The first thing Jack did when he got home was to go to the workbench and examine the block, comparing it to the sketch.
He traced the scar that crossed the surface. If he cut here and here…
Yes, that might work.
He drew the new design onto the block. Almost. A change to that section—yes, there was enough wood left—and it was right.
When he finished, Jack picked up mallet and gouge for the first time since the seeming disaster.
Again, the chisel cut like a dream.
How could he have made such a stupid mistake?
He should have given himself a break earlier, that was it. He would be more careful this time.
Jack worked for an hour, reminded himself of his own rule and took a break, even though he felt like he could go on and on.
But however careful he tried to be, he made another mistake immediately on his return, leaning too heavily into the stroke. Another split. He thought, at first, that he could work round it, keep the error to a minimum, but whatever he did only seemed to make things worse, until at last, his new design had been rendered impossible, too.
He swore. Nothing could rectify it.
In frustration, he put the chisel loosely against the block, hit it without purpose, wanting only to destroy, to obliterate.
A second blow, then a third. More wood split off. If he continued like this, he would end with a pile of shavings.
The thought made him hesitate, but his hands moved again, almost of their own volition. Not under his guidance, certainly.
The blow was harder this time. The movement purposeful. A large chunk of wood fell to the floor.
He told himself that he should stop, that he would regret this in the morning, but his hands kept going. There was something in there. Not his original design, nor the new one, but something else that lay within the wood. Something that wanted out.
He gave himself up to it.
William Curnow lives in London. He has previously had stories published in Jurassic London and Pornokitch.