"Putrid gray!” Pannikin thought. “What a perfectly vile awful sky.”
On his birthday of all days. Pannikin never had a birthday proper, so he decided he would wait, and pick the most perfect day he could find to be his birthday. He scrutinized, and paused with patience, he muttered and frowned, as no day he met seemed to be terribly right for a day as special as a Birthday. Pannikin is, as of this writing, the only individual in the history of individuals to have this luxury, and he was sure he was not going to waste it.
Though the clouds were heavy, as if they’d fed themselves on a lunch of raindrops and snowflakes, and the blue of the sky seemed like a rustled blanket under their overstuffed bellies, Pannikin had decided today of all days, would be his birthday.
He stood across the street and admired the house. The house was tall and white. Pannikin liked that. Two very deep red rose bushes blushed upon either side of the Red front door.
Pannikin touched his finger to his face, he began to fidget with his cheek, and he wondered if sixty-seven had done his job well enough. Pannikin did so hope Toy and Top, the Brothers Gudgeon would hasten their task. Soon, the Mother and Father of the big white house with the two very deep red rose bushes would come home, and if The Brothers Gudgeon were not quick, they would cause an awful mess of things.
You see, Pannikins birthday would be a surprise birthday. As Pannikin stood outside, at that very moment, The Brothers Gudgeon crept up the stairs of the big white house with the two very deep red rose bushes towards the playroom of the little boy who lived there.
Baldur Benno Baratheas was his name. Baldur stood at his window, two BB six shooters drawn. He took turns shooting from either six shooter. They were aimed at the pigeons perched upon the power lines not too far from his window. Whenever he missed, Baldur kicked the tip of his right cowboy boot into the floor.
Toy and Top stood at the door of Baldur Baratheas’ playroom. The boys back to them, unaware of thier arrival. He continued to aim at the pigeons upon the power lines.
The floor of Baldur Baratheas’ playroom was decorated with a painting of a very large white horse with a red ring around it. Propeller planes swung from wire attachments in various positions of the ceiling, bobbing and weaving from the wind. Occasionally a soft breeze would spin one or, if lucky, both propellers.
Life size dolls dressed in cowboy clothes slouched upon an old antique chest, filled to the brim with playthings of all sorts and design.
A miniature train clanked upon a tiny track throughout the room.
The room was very large, with an almost roundness to it, throughout, the colors brown and tan covered every inch.
Top motioned to Toy to follow him. However, the younger brother, by technicality, that technicality being of a minute difference in age, refused to allow Top to order him around. Taking charge, Toy blurted out clumsily to the small boy,
"Excuse me! would you come with us please?”
Baldur Baratheas fired his last BB into the drab sluggish sky, and turned around placing his six shooters into his belt hung holsters.
Top looked at Toy, and shook his head. Top motioned with his hand, for Toy to lift up the red sack they’d brought with them.
“Into the red sack. If you please.” Top responded.
“Is it clean?” Baldur inquired.
“I believe so.” Top replied as he looked the bag over slightly. The thought never occurred to him to check to make sure it was a clean sack.
“Does it smell?”
“We wouldn’t be able to tell you”
“Why not?” Baldur said puzzled.
“Because we’re made of clock work and metal.”
Toy nodded earnestly, “Metal cant smell.”
“You do have a point. Alright.”
Toy spread the red sack out, covering the front legs of the white horse painted on the wood floor. Baldur stepped into the opening and stood at the center of the sack. Top and Toy motioned in unison with their hands for Baldur to sit down. After having done so, Top and Toy brought each lip of the sack together, and pulled it tight. With a gentle heave, Top hoisted the bag up, levering it over his shoulder.
“Are you comfortable?” Toy asked as he placed his face near the lumps of the red sack.
The lumps of the red sack wriggled and moved until finally they stopped. Baldur had slide himself so that his back was against the pressure at the bottom of the bag, it was a lot like laying on a hammock, he noted in idle conclusion.
