Cora and the Clockwork Men: a Chronicle of the Walker
by Mat Nastos
Synopsis: Cora Webb has lived the most ordinary of lives for over 23 years — that of an average college student, with an average boyfriend, an average apartment and an average number of overdue bills. However, all of that changes when the Clockwork Men come to kill her. Cora’s only hope is the mystery man known only as the Walker.
I was 23 when I learned the universe wanted me dead.
Well, not just me, but all of us: every living thing from single-celled amoeba all the way up to the most complex of creatures. Of course, the most complex creature I know is my ex-boyfriend, Scott, and I can very well understand why the Universe would want him dead. He’s a prick. As for the rest of us, though, I’m still not completely sure I get it.
Perhaps I should start at the beginning. Back before I found out the Universe hated all life. Before my eyes were opened to the realities of things by the one man I believe in more than God. On the day I met the Walker.
Oh, by the way, my name is Coralline Amethyst Webb. Cora for short. Which, at barely five feet tall, I am. Because of my size and red hair, Scott used to call me his little tomato. I’m allergic to tomatoes. Did I mention Scott is a prick?
Well, WAS a prick.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning.
Six weeks ago.
It all began on what most people would call a beautiful, sunny summer day, just outside the campus condos of Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. I say “most people” because to me, the offspring of a fair-skinned Scottish father and his even paler Irish bride, sun was an anathema. It caused an increase in my already far too numerous freckles and took my hair from a pleasant auburn color to something much closer to that of Ronald McDonald.
The other thing spoiling my day was the knockdown, drag-out fight I was having with Scott on what was to be the last day of our relationship.
“You PRICK!!!” The shriek spilled from my throat as I sent a barrage of utensils hurling from the kitchen area of our tiny shared efficiency apartment. Unfortunately for me, the off-white hand mixer I had chosen for my latest missile lacked the proper aerodynamic properties to reach my intended target and, instead, crashed through the antique glass coffee table my best friend, Sara, and I had picked out last week. Luckily, I was able to use distress over the broken table to fuel my righteous anger.
“You get out of here right now, Scott Eric Silva!”
“I can’t believe you’re mad over a little thing like that!” Scott’s deep voice was cut off as a metal mixing bowl dented itself against his rather thick skull. “God damn it, Cora! Will you stop for a second?” In spite of his rather copious girth or the fresh wound spurting blood just under his receding black hairline, my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend was able to successfully dodge the mixing bowl’s slightly larger twin.
The third mirrored bowl, thrown with Warrior Princess-like precision, caught Scott in his cheating-balls, sending his six-foot-two frame to his knees and then face-first into a basked of clean clothes I’d left next to our well-worn fold-out sofa.
Seeing his rather painful landing, I exclaimed “Shit!” as I stalked across the now-demolished apartment. A quick look around at the devastation I’d caused confirmed there would be little to no hope of getting our security deposit back. Of course, on second thought, I remembered Scott was the one who actually wrote the deposit check, which I had protested at first but was now perfectly fine with.
Scott’s chivalry was going to cost him $450.
Reaching down, I grabbed Scott’s limp arm up near the sleeve of the black t-shirt proclaiming “Trekkers do it at Warp speed” across his chest, and pulled the groaning man’s face out of the pile of whites. “Oh, get up,” I said, without much tenderness in my voice. “I can’t believe I did that.”
With a pair of my off-white cotton hip-huggers stuck to the blood on his forehead and one eye starting to swell shut, Scott slurred, “It’s OK, babe…I forgive you.”
The wet thud of his head hitting the hardwood floor as I dropped him almost drowned out me yelling, “You?! Forgive me?!” If I’d been in a more observant mood I might have noticed the sound of his head on solid red oak was eerily similar to that of Gallagher smashing an over-ripe watermelon with his sledgehammer.
“Still alright,” came Scott’s unsteady voice from behind me as I grabbed a handful of now bloodstained garments.
“I don’t care about you, you bastard! There’s blood all over my tank tops!” I turned my back on the loser I’d spent the last eighteen months of my life with to assess the damage his leaking forehead had done to my wardrobe. It was then I noticed an unusual figure watching us through the living room window. While expecting our fight and my tantrum to pull in the odd spectator – our last blow-up had even brought in both campus security and the local police department – there was something particularly queer about this onlooker. <end excerpt>