This is a continuation of Between the Clockwork Spindle. You may want, although it is not necessary, to read that first.

This is a continuation of Between the Clockwork Spindle. You may want, although it is not necessary, to read that first.

Falling. The first thing she knew, she was falling.

It looked so simple. A short leap, and she’d land upon the fractured clocktower as it drifted by. It floated so gently by, it would be simple to land there. And she needed to be there. She needed so badly to see something new.

But it didn’t work. The moments prior flashed across her vision as she fell: she leapt, the infinite emptiness below her stretching out as she closed the distance between her little schoolyard home and Old Ben, the floating clocktower. But everything changed as the gap closed to a few feet between her and the great stonework beast; everything sped up and the clocktower, once so close, suddenly rushed past her so fast.

Before she could blink the stone tower had flown beyond her, and a new wind suddenly threw her black cloak back and forth. She seemed to fly, buffeted by the clocktower, for mere moments, before it overtook her and the roaring wind was replaced by calm silence once again. The silence that had driven her mad.

And then she fell. The children she had grown to know so well had rushed to the very edge to see her flight; the mayor-teacher watched with horror on his face – they realised at the same time what was to come next.

She’d missed the tower. Something impossible had happened, and she had missed the tower.

In the space of a single breath, the great stone ruins of a schoolyard disappeared. She didn’t even have time to cry out as indecisive gravity finally claimed her. She saw the underside of her home – it was a great, broken spire; a gargantuan column of stone and earth, suspended in unreality. She fell so fast; in a moment the aeroplane, with rockets roaring and going nowhere, disappeared from her vision. The waterfall that wept into the sky was gone. Everything she knew vanished in an instance.

She couldn’t help but smirk as she saw more beautiful, impossible things fly past her, as she began to fall faster and faster. As fractured islands and remnants of another place flickered past her she burst out laughing, overjoyed at seeing everything she had once only dreamed of.

And then she saw it. Far below her, a massive stretch of grass and earth, closing in on her at an alarming rate. She braced for impact, cried out a name she had never heard, and-

She opened her eyes. The ground, only a few feet away, was lazily floating to meet her. Or, rather, her feet slowed and met the ground in a calm and perhaps not especially sane manner.

‘You, get in here, quick!’ She heard a voice from behind her.

‘Who are you?’ She turned. Before her stood a man dressed all in green and brown army fatigues, standing outside a deep dug building in the ground. A cathedral bell with a clock-face fascia spun rapidly and randomly in the air above.

‘Commander-’ He paused, clearing his throat, ‘and you?’

‘I’m sorry? I didn’t quite catch that.’ She took a few steps towards him, and noticed his strange black sunglasses hovered about 3 inches away from his nose.

‘I’m commander-’ Again he cleared his throat, ‘And you need to come with me, quickly! We’re all to get into the shelter! Don’t you understand how dangerous it is on the surface? We could be attacked at any time!’

‘Dangerous? Is anything dangerous anymore? I think I just failed to die from quite a fatal fall.’

‘What are you talking about? Quickly, you need to get downstairs!’

‘Do you know how to get back up there?’ She pointed upward, past the grass, missing its earth, and to the speck in the sky that she thought was her home.

‘There’s nothing out there of interest. We need to get to the shelter, now!’

She sighed, turned, and leapt from the cracked ground, where the earth splintered off and gently drifted into nothingness.

She fell sideways for a little while. These strange gravities were still a novelty to her, and she laughed and smiled as she fell beyond the underside of the strange base. Passing it, she tumbled upwards for moments, before splashing into a soaking body of water. Glancing around, it seemed this water was a pond, though only one side actually bore land. The rest seemed to drain endlessly into the blackness; a constant waterfall that did not drain the source.

She swam to the shore and clambered onto the bank. Shaking herself dry, she tasted the water and smiled gratefully when it wasn’t salty.

‘Was I thirsty?’ She asked the empty air.

Her eyes snapped shut, and she tried desperately to remember the last time she drank water. No memories presented themselves. She could not remember drinking or thirst, eating or hunger. Closing her eyes, she realised she could not remember sleeping, either.

She scowled at the water, ‘This pond is far too reflective.’

She smirked, blew a raspberry toward the still water, and leapt once again.

Gravity did not claim her, this time. She flew, her black and red cape rolling like smoke behind her. Beyond her, the black void stretched on endlessly; small fractured slices of life dotting the emptiness like absent stars. She laughed and laughed, caught in the beauty of the impossible space; and in her reverie, crashed through the second floor window of a brick-built house.

‘Oof!’ She yelped in surprise, crashing into a rolling sprawl of cloth and limbs on the floor. Her black hood fell away, and waves of bright red hair washed out across her face.

‘Where am I this time?’

She looked around. Wood panel walls with great framed paintings, and stone busts of dead faces on little wooden tables. She sighed and drank in the scenery; it was all so comfortable, so familiar.

She descended the stairs and came to a massive set of old wooden doors. They creaked and groaned as they were forced to open, and she found herself outdoors in a massive garden.

‘Hello, my dear! My, but you are a mess!’

The voice belonged to a friendly looking old woman, wearing a flower pattern dress and a summer hat.

‘Hello!’, She returned, ‘I’m afraid I’m a little lost! Where am I?’

‘Well, you’re home my dear. Are you feeling well? Come, I could make some soup.’

Soup sounded lovely. For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, her stomach began to rumble.

‘I would,’ She pondered, and paused, ‘But no, thank you. I’m trying to get somewhere, I wonder if you could help?’

‘But of course! Going travelling my dear?’

‘Actually I think I’m trying to find somewhere. An old school, of sorts. It’s sentimental, really, but I would very much like to return.’

‘My dear, this house is built of sentiments! You must never lose sight of your sentiment; memory is all we have, these days. How may I help you return there?’

‘Well, I’ve fallen quite a distance from it now. It’s somewhere over,’ She lifted her hand to the sky to point, but she could no longer see it. In the sky were hundreds of points of light, all different little worlds she had passed, so very far away, ‘Oh. It’s somewhere up there.’

‘My dear, the sky is full of histories. How can you ever know which one is yours?’

‘I don’t know. But I need to get back there. I need to see….I need to get back there.’

She looked dismayed for the first time a very long time, as the realisation of how far she had fallen away from her once-home set in.

‘Sweet girl, there is so much up there. I don’t know how you did it, but you’ve become unravelled, unwound from your own place. Don’t waste such an opportunity.’

She turned and looked to the old woman, smiling at the sky.

‘How do you know all these things?’

‘I’m an old lady dear. I have spent my life looking at the sky, and seeing the history it lays bare. Go on, now.’

‘Thank you!’

She ran forward, her cloak righting itself behind her, and she leapt. In a moment the little patch of earth was lost behind her, and into the sky she went.

She flew past hundreds of lights; hundreds of little worlds, just begging her to stop and discover their mysteries. She wrapped her cloak around her frame, and guided herself to a small patch of stone, floating alone in the emptiness. A single staircase wandered, spiralling in every direction, around the rock.

She set her feet on the ground and gazed out into the sky. There were hundreds of little worlds, all caught in the void, floating aimlessly.

‘I’m never going to find my home again.’ She finally said out loud, watching the millions of little lights float by. One caught her eye, a small beach with tree roots growing from the ground into the air.

‘And that’s OK.’

She smiled.

She leapt.