Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Time Factory

So I worked in the fucking time factory, before the dream bomb blew it apart. Well what the fuck do we have now, clocks unstuck, time out of joint, people not knowing where or when to do. I’d get up in the morning, my clock tick tock ringing me awake, then check my watch double check on the way in. Get in my car and drive at 7:37 exact. Traffic always good along the way, drive right past the scavengers. Out of time out of place. Get my coffee along the way and I was punctual. Punch the time clock in the door 5 minutes to 8:00.

I worked under Jack Smith, a veteran of the 5 day, 35 minute war. He was in the shit. When they stormed the clocktower, he was in the trenches, firing off minute missiles, the sleep gas hit, he started coughing, “what, when, where,” but got the mask on just in time. He kept on firing, punctual. You know the story then; we broke down the doors. We fought our way, up the steps, step by step, and hit the clockworks. The clooks, shit, slimey bastards, put up a fight, but we made it through. We reset their clock. You’ve heard the story. The last thing Johny On did, just bleeding, in his last minute, he moved that dial back the 35 minutes. He moved it back with his own hands. It was later on the generals, they changed the calendar back the 5 days. But Johnny moved that dial back. To on time, our time, the right time. 5 days, 35 minutes. Well worth fighting for.

So I’d punch in and work my shift. The ore came in, bulldozed off the scumlands around, hills, valley, trees, earth, mountains, we took it all in, by the cart load, by the truck load, by the train load, and into the smelter it went right nice. I’d catch it out of the corner of my eye once in a while, not that I stopped working, my hands kept moving, I did not stop, I tell you, but I’d see the sparks fly and the red glowing furnaces and the smoke rising and the big cranes moving down the line carrying the glowing bars of time. But its not like time would stop. I kept on moving. I kept on working.

I learned a lot about time from Jack there. I started out cleaning out the scrap, shoveling out the spirals of cut time from beneath the lathes. Not a second to be wasted. I shoveled the scrap, loaded into the bins, and moved the carts down the line, to be melted back into the raw stock. Later on a got my chance. I moved on to machine operation. I learned the ways of time, the proper pressure to apply, I sharpened the knives, and bolted down the solid hours, applied my tool with the correct pressure, and the hours spun and the knife stuck in deep, and the sharp edge of the cut time glowed metallic like.

So those were good years, I tell you. They were good years for all of us. I’d check in and work my shift and check out and day after day we were making time. The right time, our time. For everyone but the scavengers.

But you know about the scavengers. You get out of the factory and they’d be there, begging, pitiful like. “Can you spare a minute” “My children and I we just need a few hours, we have little time left” The thing was, most of them were probably time junkies. They would take any little bit of time they could get, grind it up, heat it, and inhale. The time would be vaporized in the heat, and for a few seconds, they would think they had forever.

The time cops would come around, once a week to clear them out, check there time, and if they didn’t have anything left, it was termination time. Just a waste of time, the time squads thought, but they should have gone around more often. Cause you know those scavengers, they are the ones who opened up the door, and let the dream bomb in.

That’s what they called it, a dream bomb, but what’s a dream if you don’t know when your going to have it, it’s like going to a party when you don’t know when exactly it’s going to start, and when it’s going to end. It could go on, until the sun comes up. It’s like your birthday, when you don’t know what day it is. You might act like it was your birthday everyday. How can anything happen if you don’t know exactly when and where?

We needed a terminator like they have out west to come in and tell them “you are all on a schedule, you are all on our schedule, or you are out of here.” But our clock cops were too soft to terminate.

The terrorists talked about their dream time. They said that there was no definite time. Any ones time was fine. You could spend all day, waste all day more like it, watching, doing nothing. Time was relative. Time shit. Well Jack and Johnny and all the boys fought and some died for our time, and our time is the right time, no mistake about it.

Not that there weren’t mistakes at the factory. Some people just did not get it. Not up to speed for the machinery. Not keeping on time with a safe eye. Like Martin Grbwoski. That polack in the back storerooms, they kept him there. They say he was working the cutting torch for two years, they thought he knew the job, they let him work the shift himself. Well, it turned out, he wanted to make the perfect cut, and we were on piecework you know, the factory had a big order, and no one watching him. He stopped wearing his safety glasses. He got up real close to that cutting edge, and the small particles, the hot grit of bits of time, sprayed back into his eyes, second by second, day after day. No one noticed. And now when you need a part, and go into the back room, that’s where they keep him now, you try not to look into his eyes. The doctor came in, said his eyes had been exposed to 182 years. That’s why you would try not to look into the deep black pits that his eyes had become. He keeps on watching you, something unnatural like, never turning away, with those old too old for any man eyes. You know, that’s kind of funny when you think about it. The scavengers, even the young ones, when they were lining up and begging for time, even though they did not have and never had any time, some of them, most of them, had those old old eyes. Not worth your time of day.

So I’d get off of work, head back to my time share, and watch the reports. The government, the president, they were looking out for us. You see every day. The southern block, their schedule was 1000 years off of ours. We were up to 2040 and they were in year 2047. They set there clock by the moon, for clocks sake! They did not use our good old industrial time. You could not trust them. And in our clock national, home of the on time, there were the terrorists. They had some leader, the number one most wanted. He said that it did not matter what time you were on. He said time was relative. He said “Imagine you were running so fast, you were running next to a beam of light.” Crazy talk.

He was just an out of whack old man, not even with the time to comb his hair, but those scavengers, they listened to him. And they came up with the dream bomb. They started off small, blowing off their dream bombs where we were bulldozing down the earth and trees to get the ore we needed to make time. The dreamers would go off, and the workers would just stop in there tracks, and think. They’d stop and look at the trees, and feel the breeze, and watch the clouds in the sky. Like they had too much time on there hands. They’d start thinking that it was not right to be taking down those trees, or wondering about the river, and would not want to go back to work. They were thinking crazy thoughts. “Get back to work,” the supervisors should have shouted. But the soops had been zapped by the dream bombs too.

So after work I would sit back in my time share and sip my 12 year scotch, bonded, bottled, dated, stamped, government approved, and fall to sleep. I would never dream. That’s what I tell you, not to even waste your sleep on dreams. Sleep is for rest, to get back to work. Once in a while I might wake up at night, sweats down my back. I was thinking of the terrorists. They were coming for our time. We should have stopped them then and there. Just lock down all the scavengers, put them all out of time. I might wake up for a bit, but I would lull myself back to sleep, listening to the time stamp down in the valley. 24/7 stamping the big forged chunks of time into shape. Stamp, stamp, stamp. A steady stamp. Like clockwork.


james honzik

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