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Redundancy Factory

Gray Robins began to hate Pearl Sharpe. Every day in the Redundancy Factory, Gray would take a lead pipe and bend it at a perfect right angle. Pearl would take her machinery and bend it straight. Gray understood that bending was his job and straightening was Pearl’s job. Neither of them asked “why.” They simply did their jobs and collected their paychecks.

But after seven years of his bending and seven years of Pearl just straightening his pipes back, Gray began to have this feeling that Pearl was just doing this to spite him. Now the rational side of Gray knew that this was not true and Pearl was just doing her job like him. The rational side said that if he were in Pearl’s place and Pearl was in his, he would be straightening with just as much zeal as she was. But there was this other side of Gray that decided that these pipes were meant to be bent. Gray bent them and he’d be damned if some red-lipped little hussy was going to straighten out his pipes! But that was the irrational side, you see.

One day, Gray walked up to Pearl and told her straight out: “I want you to stop straightening my pipes.”

“What are you goin’ on about, Gray?” asked Pearl. “I been straightenin’ them pipes for seven years, just as long as you been bendin’ ’em.”

“Well, I want you to stop straightening ’em, Pearl. I’ve been bending all these pipes and all you been doing is just straightening ’em again!”

“Gray, you done lost your mind!” The other workers in the lunchroom were gathering to watch the fight. “If I weren’t at work, I’d belt you one good right in the Johnson!”

“Yeah, well, at least there’s one thing you can’t keep straight, Pearl!”

She belted him in the Johnson.

Oooh! My Johnson!” Gray teared.

“Gray! Listen to me!” He winced, thinking she was going to hit him again. “You and I been working at the Redundancy Factory for too long, doin’ the same thing over and over again. What you say we ask HR if we can get cross-trained to do the other’s job. We been watchin’ each other long enough.”

Gray nodded. He wasn’t about to argue.

“I like you, Gray. You know how to take a hit to the Johnson, not like my last husband. What a louse! Ha!”

Gray nodded. They discussed the problem with HR, their shift leader, and the union president who had to bring it up to HQ who had to bring it up during the next staff meeting. After seven months, Pearl was bending and Gray was straightening. They couldn’t have been happier.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XII

Out of Order

“Please insert more.” The words shone like a pair of red eyes watching half-lidded from the black horizon. Many did not care much about the vending machine, maybe cracking a few jokes about it, but some looked at it with grinding curiosity. They discussed it among themselves in the breakroom, that perhaps it was a message or a warning. People began putting money in the slot. Nothing came out in return. Snacks watched from behind the glass but they never seemed to show any life or movement. Some began to believe that the snacks were not real. Others, the ones who gave the machine money, were insistent on a great reward at the end. A few people tried to insert pieces of paper, gum wrappers, and even larger objects such as paperclips and nail polish remover. The vending machine took them all and gave back nothing in return. Some of the people who never cared were converted by the others’ curiosity. They fidgeted and fussed. Whispers of shattering the vending machine began to spread about the breakroom, but the vending machine had its own army of protectors. They would not have it. While the two groups threw fists and chairs at one another, the vending machine watched from a dark corner, showing no favor to either side. After a few bloody noses, the people settled on a disgruntled truce. A few extremists plotted on both sides, but the moderates agreed to let some have their vending machine while others simply packed their own lunches.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session X

Frank the Factory Worker and the Broken Bagger

Frank the factory worker always started his day by swishing his card through the time clock machine. Like magic, the factory doors swung open and Frank, whistling, walked inside.

“Good Morning, Frank!” said Bonnie, the receptionist.

“Good morning, Bonnie! Beautiful morning, isn’t it?” And it was. Frank took a moment to enjoy the view out of the break room window as he stored his lunch in the refrigerator. Time for work!

Frank worded on the bagging machine in the factory. It put all of the food into bags and its name was Baggy. Frank and Baggy always spent the day having meaningful philosophical converstions about human and machine rights. Baggy wasn’t part of the union because it was a machine and Frank didn’t think that was right. Still, Baggy enjoyed its job and worked as hard as it could every day.

But when Frank started Baggy today, the bagging machine let out an awful sneeze and blew all of the bags into the reject bin. Frank shut down the conveyor belts before there was a whole mess all over the floor.

“What’s wrong, Baggy?” Frank asked. “Are you sick?”

“I don’t know. I’m not feeling too well. I think one of my parts might be broken.”

Frank was very upset to hear this. “A broken part? Did those monsters on third shift do this to you? Who was it? Was it Harry?”

“No, it wasn’t Harry!” cried Baggy. “You’ve always had it in for him, Frank, but he’s really not a bad guy! My parts just wear out sometimes. It’s natural for machines.”

Frank began to sob. “But what will I do, Baggy? You’re all I’ve got.”

“Don’t cry, Frank. Just call Manuel the Mechanic. He’ll know what to do.”

“Baggy, you’re a genius!” So Frank paged Manuel the mechanic who came with his big rolling tray of tools to check on Baggy’s condition.

“Baggy just needs to have a part replaced,” said Manuel. “He’ll be fine.”

Frank never left Baggy the entire time, except when Rhonda the relief operator came so he could go on break. When he came back, Baggy was good as new!

“Baggy’s all better now,” said Manuel the mechanic as he put his tools back. “If your bagging machine ever gets sick again, let me know.”

“I will!” said Frank. “Thank you, Manuel!”

Frank left for the day with this lesson etched in his heart. Whistling, he grabbed his lunchbox from the refrigerator.

“Have a good day, Frank!” said Bonnie the receptionist.

“You too, Bonnie!”

Frank laughed as he swiped his card to check out and, just like magic, the doors opened for him. It was a beautiful day, indeed, now that his friend was feeling better again.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session X