* Photo used without permission from: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/14512773
This is the second part of the story I began yesterday. You can read Part 1 by accessing the link: STORY PART 1. Enjoy!
With the fog as our constant companion we traveled for about an hour’s time. I was as lost as if I found myself on the surface of the moon. We spoke little as the curious wagon made the journey in an efficient, all be it, uncomfortable manner. I tried asking questions. Each time Thatcher simply replied, “You shall see.”
Being a man of science I could extract the machine’s mode of propulsion. Power from the engine, obviously driven by steam, engaged through a series of gears and propelled a rear wheel, which, in turn, drove the object on. Max operated a lever—one of three he commanded—and moved the front wheel which allowed steering. Ingenious, simply ingenious.
Eventually we stopped at our final destination.
“Now,” the doctor said as we disembarked. “We have arrived.”
I expected to find a house, or perhaps, a castle. Instead I found a series of caves.
“Come inside and you shall know all.” I followed.
After concealing his vehicle in one of the caves, we entered his dwelling. Though it appeared only a humble cave on the outside, inside its opulence rivaled that of royalty. We sat and for the next two hours Max explained his situation.
He began by telling me the reason for his shroud of secrecy. The system of caves contained several compartments in which he could conduct his work. It provided him room for a laboratory as well as assembly rooms. He explained how the cave was unique in that he found deposits of iron ore, ore which he used to produce the steel needed for his inventions. The carriage was designed and manufactured in the damp walls of the very cave in which we sat.
I see from the look on your face you doubt the validity of my claims. But I tell you, young Prussian, it is true. After our conversation I received a tour of his operation. Every word of what he said can be verified by my testimony. If my opinion of his genius were based solely on his steam-driven transport, everything else I saw only strengthened that opinion.
The time proved late and my head swam with the visions I had seen. We had a light supper then decided to retire for the evening. He showed me my quarters then said as he closed the door, “Everything you have seen today will be dwarfed by the miracles your eyes will behold tomorrow.” He then wished me a good night.
I found that the doctor did not lie.
I woke, prepared for the day then met Max in the same room where our discussion took place the previous evening. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast prepared by my host. For the first time since we met I began asking him questions, the main focus of my curiosity centered on his lack of openness. I understood the need for secrecy, but were the lengths he took his camouflage justified? He told me that once I saw his latest project, surely I would understand the need for concealment.
He asked what I believed to be the mankind’s greatest obstruction would be in the year 1863.
I offered my opinions, many of which he agreed.
He asked if I believed science could relieve the world of its ills.
I responded in the affirmative.
“Good,” he said. “Follow me.”
We proceeded to a section of the cave previously unexposed to me. “Behind this door, is a key to man’s immortality.”
What I’m about to tell you, young man, no one has believed. Everyone laughed at me when I told them of Dr. Thatcher’s amazing wagon. They demeaned me in academic circles. They called me mad. Me! I was only the messenger, and they called me mad. So forgive me if I ask of you your loyalty at this time.
You agree? Good.
Max unlocked the massive door that separated us from his ultimate secret. After all that I experienced the previous day I concluded that nothing the good doctor created could surprise me.
I was wrong.
The door opened and before us were dozens of mechanical beings. Yes, you heard me. They were metal men in various stages of assembly.
Not only were they human shaped, but the metal was fashioned to give the beings as human an appearance as possible. Dr. Thatcher understood by the expression on my face just how overwhelmed I was at this discovery.
The specimens were everywhere, those most complete stood, while others lay on tables awaiting attachment of limbs, or heads. I could not comprehend the man-hours required to assemble just one, let alone multiple copies.
“Dr. Thatcher!” I exclaimed.
“Call me Max,” was his reply.
Max spent the remainder of the day explaining in great detail how one goes about designing and constructing a mechanical man. His technique would shame any scientist currently living—it was poetry, it was art, it was beautiful. He used his obvious command of thermodynamic knowledge to ingeniously power his creations. A boiler located in the center of the men’s chest provided energy to the entire apparatus through a series of finely tuned gears and sprockets. I contend its complexity is only surpassed by the creations of God himself.
“Max,” I said. “How did you accomplish this? The sheer amount of fabrication alone would require…”
“Now you’re ready to see my greatest success,” he said, cutting me off. He turned and called out, “Titus! Come.”
I looked about, fearing another person lurking somewhere in the cave. That’s when I saw him.
“Allow me to introduce to you Titus,” Max said as a form moved from deep within the cave. I looked up and saw a metal man walking toward us. Candle light from the cave danced off his polished metal skin. His blank face showed no emotion, but the eyes, the eyes glowed in the low light. As it walked the muted sounds of gears interlocking accompanied the metal man’s progress.
“You asked how one man can accomplish all this,” Max said waiving his arm, a gesture that stopped Titus only feet from us. “Without him, none of what you see would exist. Look at his hands.”
I looked. The digits appeared as if built by Gustav Faberge himself, so delicate. “Titus built all that you see before you.”
“But how?” I asked. “How can Titus understand your commands? How can metal think?”
“Titus is unique, for sure, as for how he understands me.”
“But how can it be? It is a compilation of parts, metal and steam. Please tell me how it can obtain cognition?
“Let me answer your question with one of my own. The train that brought you to Scotland…to its engineer, it is just a collection of boiler and wheels, the smokebox and the blast pipe? Are these only parts of metal? To the engineer they are as real as muscles and bones, teeth and a beating heart of a human man.”
His response, of course, failed to answer my question, but I could tell from him that this was the only answer I was to receive.
“Please, my friend,” Max said as he gestured me to follow. “Allow me to demonstrate just how unique Titus is.” We moved to a table where a half-completed automaton lay.
“Titus,” Max’s strong voice echoed down the lamp-lit cave. “Build!”
Will this world of wonders ever cease? I tell you, my young student. It will not! I watched as Titus came to life. He turned and walked to the table. In actions I can only describe as miraculous, I witnessed Titus, this God of machines begin to assemble its twin. The delicate fingers worked with parts small enough to operate my pocket watch. I stood in awe of its skill.
Link To Part 3
Link To Part 3
To Be Continued...