Frayed wires litter the basement floor, tangled together into a mess of knots like a field
of blackthorn bushes. There are broken boxes. There’s a loud crisping noise.
A heavyset man with a disheveled beard peers over a floating screen. His half-closed eye catches one of the wires sparking.
It’s caught fire, but Salamander Smith takes his time. He downs a cup of bubbled sugar, then waddles to the miniature crisis. He stops the fire with a fragile pat of his shoe. He inspects the damage. He looks around the laboratory of failures; a collection of treasure from great men and women dutifully turned into his trash. He shrugs and turns around to waddle back to watch the hallucinations on his screen.