On a plate, hang to the wall, was inscribed the denomination: Area Z, Second Floor. Barbara has arrived. As to the main entrance, there was a guard charged to control; he was a black guy wearing the same electric collar yet looked around the neck of the first sentry. “Are you the new cleaning woman?” asked him with a voice not so harsh as his aspect leave to think. “Yes, my name is Barbara, and I’m here to my job shift”. The man controlled if the face matched with that loaded on the database. “Ok, you are fair, cross through”. Next, with a strange gesture, he added: “Have a good day!”. Barbara remained numb; there was something unexpected in that greeting, so unusual received from a type of person she had never been used to talking to, a man. He noticed the indecision manifested and likely thinking he has done something incorrect or improper, he looked down, almost to apologize, and turned the sight in another direction. An abrupt amusement grew up in Barbara, allegedly caused by the situation oddness, and when she was just considerably far from the man, she replied to his previous sentence: “Thank you very much, I wish you the same!”.
The dim shimmer of the twilight was burning out behind the horizon, melting in a myriad of different coloured shades, red and orange; the cutting sign of the day’s end. It was then that Chanya appeared at the entrance of Factory Number One. The look of the checking Cerberus, dazed for the fatigue, brightening up at the sight of her. “Madame, name please” asked with the usual harsh behaviour. “I’m Chanya, the cleaning woman responsible for the night shift”. He controlled on the phone and after said: “Ok, you can enter, and please, if you see the other employee, who is yet inside, give her the change”. “All right” she replied kindly, with a spontaneity that almost shocked the guard. Hence, she continued for the usual path, hastening to overtake the terrible metallic corridor of voices, so that to arrive in the stinky area earlier possible. From there she continued, pressing the nostrils, till the ladder, which she walked rapidly. At a certain point, she reached the black guy guard on the corridor and remained astonished by the resembling shape with her brother. She approached him slowly, creeping in a way not totally straight, and once there she stared him quizzically, as seeking to recognize the sanguine relationship with the man. But when he asked her: “Name and generalities”, even if he had a kind tone, she understood immediately he was not the person she had thought, with whom she was used to playing when they were young…
“What are you doing Chanya?” broke up a youthful male voice applying to a little black girl, high more or less 90 cm. “Nothing, I was thinking”, answered her to the black child who had posed the question. The scorching sun stood upon the limpid sky, irradiating with its generous rages everything was around, trees, bushes, and the broad green spot. Properly because it was a fantastic day, the administrators of the African Colony of Shabunda have decided to take all the children to run about nature. So they, in an estate of total euphoria, were playing everywhere, racing in packs and visualizing games as only at their age it’s possible to do. “What do you believe shall await us the future, I mean after the Colony lapse?”, was demanded to Chania by the same precedent interlocutor. She didn’t know how to reply, and so improvised: “I don’t know, maybe they’ll transport us in some western country, or maybe we’ll end like our mother, in working for a cleaning company”. The second nodded and eventually added: “Certainly an end like that, it’s a bit sad”, he pronounced that with such a childish tone, that Chanya had to hold back the laugh. However, he didn’t give weight to it and carried on: “I, in my future, I’d like to become a doctor so that I can help the people with problems, like our neighbour, the son of Abena”. The girl seemed upset because of the information, “Asad? Poor guy, what happened to him? It is actually a long time that he doesn’t show up”. The second hastened to specify: “Last week a group of people came to take him, they said for leading him in a safe place, because he was ill”. “What a shame, he was such a fair type, and why he didn’t come back yet?. “That’s a mystery; perhaps the ill was so grave that he couldn’t”. “Strange anyway, he was young, it’s not very usual that young guys became ill?”. “Maybe he took a guy’s ill, something that only hit somebody of his age”. “Yes, you’re right, must be like this”. “Chanya”. “Yes, Silla”, replied her. “If I’ll become a doctor and you fall in ill, I promise to help you; it doesn’t matter what”. “Thanks”, said her with a sunny face, “I hope it doesn’t happen”. Next, he continued: “let’s make a pact, for life, when one of us is in trouble, the other will come immediately to help him, it’s not important what”. “Ok, I promise!”. “Good, now hold out your hand so…”. “Why?” inquired her. “Because that’s how grownups do”. She let herself be convinced and do like he proposed. The hands reached each other, tangling in a strict fist pointing upward. Precisely at the same moment arrived the voice of the supervisor yelling it was time for coming back, because the lapse was over. They stared reciprocally for a bit and next, retook the path, joining with the others.
“My name is Chanya, delegate 86035; I’m here for the night shift”, said her taking away the past’s record screened in mind. The profile matched and the young guard, smiling kindly, did mention to pass. The woman thanked, surprised by a courtesy rare among the few adult slaves she met in Africa. Unfortunately, in the meantime, the smell had backed to her’s mind. The only solution was that not thinking about it, to carry on and to direct the ideas elsewhere. She kept along the corridor until her attention had drawn by a door with impressed upon the written: “strictly forbidden”. She looked around with caution and sure that nobody was nearby she decided to enter.
