A heart of Cogs and Clockwork

Coral VanHughs is the daughter of one of the most notorious criminals, helping her Father in his evil ways to steal from the highest of society. After being shot she is given a clockwork heart to keep her alive, but she is already dying and needs all the help she can get to travel across the world to the famous clock maker who is her only chance at survival.



1. A Formal Introduction

It was a cold December night, the sky was a dark, midnight blue and the main light source, was the thousands of glittering stars that shone gold against the darkness. Coral sat on the roof to her home, her breath formed a small concentrated cloud in front of her nose, which hovered there momentarily before fading out of existence. Her long brown hair fell loosely around her face, and created a dark waterfall against her back, she smiled; despite her constant shivers from the bitter cold of winter. She looked down at her small form, finding herself clothed in her thin night gown and a pair of flat brown shoes, a small laugh escaped her pale pink lips, how had she sat out here, all this time without realising that she was barely dressed, she sighed and rose from her seat, careful not to slip on the slates, which had become icy and slippery as the day had turned to night.

  As she went to take a small step toward to the ladder, leading down from the roof, a loud crackling noise shocked her, almost causing her to lose her footing; it took a moment for Coral to realise where the noise was coming from, she looked down at her wrist, there sat a large faced watch on a leather strap, attached to which was her communicator, used by her Father to contact her if her assistance was needed. She turned the dials; watching the cogs turn into position.
"Hello?" Her Father's voice rang through "Coral, I need you in the laboratory." The sound of urgency could not be denied, yet Coral remained taking her time, moving slowly from the roof, cautious that one wrong move could leave her falling onto the jagged rocks below. The house itself was a rickety, wooden building, placed precariously on the edge of a cliff, it rattled along with the wind, Coral often expected to feel the house slip into the dark; almost black sea which lapped up at the cliff. Yet they had lived here since she was merely a child and issues with the structure had yet to arise.

Coral clamoured down the ladder and into her bedroom window, looking out over the bay. From here she could see the city of Crimston, its lights blared out in an overly obnoxious fashion, with no way to ignore it, all Coral could do was admire it and wish that she could visit; even just for a day.  She closed the window and turned away from the city, instead staring at her small, cupboard of a room and headed downstairs to her Fathers laboratory. 
  Her Father was seated at his desk, his grey hair slicked back with the grease and sweat, in front of him sat a small piece of machinery; she could hear the tick of his latest creation as she hesitantly walked over to him, hopefully this invention was working and she wouldn't have to deal with his anger, due to another failure.
  "Father, you asked for me?" She said, pausing a foot or so away
"Yes, I believe I have done it" Turning his head towards her, his blue eyes twinkled in excitement "I believe I have created a contraption that would have prevented your Mothers death" Coral took a step back, he had still been attempting this? Her Mother had died when she was very young due to heart failure, and since then her Father had been determined to find something that could have saved her. To prove he was at fault for her death. Not the healthiest of occupations she had to admit. However it had kept him busy in his later years, and for that Coral was grateful.

"What is it?" She asked, he pushed his chair back, moving from Coral's view, so she could inspect the contraption herself. On the desk, sat a mass of leather, with copper tubing, her eyes opened wide as it moved, and the realisation of what it was sunk in "A mechanical heart" She breathed, her eyes open wide. How had he done this? It was a fully functioning heart, she watched it intently as it pumped, no blood circled through it, but it could do so if required. 
"I think your Mother would have been proud" He said, Coral placed a hand on his shoulder
"She'll be smiling, you have done us proud Father. With this invention we could make our fortune and save thousands of lives" Her own heart, thrummed in her ribcage, excitement consuming her, but this feeling fell short with her Fathers reply
"No, it shall be ours to keep, it was for your Mother, and that is the way it shall stay. We have a steady source of income. No one outside of these walls shall know about this Coral, you cannot tell anyone." Coral froze, had he gone mad? There were people dying unjustly in the world and he remained unwilling to help, despite holding the answer.

 Dinner that night was eaten in silence, the weight of their disagreement had placed a wedge between the two. Coral ate her soup and left her Father to finish his, retreating to her room for the pleasure of her own company. Her room had dark brown wooden walls which were left bare, apart from the clock she had been helped to make on her 7th birthday, it ticked quietly, always keeping to time, her bed was a small rickety thing with a metal frame and thin linen cover, she set herself down and stared at the mirror of her dresser, her reflection staring back.

It was nearly morning when her eyes grew heavy, and she finally slipped into an undisturbed slumber; she awoke several hours later, when the suns rays had infiltrated her room and moved quietly until they reached her rounded face, moving from under the suns glare, Coral sat up and checked the time, she had somewhat overslept, yet had not been called by her Father which was odd. Usually a stickler for time and was not one for allowing Coral to have a lie-in. She climbed out of bed and wandered down the metal staircase leading into the kitchen. Breakfast was sitting stone cold on the table, it was only porridge but it was difficult to re-heat once. She sat in her usual place, opposite her Father's empty chair and ate her breakfast.

After finishing she washed her bowl and spoon, drank a small glass of water to wash down the aftertaste of burnt porridge, and went to her Fathers laboratory to try and find him, however he was not there. "Where have you gone?" She asked the empty room, willing an answer to appear in front of her nose. She took a tentative step further into the room; she had never been down here without him, if he knew she would be in trouble. Moving closer to the centre of the room, her heart began to thud in time with another, she paused for a moment listening to the steady beating of the clockwork heart. Coral closed her eyes and listened, behind the beating, she could a faint whirring and ticking as the cogs and mechanics of it worked away to keep its pace. 

Coral remained there for several long minutes, losing herself in the hypnotic sound of the heart, however she was dragged from her daze from the loud click as the latch to her front door was lifted; diving out of the laboratory and shutting the door behind her, she rushed up the stairs and into the living room. As she threw herself down onto the armchair, the door creaked open and her Fathers face appeared round it.
"Good Morning Coral, you overslept I see." He said, his voice considerably gruffer than usual, Coral nodded her head in response, making some excuse that she had been tired from the busy day prior to this. Her Father's eyes opened wide, Coral's matched his, and she turned her head to see what he was staring at. Crap. She had forgotten to move the bookcase back over the trapdoor; she'd been caught. "Coral. Why were you in the lab?" He asked calmly
"I wasn't sure if you were home or not, so I went down to check." She told him, trying not to show her fear, he pressed his forefinger to his lips in thought and closed his eyes
"Coral, when we moved here, you were told never to go down there, unless I told you to." Coral remained silent, her heart thudding in her chest "So why were you down there?" His voice had begin to raise, causing Coral to flinch back and feel as if she were a young child again; before she could react he moved forward and slapped a hand across her cheek, it was a sharp, burning sensation that was all too familiar.
"I'm sorry" She said, unable to raise her voice more than a whisper, her Father walked off down to his laboratory, slamming the door as he did so, she had tried so hard to cover her tracks, yet she had failed. He would be stricter now, restraining her movements, even the roof would be out of bounds and therefore, her freedom.

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