The Meat Factory

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Just a couple of A5 pages of an idea for a world that I'm trying to get out of my head.

Submitted: August 14, 2017

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Submitted: August 14, 2017

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 Grub liked working the night shift in the meat vats, it was quiet and he could get as much protein jelly as he could eat. It was a much better life than when he worked as a Piper down in the dark with all the other kids. Life was hard and hungry down there - sometimes you'd get lucky and a big blob of the slimy green protein jelly would get washed down and you'd be the first to find it, sometimes it wouldn't even be that dirty – not that it mattered much even if it was, you were too hungry to notice usually but it always looked more attractive without any lumps of congealed muck floating around in it.

He'd been lucky to get this position at all, spaces up here seldom opened up and weren't usually given to the Pipers (managements name for the kids that worked and pretty much lived in the huge waste system that ran beneath the meat factories), even more lucky because he was one of the oldest ones there and was starting to get too big to work in the pipes anymore - he would have soon been forced out like all the other Pipers were once they reached a certain size and could no longer get through the system with ease. The usual fate for an ex-Piper was to end up on the street where life was even more tough and cruel than in the pipes, sure life wasn't great in the pipes but most of the kids got on and worked together or at least left each other alone. There were always a few troublemakers and people to avoid of course but that pretty much went with the territory, besides at least you knew where you stood and who not to get in the way of. Once you were out on the streets everything and everyone else was an unknown and had to be learned the only way it could be – the hard way.

Most of the Pipers were orphans or kids that had run away from home. All their stories were pretty much the same; the poor, the unwanted and the lost kids of Lun - and sometimes even further away – all ended up working in the huge and complex waste systems of the meat factories and seldom left until they were too big to stay anymore, then they were ejected back out into world to learn all of the city's real dangers and lessons in life once more.

Not that life in the pipes was easy, no not by far. It was a hard life working in the pipes constantly flushing through and cleaning all the waste protein jelly from the factory's big meat vats where they grew all their meat. Once the jelly was separated from the growth tanks it became thick and sticky, if it was left for too long it was nearly impossible to remove without a lot of effort. That's why Synthtech had allowed the Pipers to exist in the first place - at first they had used automatics to clean out the system but it had turned out to be far too costly at the time due to the limited energy available and many times the machines would get stuck or something would go wrong with one and it would become even more expensive using more automatics or disassembling whole parts of the system to gain access to the hard to reach areas too small for an adult to get in to. There was no-one left who could remember exactly how it had started but the story was that one day it was discovered that there was a group of kids living in an area of the waste system. After investigation it was discovered the kids were living off what little of the jelly they could scavenge and so the were managing to do a far better job of keeping the part of the system they were staying in clean. So it was that someone had realised that rather than this being a problem, it was an opportunity - the system was completely shut off from the rest of the factory, the waste passed through a series of grates and drains too small and too well sealed to allow any of the children access to the main factory, they were small so they could gain access to some of the most difficult to get to areas and on top of all that they were desperate, they didn't need paying, just allowing them to stay in the pipes was all they wanted. So in the end it was a win for both parties, the company eliminated the cost of keeping the waste system running and the kids found somewhere to live, eventually many more would come and so from this strange community of children the Pipers were born.

Once the energy field had been discovered and limited resources were no longer a problem the Pipers had existed for so long that the upper echelons at Synthtech barely even gave a thought to switching back to automatics, besides the current model worked and made a significant difference to the profit levels and so things stayed the way they had for decades and the Pipers remained.

 

Grub leaned his auto=shovel against one of the big glass tanks and took out a pack of spark's from the inside of his rather threadbare coat – this was another of the many benefits of working in the vats; he was allowed a few luxuries that he could purchase with his pay - which was a luxury in itself and something wholly alien to Grub who had never received any form of reward for work in his short life. Most of it went on the food he had to eat when he wasn't working in the vats but he had developed a taste for the mildly addictive sparks and couldn't resist saving up what he could to buy the odd pack now and then.

