A.J. Walker


Tick Tock, Dandelion Clock

Been a while since I've done a Mid Week Flash Challenge from Miranda over on the Purple Queen website. But here is one for this week. The challenge is for stories up to 750 words (my story below is 699 words). Click on the photo to go through to the website and have a read of the site and give it a go sometime.

Sculpture by Polish artist: Mirk Struzik

Tick Tock, Dandelion Clock

Karl Hosman hated dandelions when he was young. They took over his parents lawn quicker than the Germans circled the swimming pools on their family holidays (and that is quick!). But he did like them whilst they were dandelion clocks. They had an undeniable beauty, especially on a sunny day and whilst he wouldn't no longer blow on them it was hard not to as a child - it would be like walking past a football and not kicking it. He thought dandelion clocks and their flowers related to each other like caterpillars and butterflies; albeit that the damn flowers seemed to take over whole towns sometimes and for months too.

In art college Hosman focused on sculpture and mostly he’d build mythical towers with marble and steel, and studied busts of everyday people he knew. His art was all about people and what they built, he eschewed nature: apart from dandelion clocks, which many people noted to him. He claimed they’d invaded his psyche as some alien presence which he hadn’t been able to shake. He got several commissions for his sculptures; mainly for his fantastical towers and castles - some were in galleries in the Americas and Asia as well as Europe. He was a master with mixed modern materials.

And so it was that he was commissioned by his own city council to create something unique for the city park, but something with a nod to nature, he eventually chose to produce a single shining steel stalk of some ten feet tall, which over a period of a week produced a giant dandelion clock. People came and marvelled at it from many miles, and in an area where art was not usually a thing (apart from graffiti along the railway lines) that was something to be proud of. He quickly became a bit of a celebrity, getting on the local and national news - not a common thing for a young artist. The headlines were positive: he was The New Real Deal and live sculptures were going to be the next big thing in public art. He anticipated more commissions.

Things went wrong a couple of weeks later, whilst he was on holiday. He was sat at the pool (inevitably behind the Germans who he was sure had moved his towels when he was at breakfast) when he received a text from local planning officer he’d dealt with for the park: ‘What’s going on? You never said about this. We only have planning for the one sculpture.’.

Hosman was puzzled and went online to see if he could find anything about it online.

‘Shit!’ he exclaimed, before taking a large swig of lager. ‘I don’t believe it.’

His wife sat up and removed her sunglasses, quickly regretting it as she couldn’t see anything in the brightness. ‘What’s up?’

‘It’s the dandelion. It’s gone rogue.’


‘The park’s now got three sculptures not one.’

‘I was there, love. I saw it. How can it be? Someone copycatting your work?’

‘I wish. I think it’s a tad more problematic than that. I think it’s the nanobots. They’re replicating each other.’

‘I thought they were programmed to build the clock then stop.’

‘So did I, so did I. Me thinks that there’s been a problem in the software.’

‘So when will they stop then? Maybe it’ll be just these three. That’ll look quite good in any case.’ She secretly thought that there should have been more than one anyway and thought a collection of them would look more balanced. Still, it was worrying that it was doing things out of their control.

Hosman sat up. He’d found a live feed from the park. There were images of the metallic seeds blowing across the park. He could see from the trees behind that there was a strong westerly wind. Not good at all. Suddenly dreams of myriad commissions seemed to be disappearing to be replaced by multiple lawsuits. By the time he got back from holiday the town could be swamped by the things and his career could be over. Still, at least he hadn’t programmed the sculpture to go beyond the clock to a flower. Now that would have been really bad.
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