Prologue: A Fire, An Escape, and Two MurdersMature

Molly, a Miracle of Modern Science, finds herself chased all around the world at the commands of her sullen foster brother.
By TheGirlInTheCupboard and Colm

Mombasa, 24th of August 1845

Molly learned quickly to stamp out her hopes and dreams in a heartbeat, such as her hopes for a peaceful existence among biological freaks, athletic eccentrics and fantastical beasts, without being hunted by unhinged, psychologically damaged killers. Perhaps, she reckoned, she asked too much from her miraculous second life. More often than not, she found herself resenting the clockwork parts which ticked inside of her, rather than feeling grateful for them.

This thought occurred as she fled the flaming circus tent in Mombasa, amidst the screams and cries of locals, the roar of elephants and the dying song of automated musicians. Honour stayed close, her fur standing on end, her head low and her teeth on edge. It was dark, and Molly had to quickly dodge the merchants’ stands which were cloaked by the night, twice almost tumbling headlong into massive crates of fruit. She caught the attention of two shop owners lingering by a cart of freshly delivered produce, and she froze, Honour skidding to a halt in unison.

A woman wrapped in a cream shawl, heading towards eighty years of age perhaps, and a man in his thirties who could easily have been her son. Their African skin glimmered in the moonlight, their faces calm, as though they hadn’t yet realised the fiasco occurring just over the marketplace. These people barely mattered, but any witnesses to her escape could only make things more difficult. If the hunters survived the circus fire, she supposed, it would be about three minutes before they would track her down, and one small threat would send these bumbling common labourers to their knees, pointing out the direction in which she and Honour had fled.

Molly stared the merchants down, gears grinding in her left eyeball as they did when a bout of indecision struck her. The soft voice of Mr. Meriwether whispered inside her iron-encased skull, urging her to practice mercy. But Honour growled by her side; she was a vibrant, striped predator. Predators only survived through strength and foresight, and those things left little room for mercy.

The tent fire roared behind the marketplace, and the red flames glistened on the back of Molly’s metal hand as she raised it, signalling to her tiger. Honour descended on the merchants in a single bound, catching the old woman’s throat between her teeth, and tearing into the man’s face with her front claws all at once; both silencing their screams and slaying them by the time she and their bodies hit the ground.

“Honour, come!” Molly called to her, but the tiger had busied herself, tearing into the man’s neck, ripping shreds of flesh apart and spraying blood a metre into the air. “Honour!” she shouted again, and the giant cat sprang to attention, scampering to her side, blood and flesh mashed into the fur on the left side of her face, and dripping from the brass plates and bolts on the right side.

They sprinted again, deeper and deeper into the heart of the marketplace, plunging into darkness as the town fell into the grips of sleep and isolation. Molly ducked behind a tall, square building to strip off the ridiculous blouse and balloon pants she’d been forced to wear in the ring. Beneath, she wore a tight black catsuit; her acrobatic attire. Not something she particularly enjoyed wearing, but much less humiliating than the harlequin costume. As an afterthought, Molly also undid the strap which held Honour’s colourful miniature top hat in place. The tiger shook out her fur and flapped her ears in appreciation.

A shadow flew past on the main street, and Molly leapt to her feet. The shadow crept back, sensing her, and the moon lit up the outline of an all-too familiar figure.

A slick voice emerged in the darkness; “I’m afraid this is where your little story ends.”

It can’t be…. Molly thought, just before a loud, metallic clang rang out over the streets of Mombasa.

The End

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