A rascal of boys came tumbling out of the alley
All bruised knuckles and grazed knees
Some with shiners as big as liquorice swirls
Faces streaked in the soot from a thousand chimneys
They stank of the sewer and the gasworks and the dock
Mud from the canal was caked into the scuffs on their boots
Along the street the raggedy rascals ran
All dressed in their raggedy rags

And the mechanical monstrosity followed in their wake
Ticking and tocking and clicking and clacking
Sending the brickwork of the alley tumbling down like Jericho's walls
Dozens of perpetual keys eternally whirring in brass housings
Each passing motion and momentum to the next
Wheels turning cogs and cogs turning wheels
Springs sprung, then settling again to serpentine coils
A mollusc trail of gooey black oil oozing in the monster's wake

The engineer who had fathered its invention
Had named it the Automatasaurus
He dreamed that it would bring him fame and wealth
Exhibiting it in cities and royal palaces across the globe
But it had turned on him
Crushed his bones into dust
Smeared him like a jammy preserve across the tarmacadam
Then embarked upon a rampage of mayhem and destruction

The street in which it now gave pursuit
Was littered with the evidence of its crazed berserking
Cadavers of rozzers with truncheons shred to splinters
Corpses of Tommies mangled to their helmets and rifles
The road glistening with billions of crystals of shattered glass
Gas lamps bowed in buckled defeat
Charred wooden fragments of a downed airship gondola
Bright shreds of its balloon flapping like pendants from nearby chimneys

The rascal of boys had taunted it from its lair
Where it lay gently purring in clockwork stasis
They used catapults and peashooters and spud guns to assail it
Tiny missiles pinging noisily as they ricoched from its copper hide
Now it gave monstrous chase
Tracing the mechanical patterns its inventor had programmed into its innards
Being with all its mechanised being
The Behemoth it was always intended to be

The boys and the Automatasaurus followed
Steadily gaining on them with every flywheel's revolution
Twenty foot high and twenty foot wide
Limbs the size of trolley buses
Stamping out a trail of craters
It was almost upon them
When the boys turned a corner
And there lying in wait...

...was a gossip of girls
Armed with crowbars and cricket bats and cudgels and bludgeons
With an ear-piercing screech they ran
And met the mechanised advance of the beast
The air rang with desperate clangs and clanks
Girls were tossed skyward
Turning cartwheels on their descent
After a moment - the rascals turned and joined the fray

The Fall of the Automatasaurus