He drew one of the long silver cylinders from it's pack, checked how many he had left and then put them back in his pocket. Putting one end into his mouth he crushed the other and with a sound like a tiny crack of lightning and a flash of green light which was what gave it it's nickname the spark was lit. Inhaling slowly and savouring the smooth and faintly electrical taste of it he leaned back against another tank and closed his eyes, enjoying the moment and finding the gentle hum of the tanks relaxing as he always had he breathed out a big cloud of green smoke that crackled, popped and flashed before dissipating.

He remained like this for some time with his eye's closed, slowly inhaling and exhaling, listening to the tanks and the crackling of his spark, generally being at peace with the world and his place in it. When he finally opened his eye's again it was to a rather unpleasant sight... the vat supervisor's assistant Dezzick stood before him with his hands on his hips and his usual expression of smug satisfaction - a thin, weasley little man whose personality was about as slimy and sticky as the jelly itself and who instantly made anyone who met him feel like they needed to wash themselves afterwards. He was universally disliked, even by the management but he was also extremely efficient at his job which was to make sure everyone else below him do their own jobs properly.

He did not do this through force or violence like other men might do, oh no – he did it through memos and 'progress evaluations' in which he would highlight all the little details he had found that he deemed “undesirable in an employee” and would then proceed to give warnings about the consequences of “continuing this behaviour”, not that he wanted such a thing to happen no – he valued your 'input' and believed in your “commitment to the corporation”, he would not want you getting in trouble but if you didn't improve well... he would have to tell management.

He was looking at Grub now with his usual expression of contempt and joy at finding somebody he could dispense his punishment upon, an expression which in Grubs opinion always reminded him of a cats butthole; puckered up like he was trying to kiss something whilst at the same time sucking on a lemon.

“Well now.... hmmm” he muttered to himself folding his arms and letting his face relax into it's customary half grin half smirk.

“What ave we ere, Grub isn't it? If it's yer breaktime you know you shouldn't be doin this ere right? If it ain't you shouldn't be doin this at all should you ey?

Grub let out the long breath he'd been holding in since he'd opened his eyes and seen Dezzick in front of him, coughing on the big stale cloud of spark smoke he'd been holding in “N...n...no” he stuttered between coughs.

“Wazzat? Speak up boy!” shouted Dezzick leaning forward into Grub's face.

“N...no.”

“No what boy?” said Dezzick putting his hands back on his hips.

“No Dezzick sir” said Grub with a sinking heart, knowing what was coming next.

“No indeed, hmmm.....hmmm well you know I don't like doin these things but ah'm gonna ave to make a memo out to the management bout this ya know boy? Think we should ave ourselves a little sitdown an ave a bit of a progress evaluation don't ya think? Might do ya good an make sure none of this be'aviour continues yes?

By this point Grub was staring at his feet and after a few seconds realised that he was expected to reply.

“Uh yes..... yes Dezzick sir” he stuttered out.

“Hmmm, hmmm yes... yes I think I should also confiscate those for the time bein don't you?” holding out his hand towards Grub's chest where the sparks were stashed in his pocket. Grub's heart fell even further, he would not be getting them back and it would be a long time before he could afford any more, anything that Dezzick took from you was either thrown away or in most case's kept for himself – who could you complain to? Who would listen or even care? Dezzick was the most senior person in charge most people down in the vats ever dealt with. His immediate boss the Supervisor was rarely seen and the upper management were barely more than a myth to anyone else.

He handed over the pack of sparks and Dezzick snatched them out of his hand, sliding them into his own coat pocket and without another word turned around and walked off down the aisle of tanks and through the small doorway that Grub had never been through but no doubt led further into the factory.

“Wanker” Grub looked around startled by the sound of someone speaking, after spinning around and seeing no-one nearby he suddenly realised where it had come from. It was the voice. He hadn't heard it in a long time, in fact the last time he had heard it was when the accident had happened and what it had said had led him to get the job in the vat's in the first place. No one else could hear the voice and for a long time Grub had just thought it was his own thoughts and then for a while had thought he was going mad but in the end had accepted that even if he was going mad the voice hadn't really caused any harm and had in fact helped him on the rare occasions it had made itself heard.


© Copyright 2017 Walter Bishop. All rights reserved.

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