The Storylet Experiment: Part 4

Early one morning a week later, a rare northeastern gale swept up the lucrite smoke from the Energy District of the city and carried it over to the Greenhollow neighborhood. Lily stepped outside to see the heavy charcoal-black flakes drift down from the heavens, coating everything like soot. Her hand flew up to the silk handkerchief covering her mouth and nose, and with frantic motions, she secured it more tightly using her scarf. Her heart pounding in her chest, she debated simply staying home today. But anyone with half a mind could guess why and she couldn’t afford that right now. So while breathing as shallowly as she could, she began her walk to the tram.

It was unfortunate that her precautions did not help her, for she found herself short of breath throughout the morning and into the afternoon. She was concentrating on suppressing a coughing fit when her hand slipped and the contents of the pocket watch she had been working on sprang out and clattered to the floor.

“Is everything all right, Miss Stanthorpe?” Mr. Cleaver drawled while examining her disapprovingly over the top of his spectacles.

Lily flushed with both embarrassment and nervousness as she felt the gaze of the other workers add their weight to her shoulders. “Yes sir, it was only a moment of clumsiness.”

Mr. Cleaver glanced pointedly at the cogs and springs sprinkled over the floor before turning back to his bookkeeping.

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