The Daily Grind. Short Story.

“How many did we get today?”
“Only eight?”
Frank shrugged, “They’re getting nervous out there, noticing people are going missing. They’re not as trusting as they were. Besides, there’s only so many homeless people in one area.”
“Not the point. Bus them in from elsewhere if you have to. We need these bodies and we need them fast.”
“We’re doing the best we can.”
“Well, that isn’t good enough. If you don’t get production up before Thursday we’re going to have to find someone else.”
“What? I’ve done an amazing job here considering what I’ve been given. The numbers have always fluctuated slightly but we’ve never fallen under our production needs.”
“And we never will. Get those numbers up or else.”
Samantha turned and left the room, Frank glared at her back as she left.
“Goddamned bitch. The fuck is her problem? Why should she care, once we have the bodies, she’s just a power hungry cunt.”
Frank shot a glare at Scott, “Don’t say those kind of things. Not here.”
“Why? It’s not like they can hear…” Scott stopped speaking, his face going a little pale, Frank nodded.
“Doesn’t matter what you think of her, it only matters what she thinks of us. If we disappoint her we’re out and once we’re out there’s no coming back from that. They won’t kill us, nothing so simple and easy. No they’ll destroy our lives. Jacob, the guy you replaced? They found child porn on his computer within hours after he was fired. His entire family disowned him and he’s currently rotting in a jail cell. Last I heard he was getting daily beatings from the guards. They found some sick, sick shit on his computer.”
“And you think?”
Frank shrugged, “he’s not the only one I’ve heard about, I don’t want to risk it personally, do you?”

Scott took a sip of his coffee, “Ok, then what are we going to do to get the numbers up again?”
“Well, the food isn’t a great incentive anymore, nor are the free blankets and shit, we could try and lure them with drugs, but I don’t know how effective that would be and we’d probably get only the truly desperate. People out there are getting paranoid, they don’t trust people.”
“Maybe she’s right, maybe we should get them bussed in from elsewhere.”
Frank shook his head, “No, that isn’t really in our budget, besides who the fuck would get on a random bus?”
“Well, we could just start grabbing them.”
“Yeah, looks like we might have to. I’ve a few contacts at one of the local churches, we might be able to use them as a front. Snatching people works but there’s an added layer of danger, especially if someone spots it.”
Frank looked down at his hands for a few seconds. “Right, we’ll keep getting people in the usual ways, then we’ll have Terry do the snatch and grab thing to bulk up the numbers if they dip.”
“OK, but that’ll only work for the short term. What will happen when we start running out, there’s only so many homeless people hanging around.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll be done long before then. The project only has another month left.”
“That’s still almost three hundred people if we get the numbers she wants.”
“If we have to we can always make up the numbers in other ways. They’ve done it before. It’s not as easy as the homeless, but it isn’t that difficult.”
There was a knock on the door, a tall woman walked in, her red hair tied up in a bun, “Hey Fran, how’s things?”
“Ah can’t complain. Needed a bit of a break from intake. There’s only so many of those people you can see before it becomes too much. I mean at some point you’ve to question if some of them are even people, the way they behave. Few if any of them bathe and their social skills are awful. It’s so difficult to get anything out of them. Plus that stench of theirs always lingers, I can never seem to get it out of my hair.”
Frank nodded, “Yeah, I hated intake when I was there. After this project is over you’ll be moved up to somewhere else.”
“I know but I don’t know if I can stand if for another month. I mean we had one guy in today, I don’t know how he was even still alive, massive infection in his arm, he took off his jacket and I almost threw up. It was rank.”
Frank smiled at her, “Bit of Vicks under the nose, blocks the smell.”
“Oh believe me, I use it every goddamned day. It’s the only way to get through it. How are you guys doing? Heard the Bitch was in with you.”
“Yeah, she was pissed, not enough numbers. I tried telling her we’re doing the best we can but she was having none of it.”
“Yeah, I’m surprised that you’re getting as many as you are. One woman asked us yesterday if we were working for the aliens taking people. They know something is up. Though they always figure it out sooner or later.”
“Yeah, I think next time around I’m going to ask to be somewhere other than acquisition. Too much stress ya know? Like processing is a little easier, you just do what you’re supposed to do with what you’re given. None of this hitting the numbers crap.”
“I hear processing is intense, I mean know what they do to them, I certainly don’t want to have to do it.”
Frank shrugged, “I’ve seen it done a few times. It’s nothing too shocking. Besides they’re unconscious for it all so there’s no screams or anything like that.”
Scott shook his head, “She’s right man, I don’t think I could do it, have you seen some of the workers? Their eyes look dead like, all the time. It’s some creepy-ass shit.”
“It’s not that bad, my brother did it for a while, said you get used to it quick enough.”
“I wouldn’t go for it. It’s not for me, all that blood and gore. I can barely handle horror movies.”
Scott laughed, “Then why the hell do you work in horror movie central?”
Fran shrugged, “You don’t see it here. Everything is clean and the worst I have to deal with is the smells and the mentally ill. I don’t actually have to see any of the blood and guts or hear screams, that’s what gets me. Well, the screaming is more annoying that scary, but I feel a bit faint at the sight of blood.”
“You’re in the wrong line of work then sister.”
“Well, it’s worked out pretty well for me for the last ten years. Another five and I get to retire, it’s well worth it. How many thirty five year olds do you know of that never need to work again?”
“Good point.”
“Right, well, I better get back to it. I’ll see you guys at lunch?”
“Yeah, see you then.”
Scott watched Fran leave. “I don’t care what she says, she has to be into some freaky shit to work here.”
Frank rolled his eyes, “You say everyone is into freaky shit.”
“Well, that’s because usually they are.”
“So what kind of freaky shit are you into then? After all you work here too.”
Scott shrugged and grinned, “I’m one of the normal ones I guess. C’mon, lets get started on bumping those numbers up, I definitely don’t want to be dealing with management again any time soon.”
“Yeah, wouldn’t want that at all.”

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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