Sunday, March 18, 2012

6.9 Nails & Sparks

 The alchemist lifted his glass and drained it. "And now I must return to my work." He set the glass down on the table then rubbed his hands together. "Eduardo, are you ready?"

"I have finished my cake," Eduardo said, flapping his wings lightly as he stretched his front legs out at a seemingly impossible length. Brigitte cooed and tousled his mane. The lion ignored her.

"Mon ami!" Fabien cried. "We were just getting into a very good discussion here."

Adèle kissed the top of her husband's head. "Your work is done for the day, mon amour, but Monsieur Maggiormente has his duties ahead yet."

"Such a pity!"

Maggiormente clapped his friend on the shoulder. "Tomorrow is another day. We shall renew our argument."

"Discussion! A much better word, my friend." The two embraced and then the alchemist and his lion headed back out into the late afternoon light, the motor tucked under Maggiormente's arm.

"I hope Mme. Gabor is not around," the alchemist said. "I don't want her asking questions just now."

Eduardo coughed. "I don't think she will bother you at present."

Maggiormente looked down at his familiar. "What did you do?"

"I?" The lion looked at him with exaggerated innocence. "I did nothing."

Maggiormente frowned, but did not press the matter. They returned to their maison and heard not a peep from the concierge as they climbed the stair to their flat on the top floor. Eduardo sneezed as they entered the workroom.

"Remnants of the failure," the alchemist said with regret.

"Mistakes are necessary; how can you find success if you do not eliminate the alternate avenues?" The lion sneezed again. "In the future I hope we can avoid this particular mistake, however."

"That matrix has been discarded," Maggiormente said as he set the motor on the work table. "How to affix this motor so it will not slide around awkwardly?"

"Lash it down," Eduardo suggested, walking over to the window and looking for pigeons.

"I think perhaps nails," Maggiormente said with a frown. He rooted around for some nails amongst the rubbish on the sideboard while Eduardo made himself comfortable on the rug near the window.

In a few minutes the motor board had been made fast to the table. A master carpenter would likely have exclaimed at the expeditious but hardly careful application of nails, but for the alchemist's purpose, the attachment would do well enough.

He stared at the little motor. After some careful scrutiny, Maggiormente affixed a funnel to the input of the wee engine. Then he stood back to examine it carefully.

"How many funnels do you have?" Eduardo asked sleepily.

The alchemist looked at him. "Three."

The Venetian lion put his head down on his paws. "That should be enough."

Maggiormente raised an eyebrow but Eduardo appeared to have fallen asleep. He stepped over to the other end of the work table to consult his notes. After a moment, he decided upon the formula to try and set to work. From the smoking coals in the fireplace, he lit the oil lamp under a mixture of pale green liquid.

By the time the liquid boiled, Maggiormente had an array of substances lined up to add to the base. He measured carefully and introduced each one in turn. The beaker roiled and bubbled. Sparks rose from the surface and dissipated in the air.

When the liquid had changed from green to gold, the alchemist lifted the concoction off the heat with tongs. He allowed it to cool for a few minutes. The gold colour grew richer. With infinite care, he poured the mixture into the funnel.

Nothing happened.

"You need a spark," Eduardo reminded him, his voice sleepy.

Maggiormente clapped his palm to his forehead. "Of course!" He went back to the fire where the coals still glowed and grabbed one with the tongs. Grabbing a spatula, the alchemist used the implement to knock some sparks from the glowing ember. After a few taps, sparks flew and all at once ignition began.

The golden liquid coursed through the motor and it began to turn as the sparks ignited the fluid. The pistons turned. The whirr of the engine filled the room. Even Eduardo lifted his head to watch the mechanical piece rotate as it shook the table beneath it.

All at once there was an explosion. Flames shot upward as the funnel flew up to the ceiling and shattered. As the pistons slowed, Maggiormente said, "An excellent start."

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