The Contraption (or the Beast in the Boneyard)
-for Theo Jansen
It looked like it had been pulled half-finished out of a dream. Monstrous and stripped of flesh. It was almost gleaming in the early morning sun. With nothing to pick at, we soon began exploring its extremities. After trying for several hours to elicit some sort of response unsuccessfully, I slumped down beside it and watched the tide slowly come in. What the hell does it do? I asked the air. Our companion simply looked at us with a blank stare. When we boarded the ferry to take us here it was packed. But little by little, people must have gotten off. We didn’t realize it until we were the only two passengers left. When we reached the island, there was nothing else to do but disembark. But once we did, the ship disappeared.
Once we’d learned to work the bellows, the contraption kept quite a comfortable pace. We decided to pass all the subsequent days alongside it, walking amidst the tattered remains of cephalopods washed up dead along the shore. It kept the flies off, walking did. We bloat a little more each day beneath the vicious rays of the sun, which haven’t ceased since we began this journey. The few seabirds that remain light upon the contraption infrequently, doing so only momentarily before being scared into the air again as it wheezes forward into life. There’s a certain rhythm to its movements one finds quite pleasing. And the rocks in this locale are relatively soft underfoot.