Edmund collapsed onto his bed, his smile plastered firmly on his face.
Part of him wanted to feel sorry for Mr. Shobbinton, but that part was fading slightly. After all, even if Mr. Shobbinton wasn’t going to kill him, the inventions and diagrams of Plinkerton Moulde were still lost forever. That was worth a good scare.
Edmund’s head fell to the side, and he looked into the empty eyes of Orpha Moulde.
Only hours ago, he had stared into her burning face. The cobwebs that had held her together had curled away into ash and the whole monument to this woman’s greatness had collapsed.
After a few moments, Edmund pulled the watch from his pocket and held it to his ear. After six generations, Plinkerton’s watch was still ticking.
It didn’t matter about him. He didn’t want statues or monuments for him when he died. He still felt uncomfortable with the idea of anyone looking at him…actually seeing him.
No. What mattered was the Family. The City. And the Machine.
This was his home, and he was damn well going to fight for it, he thought, as he slid himself off of his bed, images of ticking clockwork filling his mind.
For his first real plot, Edmund later reflected in his old age, it was a fairly simple one. It was the execution that had been difficult.
He had planned all the rest of the night, scribbling away at his desk. He hadn’t paid attention to the time, but he awoke still seated at his desk the next morning, several pages of tight writing clustered around his head.
The faint mists of recent sleep faded away quickly when his eyes met the sobering gaze of Orpha Moulde. Her skull had sat on his desk all night, staring at him.
Edmund carefully began to read what he had written in the night, trying to recollect his thoughts. Several pages covered his cousins, and what he knew about them. He glanced over these pages quickly, noting the few underlined phrases that revealed possibly useful clues or facts about his family.
A few pages were long streams of consciousness thrown onto paper, touching on the loss of Plinkerton’s designs and the probable difficulties of convincing his cousins of a better way of behaving.
One whole section of a page was empty except for a single word: Googoltha.
Edmund stared at the word. She was important somehow…but he couldn’t remember why.
One page had a strange design of a long metal rod. It took Edmund a moment to understand what he had invented in his sleep, but once he grasped the idea, a grin split across his face. That would definitely be useful.
His heart full of optimism, he turned to the last page.