Thomas Daniel Hayes the Third was a mad scientist. Furious in fact. He was entering the third month of his year long house arrest and was becoming quite melodramatic. This particular punishment, there had been similar punishments in the past, was for attempting to demolish the Engineering Building at Wyatt University with a giant clockwork mantis when he was rejected for a date yet again by a member of the faculty. The year before last he was given a three month suspension for attempting to dispose of a romantic rival with a massive steam-powered squid. Melodramatic was somewhat par for the course.

Thomas sighed as he tightened the bolts on his newest creation, remembering the suggestion from his assistant Gregory to learn to let things go. He rolled out from under his giant new machine to look at it with a certain level of confidence. “It’s sure to work…I mean it has to…” he muttered to himself as he glanced up and down the machine. There was a sound at the door of the laboratory and in walked Gregory, carrying a tray with what looked like a warm meal.
“Doctor Hayes,” he stated very matter of fact, “I know you are in one of your manic states where you must finish your new invention immediately but you haven’t eaten or slept in three days. ” Thomas looked up from his invention, rolled his eyes, “Fine. Fine. I’ll eat.”

Thomas shoved some of the blueprints for several different designs to the floor and Gregory placed the tray on the now clear desk. “What are we having?” said Thomas, peering disdainfully at the meal presented to him. “Grilled cheese with bacon and a spinach salad with artichoke hearts. Your favorite.” Thomas sat at the desk and grumbled, “Fine. I suppose it’s not terrible.” He took a few bites of salad and pushed the tray away like a child. “What are you building anyway Doctor?”

Thomas looked up to the massive machine, “I’m tired of playing along with the games of the fates and cupid and other such silly ideas, I’m ready to go find love rather than bumbling along. This machine is designed to tell me the date and time that I will meet someone who will truly love me for me.”

“That seems fairly impossible Doctor…”

“Not entirely impossible. Just moderately difficult. Just wait, it’s sure to work and then our dreary little manor will be bright with love and light.”

“Always such a romantic Doctor.” said Gregory as he smiled ever so slightly.

“Of course.” said Thomas, pulling the tray closer to himself again and eating a bit of sandwich.

“Now Doctor Hayes, I must do some work in the gardens, so I’ll be back shortly. Please be sure to eat as much as you can, and I would prefer it if you choose to get some sleep.” Gregory bowed politely and gently closed the door as he left. Thomas slowly finished his meal, scoffing slightly at Gregory’s elegant plating. The tray even had a small vase with a single iris. It was so unnecessarily elaborate, and reflected the assistant so well. Thomas finished eating, leaving only the crusts which he hated, and got back to work.

The last few touches seemed to flow through Thomas’s fingers, in a mere two hours the machine was finished. Thomas shakily took his key and placed it inside the keyhole and ever so slowly began to wind the machine’s mechanisms. This was it, he was finally going to find a love who could truly love him. Each click brought further anticipation. The numbers that represented date and time began to spin as the machine roared into life, spewing noise and steam. Thomas watched as the numbers whirled around and around, the machine calculating and processing. He shut his eyes to brace himself and heard the numerals lock into place. A bell rang, signaling that it had finished. He opened his eyes and his heart sunk in his chest.

The display read, “00/00/0000 00:00”. A complete null response. Thomas ran his hand through his hair and tugged, “What the hell does THAT mean!” He took off his glasses and threw them at the machine. He angrily threw all the papers and the tray on his desk to the floor. He had a sudden realization of what the numbers could mean. He grabbed at his temples and put his weight on the desk with his dominant hand. “Do you mean to tell me that I’ll never meet anyone who will love me?” He turned to face his creation, tears starting to well up in his face, “Do you mean to tell me you god awful contraption that I’m destined to live alone in this dusty manor for the rest of my days, unloved and alone?” He beat his fist against the machine, every fiber in his being regretting his curiosity. After hitting the machine so many times his fingers ached, he sat in his chair, collapsed over his desk, and wept until he fell asleep.

Gregory, who had been listening at the door, came in when he was sure that Thomas was asleep. He smiled slightly as he gazed at his employer and slowly cleaned up the laboratory. After he finished cleaning, he picked up Thomas and carried him to the master bedroom. He gently placed the Doctor in his bed and threw a soft blanket over him. Gregory placed the iris from the tray and Thomas’s glasses on the nightstand and sighed. He bent over and placed the smallest and gentlest of kisses on the Doctor’s forehead. “Goodnight Tom, my dear.” he said warmly. He then as he always did, silently left the room. He stopped as he closed the door to take one last look at the sleeping mad scientist he loved so much. “I’ll tell him my feelings in the morning.” Gregory said to himself, “For now, I’ll just be glad he’s getting some sleep.”

About the Author

“Hi, I’m Glenn, I’ve been working with steampunk for a few years now and love the ability to cross a lot of different genres and styles and love to develop new characters that I can dress up as!”