aren’t sure but something very deep inside of you suggests that you do.

You decide that since you are lost, and your supply of sweets isn’t going last indefinitely, that you had better find some other people, preferably people with a good stock of confectionary. In your short years on this planet you have learned that where there are people, there are machines, angular and ugly, churning out clunky mechanical sounds. The east and the south look intriguing, but you know that you need to go where you are most likely to find some help, and so, as the Pet Shop Boys prophesized, you decide to go west.

You brush the hair from your eyes and trudge over the fields, towards what you suspect to be a machine, following the dusty lines in-between the rows of asparagus, your dumpy late-morning shadow traipsing in front of you. Your mind is a muddle and you hope that your memory is going to sort itself out soon because you are not a big fan of feeling this confused.

The sun is overhead by the time you get close, and it becomes clearer that the once-distant dark square is indeed a machine. A vast, tumbledown machine powered by steam and scattered with dozens of chimneys exhaling vertical plumes of grey smoke which dance and ripple skywards before dissolving into nothingness. Among a hotchpotch of materials that constitute rooftops at various heights, pressure valves let off a sudden burst of white steam with a piercing whistle, making you jump. Although the overall impression of the structure is square, it actually consists of numerous different smaller constructions, each bolted on to the original at varying times, a patchwork quilt of crumpled metal. There are scores of windows, each unique and most likely very old, crudely welded onto the structure. You notice that the majority of them boast a pair of net curtains. The air around you is thick with the smell of hot oil and steam and coal dust, while the rhythmic, mechanical throb fills your ears. At first you are intimidated by the colossal belching, clunking, churning machine, but then you notice a washing line strung high up, between two windows, displaying several shirts and a pair of frilly knickers, making it seem a lot less menacing.

You wonder what the machine is for. Clearly someone lives in it, but what is it doing all the way out here? There are eight thin iron girders protruding from the machine, four on each side. They remind you of the ropes used to hold up a tent. Or maybe the legs on a spider.

There is a small red door near the ground, dwarfed by the vast expanse of metal around it, from which a short flight of wooden steps runs down to the field. There is a doorknocker in the shape of a lion’s head and a small bronze sign above the door. You can just about make out the word ‘Ghibli’, engraved into it.

You are trying to decide what to do next when the machine bursts into action. The clunking noise increases tenfold, booming and clattering like thunder. All of the pressure valves erupt simultaneously and steam spouts into the air, billowing upwards in a great white cloud. The whistling of the valves and roar of the engine reach a deafening crescendo in this almighty engineering opera. And then, slowly at first, then faster and faster, each of the metal girders - the legs -begins to twitch and move. You take a few steps back and gaze, mouth ajar, as this fantastic, enormous machine oh so slowly, laboriously and arduously, heaves itself upwards with a great mechanical grunt, and begins to stand.

You don’t have much time before the whole thing walks away, so you’ll have to think quickly. The wooden steps are above the ground now but you think you can just about reach them. Should you climb the steps and knock at the door, or would it be better to try and sneak in without anyone noticing? Perhaps it would be wiser to stand well back from this strange machine and see where it is going?

You take a deep breath, and make your decision.

The End

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