Jack had determined that something strange was occurring inside of him, something was moving, waking up from a deep slumber. But this awakening was not fully formed yet, only pieces were seen, but Jack have yet to realize and visualize it in its totality. This was not something physical, but spiritual or soulful. Jack didn’t know what the difference was. But this nagging sensation that had started this morning just seemed to keep getting stronger. It was like his whole future was incubated in the occurrences of today, pregnant with promise of better things tomorrow.
He didn’t know why, how or what it was exactly, but he knew for sure that the catalyst for this ‘awaking’ in his spirit was the episode with his Aunt, Whelp and Mcreedy. People that seemed for all intent and purposes, less than himself.
In his spirit Jack had a strange sense of hopeful anticipation about his own future, like something was waiting on his life road, waiting at an intersection for a choice, a choice that would change him in an instant. But which decision would change him for the better or for the worse.
Jack could not help but ponder whether these occurrences were divinely inspired or predestined maybe? Ordained for some higher purpose? Was some higher force trying to make Jack aware of the things awaiting him? Jack didn’t know, but he did know that this would be a day like no other, and that no matter what, he would never return to how was yesterday.
It would have to be seen if his part of the yard would produce anything worth mentioning to Mcreedy.
Jack moved through the checking line, where a rather large ogre would search them for any concealed items, containers, miniaturizing machines, anything that would allow a worker to smuggle spheres out of the yard. This rarely occurred because the ogre guy, who was called Ogre, did one heck of a good job body searching the individuals.
Ogre made Jack very uncomfortable, the body search was always very invasive, and took a surprisingly long time to complete.
Jack stepped in front of the massive brute and looked up. Seeing that wide grin plastered on Ogre’s face, he had a distinct premonition that today’s body search would take extra long.
‘Why you so happy Ogre?’
Ogre clasped his hands together in an exaggerated fashion
‘Ah employee 8874, great to see you! Today is indeed a good day!’
Jack was listening only in part, his attention had been drawn to a small hairy object that seemed to be stuck in-between Ogre’s dark yellow front teeth.
‘You’ve got something stuck in…..’ Jack pointed to his own front teeth.
Jack couldn’t be sure, but he swore he saw that little hairy thing move a second ago!
‘Oooh, how embarrassing!’ Ogre turned his head slightly sideways and groped for the little furry thing to become unstuck. As is usually the problem with 9 foot Ogre’s, their ability to work gently with those oversized monster hands were not a likely possibility, they were rarely known for their meticulousness.
A slew of sloshing noises erupted from this green brute’s mouth, waves of salive fighting oversized fingers all in an effort to have this little furball gain its freedom. After another few seconds Ogre turned sheepishly back to face Jack.
Jack could swear that little thing had moved again.
‘Would you help, I wouldn’t ask but it’s a big day today – gotta look my best. Can’t have a little mouse stuck in me teeth, now can I?’
‘You ate a mouse?!’ Jack asked incredulous
‘I was hungry okay, anyways now I know why I’m still hungry – damn thing got stuck in my teeth and I never got to swallow it’ Ogre’s big yellow eyes seemed to be tearing up somewhat.
‘Alright, alright. Get down here – let me see’ Jack said regretfully, he did not want to go digging around in those yellow stained , green coloured mouth of his.
Ogre leaned forward and opened his mouth wide
‘Aaaaaaahhhhhhh’ he throated, with too much enthusiasm
A wave of rampant, sewer soaked breath literally sucker punched poor Jack in the face. Grabbing his nose in an attempt to counteract the halitosis waves, he reached in-between those front teeth and pulled the wet furball out into freedom. As he was still holding the little furry thing in his hand, it suddenly jumped to life . The little mouse looked around, identifying possible exit routes and jumped from Jack’s hand into freedom. It skidded off to be eaten by an Ogre another day.
‘Thank you, 8874. You are so nice, I could eat you up right now! ……… I’m not allowed to though, clause two of the “Big monsters must not eat puny Human Beings” treaty of 938 c.b.’
Ogre looked quite saddened by this realization, he had a slight forlorn look in his eyes
‘Good times before that you know, anyway thanks for the help. Back to business – spread them’
Jack took the mandatory body search position, legs spaced wide apart, arms held out to the sides.
‘So what’s so good about today?’
‘You said today was a good day, a big day?’
‘Well.’ Ogre said and leaned in slightly, another halitosis wave threatening to crash in on Jack
‘I’m not supposed to say, but got word from way on top that I have to body search certain workers with the full ouchthathurts protocol’ Ogre gave a wicked smile
‘You don’t mean….a full naked body search, do you?’
‘Yip, haven’t had one of those in 7 years. Honestly, I made one little mistake and they banned the protocol from being used for half a dozen years’
‘You tore a guy in half, Ogre!’
‘In my defense he was built like a frail little S.O.F.T. activists. Damn pink wearing airy fairies.’
Ogre stood up again, all this chatting had made the body search go by extremely fast.
‘Anyway’ he continued ‘you seem to be clean. There’s a lot of stricter security going on here today, so just be careful’
‘That’s what everyone’s been telling me’ Jack said dryly as he walked into the collection yard.
* * * * * *
As Jack walked out into the hot burning sun and surveyed the collection yard, he always took a moment to stand in admiration of the vastness that lay before him. The yard was sized about 9 square kilometers of pure sandy dunes. It was not the natural beauty he admired but what it represented. To own this sizable amount of land in the prime metropolis that was Rezabel surely indicated that money was no object for the Westco family. Jack made a mental note to insist on a salary increase at the next Union leader meeting.
Surrounding this impressive space was a rock solid concrete wall with electric fencing running along the top part. Also, the walls had a small walkway jutting out, where the Fingers did their patrol.
