The Clockwork Soldier is a clockwork-powered automaton built for war and ‘piloted’ by a transplanted human brain formerly belonging to a prisoner of war. Prior to being implanted into the machine his mind was brutally and systematically broken to make him co-operative and destroy his will to rebel against his captors, but slowly, over the century or so he was in active service, his mind began to heal. He has no recollection of his life before becoming the soldier, but he has made a new life regardless. He fell back in love with the world, and acquired a great number of mementos and treasures from the places war took him.
Eventually newer, more advanced forms of the machine-soldier were brought into production, and the Clockwork Soldier was outmoded. With such an impressive armoury built into him, and being a military and industrial secret, he could not be released into the civilian population, but due to being built to be completely tamper-proof he could not be safely dismantled. Thus, his ‘commanders’ had no other option but to lock him away and wait until he wound down by himself.
It has been a very long time since the Soldier was locked away. The commanders who imprisoned him are long dead, as is anyone who remembers the reason the bomb-proof underground bunker is so heavily guarded. It doesn’t need to be; the Soldier never wanted war, and has resigned himself to living away his days alone with his books and his treasures.
He is not unhappy, at least most of the time. He knows most of his books by heart but still reads them out of affection, and carefully maintains his clockwork shell out of a stubborn refusal to die when he’s supposed to. He has made his prison into a home, with all sorts of improvised furniture and storage space to reflect the world he loved and lost. He surrounds himself with his keepsakes and memories of the outside, having long since come to terms with the fact that he will never see sunlight again.
His brain, like any brain, requires sleep and food to survive. Though he cannot feel the comfort of a bed he has one anyway, and, once a week, a tiny hatch is opened to provide him with just enough food and water to live on, and a little oil to keep him going. Nobody on the other side knows why, but they follow orders, and so the Clockwork Soldier persists.
‘Live well. It is the best revenge.’ – The Talmud