In the disturbed village of Saint Horribilum, in the northern borders of our empire, the clock that one finds in the rather faceless central square comprises a series of noteworthy technical oddities. Such has been the apparent intent of its makers, to elucidate the vanity of existence, that they have – most strikingly – omitted the dials. Then, they introduced a functionless automaton, a self-negation of a machine that does not work, cannot work, will never work, but nevertheless creates to the beholder the feeling of imminent working. Eyes closed, limps hanging, a diaphanous skeleton which may, if awaken, speak the time. No one lives in the central square since the clock was brought to the village, installed in the church tower and inaugurated by the Emperor’s envoy. The villagers abandoned their homes soon afterwards and all access to the square has been blocked ever since. The visitor (alas, one has to be a believer in miracles to imagine anyone wanting to visit Saint Horribilum) will have to offer considerable bribery and swear secrecy to the gods, in order to be taken to see the notorious clock. One such visitor, probably the only one ever, has written to me recently with his report. There are aspects of the report pertaining to matters of imperial security which I must conceal for obvious reasons. But I am at liberty to disclose one more interesting aspect of the village’s engineering anathema: its cunning resemblance to a miniscule globulin first encountered by the great English polymath Robert Hooke. Perhaps then, the clock is not made of nuts and bolts. Perhaps is not man-made. Perhaps it is an animal.