Jamcracker Theatre Presents

The Fire at the Clock Factory

A tale from the Atlantica Fairy Tale Collection Vol. 7, Tales from France

Once upon a time, in France, there was a King who loved clocks so much that he  built a huge factory to fill the world with household appliances that could be ran by clock power.  But something went very wrong.  The clock factory blew up in flames one day and nobody knew how to pump water out of the ocean to put out the flames.

They had the equipment.  They knew it was possible, but they didn’t know know how to hook up the hoses to the water pump.  By the time they did figure out how to attach the hose to the hydrant, the whole factory was burned down to the ground.  The only thing left standing was the plumbing and a huge pile of jagged edged circles.

And to make things worse, the huge explosion that caused the fire in the first place caused an earthquake that created a giant tsunami.  The people saw it coming from miles away.  They all saw it coming.  They knew it was deadly.  They knew that water would kill them all if they didn’t do something.  So they all jumped into their underground cave system to wait until the whole thing passed over.  And they are all still there to this day.  Unless someone’s moved them.


They seriously should have read the owner’s manual.

We interrupt this program to give you an important message from the Limelight company:

Ever since the beginning of time, people have tried to train their cats and failed miserably.  Up until now.  Now with the limelight pen, you can train your cat to do back flips, somersaults, and even fetch the newspaper.  The highly hypnotic light the pen emits goes directly to the hyper pineal gland behind the retina allowing you to obtain total feline mind control.


I don’t know who invented the limelight pen, but loads of people have one now and are having so much fun they do it day and night.  Some people have become so obsessed with this new adventurous hobby that they’ve quit their jobs, stopped brushing their teeth, and even stopped ironing their shirts.

They are all waiting, hoping, wishing, and praying that some day soon their hairy domesticated houseguests will someday soon develop the habit of keeping house.  It hasn’t happened yet, but that’s because they haven’t tried the new improved version with retinol.

I realize this sounds very strange, but I am talking about the people who live on Chesky Island.  You do have to take that into consideration.  You know how Chesky’s are.  They’re just weird.

Do you know who the Chesky’s are?  The Chesky’s are the people who live on Chesky Island.  It’s the Island where the largest clock factory in the world was until the fire of 1789.  Its really famous.  They wrote symphonies and plays about it a long time ago, back when those sorts of things were popular.  But if you’re not familiar with all of this, I’ll explain.

Chesky Island is a small island that is right smack in the middle of the Gulf of Lion, just off the South of France.   It’s not on the recent maps.  The ultrasonic waves that bounce off the soil deflect waves from satellite dishes.


Chesky island is there.  I assure you.  I read an article about it in the 1868 edition of the Encyclopedia Atlantica.  And let me tell you, the people on that island are freaking looney tunes.  Two hundred years ago, there was a town in France where the people wouldn’t stop fighting.  What were they fighting about?  Well, I’ll tell you.  There were a few people in a small coastal town that decided everyone would be better off if everyone stopped saying six profane words.

These words are so vulgar and offensive, that I am forbidden to write them down for fear of being murdered.  That’s right.  I’m talking about cuss words.  You know how some people are when they hear cuss words.  They get all freaked out and bent out of shape.  So a bunch of hoity toity ultra conservative people started a secret underground society that would kill you in your sleep if you ever said a bad word.

You would think that would have put an end to cussing, but it wasn’t.  People died in their sleep every single night and nobody could figure out who was doing it. And still, the people kept saying these horrible vulgar words.   They cussed day and night just for fun.  They didn’t care that they would soon die.  They loved cussing.  It made them so happy. ” You can never understand”, they would always say,” you can never understand how wonderful it is to really really let out a good batch of foul words.  It’s so fabulous that once you start you can never stop.  It’s sheer euphoria.  Life just isn’t worth living unless you fill your life profane speech.”

The cussers had to stop or they would all die.  They had to be saved.  So a group of women arranged for them all to be sent to an abandoned Island… Chesky Island.  They were sent there for safety, but most of all, because they were really annoying.  The King of France promised that if they all stop saying bad words for twenty years, they could all come back and joined society.