The three left the room, Toy and Top and Baldur in the red sack in tow. They began down the stairs to the front door.
Now, it is prudent for you to understand young Baldur Baratheas and why he might go with two strange boys with a red sack that he did not even know, made of clock work and metal none the less!
You see, Baldur Baratheas is what some, especially his Aunt Freida has called, a bit of a Hellion. Baldur Baratheas is a very curious young boy. Much to the dismay of almost all adults, at least any he has known. If there is a mystery to be solved, Baldur Baratheas is more intrigued about its solution, than what may happen to him in the process.
And that is Baldur Baratheas.
At this time, Im sure you are also curious about our hero, Pannikin, and his two fellow accomplices. Yes, you see, its true that Pannikin too, is also a clock work boy.
They are just like you and I, except for lungs, they have gears, for a heart, they have a pendulum. Their skin is a mineral from the tunnels and caverns of the Grunions which becomes soft and pliable when heated.
What is a Grunion you may ask? That is a good question, you see, not much is known about the Grunions, except they are very old, very moody, and very mischievous. They toil long hours in their dark cramped mines, digging, digging, digging, always digging. They know all there is to know about metal, and minerals and materials from the earth, and are very proud of this. They live outside the city of manikin, the home of Pannikin and the Brothers Gudgeon, as well home to a slew of more characters just as peculiar and odd.
The Brothers Gudgeon exited the White front door, and passed the two red rose bushes, Pannikin nodded to them and they back.
Now as Pannikin enters the large white house, and the Brothers Gudgeon begin their Journey homeward with Baldur, I shall tell you of their home, and explain these events.
For it’s a very long trek home, and more than enough time to tell you all you need to know, to fully understand what you’ve just witnessed.
I guess, for a beginning, we should begin with Dr. Gustav Maguffin.
Dr. Gustav Maguffin, was never actually a doctor. Dr. Gustav Maguffin led a considerably quiet and unnoticeable life in his town just ouside the black forest, with his son Gerhard.
He obeyed the laws of the constable, the advice of the physician, and the decrees of the Town Leaders, and obedience to a higher power, just as every towns person in his town, and all across grand Deutschland did.
Then something very sad happened. It was a terrible blow to Gustav when his son fell ill and passed away, and there was nothing at all to be done by the constable, the physicians, the town leaders, or of that higher power.
That was when Gustav decided he would not let another decide these things of life for him.
He gave himself his own name, and titled himself Dr. Gustav Maguffin. For you see, it is so that you will never find a German, Austrian, Danish, or Swiss who ever had or ever will such a surname as Maguffin.
So it was, that the heartbroken Dr. Gustav Maguffin, toymaker, clockmaker, left his town, with nothing but some bread, some water, and a warm pair of clothes, and set off into the Black Forest.
It is uncertain, and terribly difficult to track, his exact wanderings. For he walked and walked until his feet and legs ached more than his heart.
He sat, and ate berries, and the last of his bread, drank water from a river with his hands until his feet were ready, and his mind would begin to become active and his sadness was louder than the nearest birds song.
So he did continue this routine, until, he one day found himself in a peculiar place.
What made this place peculiar, it cannot be exactly noted. For it had trees, and leaves, dirt and sounds not unlike any other place of the forest. It had to it a sense of being peculiar none the less.
Gustav did not feel ill at ease though. His feet ached, and so he sat near a clearing, with no food, tired and weary, deciding what to make of his circumstance.
He built a trap, so that he might catch a rabbit, or some other small animal that may do him the favor of saving him from starvation.
Alas the trap lay empty.
Gustav began to close his eyes, as sleep and weariness overcame him. He cannot be certain how long he had lain there, dozing, but he was awoken abruptly by, at first, a flurry of activity in the brush near him, and then suddenly, animals of all sizes and sorts, sprung forth in a panic, past him. He stumbled to his feet, and hurried in this direction and that, in an attempt to catch one of the animals with his bare hands for his supper.
