Saturday, 13 May 2023

Flash Fic Challenge: Grind Their Bones

 Grind Their Bones

It all started when my Walkman broke. It helps me get through the day. It was mid-morning, and I was at work when it happened, though, so there wasn't anything I could do.

At first, I didn't notice anything was wrong. The tapes I've got for it are old and a bit crackly anyway, so the increased static just sounded like wear and tear. The music faded out, but there was still sound there, still singing voices.

There were words there, too. Not quite distinct enough to make out, rising and falling in numbing repetition. As numbing, to be fair, as the data entry I was working on. I tried to focus on the data, of course. Make sure it got in the right column. The Walkman was just background noise.

Then one of the voices said my name. I definitely didn't have any tapes with my name in them, so that got my attention.

I couldn't make out most of the words. Something about soon, and a grind, and food.

I checked my latest entry, corrected it, and moved on to the next one, with a subtle glance at my watch. Nearly lunch-break. And yes, I quite agreed, the work was a grind, but I'd get to eat soon enough. At least I wasn't on an assembly line and could sit down.

Still hope, muttered the dying Walkman. Grind her down further.

I flicked a look along the row of workers, trying to see who was talking, and nudged the headphones off one ear. No, the words were definitely coming from the Walkman, not from reality. I slid the headphones back on and let my mind drift a little. It brought more of the speech (if that's what it was) into focus.

Not ready to eat yet, they murmured. Not enough despair.

I grimaced silently. True. I never had been one to despair, though this sort of job was enough to drive anyone to it. Deadly monotonous, never enough pay, always hungry, always tired, never done with the never-ending data.

The screen flickered, and just for a moment, it reflected something else, somewhere else. Some kind of factory, some ghostly thing full of writing tentacles tending it, boxing up snacks that looked like me, like my work-colleagues.

An assembly line formed from dullness and despair, grinding slowly away until we were all in the desired form.

I leaned forward and wiped the screen, then reached for the next piece of work. Incomprehensible beings focused on grinding us all down, and extracting everything they could? That was just capitalism personified. 

Old news, really.

In other news, it was Thursday.

1 comment:

Jeff Baker said...

Oh that's good! Brrrrrr!