The damp oubliette had been Cyan’s home for over a week. He was cold, lonely, and miserable, but had not been starved or deprived of other necessities. The clockworks had converged on him with brooms, which had been startling enough, but he had almost sent the five hat clocks running before they sprayed him. Water at this temperature would even make a non-feline uncomfortable. The worst was yet to come, as they unleashed some kind of opioid and catnip hybrid.
Catnip had no effect on him, but the other stuff had made him lethargic and easy to capture. He was vaguely aware of a doll with rotted flesh carrying him. Like out of a nightmare. He had been shuffled into a cart and hurried away. When he came to he was here.
Still, Cyan was not in the mood to let a little thing like an inescapable prison hold him down. He was using his claws to draw out designs and make plans for escape. His captor lowered his food on a pulley system too fragile to support his weight. He had considered storing extra food, despite his weakened health, and forcing them to fix the pulley. He had dismissed that idea for fear they would not bother fixing it.
Still, the pulley was his way out. If he could rest and recover, he could break the pulley, nudge it a bit, and with some luck make a grappling hook out of the previous materials. There was at least one hook used as part of it. Then the worst part would be the climb. He hoped. The weak rope would still be somewhat of an issue.
He could hear something descending, and this time it was not a plate of food dropped. This was a stronger rope, holding a huge metal doll, his heart leapt at the possibility of an actual elevator.
Hope that this was a rescue were dashed as he recognized the clockwork that imprisoned him. It looked like it had flesh pasted over its doll form, as if it had tried to sew back on rotten skin from a corpse. The arms on its back had been fashioned independently of its other arms and moved with a spider like movement that kept him wary. It wore a tattered dress with a white apron covered in what he hoped was rusty water, and not blood.
He recognized this as Dr. Alice’s monster. An abomination of science that he had once thought a harmless horror story. The scientist had refused to let go of their dead daughter, who had been mangled by a worm in the fells. The madwoman used machines to replace parts that had been crushed beyond retrieval, used pieces from other corpses, and then struck it with aetheric electric power. Power from the angels. One of the many abuses that legend heaped on the Empire’s feet for its eventual fall.
It stood over him and threw a massive vole at his feet, nearly the size of a dog. A metallic voice, simulating speech like a wind up doll chirped, “Eat, kitty that lives outside of time. Your end cannot come before I show my new friends I have their kitties!”
Cyan then noticed that sprawled out on the elevator was another figure, one that looked like Beryl which the clockwork tossed onto the floor of the oubliette. It seemed that she still had no power over the machines.
The lad ran up to her, trying to lift her head, but she was heavier than expected and gave him a wink. It was then that he understood and hugged her, while looking back with fear at their jailer. She had turned away to restart the elevator. “You won’t get away with this. They’re going to find us!”
The clockworks head turned slowly, independently of her body, turning almost half a circle. She raised her arm, revealing a knife she had acquired. She made as if to cut her own throat, which still had flesh upon it. Though some black substance leaked from her throat, it did not stop her chilling metallic voice responding, “The Hare will be so pleased. It is time to end the kitties disease. Then he shall help me to finally rend, that which has caused all life to suffer without end!”
Her mad laughter echoed as she pulled the lever to rise, her neck turning the wrong way until it had made a full circle. Cyan shivered and looked to his friend, who dusted herself off. “Are you alright?”
“Besides being beset by a clockwork army and thrown into a prison to await execution by madmen and women? Yes,” the feline adjusted her hat calmly. She continued without sarcasm, “Everything is going according to plan.”
Considering the last plan Beryl had shared with him included the phrase, ‘If all that fails then now I die’, he was going to take that with a grain of salt.