Short Story | ‘The Soul Mechanic’ by Martin Hooijmans, Illustration by Lars de Ruyter
Sally rushed to the door and flung it open. “You’re here,” she said, voice full of relief. The man in the doorway looked slightly surprised.
“Afternoon, ma’am. Joe Pratchet, at your service.”
“Yes, come in, come in, please.”
Sally looked him over as he stepped across the threshold. He didn’t look strange. His occupation had filled her mind with a wide range of odd features, but the man who now entered into her home looked…ordinary. If anything, he looked like a plumber, complete with the rusty toolbox in his hand.
“Where is the girl?” he asked. Obviously, he had picked up on Sally’s impatience.
“Upstairs. First door on the left.”
Sally followed Joe into the room where her daughter lay in her bed, motionless, eyes wide open but unseeing. She watched him sit down by her side and pull a set of peculiar metal goggles out of his box. The outer part resembled the eye-piece of a telescope and had a set of colored filters attached to it. He placed the goggles on the girl’s eyes, then bent over to look through them, shifting filters as he worked. Finally, he looked up at Sally, a stern expression on his face.
“I take it this was caused by a heartbreak?”
“She was left at the altar.” Tears sprang into Sally’s eyes at the memory.
Joe nodded, then removed the goggles and pulled out another device. It looked heavy, its top donned with a glass sphere surrounded by dials. He placed it over the girl’s heart, then flicked a switch. At once, the sphere lit up slightly, a faint pink glow coming from within.
Sally interrupted when he moved to turn a dial. “What are you doing?”
“I’m fixing your daughter’s heart, ma’am.”
“How? What is that…contraption you’re using?”
“This is a Shrapnel Mender. It pulls in the fragments of your daughter’s broken soul and lets me join them together.”
Sally looked confused. She had no idea that a soul could be broken into pieces, let alone be fixed by a piece of machinery. Joe noticed.
“You see,” he explained, “a soul is divided into two sections: Heart and Mind. It is a tangible part of the body, even if you cannot see it with the naked eye. It can be damaged. My devices let me see and fix it.”
“But you said you were a Healer.”
Joe laughed. “You wouldn’t have called if I had listed myself as a Soul Mechanic, would you? Look, a doctor has his tools, and I have mine.”
Sally slowly nodded, gesturing the man to continue. She would make sense of it after it was over.
Joe turned the first dial, which introduced a high sinus tone. The pink glow increased slightly in intensity. “This is the pull,” he explained, turning the dial further up. The glow intensified, and Sally saw that it was made up of particles, countless of them. “Fragments,” Joe said. “A soul is supposed to be constant. Your daughter must have really loved this man. There’s a lot of damage.”
He moved to the second dial. As he turned, the particles drew together, forming a perfect round shape. “What are you doing now?” Sally asked. Her distrust had been replaced by intrigue.
“Merging,” Joe said. He grasped the third dial. “This will be the mend. Shield your eyes.” The room became so bright that even through closed, covered eyes the glow hurt. When Sally dared look, Joe was turning the first dial once more, lowering the now solid soul back into her daughter’s body. He then took out his goggles, examined the girl once more and, with a slight smile, moved his tools back into the box.
Joe stood up, toolbox in hand. “Your daughter’s soul is reconnecting to her heart. She will wake in the next few hours. When she does, give her all the time she needs to recover.”
“Will she be the same?”
“No. Her soul will always be a bit tender. Keep that in mind.”
On his way out, Sally grasped the mechanic’s arm. Her eyes spoke the words of thanks her lips trembled too much to mutter.
Joe smiled. “My pleasure.”
Illustration by: Lars de Ruyter