Uncle Kempt

By Matthew Garcia-Dunn

A long, long time ago, Jan Itor found his way into Avonova. There were no other Machina present, or Fabled, or Humans. There were only the Avos, and they didn’t pay Jan Itor any mind at all.

Needing something to do, Jan decided the first order of business was to clean this world up for whoever came next. He scrubbed the spires and trimmed the scrublands. The Glens of Lost Memory were littered with nostalgia nuggets no more. He swept the city streets, mopped the Tombs of Perpetua, and dumped all the rubbish in the singularity out by the Gravitone Islands. Together, with Bucky, his cleaner-fabrication bucket, they cleaned every last inch of Avonova, from Sparkadia to the Underside. With the job done, Jan took a nap.

Bucky woke up early. He decided to take a quick roll and feel the majesty of this strange world reflected in his liquid dissolvent reservoir. It was beautiful.

Until Bucky saw that the spire had been un-scrubbed.

He rolled to the scrublands, which had somehow reverted to their untrimmed appearance. There were more nostalgia nuggets on the Glens of Lost Memory and were now attracting past-hogs and remember-gnats. The city streets were un-swept. It looked as if someone had blown a giant bubble with bubble gum and popped it over the Tombs of Perpetua. Worse, someone had dumped the singularity’s contents everywhere and then threw the singularity into another dimension.

When the final horror had unfolded, Bucky rolled back to break the news to Jan. Not only was Avonova a giant mess again, now there were other Machina wandering around.

But when Bucky reached Jan’s favorite nap spot, the truth of the situation became the only crystal-clear thing in the world…

Instead of Jan Itor, there was a different Machina. Sure, it wore the same cleaning outfit as Jan, but this Machina sported a long yellow beard and long yellow hair that had never seen a comb. The stranger’s memory tag ID read “Uncle Kempt.”

“Hey there, fella,” Uncle Kempt said, bending down to pet Bucky. “I’m about to switch off. Got a lot of work done. Why don’t you do the same.” With that, Uncle Kempt powered down for some rest.

Bucky didn’t know what to do, so he rolled back and saw that the newly arrived Machina were confused and complaining about the filthy state of this cosmic paradise. Bucky raced back in an anxious tizzy. This was precisely the outcome Jan wanted to avoid. Only this time, there was no Uncle Kempt, but rather Jan Itor stretching his limbs, as if he’d just awoken from a nap.

Bucky showed Jan the mess, but the clean machine refused to despair or worry.

“Whoever did this, well, I suppose they had a good reason. We can try and guess it while we clean this mess right back up.”

Time passed, and the Machina were joined by the Fabled, then the Humans, and in that entire time, the mess only grew, and Bucky never saw Uncle Kempt since. Jan Itor was just as puzzled by the tale, for there was no Machina named Uncle Kempt listed in any database.

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