The heavy weight creaked under the push, leaving her the space to cross through. There was a dizzy stair, which twisted in a spiral going down. She decided to take it, and step by step went down toward the gloom side. A dull noise of feet marked every passage, her white shoes branded DasDaikein proceeded furtively, tasting the balance of every step. At a certain point, it was necessary to light the spot for continuing, and so Chanya pulled out from the pocket her phone and switched on the torch. A halogen halo spread forward, shining the last part of the stairs. Down there stood up another door, this time with no sign above, she hastened to reach it. Once there touched for a moment the handle, holding back instantaneously the palm. She was sure to keep on, or maybe she had just wandered enough for that day. Into the oppressive space resounded the woman’s breath, heavy and painful, overwhelmed by the doubts. “I must go on”, repeated inside the brain, “in order to be able to discover, you have to risk something”. The arm did that the mind has no courage to do and once grabbed the handle, for the second time, she pushed it down.
Unexpectedly, Chanya reclosed it and leaned the back against the cold texture as trying to lock it physically. The heartbeat speeded up, and the breath intensified, admitted that it was possible intensifying something already gone mad. She has just discovered there were other people on the opposite side. A series of questions crowded up in her brain: “they had seen her? If not, it was safe to reopen the door? What was she supposed to do, try or take steps back?”. “Maybe if she had been captured, she could have said was lost because not practical of the area… no, nobody would have accepted such an explanation, she should have been more cunning”. Another time the arm did so the brain had no courage to do: grabbed the handle and opened it a bit, just the necessary to leave a chink to observe. Her tiny eyes appeared cautious in the little space, scrutinizing the outside carefully. They fell on a bunch of men that, for the uniform and the sweated skin, she recognized as slave workers of the factory. Two of them had black skin; the others were whites. Maybe they could count her brother Silla among them. She tried to focalize on what they were talking about and the word’s spelling. One was speaking about a feast, or something similar. Yes, he was saying: “who of you had been selected for the last year’s day party?”, three of them nodded. “I’ve heard it’s something terrible, you are compelled to obey everything they told you, strictly and insanely! We have to rebel against it; it’s not tolerable such a type of behaviour!”. The people beside him took the world: “you are right, and about that, didn’t you listen? This week turned up a new article, hooked on the main entrance. It reported a quote caught from the book of that writer, who is said to be a free man, the unique free man in all over the world”. “foolishness” added another, “Doesn’t exist a free man, for me it’s only a different try of the propaganda for spreading false news, in way to create insurrections, with the purpose arresting some of us”. The person who had spoken before rebutted a bit annoyed: “How does it make sense for you? Why arresting people? We are slaves, do you remember?”. The other remarked: “Yes we are slaves, but we are many and dangerous, I mean we are dangerous if we join the forces and that’s the reason because they, periodically, put bunches of us in jail, to balance”. “That seems me a conspiracy idea”, observed yet the first person to have talked, “anyway, I was saying another thing, in the quote mentioned, there was impressed the following written: “To all the oppressed and slaves of the factories, we are working for you, didn’t leave the hope!”. A chatter of surprise arose from the group. A man that has never spoken until then remarked: “For me, they’re all bullshit, the reality of facts is that the people of Factory Number Two are trying to throw rotten above us because they have a crisis of production. Their laziness has caused it, and they don’t want management to investigate them”. “You’re right”, echoed rabidly in chorus the others. “Anyway”, resumed the first with a more controlled tone, “the end of the year feast it’s dreadful, and the staff employed it’s too scary to help us or say something about. I have to be there at four o’clock, the lapse in which is admitted the entry for the employee and slaves”. A black guy with a frightful voice asked: “and if someone didn’t show up”. the second replied: “That I know it happened only one time and, about him, I never heard again”. The black guy looked down silently, so the white man beside took the opportunity to speak and uttered: “And this year which would be the password?”. “Perversion” replied the other, this year the password is “Perversion”.
Next, it seemed someone called them because they all turned around simultaneously, and their chatter went down, going away slowly. Chanya unable to follow, she was also about to leave when another eye, foreign, showed up through the chink. She has been discovered!
Madame Margaret was trading on the computer. The numbers followed one another on the screen, meantime she filled tables and columns. At a certain point, snorted and stretched the hand till the nose, clenching the central space in a meditative way. She didn’t remember a sequence of numbers. Her fingers started drumming, annoyed on the armrest. Next, the movement became a knocking perpetuated by the entire fist. Abruptly blew up a hit stronger than others and she bent on the keyboard for tapping something. But it wasn’t past a long time that she was yet in trouble. “That’s not exactly my day” she brooded with herself and in doing so came to mind her mother drills, when this latter pursued to warn her about the necessity of concentration.
