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Sentient No More
In the Workshop
calliaphone finally makes it back, with lots of really good leather. she doesn't think about where it might have come from. she's too tired to think at all, really.
calliaphone sets the leather down on a bench, and then sets down the toaster she's carrying as well. it buzzes sleepily at her, and settles down in a corner.
calliaphone thinks the toaster's got the right idea. she too settles down in a corner, with a toolbox for a pillow. and is soon spark-out.
calliaphone is woken by a hungry toaster. it buzzes at her noisily until she stirs and sits and looks around blearily. "whassamatter?" it hums a snatch of melody."oh, right. of course. bread."
calliaphone says, "wait there, i'll be right back." and dashes off to the kitchen.
calliaphone slithers in, slowing down at last as the vegetable oil is absorbed by the wood-and-metal dust all over the floor in here. she staggers to a halt beside the toaster, and offloads an armful of bread.
calliaphone feeds the toaster, then cracks herself a carton of chocomilk while the workshop fills with the smell of browning toast. the little appliance buzzes contentedly, hums some Rossini, then PINGS.
calliaphone says, "thankyouverymuch, don't mind if i do." and helps herself to a slice. As she munches, the toaster sings samples from various arias. Callia smiles, but then her eye lights on Cordy.
calliaphone finishes her breakfast and brushes off the crumbs. "Ok, break's over. We got an accordion to fix. you gonna stick around or go exploring?" the toaster buzzes itself into a corner, out of the way.
calliaphone nods. "okiedoke." she says, and gets up to see what needs to be done next. She has leather, she has wire. Time to finish the job.
calliaphone settles herself at a bench once more, this time with her cut-out metal reeds, and the sheet of leather. More measuring, more cutting. She gets the reedblock, and starts fitting things together.
calliaphone works her reel of wire into a series of springs, using the undamaged ones as a model. Working with the most delicate of hand-drills, and a judicious quantity of glue, she reconstructs the reeds.
calliaphone fits metal to metal to leather to wood. The spring goes . . . here, like .. so, and . . .so. And the next one, and the next. It is slow work, fiddly, but she makes progress.
calliaphone chitters quietly to Cordy, as she manoeuvres the reed-block into position, lining up the springs against the keys and buttons, fastening them down. He remains perfectly still and silent, unflinching
Major General Wongo the Sane is almost suprised to find someone moving around - the first he's seen in his exoploring so far. "Hello Calli. . . what happened to Cordy?"
calliaphone tightens the final screw into place, and looks up from her work. "Wongo?" she stares. "WONGO!" her tools hit the bench, and she launches. Incoming Hug Alert.
Major General Wongo the Sane is knocked out of the path of Callias hug by a monstrous Lag Gremlin. He re-boots momentarily, which seems to scare it off.
Major General Wongo the Sane once he's back on, he returns Callia's hug. "I apologise for my prolonged absence. How is Cordy? He does not look well."
calliaphone grins as the gremlin disappears with a chunk of time to gnaw on. "poor ol' things, they do get hungry!" she beams at Wongo."but it's so good to see you! s'been AGES!"
calliaphone sobers at Wongo's question. "Cordy . . . yeh. he . . . we sort-of . . . accident." she nods her head in the direction of the badge-making machine, which did all the damage.
calliaphone tries to explain a bit more clearly. "it was Mountjoy's fault really, he shouldn't have been at the bottom of the laundry chute, me and g_rock had no choice but to run for it. . ."
calliaphone adds, as if this will help, "we'd have been fine if the bumper car hadn't gotten out of the rink, and if g_rock wasn't such a lousy driver." because, yeah, it's all G's fault. definitely.
Major General Wongo the Sane flashes slightly as he looks at the badge maker, then back at Cordy. "He will recover. He is in very skilled hands."
Major General Wongo the Sane looks back to Callia. "I took a break for a while. But I'm back now and should be around reasonably frequently.
calliaphone smiles, and digs some marshmallow out of her pocket. they're a bit dusty, but probably still edible. she offers them to Wongo. "do you 'mallow?"
Major General Wongo the Sane: No thank you, I do not require sustinance nor do I have taste buds. I am still not entirely sure how I have been processing these energy drinks.
calliaphone is very glad to see Wongo again. And she's starting to think his optimism might be well-founded. Cordy is definitely looking better than he did a few hours earlier. Not out of the woods yet, however.
Major General Wongo the Sane flashes slightly at Callia's explanation. He thinks he shall have to find the echoes of some of these events.
calliaphone chuckles. "Wongo, none of us knows how we process those energy drinks. whatever our systems are made of."