But the news came back to the King that people just kept cussing.  They wouldn’t change their ways at all.  So, the King hired a scientiest named Jean-Claude-Pierre Bordoux Le Pip Franswa to do away with profane words once and for all.  This brilliant scientist captured the sonic vibrations that caused the bad words to be both spoken and heard.  He captured these vibrations with a magnetic device, and inserted them into a big copper bottle.  He sealed the bottle tight and hid it away.  Not even Snatcher himself, the legendary evil creature of the underworld who created these bad words in the first place, could let the words out ever again.

The people of Chesky Island were furious.  But with no cuss words to express their intense rage and fury, they just stayed there on the island and wallowed in their misery.  Because they were so isolated from the rest of the world, they had to survive with the primitive technology of clockwork.  Everything was run with gears and cranks.  This is tiring of course so naturally, over time a guy figured out a way to hook everything in his house up to one big giant crank that he could get other people to crank for him.

In theory this works, but it isn’t so easy to get other people to wind up your crank. So he invented the world’s first vending machine.


You put your money into the machine, and out pops a portrait.  It was  brilliant and nobody could figure out how it worked which made it all the more exciting.  Pretty soon, nobody had any money left and they wanted a refund so they could buy food and clothes.  So, the nice inventor said they could have all the money back if they would wind the big crank that ran the stuff in his house.  It was wonderful.  For the inventor guy anyway, but nothing stays the same forever.  People soon caught on to his little scheme.  But instead of just boycotting the vending machine, they made some themselves and pretty soon everyone on the island had their own personal vending machine.

Of course the people with the most successful vending machines don’t ever have to wind up their own houses.  But this isn’t fair, you know, for the people who aren’t lucky enough to be born with such talent for business, so a group of people got together and formed a crankers guild.  If you wind the crank for someone else for so long that your arm becomes injured and distorted, then you too can live a life of ease and never have to wind cranks again.

It isn’t easy being a crank winder.  It’s a rough job.  You wake up in the morning, wind your crank and then go off and wind cranks for everyone else all day long.  Then you have to go back home and wind your own crank for a while and then you go to bed, wake up, and do it all over again.

Oh sure, winding cranks may sound like loads of fun.  It’s scientifically proven that winding cranks builds bone strength, agility and stamina.  It tones the muscles, and builds character.  Sure it’s great for a couple days and perhaps can be endured cheerily for a couple of years, but can you imagine having to wind someone else’s crank day in and day out for your entire life?  It can really get to you.  But hey, it’s part of life, so cowboy up and deal with it.  If you were born to be a crank winder, you better shut up and do your job, because there isn’t another way.

Or at least, that’s what the youth of Chesky Island were told.   Most people take the crank their given and wind it like they’re told.  But not Lewis.  He’s got too much of his father in him.


This is Lewis.  Lewis  Harvey.  He was  born to be a crank winder.


Unfortunately for him, he didn’t want to be a crank winder when he turned 18.  He had other dreams.  He wanted to become an archaeologist.  That was his father’s dream too.  Too bad his dad burned that bridge.  Now he’s doomed forever.  He is trapped in a situation that he will be in for the rest of his life.  And he thought crank winding was bad.  There’s rats in those prisons, you know,…and lurches too.  Lots of them.  And if you stay there long enough you’ll turn into one too.  Oh sure.  There’s more than one lurch.  Lurches are everywhere.

Do you believe in the Lurch?

The Book of Snatcher 555

6 responses »

  1. You have outcranked yourself with this. The word-correction-programme told me it should be outranked, but I know better.
    This is fabulobous,Clothilda. I want to see these stories in a book. Selfpublish them and earn enough money to buy your mangofarm. Yes. and thanks.

  2. I’m glad you gave Lewis’s last name as I at first thought you were talking about me and was about to sue you for deflamation of character. Sweetheart, it is so good to have you back. We all missed you…ahem…”severely.” I was just about to the point of not knowing whether or not to commit suicide or go bowling. Glad you’re back.

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