Beneath a hazy golden sky, you slide down from your forest boulder perch, the soft moss protecting you from scrapes.
You glance back to see a flash of gold disappear beneath the boulder.
‘It’s okay,’ you say. ‘I won’t hurt you.’ You take the last crumbs of your lunch and lay them in front of the crevice.
Eventually, it slithers out. A perfect clockwork salamander of brilliant gold, gears turning in the joints of its legs, jaw clicking as it scoops up the crumbs.
It pauses and gets up on its hind legs to look at you — at its full height, it is only as long as your index finger. In its chest is a swirling mechanical cage wherein a tiny crystal heart beats.
‘Rreekr?’ it chirps.
Thank you to Rcaze for this brilliant microfiction commission!