127: Inspiration


Image: Durston Saylor, archleague.org

Edmund sat up suddenly, inspiration striking. While the elevator was still descending, he turned about and felt along the panel for a catch or hidden release. He found one at the base of the wall, and lifted a tall thin panel out from under the lever, revealing a small array of dark bronze gears and springs. Edmund watched as the gears moved back and forth, shifting like a mechanical tide as the elevator descended, and came to a rest on the ground floor.

The gears settled and fell still. Not taking his eyes off of them, Edmund reached up and twisted the lever to the fourth floor. With a shudder, the gears moved like a band of troubadours beginning to dance. Edmund watched as the gears shifted, clicking into place and breaking away as the elevator rose back to the fourth floor, and stopped, settling the gears once more.

Edmund moved the elevator back and forth, up and down, watching the gears as he did until he understood their function. Each gear had a purpose, and all of them were necessary… except for one.

One single gear, towards the top of the panel, simply rose and fell like a buoy on the tide, drifting close, but never actually touching, several others. Edmund watched carefully, formulating a plan.

When the elevator came to rest on the bottom floor one last time, Edmund gripped the lever firmly, and took a deep breath. If he was right, he would have to time his actions just right. Slowly, he pushed the lever to the ornate Four. As the elevator shuddered, he watched the gears begin to move, focusing on the gear that seemed to be connected to the lever itself. The elevator slowly began to rise…

Before Edmund could finish the thought, his arm had already pulled hard on the lever, forcing the gears out of their current configuration. He kept pulling as the gears snapped free, and then pushed again as the lever’s gear popped upwards and clicked into place next to the orphan gear. The instant he heard the gears click into place, he pushed the lever with all his strength past four.

Past four. The lever creaked as he pushed, and stiffly slipped past the number four only to stop where a number five would have been. The elevator shook and came to a sudden halt. There was a pause, as if the elevator was deciding whether to acquiesce to his odd request, and then a loud groan shook Edmund to the bone. The elevator slowly began to rise, past the third floor, and then to Edmund’s delight, past the fourth. He couldn’t stop himself grinning as the fifth floor slowly crept into view.


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