Sighing in discontent, he wobbled the disk back and forth, playing the flickering light along the miniscule streams of data that created the play of light on silvery threads of data, wrapped tightly into a wafer just thicker than paper. He imagined the intensity of the reflection would be much greater, were it not for the damp rune in blood, and poor lighting.
No longer amused by physics and blood, Nathaniel let the disk clatter to his worktable.
Yawning and stretching, he winced as he heard the pops of his neck and vertebrae while he removed himself from the edge of the stool he was perched upon.
Abandoning the stool in a short hop, Nathaniel ambled over to the crude workstation, buried in paper, rolls of parchment, and pots of long-dried ink. Flicking on the monitor with near contempt, he sat in the large rust-leather chair before the console, and tightened the bandage on his wrist before positioning his hands above the keyboard.
It took several minutes for the system to go through its starting rituals. It had been many years since Nathaniel decided to look into the world of computers. His current model still served faithfully, despite the fact that it was no doubt as obsolete as the papyrus and quill pens which choked the screen before him. Amused as the machine mindlessly counted over inane numbers, Nathaniel was struck by the image of an old butler serving an older master.
Perhaps the next in kin of the serving family would have to be sought out soon.
The system bleeped obscenely in the still air of his sanctum, and Nathaniel systematically clicked his way through several layers of security and encryption.
"So like the locks on books of old, yet so different..."
The potential soliloquy was cut short by another sigh, and several more beeps, accentuated this time by the phantasmal green glow of his blinking cursor in the upper left hand corner of the screen. Pausing a moment to crack the knuckles of his spindly digits, Nathaniel immediately thereafter began clicking away at the keyboard, creating a sound not unlike the rustling of the shell-pieces in a low tide going out to sea. Nathaniel’s thoughts were at once lost in the rhythm of that sound, as well as the wealth of moonlit glimmers its birth heralded.
The code mounted in length and complexity in a short amount of time. It started as a few small files, opened and closed sequentially. Before long was a tangle of overlapping windows, with interexchanged bits of data and comments, all organized in a hierarchy of alphabetization which owed its due to a civilization long since passed beneath the waves. The rhythm of the once incessant typing was now slowed to a great amount of staccato repetition as Nathaniel clicked his way from pane to pane of his work, reading more than typing. His even nasal breathing was interrupted only by limited runs of the keyboard at its previous speed, when his mind caught a problem, or something which needed further attention. All else in the sanctum was quiet, save for the hum and whirr of the hidden fans and things nestled in the womb of Nathaniel’s ancient console.
A single leaflet from the pile lounging upon the monitor, either motivated by the heat emanating from the now thrumming machine, or the slight whiffs of breath which occasionally escaped from the rear of the grey box in the midst of the pile, threatened to escape from its comrades and take its chances at freedom in the open air. Snorting at the disruption, Nathaniel’s hands left the keyboard for the first tine in nearly three quarters of an hour, to steady the pile, and shift the dried pot of ink which was leaning against it.
The pause in his work was the removal of the keystone in the arch of Nathaniel’s creativity. Inspiration flew away on dark wings into the young night, leaving him frustrated, and unable to complete the web of code he left half stretched between the pillars of his present and his desired future.
Nathaniel frowned, and flicked of the monitor with greater contempt than he had activated it with.
He imagined it would be some time before he was so inspired again.
Drawing his hand back from the fingerprint-graffiti at the corner of the monitor where its power switch sat, the bandage crudely tied around Nathaniel’s wrist slipped free. Like its cousin, the paper, Nathaniel’s bandage sought freedom in the open air, and actually managed to become half unfurled - its wing of gauze and rusty blood flakes smelling the flavor of floating away. However, its flight was abruptly ended when Nathaniel caught the strip of gauze between two of his fingers, flicked it into the palm of his hand, crumpled it into a small ball of rough feel and coppery scent, and balled it into the pocket of his oversized shirt.
Grunting with discontent, he stood up, stiffly, swiveled his chair back beneath the desk with one hand, and set to look for his hat. Once he found it, he was out the door scarcely before it found its way to his head.
He did not bother to lock the door as he exited his flat, but crooned an odd note before removing his hand from the latch.
Confident in the security of his sanctum, Nathaniel walked into the chill air of the Harlem night, and, looking skyward, set out on foot after the winged trail of his dispersed inspiration.