WFR is proud to serialize The Lost Machine in support of its author and illustrator, Richard A. Kirk. We will be reprinting the entire novel with its illustrations over the course of five weeks with a new chapter every Monday and Wednesday. Wherever possible, formatting has been made to match that available in the e‑book. This part of the serialization covers the last chapter, Chapter Eleven. To read past chapters, click here. – The Editors
Chapter Eleven: Starling
When day came and ruins of the Chimneys Institute had cooled sufficiently, Lumsden Moss made his way to where he guessed the library had been. There was little to see now other than a field of charred beams and collapsed brickwork. Moss poked through the debris with a heavy heart. He was about to give up when he noticed a flicker of light. Moving closer, he saw that the source of the light was a single floating disk. It was suspended in the air some yards from where Moss had been searching.
Heart racing, he immediately began clearing still-smoking debris, toppling it down a slope. After a few minutes he came to the remains of a brick chimney where a small cavity had formed during the collapse of the building. It was here that he found Starling, who was lying on his back. His green eyes blinked at Moss from the darkness. Heedless of the danger, Moss scrambled down to his companion.
“You’re alive,” said Moss.
“Somewhat,” said Starling. The two men laughed grimly.
“Can you stand?”
“Maybe, if you help me.” Moss took the mechanical man’s hands and supported him as he rose to his feet.
“You look dreadful,” said Moss. “Your skin is badly burned.” They climbed the shifting debris. Once they were in the daylight, Starling sat down on a blackened chair with an ashen cushion.
“It will repair itself in time. My body is self-healing.”
“A machine that can grow,” marveled Moss.
Starling looked at him and smiled. “Imagine,” he said.