Major General Wongo the Sane looks back down at Cordy. "What still needs to be done? Is there anything I could help with?"
calliaphone would, if she could read minds, direct Wongo towards the laundry chute, the scullery (in the kitchen), and the fair (past the courtyard, in the grounds). but she can't, so she just munches a 'mallow.
calliaphone follows Wongo's glance, and sighs. "You know, i think we're nearly there. I did a lot of scavenging, the last few days. I've repaired the bass reedblock at last. . ."
calliaphone thinks that was the trickiest part of the whole job. she continues, ". . .now it's just a matter of fixing the bellows, and then tuning everything up, fixing the case . . . and waking him up."
Major General Wongo the Sane nods. "I discovered the harp in Merlin's office. Do you think he would mind to discover I had been playing it?"
calliaphone smiles. "Merlin's a she. And . . . i don't think she'd mind, if you treated the harp well. i didn't know you played, though!"
Major General Wongo the Sane flashes for a moment "An understandable mistake considering I do not believe we have met. I know a few songs, not many. If you have some sheet music I could learn more."
calliaphone says, "i've got loads of sheet music! it's all in my cart, which is parked outside the stables. if you wander that way, just help yourself."
Major General Wongo the Sane: Opportunities to display harp playing are not common here."
Major General Wongo the Sane: Thank you. I shall head that way at some point. This is a fascinating building.
calliaphone isn't sure how well Zydeco and Cafe Accordion music translates to the harp, though. so she adds, "there might be more classical stuff in the Sinfonia room, too, if you wanna explore in there."
calliaphone grins. "i love this building. it's full of surprises, something new at every turn."
Major General Wongo the Sane: I play the folk harp rather than the concert harp, classical music tends to be too complex. A folk harp does not cope well with accidentals.
calliaphone nods sagely. "Accordions don't cope too well with accidentals either, looks like. at least, not with accidental badge-making machines."
Major General Wongo the Sane flashes again briefly. "I was referring to sharps and flats. You can play them, but it usually involves adjusting the tuning leavers mid-song. It is. . . not ideal.
calliaphone winks at Wongo, and says, "y'know, you should really chat to Merlin about all this some time! She plays bagpipes too, she's really good, and she's bound to have folk harp music."
Major General Wongo the Sane nods. "I will see if she is in when I next stop by."
calliaphone says, "great! and please do explore as much as you like. it's open house here, we LOVE visitors. and friends are especially welcome."
Major General Wongo the Sane nods again. "Thank you. I will be sure to come looking for you when I next pass through."
Major General Wongo the Sane: In the mean-time, it looks like Cordy still requires a lot of work. So I shall let you get on with it.
Major General Wongo the Sane starts to leave, then turns back - almost as though he had forgotten something. "It has been nice to see you again."
calliaphone smiles warmly at Wongo. "just make sure you do come back, and soon. it's been far too long."
Major General Wongo the Sane: I shall make certain I do.
calliaphone smiles again, to herself this time, and gets back to work on Cordy. Time to fix those bellows.
Spandex stands in the doorway and wears her most irresistable face ever. "calliaaaa ? wanna curl geese with me? It'll be soooo fun."
calliaphone starts measuring up card against leather, and then commences cutting again.
calliaphone looks up, shears in hand. "Wanna do what?"
Spandex bounces on her toes, and smiles her most convincing smile ever and nods slowly, "come playyyy it'll be fun." She waggles her fingers, "and maybe sour strings, too."
calliaphone is torn. On the one hand . . . sour-strings, playyy. . . but on the other - a sick accordion. she sighs. "i can't, Dex. i gotta fix him up. i owe him."
Spandex understands. She rests her chin on callia's shoulder. "howsit going? that leather work out?" She scans the workbench, impressed.
calliaphone nods. "the leather is perfect, look!" she points to the tiny strips that have gone into each of the reeds. and the large piece that's going to cover the bellows.
Spandex steps forward and leans over the table. "You're amazing, callia! And if you need more leather. . . or any other stuff, just ask." She turns to head out. "If you change yer mind I'm in main room"
Spandex waves and leaves her to work.
calliaphone waves to the retreating Dex. "thanks, have fun!" and she returns to work - shaping and trimming the card, folding the creases in, and glueing the leather into place.
calliaphone works quietly, not whistling now. she's feeling rather serious. it won't be long before she finds out if all this has helped at all. she focuses hard on the task. that always helps.
calliaphone opens Cordy up once more, to fit the new bellows into place, bracing them with bits of wood and tape . . . just till the glue is dry.
