Artifacts from the Time Before stood with its door ajar. The buildings around it were dark with no signs of activity inside and definitely nothing outside. The street was empty and silent. Jack entered the shop and found much of the place in ruins. Broken glass lay scattered across the floor, the telephone device that he had admired lay on its side with the cord missing. With each step, glass crunched, and random old instruments and devices protested the additional damage, though Jack tried to proceed with care. “Shopkeeper, are you here?”
Noise from the back of the shop alerted Jack to another person’s presence. “Shopkeeper,” he continued.
“Back here Detective,” relief flooded Jack when he heard the shopkeeper’s voice.
He moved quickly to find Shopkeeper Reginald Detworth in the back attempting to clean up. “What happened here?”
“Ruffians from the clockworks came here,” the shopkeeper bent over to pick up more glass and dropped it into metal bucket. “They assumed I sold an employee some dangerous sort of publications.” He stared boldly at Jack. “Perhaps you are aware of their inquiry?”
“The Useful Life Clockworks Company” – Part 20 – by H. A. Busse.