The construction yard itself was divided into seven zones, each zone denoted by its own unique color and cordoned off with the cutest party hat cones. The financial budget did not provide for industry approved plastic cones, so they had to settle for the paper counterpart.
Of in the distance Jack noticed one of the workers in the blue zone picking up a party hat, putting it on and doing something similar to a monkey dance . Everyone knew that the bleu zone workers were slightly unstable. That belief originated from a pipe that had accidently been nicked by an overexcited worker last year, spilling what seemed to be radioactive waste into the blue zone. Due to financial constraints, mostly it being used to buy the party cone hats, management decided to postpone the fixing of the pipe until later this year. Even Ogre did not want to body search the blue guys anymore, he had complained about strange protruding growths on their bodies. Eeuw
All workers were divided into a specific coloured zone, and Jack worked in the red zone. He liked the red zone, it was better than the blue one, but the guys in blue got hazard pay.
Unfair Jack thought, its not like he couldn’t do with some extra fillings in his coffers, which were more like a coffin at this stage. His finances was so bad, the bank had sent a sympathy letter. Sphere collectors were not well paid, minimum wage actually with no benefits, and for this reason alone Jack had accepted Mcreedys offer. 6 months of rent was quite a sum, maybe enough for Jack to buy that Tarkin Foot Massager he had been drooling over.
Jack bent down and picked up his Suck-o-Matic 2 ½ ™ , uncomfortably slinging big silver machine over his shoulder. Slowly he started making his way to the red zone.
The process for sphere collection was rather refined, the first step always being to locate these mysteriously hidden spheres themselves. The locating of Orbs was a very difficult problem to overcome, but the solution came in the strangest of forms. A few years back all workers were issued with this nifty machine called the Suck-o-Matic 2 ½ ™. Everyone knew that if a piece of technology had a numbered sequence at the end it was going to be fantastic and make your life so much easier.
The Suck-o-Matic 2 ½™ promotional slogan was, “Any object that abides by the laws of gravity and consisting of solid form can be sucked up. Wesco inc takes no liability in the faulty exploding of the core reactor that may result in loss of limbs, hair loss, head loss or finger loss. Batteries are not included”.
Jack always thought its design needed some refinement though, silver in colour, modeled very much like a handheld vacuum machine, it was a bit too bulky for single person use.
But there were positives as well, the grip handles were high quality rubber that prevented slippage even when wet, also an intensely shiny Westco logo was engraved on the side of the model, with a red eagle next to the letter W. It’s a widely known fact that if you add a shiny red eagle on any object, men will go to great lengths to acquire it.
Strapped to this machine was a big brown pouch which you slung across your shoulder fastened with a little clip. The pouch served as a repository for the collected orbz, until deposit time at the end of the day.
Jack remembered when word got around that Wesco Inc were acquiring these machines, all the workers were simply wet with excitement. Not only did this little machine cut work time in half but it also doubled productivity. A lengthy training seminar was held, most of which Jack had slept through. Wasn’t his fault, the instructor used the word ‘as such’ way too much. The training was pointless any way, all instructions were printed on the belly of the Suck monster 2 ½ and were quite easy to follow, aim and suck. That was it.
a Sound drew Jack’s attention to the blue zone once again. One of the blue workers had purposefully stuck the sucking nozzle of his Suck-o-matic to the head of one of his worker buddies. The receiver of this cruel, radiation induced gag flayed around like a headless chicken, but Jack did get the impression that he was enjoying this more than what he was letting on.
Jack turned his attention back to his machine. Reluctantly he pressed the little red button on the machine and it sprang to life, a steady beat of green lights flashing sequentially on the side.
‘Greetings and salutations productive worker of orb collecting’ the machine squawked from a little voice box inside. ‘I require your worker identity, please? Please voice this information out loud using your big face orifice’
‘Supreme being and master of the Universe’ Jack said, smiling
‘Apologies’ the machine responded ‘6 points will be deducted from your work chart due to crude, ostentatious comments made which may indicate unhappiness, disloyalty and / or distain for Westco Inc and its affiliates. I require your worker identity, please? Please voice this information out loud using your big face orifice’
‘My name is Jack Black’
Some alien clicks and clacks sounded from within the machine, this continued for a few seconds.
‘Apologies, this does not compute! Did you perhaps voice your full name instead of your worker identity number?’ sounded the mechanical voice
‘Yes, I did’
‘Apologies, your name irrelevant, state your worker identity number.’
If nothing else, the Suck-o-matic had a good bedside manner
‘8874’ he said with severe distain.
Another few foreign sounds escaped from within the machine
‘Voice ID confirmed, welcome employee number 8874. The weather is fine today, have a productive orb collecting day’
‘Yeah, you too, you stupid little machine’ Jack said.
‘Apologies, 3 points deducted from you work chart due to offensive, abusive slur insult slinging’
Jack grumbled something inaudible, getting the last word in or more accurate the last grumble in as they say.
As he looked around the red zone, Mcreedy’s words echoed in his mind. Look for something peculiar he said. Nothing out of the ordinary caught Jack’s attention. Everything seemed quite ordinary.
‘Apologies worker identity number 8874, you have been in an unproductive stance for the last 7 seconds, please halt your recreational activities and begin the work schedule’ the voice box said.
Apart from the terribly annoying voice box feature of this machine, there was another, if not more annoying feature called the productivity measure system. This little program which ran in the background monitored the productivity of its allocated worker. At the end of each month, the productivity department would check each work chart based on the data from these machines.
Eight points had already been deducted of his, think on your feet Jack thought to himself
‘I know, I’m surveying the area. Looking for the best place to start’ Jack responded
‘Confusion noted, no points deducted. You should urgently supplement you body with essential Omega three and six fatty acid vitamins. This will increase your cognitive and memory functioning. Commence in Grid B1’ the machine replied