This story was written for Microcosms and my prompts were “legatee”, “hinterland” and “Steam Punk”.
The airship flew slowly over the burnt grasses of the hinterlands south of the city. Encased in the glass and metal viewing deck, I was glad to be breathing fresh air. Uncle Bryan had really thought of everything when he designed the Cirrus. And it was to his country house which I was travelling.
The sprawling grounds still held some green. I half expected to see him pottering about in the garden as he was as often found there as in the basement where he built his inventions.
“Would you like me to wait for you, Sir?” the pilot asked after we landed. I shook my head.
A cold wind tugged at my clothes. As I entered the house through the open front door, I wondered if I would even recognise my uncle; the last time I’d seen him I’d been a sickly child.
“Uncle? It’s me,” I called out. No one answered. I made my way down to the basement and heard turning cogs.
When I entered the basement, I saw it. The machine was magnificent. I spotted a letter addressed to me.
If there was one time you could return to, when would it be? I kept reading. “A time machine!” I read his instructions, about how you could only use it once, about how it could only ferry two people – and he had been one of them. That I could now go wherever I please – alone. I started crying. Unless I build another one.
I climbed into the machine and pressed buttons that would take me back only twenty years, to when my uncle started building his pièce de résistance.
I would take Clara, I decided. Take her away from the city and her early death. Perhaps we could be together in this lifetime, after all.