The Mechanical Mechanic, His Apprentice and The Judge

“No business after six!” Lewis yelled from his chair next to the milling machine. The shop had been closed for an hour, and Epictetus was the only company he wanted tonight. After a minute, the polite knocking resumed. Smiling at the irony, he traced a passage from The Discourses with a titanium finger.

When you close your doors and make darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone, for you are not alone; nay, God is within, and your genius is within. God and genius were damned tonight; whoever was at the door needed a mechanic.

He lurched upright, using the pile of books next to the chair for support. The rewired nerves in his hip always took a while to wake up, leaving him unsteady on the prosthetic leg. He took the clean coverall hanging on the drill press’ handle and pulled it over his worn jeans and t-shirt, to cover his steel arm.

“Can’t read the goddamn sign or what?” he grumbled, passing the dusty metal shelves piled with car parts on his way to the front door. Paula Larsen from the Alma Township Council stood outside, her fist raised, ready to knock again. A bulky young man stood several paces behind her.

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Originally published in Helix, A Speculative Fiction Quarterly, #6, Fall 2007