‘These numbers round the edge mark the hours. In the little window on the right it says THU, which means Thursday, and the number is 14, which means it’s the fourteenth day of the month of MAY which is what it says in this window over here.
‘And this sort of crescent-shaped window at the top tells you about the phases of the moon. In other words it tells you how much of the moon is lit up at night by the sun, which depends on the relative positions of the Sun and the Moon and, well… the Earth.’
‘The Earth,’ said Random.
‘And that’s where you came from, and where Mum came from.’
Random took the watch back from him and looked at it again, clearly baffled by something. Then she held it up to her ear and listened in puzzlement.
‘What’s that noise?’
‘It’s ticking. That’s the mechanism that drives the watch. It’s called clockwork. It’s all kind of interlocking cogs and springs that work to turn the hands round at exactly the right speed to mark the hours and minutes and days and so on.’
Random carried on peering at it.
‘There’s something puzzling you,’ said Arthur. ‘What is it?’
‘Yes,’ said Random, at last. ‘Why’s it all in hardware?’
Arthur suggested they went for a walk. He felt there were things they should discuss, and for once Random seemed, if not precisely amenable and willing, then at least not growling. From Random’s point of view this was also all very weird. It wasn’t that she wanted to be difficult, as such, it was just that she didn’t know how or what else to be.
Who was this guy? What was this life she was supposed to lead? What was this world she was supposed to lead it in? And what was this universe that kept coming at her through her eyes and ears? What was it for? What did it want?
She’d been born in a spaceship that had been going from somewhere to somewhere else, and when it had got to somewhere else, somewhere else had only turned out to be another somewhere that you had to get to somewhere else again from, and so on.
It was her normal expectation that she was supposed to be somewhere else. It was normal for her to feel that she was in the wrong place.