Excerpt: The Factory


Featured image by Sven Fennema, as pictured at Oddstuffmagazine.com



The regulations were posted on all the walls. Be punctual. Work steady. Keep everything moving. Stay at your assigned station, unless there is an urgent need for you elsewhere. Do not leave your department until you clock out for the day. When traveling to or from your department, stay to your assigned entry and exit walkway. Enter and exit only with your department. Under no circumstances leave your department or venture into hallways, restrooms, or other areas outside of your department unless requested…


First she showed me where the deliveries from other departments, housed in crates or tubes or temperature-controlled containment units, entered by way of the rolling assembly line, larger crates holstered up or lowered down through square holes in the ceiling and floor, or hand-delivered by  couriers. You did not want to stand within the two-foot perimeter of the hole in the floor, or you might trip and fall an unknown depth, which would take you to another department. Likewise with staring up at the hole in the ceiling. You could catch fabric, hair, and skin in a moving assembly line, so you had to be aware of that. You were not allowed to engage in horseplay, carry unnecessary objects, or secrete bodily fluids near the assembly line or delivery holes.

Excerpt: The Factory


“Is there a map?” I asked.

“There are no maps of the factory,” he replied, his back to me.

“But how will I ever find the way?”

“You will arrive and depart with your group. You won’t be lost.”

Was that a hint of softness in his voice? I could have imagined anything, at that point.

He stopped abruptly outside a door with a glass window in it.

“Here is your area. You will not enter your area until you arrive for work tomorrow.”

There was so much noise behind that door… . And so many colors! The boys wore common brown pants with suspenders and caps, and the girls all had on their street dresses and bright kerchiefs. They were moving in all directions at once, carrying boxes and pushing carts that rolled on thunderous wheels, calling out to each other, swinging wooden crates on ropes, whistling, singing even.

“The work you will do here, that everyone does, is very important.”

Again, there seemed to be nothing for me to say, but this time he did not wait for it. We continued down the hallway, opposite the way we had come. We took other stairwells, and passed more doors with people behind them.  I tried to map the way as we walked. Maybe it was a shortcut.

As we descended a long flight of aluminum stairs and passed a room of assembly lines where everyone wore gray uniforms and dour faces, I asked what they did in that department.

“That division is none of your concern,” he replied. “You will never go in that division, or any of the other departments, other than the one you are assigned to. You will never use this route to exit again.”

We were funneled through the hallway to the door at the end, which put us back in the lobby. The woman behind the counter buzzed us into the time room, I clocked out, and was ushered through the door.

And that was the tour.

I stood blinking in the sunlight as it splintered off all those blinding metal gates as if I had just woken from a dream, or fallen into one.