No Reply No Reply

February 25, 2018

10. New Motive Power

Consider your origin; you were not born to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.
—Dante, Inferno

And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
Luke 22:43

* * *

President Zachary Taylor died of rather mysterious circumstances on July 9, 1850. Perhaps it was too much raw fruit which led to food poisoning. Perhaps it was more complicated than that. Assassination theories abound. Nonetheless, the same day as Taylor’s death, Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th President of the United States of America.

1850 was the same year Mr C completed his magnum opus.

Copper, zinc, and magnets all bound together with pistons and valves that inhaled and exhaled into life. Like the complex gears of a watch, spinning and clacking a cadence of breathing and vitality, formed from the metals of the Earth. Mr C had painstakingly molded contours and muscles that would cover some of the inner workings and recreate a more human-like aesthetic.

Months earlier, Mr C had fallen asleep over papers, notes, nuts, and bolts. An angel appeared in his dream to tell him to build a vehicle.  But not an ordinary vehicle. This would be a physical body for the one true God. The angel told Mr C to use his skills with machinery and composition to create a corporal, mechanical form for God, a holy vehicle. In the center would be chrysolite, a precious gem, to be as a heart. One everlasting. But tell no one. So Mr C told not a soul.

Mr C was a spiritual man with a firm belief in the one true God so he was without fear and agreed with the angel. Mr C considered this his own annunciation and set to work.

But Mr C had a brother, Abel, whom he loved and revered. The two worked together on mechanics, experiments, and early flying machine prototypes. Their mutual trust was fraternal and deep. It was not long before Abel realized Mr C was creating something in private—and that trust was questioned.

One late night Abel pulled the tarp off to reveal the machine that Mr C had been working on. He quickly replaced the tarp and did not sleep that night. The next morning Abel confronted Mr C about what he had seen. “I must tell the authorities,” said Abel. “You must tell no one,” replied Mr C.
Abel loved his brother and obliged. And so a seed of tension was planted.

Abel however, had a strong moral and spiritual conscience and wasted no time to report his findings to the local church elders. Mr C was a reputed man among the church body and the news was taken seriously.

The next day a trusted congregation assembled to confront Mr C about his mysterious dealings and robotic experiments.

“Show us the thing,” exclaimed the eldest preacher. “What have you been hiding?”
“What you have created is against God!” shouted another voice behind him.
The suspense and tension snapped and an eruption of voices followed.
“Let’s destroy it!”
“No false idols!”

“Wait, wait! Let me bring him out for you to see. You will know.” Mr C quickly disappeared into his shed and wheeled out the thing, his magnum opus, the divine vehicle. An audible gasp came from the agitated congregation. Pride and fear welled up inside Mr C.

The wise elders tried and failed to stop the overzealous youth that accompanied them. The young members stormed past and shoved Mr C to the ground. Immediately they toppled and began deconstructing the machine. Mr C was left weeping and helpless. After only a short while, the physical form of God was destroyed. Mr C was shamed and exiled. The elders could not contain the youth and their destruction but they could send Mr C away—in rebuke—for his heinous anathema.

“For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire,” one of the men sneered as he stepped over the humiliated Mr C. The event concluded with the men burning the remaining detritus and dross.

Mr C and Abel did not speak for weeks after the incident. Neither of them returned to the shed and no one truly cleaned up the chaff of the mob. Abel was distraught. Nonetheless he thought he was bound to a higher power and did the righteous thing in the eyes of the Lord.

Mr C made a new life in an adjacent town. He was far enough to begin fresh and near enough that, some months laster, he decided to visit the shed once more.

He stepped into the dusty and empty space. A single beam of sunlight shown the flecks of dust as it poured through a crack in the ceiling. Mr C stood and let the beam wash him. Then he stepped into the light and looked upward through the beam of light and out into the day.

He looked where the golem once stood. There was a white sheet draped in the same silhouette. Right where he had left it. Those Pharisees had destroyed his decoy exactly as planned and here, before him, in full working order, was his magnum opus. The New Motive Power.

“It is finished,” he sighed.

This story is taken from the true story of John Murray Spear. I heard about it on Lore, a podcast. I recommend taking a deeper dive into both the podcast and the original story of the New Motive Power.

Mr C and Abel initially represented a Cain and Abel relationship. I wanted to kill off Abel but that might have been too explicit.

I also blended a moment of “Meditation in a Toolshed” by CS Lewis in toward the end.