Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Prompt: Sunlight in the Factory

Thanks to Alexandra Semushina for permission to use her beautiful artwork, "The Factory"!

Dhen popped the last widget from the stack of frames in front of him. He dropped the widget in the full tub on the standing conveyor belt, and the empty frame on the lower beltThe digital display flashed 90 seconds. Good, he’d kept up his steady speed and earned a little break. He laid down his small pincers and hammer and stretched his arms overhead, popping his shoulders as he bent backwards, reaching his hands to the floor. Resting all six fingers on the floor, he pressed up and down, sliding his vertebrae against each other in relief.

Mhek dropped down beside him, stretching his long legs under the quiet conveyor belt. “Do you ever wonder?” He asked quietly as he flexed his feet forward and back, up and down, side to side.

Dhen glanced over with raised eyebrows, then up to see if any of the floor monitors were around. “Wonder what, you egghead?”

Mhek rubbed his bald head ruefully. “Wonder what it is we make here.”

Dhen shrugged and swung his body upright, reaching down to pull Mhek standing. He tugged Mhek close for a moment. “Don’t wonder. Not in here. And not aloud.” He pushed Mhek away and said loudly, “I did not get my frames on your side!”

Mhek looked puzzled, then nodded briefly. “Just be careful, you sloppy bhewtin!”

Dhen’s eyes widened and he laughed loudly. “That’s all you’ve got, egghead?” He shook his own blare blue noggin.

Mhek opened his mouth to reply, then snapped it shut. A floor manager stood on the balcony above them, idly swinging his bhewtin whip back and forth. Mhek busied himself adjusting the bin on the belt, hoping to avoid the manager’s notice, or the whip’s.

He heard Dhen’s whispered countdown, “Four, three, two, one…” The conveyor belt jerked and groaned as it rolled the bins past them, disappearing into the dark chamber next to Dhen. Mhek looked the other way, watching the next batch of full frames emerge from the chamber on his side. Twenty frames, forty widgets each. Two taps per strut to release, then a tug with the pincers to pluck each widget free and drop it in the tub.

In sixteen cycles, since he matured and started losing his baby fuzz, he still had no idea what the widgets did, what they were part of. He didn’t understand why he wasn’t supposed to ask questions. Why they weren’t supposed to know anything.

The digital clock reset to the new shift’s countdown. The sky had lightened and the sun’s golden rays peeked through the windows far away on the side of the factory walls. Mhek turned, and Dhen was already facing the light. Another countdown. “Two one…” The light burst through the factory, setting it ablaze with golden fire. Every metal surface reflected the light as if it were made of gold. Mhek held his breath, silently counting with Dhen until, with a single flash, the light was gone, the factory returned to cavernous darkness, buzzers sounded, and the clink, clink, clink of hammers filled the air once more.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing:
~30 minutes

August word count:

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