Small Things

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Small Things

Postby Atavism » Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:28 am

Shhhhhhhhhhhk

The bit cut into the bar as the lathe went into action. It was quite beautiful, in its own way. The even stroke of the cutting tip flowed down the rapidly spinning steel. The rough blank transformed into a perfectly smooth cylinder. The shuttle slowly returned to the operator, picking off any flash that may have been missed. Each motion was made with perfect regularity.

A mechanical arm took the cylinder out and replaced it with a new blank.

Shhhhhhhhhhhk

The beauty was lost on the operator. It was a commonplace thing in the factory- its wonder lost through overlong familiarity. The operator could only see the bit and the steel and the shuttle and the lathe, never the ballet of those pieces moving together.

Shhhhhhhhhhhk

A spiral of castoff steel glimmered in the shop light as it arced from the blank rod to the floor as though the hard steel had been transformed to silver liquid. The operator barely registered it. Instead he saw the glimmer in the eye of the overseer assigned to his floor. Anything is ugly when there's a man with a stick making you do it, and besides, it was a commonplace thing in the factory.

Shhhhhhhhhhhk

They joked that the overseer was a man who loved the company more than his own mother. They joked that a man like the overseer couldn't have had a mother. Then the company changed ownership and nobody joked about anything anymore.

Shhhhhhhhhhhk

A loader frame stomped by with a crate of cylinders that would be shipped off to a nearly identical factory nearby. That other factory made engines to power frames which were just as likely to come back and guard the worker's barracks as they were to be shipped off to fight the Free Colonists.

Shhhhrrrhhhhk

The bit failed and cut an uneven gash in the cylinder. The imperfection was almost unnoticeable- just a ripple standing out against the true line of the steel. In fact, if the operator hadn't heard the subtle change in the sound it might have slipped past even him. So seemingly tiny a flaw, but put under hard enough strain, or put under strain for long enough, and the whole piece would fail, possibly catastrophically. The operator toggled the kill-switch on his machine and flagged the loader to reject the piece.

The overseer was walking his way- it seemed impossible for that man to miss anything. He twirled his slick black truncheon by its lanyard. The last time a machine failed the overseer had his pay cut for the cost of the piece. The operator grimly hoped for a quick, terrifying pain of a beating rather than the long, desperate pain of starvation.

Before the overseer reached his station some new men entered the workshop floor and factory came to a halt. They wore clothes too clean to be working in the factory and had the broad, flushed cheeks of the well fed. Corporate. They greeted the overseer with big, full smiles and hearty laughs and firm handshakes. The overseer was getting a promotion, another man would take his place on the line.

After a while the corporate men said their goodbyes and left, cursing the soot on their shiny shoes and ribbing the old overseer like they were all long lost friends. The new overseer made his introduction. The operator recognized the man- his wife had just gotten a cancer, probably from something in the nearly identical factory where she had worked. The operator took in the stoop in the man's shoulders and the way the bags under his eyes deepened in the hard lights of the shop. The new overseer wouldn't last- his mind wouldn't be on the line.

The factory slowly went back to work. They'd all have to stay late and make up the production time they lost to the transition, but the operator didn't mind.

Shhhhrrrhhhhk

Shhhhrrrhhhhk

Shhhhrrrhhhhk

It was a commonplace thing in the factory.
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Re: Small Things

Postby gusindor » Sun Nov 15, 2015 5:53 pm

I really like this, very well written and with an interesting perspective. Nicely done!
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Re: Small Things

Postby Atavism » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:37 pm

gusindor wrote:I really like this, very well written and with an interesting perspective. Nicely done!


Thank you! The basic idea had been in my head for a while, finally had the time to sit down and do it.
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