We are not like you; the warmth that fires through your veins we cannot remember. We wear the faces of your friends, your family. Our breath only flows for your enjoyment. All of us used to be a part of you so you sent us away. Away so that you don’t have to remember our face on another body, our hands do not grip you as tightly because we cannot and will not be able to remember our names.
No longer do all the dead and gone rest within the ground; that peace is reserved for the rich. The poor, in dirt we lived but in death, that same dirt is too good to cradle our bones so we are taken away. If we had good bones, were not too marked, and enough of us was salvageable, we were strapped and strung and melded into Clockworks. No longer human but something less.
The world had a labor problem. The middle class dissolved, the rich became richer and the poor became poorer and any dreams people had of advancing died with the collapse of that idyllic society. This was sped along when a great plague spread around the world. Vaccines were tried and discarded and the sick got sicker and died. Entire communities were wiped out, then towns, and then cities until a vaccine was found.
The vaccine was very expensive to make but the price was manageable for most of the rich. The poor had nothing to barter with. Many died, many filled the ground beneath our feet until bursting. Until one madman changed death.
Theodias Young lost his wife to the plague and in his grief, created the first Clockworks using his wife. When she was created, and given the semblance of life, she awoke and behaved just as she should: she moved and talked, she could eat and relieve herself. She understood her native language and could do all the things she was designed to do.
Except the process left her unable to remember her husband and her previous life. She had to be taught all over again how to be human. Even then, she could only act out the part of Theodias’ wife. Her love was taught, and felt as such. Stricken, her husband began to drink heavily and eventually lost himself. He died, but his legacy, his wife, and the notes from her creation started a shockwave of change around the world.
At first, they were horrified. To defile the dead in such a manner! His wife, if she could be called that, was taken and examined. Was she human? Did she have a soul? A soul was traditionally thought to leave the body at death. As soulless, did she have any rights? Was she even human?
While this was debated, the labor shortage continued to rise. The world needed something. Something more intelligent than an Automaton, something clever, something… almost human.
Here was the answer to the shortage of workers, here was a race of beings that could be raised starting at adulthood, with adult strength and intelligence; easily taught to believe that they were less, made from the scraps of the dead, and blessed to serve. Here were the Clockworks, given a second life.
And serve they did. If you were willing to give up a family member after death, immediately, and if they met the specifications your family would receive the vaccination. No foul play could be involved. Children were not allowed, anyone who was over the age of 15 upon death and in good condition was considered. Those that did not make it were cremated, and given to the family (who still received their vaccine). This rarely happened because with a Clockworks, almost anyone could be mended, changed, or salvaged.
The world slowly but surely thrived and the Clockworks were accepted as less than, but useful. They filled the unwanted jobs. They worked harder and lasted longer and would do whatever they were taught. They were changed into whatever the person they were assigned to wanted.
Eventually the plague was stamped out. Clockworks were no longer needed and yet… so useful. So malleable. No longer where they assigned, soon they were bought. Soon they were designed. Traded. Used. There wasn’t enough room in the ground anyway. Serve the world and be “Useful Even in Death.”
And that’s how I came to be, hundreds of years later. A descendant of madness. Someone loved me once, but how much I cannot be sure since I am here, as this…. as my gears and bobs make me breathe, move, work.
But such a time to work! Soon, I would be a part of something bigger than me, and all because I completed my re-education one hour late. One hour earlier and I think I would have been taken home by my impatient owners. Due to their impatience they took another Clockworks home, and thank goodness they did. That one hour changed my fate, forever.