An essay by W. M. Higgins, as provided by Meg Merriet
Art by Leigh Legler
Her melodies, no matter what song was requested, haunted the dreams and nightmares of mortal men. When the Nightingale sang, the sound of silverware and polite conversation dissipated until all you could hear was her voice, her father’s piano, and the gentle hush of the tide.
Her hair and face were painted on sheet metal. She wore a shapeless gown festooned in beaded applique and vectors of sheer fabric. In spite of her hard mechanical form, her delicate mannerisms looked human in the dim lamplight. As elegant as any woman, the automaton drew admirers from across the globe to the establishment known as the Lighthouse. The mechanical songstress made headlines as the Nightingale of Atlantic City.
Her question response system had been meticulously designed, but she did not possess any emotion or private thoughts. All the same, every weeknight after closing my shop, I went into the restaurant and ordered the cheapest thing on the menu paired with six or seven snifters of whiskey. Leonardo Vicaris played piano behind the pretty robot, his eyes rolling in the back of his head as he drifted through a sea of music.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2015 collection.
Confectioner by day, tinkerer by night, William writes as his way of coping with the loss of a dear friend. He emigrated from Ireland as a child and grew up working in a cotton mill, crawling under machinery and tying any strands that came loose during production. He now enjoys a leisurely existence in Atlantic City, running a successful saltwater taffy shop with his wife and daughter.
Meg Merriet is a writer of short stories, novels, and plays with an inclination toward gothic fairytales and gritty, dark narratives. Her short story “The Bedfellow” appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of The Antigonish Review, a journal published by St. Francis Xavier University. She currently resides in Jersey City and is developing the play “The Shapeshifter” for production at Art House. “The Nightingale of Atlantic City” is dedicated to Raven Kneally, who taught Meg how to climb gates, how to dance the “Twitch,” and all the joys of anime, video games, and reckless adventuring.
Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.Follow us online: