The Factory. Short Story.

Hope everyone has had a good weekend! I haven’t been feeling the best the last few days but getting better!

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Douglas pushed open the door to the factory, he expected a groaning shriek but it opened smoothly and quietly. He stepped into the darkness and groped at the wall in the gloom. After a minute of searching he felt the familiar hard plastic of a light switch, he flipped it and a second later the overheads started flickering to life. As he waited for them to fully light he looked around the large factory, the machinery seemed to be in great condition, and was more modern looking than he expected. Sleek, silver metal gleamed in the overheads, it didn’t even look like anything needed a wipe down. Douglas closed the door behind himself and walked down the length of the factory, looking at the machines as he went. He didn’t know what most of it did, but it looked impressive, tall shining things that promised him the world, if he could just get them working again. The factory had closed down almost a two decades before, when his grandfather had retired and no one else had been willing to step in and take up the reigns. All that was about to change, it seemed that the factory went to Douglas’ deadbeat father, heavy emphasis on the dead now, and that it had been passed along to him when his father had died a few weeks before.

Douglas paused at one of the machines, he climbed the short ladder attached to the large drum and peered into the chute, he felt a rumble of unease as he looked at the gleaming blades, one slip was all it would take. He climbed down again, they’d need to improve safety standards no doubt, someone could fall right in. He studied the control panel, which was deceptively simple. A large red button that seemed to be the on/off switch, a bunch of buttons that seemed to control speed and a row of final buttons simply labelled “output.” Douglas pressed the red button and the machine groaned to life, the rumbling was peppered with a few grinding shrieks and then it smoothed out. The machine chugged along, almost gently, in a way that reminded Douglas of a train, the steady, even beat that was oddly soothing. The sound started to speed up slightly, as though the machine was impatient to get started. Smiling to himself Douglas pressed the button again and the machine slowed to a halt. Yes, this place was going to be great.

Douglas flicked on the overheads and started walking, the machines looked almost alive in the flashing lights, the quick shines and gleams made them look as though they were lurching through the darkness. Douglas smiled to himself as he walked, it had been ten years since he opened the place and it was more successful than he could have imagined, he didn’t understand why his grandfather had closed the place down. Douglas suspected it might have been the maintenance ritual, or perhaps he thought his sons would run the place into the ground. Douglas went into his office and walked behind the desk, the office was smaller than he would have liked, but that was going to change soon once they expanded. A whole new factory, hundreds of machines, maybe even thousands. He unlocked then pulled open his top drawer, inside was a sheaf of long, thin fronds. They were pale yellow and though slightly pretty they unremarkable. Douglas took out a handful and started weaving them together with deft fingers. It didn’t take long for him to have a small doll in his hands, the first one had taken him hours and had been a lopsided mess this one however was almost perfect. Douglas closed the drawer and locked it, then he went back onto the factory floor. He picked a machine and turned it on. It groaned and clanked to life, faster than usual, or so Douglas thought. He carefully climbed the ladder and dropped the doll inside. It disappeared almost instantly, torn apart by the sharp, merciless blades. Douglas hopped down from the machine and grabbed the mop and bucket as blood started to ooze from every gap.

The machine stopped bleeding a half an hour later and a half an hour after that Douglas had it gleaming again, no one would ever know. As if right on queue the door to the factory opened and a homeless man stumbled in. He was dressed in layers and layers of filthy rags. Douglas stepped to the side and hid in the shadow of the machine. He watched as the homeless man scurried forward, head down and shoulders hunched. Machines would momentarily spring to life as he passed, pushing him forward with a threatening whirr or groan. The homeless man himself started moaning as he approached the machine, the machine spun to life. The homeless man didn’t paused or slow, with the same steady pace he climbed the ladder and with one final short scream, he dove head first into the blades. The machine shuddered underneath Douglas’ hand, then slowly stopped. Douglas stepped back from the machine smiling, it seemed to be glowing brighter in the harsh light of the overhead, he brought the mop and bucket to the back room and gave them a thorough cleaning with bleach. As he left the building he turned off the lights but didn’t bother locking the door. Any criminal stupid enough to enter the factory would get a nasty surprise. Douglas strolled into the darkness, humming to himself, it was a good nights work.

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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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