Sand blew through the broken glass and ticked against the metal skin of the clockwork mannequin behind it. Dressed in a tattered waistcoat, its gears and joints shrieked and popped in the dead air as it attempted to pivot on its rusted pedestal.
“Greetings, Loyal Customer™!” it called out to no one. “We have the best boots and buskins—”
A harsh whine of metal.
“—try a pair on!”
The wind howled through the dusty street before the mannequin, shifting small dunes from one side to the other. Tumbleweeds raced past, bouncing off broken buildings on their way to nowhere.
“Corsets, top hats, monocles! We have—”
Clanging, banging gears. A puff of smoke and the smell of burning copper.
“—al Customer™! You have only to ask!” The mannequin continued its pitch in spite of itself. It jerked right, once, and became still, its voice holding out just a moment longer.
“Loyal. Loyal. Loyal. Loy—”
And then it froze, silent as the human shadows burned into the boardwalk beneath it.
[Originally posted at Ficly]