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The Astronomer

Hands clapped numb to his roaring ears, the astronomer shoved his shoulder against the access door at the back of the tower. It gave easily; its lock had been shattered by muzzle-load shot.

“Drosselmeier!” he shouted, inside, just as the bell finished its eleventh toll and ground to silence.  The echo hung for a long time.

“Do you know,” came Drosselmeier’s voice from far overhead, “they say the sun itself consults this clock to determine when to rise?”

“Children’s tales,” chattered the astronomer, trying to find a staircase.

“We have been living a child’s tale for fifteen years,” Drosselmeier said.