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Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #2194985
What defines reality?
Word Count: 498

She sees me. Is it so bad? It’s not like she’s real. She’s pretty. Nice of a mirage to be pretty. The bookcase under my hand, the trigger opens and I’m in the dark. It’s so dark in here. A doorknob in the dark. I miss the sun. It’d be nice to know the sun like a friend. Door’s closed and locked. Mirages can’t follow me here. They need the light.

Can clockwork go insane? People have minds. Can I lose something I don’t have? Do I define normal when there’s nothing like me? What defines reality? I’m seeing something impossible, a human in this castle where none can survive. She’s impossible so my perception must be wrong. Right? That’s what insanity means, right? A failure to properly process reality? She has to be a mirage because humans don’t live here.

Nothing more than distortion in my visual input.

She’s here. How did she get here? Maybe the latch was mirage-friendly. She’s looking at me like something beautiful, like a work of art. Maybe someone thinks I am. Clockwork that moves like a person.

“Are you real?”

“Are you?”

“You can talk!”

“So can you.”

“I’ve never seen clockwork that can talk.”

“I’ve never seen a human that can survive here.”

“What do you mean?”

“Here. This castle.” Is she dumb as well as illusionary? That’d be my luck: a stupid mirage. “Nothing alive lives here.”

“We do. My brother and I have been living here for years.”

“You’re not real. You can’t be.”

“Why not?”

“Because nothing alive lives here.”

“You said that already. Maybe you’re wrong.”

“I’m not wrong. I’m just crazy. I’m imagining you.”

“Can clockwork imagine?”

“I can.”

“Where did you come from?”

“I’ve always been here.”

“Since when?”

“Since there was time.”

Oh look. There’s another one. “Let’s go. Leave it alone. It’ll wind down on its own eventually.” Will I? I’ve never wound down before. Not that I know of. Would I know if I had?

“Look at him. Look at his eyes. He’s alive.”

“Clockwork. It’s just porcelain and clockwork and paint, Ana.”

What about my eyes? Would I look like a mirage if I saw myself? Mirrors show a backward image of what’s real. Would the mirages show up in one? Would I?

“You’re going to get us arrested.”

“We didn’t make him. He was here first.”

“Like the police care.”

Maybe I am insane. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing.

“Do you want company?”

“You’ll die. Everyone does.”

“Not for a long time. I’m only twenty-three.”

“What does that even mean? Twenty-three what?”

“Clockwork without a sense of time. I love it.”

“Don’t laugh at him."

“Leave it. It’s broken. It can’t even keep time.”

“No, he doesn’t deserve this.”

“He’s not real.” He’s looking at me like I have the answer. I’m not sure of the question.

And then it’s dark again. The mirages were just that. Illusions. Nothing more than distortion in my input.
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