Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Automaton This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   Layers of dust cover the floor. A small child ventures in the dark, armed with a flashlight against whatever dangers lurk in the shadows. Sheeted furniture looms menacingly. The exit lies behind him somewhere in the infinite reaches of the building. He slowly walks out further into the blackness. Then, he sees his feeble light reflect off a metallic object. Curious, he moves closer to the single jewel in a maze of lost ghosts.

He finds himself staring at a metal man. A barrel serves as his chest and a bucket as his head. A small hole has been cut in the center of the bucket for a mouth. Metal indentations in the bucket have remnants of paint and may have once been eyes. Two arms hang limply from the body. They remind the boy of a slinky. He utters a single giggle and is surprised as it echoes back from the unseen corners of the warehouse.

The boy walks around to the back of the machine. A row of rivets hold the man together. A large hole in his back seems to need a key to bring it to life. That key lies on a string around the automaton's neck. He jumps up and grabs hold of it, finding himself dangling for a second in thin air.

With a great creak, the automaton begins to bend backward. Just before the boy reaches the ground, it snaps, sending gears flying everywhere. Afraid, the boy runs away, unknowingly grasping the key in his hand. He doesn't stop running until he reaches the comforting arms of his mother, where he begins to cry.

Years from now, the boy will wonder what the automaton was supposed to do. He often pulls the key from its hiding place under his mattress and looks at it, wondering what would have happened if he had pulled a chair over to reach the key of the shining wonder, wondering what would have happened if he had done things differently. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback