Sunday July 3rd, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the factory.

We drove up to Penticton with the boys this morning to do some grocery shopping that I never have time or energy to do after the farmers market. On the way back we stopped in to visit a friend of Kat's and her new (six weeks old) baby girl.

Speaking of number of weeks old, Miles will be turning 12 this Tuesday morning. One more week and he'll be 3 months old. Not quite sure how that's possible.

The weather has cooled off, as we're now seeing highs in the upper twenties instead of mid thirties. I am a big fan of this change.


The noise of the machinery and clouds of pungent steam rising from the open vats made it very easy for me to move through the building without being spotted by security. A handful of workers noticed my presence but I wasn't worried about them. They either knew I was on their side or they had long stopped caring about sides.

I was headed for the manager's office, a wide room that could only be accessed by a long staircase at the south end of the factory. From there one had a perfect view over the workers - when they weren't obscured by the steam - and the only protection required was provided by a guard stationed at the top of the stairs.

I imagine they figured worst case scenario, should a revolt occur, he could empty his machine gun before retreating into the office and locking the door behind him. They probably had enough supplies in there to last weeks, if not months. The workers would simply die of starvation or dehydration and then they could emerge, have someone clean up the mess, and have them all replaced with fresh faces before the smell of their predecessors was completely gone.

Getting to the stairs was the easy part. The trouble would come in finding a way to get to the guard before he started shooting.

Nothing had come to me yet, but I still had a few minutes left before I'd have to cross that bridge. I was quite certain everything would work out fine in the end, once I figured something out.

Though, to be fair, that might have been the booze talking...


Greg said...

I noticed just that your comment on Miles makes it sound like he's turning 12 years rather than 12 weeks, and that my comment yesterday makes it sound like you beat Max up, rather than getting up earlier than him in the morning, so I think between us we've thoroughly confused any other readers of your blog! Malta seem set to continue daytime temperatures in the thirties for the rest of the month, so I'm resigned to being too hot now.
Your description of the factory floor reminds me of one I worked in as a summer job while I was a student, except for the guard with the machine gun. I think our guards used stun grenades and rocket launchers instead :-P All the little details are right though, even the elevated office and restricted approach, so very nicely observed! And I really appreciated the little twist the last line provided.

The factory
Wrought iron gates taller than three men standing on each others' shoulders were set into red-brick walls that reached higher yet. On the inside there were still a few trees, but on the outside they'd been cut down and the wood carted inside to be used as fuel. There was a clear stretch from where the forest now ended to where the walls began, and it was more than coincidence that this meant no-one could climb a tree to help them get over the wall. The road that led up to the gates was maintained but not tarmacced, and the little brass plaque set next to the gates provided no name or information, the words engraved on it simply said "Go away".
Hieronymos sat in a spacious office at the top of the factory and looked out of the north-facing window. The office was effectively a cupola: perched at the very top it had windows on all four sides and entrance was granted by means of an iron spiral staircase that rose in the centre of the room. From here he could see as far as the walls and the gate, but not over. He sighed, and looked down at his desk. Crystal panes in varying hues were inset here and there, and behind them valves illuminated to show concentrations, pressures, gradients and temperatures. A narrow column down one side indicated the output of the generators, and right at the bottom a valve glowed yellowly, assuring him that the high wrought iron gates were connected to a murderously high current. As was the staircase accessing his office.
"Phlogiston production is up 8%" said a quiet voice; this belonged to the Auditor who was stood at a bookcase doing through ledgers. "This is very impressive, you've only been here two months."
"There were obvious inefficiences," said Hieronymos. His thin hands pulled his suit jacket tightly around his body, but he still felt cold. "I have more to fix."
"Good." The auditor was silent for a moment, and then, "You will reduce production so that the improvement is only 3%."
"Of course. May I ask why?"
"You may. Continue to make the improvements though."
The Auditor looked up and smiled at Heironymos's irritation. "Learn to ask the right questions," he said. "Because--"

Marc said...

Greg - ah the English language. So, so much room for confusion.

Thanks! And... I'm glad you survived your factory job without getting blown up!

Brilliant descriptions again, and an intriguing conversation at the end. I can't believe you left us hanging like that though! I hope this continues on the following day's post... but I will have to confirm that at another time.

Also: I like the sound of that office. I would be quite happy there, I think.