Thursday, March 14, 2024

“Like Clockwork” • by Yelena Crane

When the bells chime, the Animatron hikes her skirt up to mark each hour. 

Up, down, then a fifty-nine minute excruciating wait to repeat the lewd movement. Sentience for this? 

Eventually newer toys replace her and she counts time for no one but the attic spiders.

Years pass without change.

As the Animatron’s hands slowly rise for the hourly show, her plaster-cracked joints finally seize. Where still whole, her legs are hidden in silver silk cobwebs. 


Yelena Crane is a Ukrainian/Soviet born and USA based writer, incorporating influences from both into her work. With an advanced degree in the sciences, she has followed her passions from mad scientist to sci-fi writer. Her stories often explore the boundaries of technology, the complexities of human nature, and the consequences of our choices. She's published in Nature Futures, DSF, Dark Matter Ink, Flame Tree, and elsewhere. Follow her on twitter @Aelintari and


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The Pete Wood Challenge is an informal ad hoc story-writing competition. Once a month Pete Wood spots writers the idea for a story, usually in the form of a phrase or a few key words, along with some restrictions on what can be submitted, usually in terms of length. Pete then collects the resulting entries, determines who has best met the challenge, and sends the winners over to Bruce Bethke, who arranges for them to be published on the Stupefying Stories web site.

You can find all the previous winners of the Pete Wood Challenge at this link.

This time the challenge was to write a flash fiction piece playing off key word: hike.

More stories to come!