A familiar face at the Avon flea market every Sunday since the 60’s, Walter would spend the cooler mornings in search of the maimed and abandoned toys of children no longer. He rarely paid more than ten or fifteen cents a piece for the ravaged figures as most were missing limbs or heads. The collection being assembled was not about condition, resale or profit.
These were much more than idols made of plastic and vinyl, for Walter could feel the spirits and hear the distant laughter of the many children who had once worshiped these love-worn toys. To him, these toys were markers in lives unfolding, indelibly printed with the character of those who had played with them so many years ago. Holding each one in his now aging hand, he would listen to its story and wonder what had become of the child later in life.
Walter enjoyed many comfortable evenings with the collection in the old farm house nestled in the rolling hills of upstate New York. He had retired here after a lifetime of inventing and designing useful things for various companies and then spent the next twenty some years assembling the collection that now filled not only all three floors of the house, but his barn as well.
This past winter Walter began working on his Geppetto project. He hoped to design a system to capture the psychic energy he felt being released from the old toys and use it to power the robot toy he was building.
It was now late fall and the the robot body, complete with arms and legs, sat on the work bench awaiting its head and power source. It was one of those unusually warm and sun filled days that are so rare this time of year, perhaps the last one before the snow would again cocoon Walter with his collection for another winter. Drawn by the cunning day, he found himself walking through the Naples yellow fields beyond the barn. Feeling the liability of his eighty plus years, he sat down beneath the comfort of the large and singular Maple in the middle of the fields warmth and fell asleep.
Walter was awakened by the voices of children to find he was covered by what looked like a soft blanket of diamonds glistening in the moonlight. He stood up wondering why he did not feel the cold of this night. The answer came as he looked down to his snow covered body still lying beneath the tree.
Long before this ground became tillable it was the now long forgotten cemetery for the Crowhaven orphanage, who’s stone foundations still shown through the grass here and there at the edge of the woods. The field has been home these many years to those unknown children for whom no one came, save the reaper. Moving like curious cats, the children slowly floated over to Walter wherein he invited them to come to the house to see his toys.
As they entered the house, there on the workbench sat the headless robot with its power source window glowing in an array of changing colors like a miniature aurora borealis. The rest of that winter and many since found Walter building other robot bodies and the children selecting various heads from the collection to sit atop them. Misfits one and all.