(The freight train of recollection, How much was a dream? The automaton giraffe, and The worst of invitations)
For the first time since he'd began his desperate project, Peter was supremely comfortable. Rested. At ease. At peace. He was warm and relaxed and his only discomfort the growing pressure in his bladder. And a slight niggle of hunger.
Peter rolled over and opened his eyes to the familiar wallpaper of his bedroom. He didn't remember coming here. He certainly didn't recall stripping down to his underclothes.
The freight train of recollection delivered tons of realisation that then exploded inside his skull.
Peter thrust himself out of bed and raced halfway down the hall before he stopped and raced back to his ensuite. He performed the world's fastest ablutions before diving into his clothes. He ran back down the hall to his lab.
Which was empty.
Well, empty of his creations. Everything else was still scattered about every available surface.
Someone had brutally swept a path between the door and the little desk. His chair was upturned. Oil spotted the floor. Nothing of import remained.
No Rabbit, no other trace of The Spine. Neither of his other creations that should have been here. None of their parts. No trace of Miss Iris. Just an empty tray without a crumb. An empty cup without a drop.
Had he dreamed it? It all felt like a dream. Had he been in a fever and made up everything? The Cavalcadium and Delilah and Miss Iris and Rabbit and... No. Blue Matter was real. The test subject in its hutch was right there. All whites and blues and blacks. Someone had cleaned the cage and filled the automatic feeder.
If the Blue Matter was real... was the Cavalcadium? Delilah?
An immense metal head, shaped like a giraffe's loomed by the window. Delilah's namesake.
No! She was sick! She needed him! Peter's feet flew again, making him fly down the stairs and almost collide with a cluster of maids surrounding - Rabbit! The Spine! Units Three and Four!
And Miss Iris, too. Real and shining like a proud parent. Walking the rest of the maids through a simplified explanation of how the automatons worked.
Then she spotted him and turned his delight into disaster. She fetched a calling card from Miss Viviana Broodwell and an invitation to a funeral.
Despite his best efforts, the delightful Doctor Delilah Moreau was dead.
Had been dead for some time.
The rest of the maids filed away. Off to do the multitude of tasks that were necessary for running a house. Only Miss Iris remained as his world came crumbling to pieces around him.