January 1, 1889
Taggert Workshop outside New York City
By Brendan H.
The sun had long ago disappeared below the horizon, and 1888 had officially come to a close. The snow, which had been falling for several days, remained undisturbed along the path between the main house and the structure on the edge of the property. Despite the late hour, the faint sound of birds singing rang through the still New Year’s night.
The sick, artificial glow of electric lights illuminated the cluttered laboratory. Barely visible in the dimly lit room were springs and gears, wires and half-built contraptions, and hastily drawn and redrawn blueprints. All around was evidence of elusive genius chased-but-not-captured. The clutter overwhelmed the workspace.
Above the refuse towered a pale figure like a modern Colossus. The man was as painfully tall as he was painfully thin. His dress was sharp and his eyes were wild—he had one eye that was as blue as ice and another dark enough brown to appear black. His humanity stood in sharp contrast to the artificial contraptions surrounding him. And still, in another way, his presence was not wholly indistinguishable from the other beings in his laboratory—hollow but yearning for life.
Lazarus Taggert, the famed inventor, had seen his glory fade over the course of his many years. His early patents had funded his later life’s work. His later life’s work had left him substantially poorer. Despite many cleverly conceived ideas and devices, his fortune had been spent in pursuit of answers that would not be caught. But, he truly believed, with just a little more time he could break through and, as a result, leave an indelible legacy behind—a signature upon the very evolution of mankind.
Lazarus had long ago become accustomed to toiling alone in his laboratory for days at a time. This particular fevered session, however, had started not as it usually did—with his own moment of inspiration—but with a letter from a man that Lazarus had met briefly many years ago.
The letter contained an invitation to St. Louis to meet with other potential investors; it was an invitation to raise the dead.
A self-satisfied smile crept over Lazarus’ pale lips as he finished cranking life into the machine in front of him—the recipient of his many hours of tinkering. The contraption in front of him whirred. Gears spun as the machine started in motion. A tiny diamond emerged from its sleepy slumber where previously there was only inanimate metal. A miniature figure in a bright red cap began its wind-up and delivered a pitch to a tiny batter waiting in solemn silence. With a mighty swing, the ball was sent flying and the automated batter began a lumbering trip around the tiny bases that Lazarus had fashioned—a clear home run.
Along the outer wall of the workshop were three tiny, mechanical birds. As their gears spun, they worked in concert to build a swelling, haunting melody that imitated the songs of the wild. When they hit their crescendo, the batter reached home and the machine reset to begin anew.