He came close a few times, but when the frenzy was over, he slumped back against the dirt mound with his empty sack at his side.
The wood sat quiet and empty like his food sack, not even a lark stirred, or chirped. Not even a twig snapped.
So it was that Gustav became comfortable in the silence, as his stomach seared with hunger. Suddenly, a great rumble began in the ground. It was uncertain where it ventured forth from, but it engulfed the clearing, the dirt mound, and all the shrubs and trees as far as Gustav could see.
He braced his legs firm to the ground, and his arms became rigged, suddenly, a great sound erupted from beside him, as a cavern opened near the soft dirt mound.
Gustav stood, in awe, as he heard the noise of what sounded like a potters wheel, and of a locksmiths tools in unison, echoing in the cavern. He stood at the opening and peered in, wearily. Weak from hunger, but driven by curiosity and complete desperation, Gustav climbed into the cavern and descended.
Each step, the dim light from the forest canopy began to fade, and Gustav used his hands to guide himself along the malleable walls of the newly formed cavern. He was careful with his step, for it was a very steep cavern.
Four steps in and the cavern became quite dark. As Gustav tip toed on towards the sound, it increased in volume. On his fifth step, Gustav began to see a strange orange light that lit his way. suddenly, he slid quickly into something of a drop.
His drop was suspended quickly by a floor of freshly mowed rock. The orange light was brighter now, and Gustav could see deliberate notches in the walls around him, and upon the rock floor, he now sat in man-made tunnel.
The machinery hummed and made a racket behind him, and he turned his head to see it covered in large part by soft dirt and rock. The machinery was something of a marvelous drill, its tip spun without purpose in the air. As Gustav inspected it, he heard something of a groan under the drills murmur.
A hand lay protruding from the loose dirt that heaped upon the machine.
“A miner!” Gustav thought. “Trapped under the loose dirt.” So Gustav began to claw with his weary hands at the soft dirt. The drill lay atop the figure, as well. Gustav attempted to move the machine, but it was weighted by the rocks and dirt and much too heavy.
Gustav realized he would not be able to free the miner, so he began to remove the rock and dirt from near where the miners face would be, so that he might breathe.
As he dug at the dirt, Gustav realized, that no Miner mines alone. He continued to dig an opening for the miner to breath, as he turned his head towards the tunnel shaft, and shouted with all of his drained might.
“Help, help, there’s been an accident here!”
He continued to shout, as he saw faint figures in the orange light bound from the far end of the entrance towards him.
He felt the dirt give way, and a face under his hands, releived at the coming of assistance, Gustav looked back at the figure he had just freed some, to assure him of his impending freedom.
Gustav was startled, because what he saw, while indeed it was a miner, was not the kind of miner he was expecting. For you see, Gustav imagined a man miner. The face he saw, tired and bruised as it was, framed by soil, was not a man at all. In the strange orange light, he could not be certain, but its skin was something of a gray blue, and its features were something of a wildest imagination.
A blizzard of massive gray blue arms, rushed past Gustavs head as he sat staring at the odd unique calm face of the unconscious creature protruding through the dirt hole he had made, these were the creatures he was later to name Grunions.
They hurriedly removed the dirt and the machine from the downed Grunion, and carried him into the center of the tunnel. Gustav sat there, thinking. When he fumbled to his feet, and turned around, he saw all of the Grunions standing in a semi circle, staring at him. Then, one of them motioned to Gustav to follow the group, and they proceeded down the tunnel. Gustav staggered to his feet, and began to follow.
The Grunions kept a lead the entire distance, and occasionally, they would take turns glancing back to see if he was still following. They were kind enough to include him, but careful enough to keep their distance.
You see, Grunions are not uncivilized creatures. They can speak almost any language, because they spend most of their time in the ground, and as is the property of sound to travel better through solid, the Grunions have heard much and are skilled at any form of language.