On the off day, we all marched from our stations to Todd’s Bar where the company gave out food and provided measured sound and intoxicating beverages. We were massaged with debauchery, canned and bottled, served up in small gulps, and we looked long at the windows and talked hard to each other. We swelled with pride at our fifty or so carefully mastered routines, and boasted of our perceived statuses. We all strained once or more every few beats to glance with haste over at Todd’s table, where he sat surrounded by the females and built their enthusiasm with promises we couldn’t fully hear, prepping them for the unleashing.
We’d grow bestial and furious, ravaged with Todd’s foul drink, and stand eventually like a pack of hungry fish who planned to soak up at Todd’s shore. Until he’d let them among us, the females.
By then always we were primed with his offerings, and of insubordinate mind that, looking back, was clearly a function of Todd’s manipulations. We would compete among each other, and build teams and rivalries between little handfuls of us, rallied behind some hopeful bargain for a chosen group of the females. Often groups were led outside by the Handlers, where they would resolve their conflicts by flailing or ranting, and one would slink away shallow while another lapsed into the arms of a female to be lavished until morning and awake again in his cold steel shaft lonely and hungry for the work to be done behind the throbbing machines.
This evening Todd had released the females without ceremony and looked straight at me before standing. This happened quickly, and Todd merely vanished as he always had and I thought no more of it for many weeks. The night finished as the Off Night usually did, and soon I was days along, then weeks… and clearly it is now Now. As it should be.
No matter, this all took a while and I’m only just beginning.
The factory is a mile long wall with people inside it working machines. There are doors, but not many of them. They haven’t been used. The sky is equal on either side of the wall, but we breathe only what comes through the Todd Vents borne on the winds of motorized fans. Our collapse is only an empty battery, so we are never lost. It’s been all of us for long. Sometimes rearranged, sometimes left with no battery at all on a shelf for a term, and sometimes we flicker and pulsate and even laugh and drink and yell. All of this is borne of the great Todd Batteries we toil to manufacture for ourselves and for the world.
And one day I walked out of the job and I looked back at what I’d done and evaluated it and it made me shiver and tremble and quake and all of what I’d worked for seemed so trivial for a second. I thought about how the tree in our yard lost its leaves over and over, and I buckled down to talk about something related to my goals and our goals and what we pursued, but all I ended with was Todd and nothing else was anything but Todd, and in stormy regions people sheltered with Todd and in soft nights lovers dwelt with Todd and in the rain of Spring, almighty and towering, there was only the song of Todd and what he might wreak with his young and shaven face.
But I pierced him with my eyes, and the fog everywhere lifted and trees shook. All of us rejoiced but then we sighed and sat back to our work. Always back to our work. Because we could not bear to be frigid and humble wild people with wilderness in our bones. We must instead strive to be humble wicked things with carefully penciled goals and a pattern to our striving.
We could lay back in the sun on our humble vacations, but never could we shed the fog that withered our every word and made our bones shiver in the blurry rays of morning sun…