You’re not focused, there’s a lack of absorption disconcerting for your age! How do you think to continue in that way?”. The mother was furious, uttering fierce stuff to the daughter. “It’s inconceivable, where is your mind? Must be those books lent by that friend… What’s her name?”. “Barbara, mum”. “Barbara, exactly. She is a bad example for you. She’s too concentrated in unuseful things to be concrete in what’s really important is”. “But mum Barbara is my friend, and she’s very smart, one of the smartest in the class”. “This because you don’t study enough, cherry”. The mother has changed the tone abruptly. “I know that my behaviour can seem to you excessive, but I’m only thinking about your future. Early, will be the university entrance exams and we can’t afford a failure, not after all the energy reposed in it”. She hugged the daughter kindly and continued: “We have decided you must be a good lower and we’ll accomplish it, at any cost. I know Barbara it’s your buddy, but it’s dangerous giving to much attention toward a personality of that kind, I’m speaking for you, listen to my tip, take the distance, at least until our entrance exams”. “My entrance exams, mummy”. “Our entrance exam”, replied her, “we win together, and we lost together”. They hugged a second time, this more intensely, and Margaret bent down on the laptop below the gaze liege of the old woman. However, it wasn’t past five minutes that this latter, from nothing, resumed the discourse: “And anyway, I don’t like her parents, of Barbara I mean. They have strange ideas, ideas against the Party. They are dangerous people, and not because I have much interest in the Party contents, promise to don’t report it but many concepts they say are bullshit, but because it’s so stupid to counteract the power in charge, risking the career of daughters for nothing”. Margaret remained numb to those declarations, she didn’t know what to say, at the end nodded, like always, and the parent makes her promise to forget everything heard.
The woman detached the head from the keyboard; she had fallen asleep on it. Yawned vigorously, stretching the arm aside to take out the tiredness. In that lapse, a picture attracted her attention; it was the image of her and Elizabeth together during an award proclamation. It had been shot one year ago from a photographer of the magazine Inspire, on which, every month, were chosen the most representative personages in the world. Only in that frangent, she came to mind how different were her and the colleague. This latter, indeed, was the last descendant of an aristocratic family, with important heritage, bounded to significant Party’s members. She, contrarily, was an ordinary citizen, who through the abnegation and efforts have managed to conquer the summit. Still, she remained a commune person, a commune person with the power to administrate an empire, a commune person that had fought to obtain the owned, a commune person who has lost days and night folded on a laptop to memorize ideas and projects with the only aim to enrich other people, a commune person who have overtaken those people, standing out from the multitude but also from those same wealthy individuals toward whom before she referred as boss. But now, now they were identic, two good friends with the same tastes concerning the ski, the tennis, the luxury, and all the vapid stuff which before she desired to obtain. She had been homologated, she had become like them, but one thing has been maintained, and that was the desire of success, to prevail, that violent instinct typical of who have fought to have which she had.
The phone rang, distracting her attention from the stream of consciousness active at the time, she picked up the tool and answered: “Here Margaret, who is?”.
The heavy door opened, and a woman soldier appeared with a non-comforting look. “Who are you? This area is forbidden to externals”. Chanya retracted a bit scary but rapidly found the esprit to say: “S-sorry, I’m a cleaning woman and I’m afraid to be lost”. The other stared her with inexorable look for some seconds, maybe trying to scrutinize if her version was true, next, she snorted annoyed and said: “Ok, well, I’ll escort you upside, let’s go!”. Chanya obeyed comforted by the change of situation, that it has switched in better; it seemed the other had believed her. They travelled all the flight of stairs backwards, till arriving at the entrance door. There, the guard show to Chanya the written hung on the wall and uttered: “This sign signifies that you can’t pass through, all right!? And so… You shall not step into for any reason!”. She walked away from where she has come, and Chanya could hear her complaining about why the administration sometimes chose African cleaners, incapable of managing well the language. It had gone well, brooded with her Chanya, and she resumed the corridor toward the pertinence sector, sniffing yet the terrible smell there present. For not puke, her body imposed her feet to hurry up, walking swiftly along all the lanes, identical one to another. At a certain point, just turned a corner, an unexpected coincidence happened.
A white woman, slender and determined in posture, as well as dressed as a cleaning woman, was proceeding on the corridor. She was sliding a cleaning trolley stocked with brooms, mop and tatters. “Hi”, said Chanya, approaching, “Hi” echoed the other female. “I’m Chanya; you must be the other employee, nice to meet you!”. “Nice to meet you too, and yes, I’m Barbara, the afternoon work shift”. “Well, Barbara, the guard at the entry said to me to give you the change”. “Yes, thanks”, replied the interlocutor, “I was actually exiting, right now”. “Well… so… see you tomorrow for the same hour, I guess…”, “yes, so it seems…”. The embarrassment was interrupted by the arrival of the kind black sentry who observed the two women for a brief lapse and after remarked: “there is some problem? Because I have the order to escort…”, he checked on the electronic tool before continuing, “… Barbara outside. It’s finished your time”. This latter nodded and saw Chanya generously off with a gesture, before to follow the guard along the narrow labyrinth conducting to the exit.