There were no clocks in the basement.
No clocks. No watches. Had it been an hour? A day? It was difficult to tell.
The boy hunched over a wooden desk, soldering iron in hand. The desk was rather shabby, with many chips and scratches, and patches that looked like they might have been scorched. By its side stood a small wooden barred filled with water, half-covered with a metal lid.
There was a soft hiss as the boy welded another pipe onto the small device in his hands. It was curiously formed, a mass of gears and pipes crammed into a tiny space, encapsulated with the beginnings of a protective shell. Some silver, some bronze, and a few dull grey. Most were of different diameters, and showed different amounts of wear.
There was a puff, and vapour began to seep out of the device. The boy sighed, shook the device gently, and a little bronze cylinder fell out. Without looking up, the boy pulled open a drawer by his side, and reached into one of the many small trays, pulling out a replacement.
But something must have gone badly wrong, because the device began to vibrate in his hands. The boy reached over and dropped the device into the barrel of water beside his desk, replacing the lid. A second of silence, and then several simultaneous clangs rang out, exactly as if some sort of device had exploded inside the barrel.
The boy set the lid aside again.
He pulled open two drawers, and counted out a precise number of gears and pipes onto the desk. He could start anew, and would, over and over.
After all, he had all the time in the world.