calliaphone 's toaster buzzes - it has emerged from its corner and is jittering meaningfully at the bread-pile. Callia grins and reaches down to feed it. Once more, the workshop fills with the smell of toast.
calliaphone digs out a ration-pack, and munches that absentmindedly, while she continues to make minute adjustments to Cordy's workings. He's still very quiet, but that's maybe for the best.
calliaphone accepts some toast from the little appliance at her feet, by way of supplement to the ration-pack. she washes it all down with chocomilk, and then sits back with a sigh.
calliaphone can do no more now, until the glue is dry. climbing onto the window-sill, she leans out for a cigarette. and nods off, head resting on her arms.
calliaphone wakes, and snifffs. The glue is dry, there's no fooling her nose on such matters. She tumbles off the window ledge and clatters over to check on Cordy.
calliaphone carefully examines the accordion. "hey hey" she greets him, though he's still under, of course. the job isn't finished yet. she checks seams and fastenings, tension and adhesion. it looks good!
calliaphone bites her lip. it's time, at last. to take Cordy off life-support. out comes the screwdriver and craft-knife, and - one by one - away come the various props and struts and bits of tape.
calliaphone removes the last supporting strut and sets it aside, peering anxiously at the accordion's innards. but they seem to be holding up well. no gaps where there shouldn't be. no warping or sagging.
calliaphone sighs with relief. so much so good. and now . . . she lifts him up, still with the case wide open, so she can see what's what. and cradles him in her arms. "okie Cordy. enough sleeping, i think."
calliaphone takes a breath. holds it. and very very gently, squeezes some air through the accordion's bellows. the resultant noise is horrible. discordant, wheezing, profoundly reluctant.
calliaphone blinks. she knew he'd need a lot of tuning, but really . . . she can't even begin to interpret that complaint. "what is it, Cordy? m'I hurting you? easy now, it's ok, i promise."
calliaphone pulls the bellows, letting the air pass through the valves the other way. another hideous sound escapes, and Callia winces."alright, alright. lemme see about the tuning, huh?"
calliaphone leans over Cordy, twiddling screws and altering settings, testing each note repeatedly as she makes each tiny pitch adjustment.
calliaphone is whistling to herself again, listening to the notes she finds, and bringing the accordion reeds into line with it. Cordy's tone is good. Improving, growing warm and breathy, rattling less.
calliaphone 's work stands up well to the rigours of tuning. Some convalesence might be needed, gentle handling for a while, but there's no reason why he shouldn't be right as rain, in time. And yet . . .
calliaphone is frowning. There's worry in her eyes. She finishes tuning, and sits up a bit, squeezing Cordy again, and picking out the basics of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
The tune humms out across the workshop. Pitch-perfect, but halting. Callia pauses, waiting for Cordy to take it up. But when she stops playing, so does the accordion.
calliaphone syas, "C'mon Cordy-boy. You know you wanna. Is it the tune you don't like? How'bout you choose one, huh?" But Cordy doesn't answer.
calliaphone shakes her head, trying the tune again."What's the matter? You sound alright to me, are you in pain still? C'mon, talk to me?"She stills her hand, waits, listens. But there's only silence.
calliaphone tries again, with Hickory Dickory Dock - her personal favourite, although it's hard to tell from the way she plays it. Cordy is no help whatsoever, sitting stolidly in her arms.
calliaphone labours her way through a couple more nursery rhymes, before she's exhausted her repertoire completely. And once again, when she stops playing, so does the accordion.
calliaphone says "shit." and stares at Cordy. At her feet, the little toaster offers a snatch of Verdi. Callia looks down at it. "Can't you talk to him? Wake him up?" but the toaster just buzzes.
calliaphone gets up, puts Cordy down, paces back and forth, and smokes a cigarette. She appears to be thinking fiercely. At length, her face clears a little.
calliaphone says, mostly to herself, "don't panic, no need to panic. must just be . . . post-traumatic stress, or something. s'gonna take time, mustn't rush things, mustn't overwhelm him."
calliaphone returns to the accordion, and nods reassuringly. "see? you're gonna be jus' FINE. you take all the time you need." and with that, she begins to fasten up his case, hands only shaking a bit.
calliaphone finishes work at last, and straightens up. She lifts the accordion once more into her arms. He looks good as new - better than ever, in fact. He's just terribly, awfully quiet.
calliaphone doesn't try to persuade him. She simply slips the straps over her shoulders, whistles something softly into his case, and lets him sit there, resting quietly against her.
calliaphone nods reassuringly. it's not clear for whose benefit, exactly. Disentangling her feet from toaster cord, she picks her way across the workshop, and departs - to get the invalid some air.
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