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  • Writer's pictureJeff Monday

Items on my bookshelf: Perpetual Motion Machine

Like many people, I have various trinkets and knickknacks collected from over the years. Random bits and bobs taken from random moments. I thought it would be fun to share some of these objects with you and share the absolutely true and unembellished stories behind them...

Ah yes, my perpetual motion machine! Such a wonder! The story of its creation is so fantastical as to be almost unbelievable, yet there is as much truth to this tale as any other I’ve told.

I was researching some obscure lore. Before me were a pile of books on topics ranging from the mating rituals of zebra hawks to the legislative records of seventeenth century Paraguay. I was doing background research for a new book, you see. In my line of work, no factoid is useless. Every bit of arcana has a place in a good narrative.

As I was perusing the ancient legends of the Squonkish tribe of the Upper Midwest, I happened across a brief passage that caught my eye:

‘...and lo, did the Oonamuru, the Great One speak true for the wheels spun never stopping and the gears turned never ending with not a push from my hand...’

Odd, to say the least. And I would have moved right past it except for its similarity to something I had seen prior. That name. Oonamuru. I recognized it as the name of the long-eared Martian psychic lover of a nineteenth century inventor.

Quickly, I raced to the Mechanical Sciences section of the library, startling Mrs. Yu in the process. There, among the yellowed and weathered diagrams, I located plans by a Mr. Robinson that purported to be the technical specifications for an incredible invention. This fabulous machine was described to Robinson by Oonamuru, her thoughts transmitted across the heavens by her natural Martian ability.

At first, I was simply bemused by the tale. Obviously Robinson was a crackpot. Yet how to explain the name appearing in an obscure legend of a small tribe thousands of miles and hundreds of years distant?

Digging further through the archives, I found mention of Oonamuru twice more; among the poems of Thatuis of ancient Rome and in the ramblings of a madman confined to an asylum in present-day Wales. Here then, was my chance to gain first-hand knowledge of this mysterious Oonamuru.

And so began a quest, as noble as any undertaken by knights of old. I researched. I hunted. I drew and wrote and finally, after many weeks and fevered dreams, I built.

At first, my fingers couldn’t move correctly. This gear would be off-center or that lever would be unbalanced. But as I toiled, my mind and body began to work in concert. My hands moved without thought. My mind thought without movement.

Time became irreverent.

And in the process, so too did other things we take for granted: hunger, sleep, even gravity. I let go of the laws that we believe govern our existence. I gave myself over to the underreality of the universe, touching something deeper. Even as I caressed this new perspective, my hands worked.

How long it took, I cannot tell you. As I said, time was meaningless. All I can say is that I was somewhat older than when I had begun and yet, in some ways, I was much younger.

As I returned to normalcy, hunger and exhaustion returned as well. I ate. I slept. Perhaps for hours, perhaps for days. Finally, I emerged from under the covers and wandered into my workshop. There, on the table, was my creation, its gears moving rhythmically, its revolutions never-ending. Fascinated, I watched it for minutes, hours, days. With no assistance from me, it continued to move back and forth, around and around.

I had created a perpetual motion machine.

Excited beyond sense, I grabbed the device and hurried to show the world. Along the way, I tripped. Although I caught myself and suffered no serious injury beyond a bruise or two, my creation hit the ground hard. I scooped it up, checking it for broken gears.

And even though I found nothing broken, even though no part was loose, ever since it hasn’t been the same.

Now, it only works for a few moments at a time.

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