Untitled Work

Just started writing this this morning. I have no idea where the hell the story’s going or anything like that. It stemmed from an idea I had just before bed, and when I woke up, the first page was already there, ready to go, and locked in my brain. Thought you’d like to see the rough draft:

The pain is excruciating. His fingers are — caught caught ohgod caught — caught in the gears of his workstation. The mechanism has yanked his arm hard and in standing up and away from the agony he has been spun around. The tendons in his shoulder strain to near their breaking point and blood streams down his face and the back of his neck where he has bashed his scalp open on the overhead machinery, but he notices neither as his right hand is ground between unyielding teeth of steel. John Maybrook feels like his brain is a million miles away from the screaming that is coming from his mouth.

On either side of him, the other boys have moved away, still focused on their work. The boss doesn’t like slowdowns, and John can already hear the clump of workboots approaching quickly. Relief courses through him, his knees buckle only long enough to increase the tension on his right arm, and then the pain makes him stand up straight and take another wobbly step backwards toward the machinery. Before he can summon the wits to turn around and sit back in his chair, the boss, Mr. Jenkins, is casting John into shadow. The heavyset man reeks of whiskey and cigarette smoke. He casts at eye at John, frowns a moment, then turns. “Goddammit!” His voice is that of God, so far as John Maybrook is concerned. “Stop the fookin’ line!”

A brief moment later, everything goes quiet as machines stop spinning. Somewhere someone laughs, a malicious sound. The pain is giving way to the tide of adrenaline and John is becoming more angry at his situation. “Can you get me the fuck out of this?” he asks.

Jenkins turns back on him, angry, his calloused hand half-raised to slap the audacity out of the kid. It’s habit after years of working in the factory. He sees something in John Maybrook, though — whether it’s the bloody wreckage of the kid’s right hand, the fear and anger in his face, or whether a decade of beating the shit out of little kids has finally gotten to him, Jenkins doesn’t know. His face goes soft and he lowers his hand, ashamed. “Don’t worry, kid,” he says. We’ll get you out of there.”

This is easier said than done. While a mechanic is called in, someone tapes and bandages his scalp. They work to turn him around and get him sitting down, tell him not to look at his hand. He can’t help it, of course, and when he sees the blood-and-bone wreckage of three of his fingers, his vision goes gray and his stomach flops around like a gunshot raccoon for a moment before he vomits on the floor and sits down hard in his chair. A scared little laugh escapes from his lips and he mumbles something about not ever working again.

Mr. Jenkins hands him a flask. “Have a sip, kid. It’ll take the edge off.”

John Maybrook, who is twelve, decides now is as good a time as any, and takes a swig from the container. The hot spike of corn whiskey burns all the way down, and he sputters, swearing when the motion tugs on his ruined fingers.

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