Parte VIII

Parti precedenti: prima, seconda, terza, quarta, quinta, sesta, settima.

“You are a coward!” Yelled a slave violently against another. A series of voices originated by the people around rose till the ceiling, echoing in the gargantuan bulge, textured of concrete and inox. It was the sad interior of Factory Number One. A host of men were crowded around two individuals, who were facing each other with warlike behaviour. All about, they creaked and squeaked a series of machinery, like a soundtrack, ready to give rhythm to which was beginning. Those technologies were the same used by the slaves to produce software and chips, destined to household appliances. Nearby the rioting bunch, it sprawled a long metallic sliding carpet, which transported the finished product; however, temporarily blocked. The prolonged flat surface ended against a wall as if, beyond the barriers, another section was operative for a successive stage of processing.

    “Your people are despicable!” It was uttering one of the two men, embedded into the circle of shouting bodies, to the other one. “The data witnesses the majority of Factory Number Two’s personnel doesn’t work enough; and now, you are going to accuse us of the crisis that you have provoked”. Followed a series of exclamations and intimidation, departed from the supporters all around. The type who has just spoken, continued: “do you know how many shift hours we do, an infinity compared with yours. Now the direction wants to increase the schedule still; they say we didn’t spend enough energy in doing our commitments. For me, they are compelling us to fill the gaps left by your and…”

    “Enough!” Roared the second interlocutor, stopping who till now had directed the speech. “Yesterday, Factory Number Two has produced twice compared which you usually do. Yours are just lies. There isn’t an economic crisis in our department, neither some lack of experience in the developing of assignments. The problem are you!” A series of whistles escorted his words, a chatting confused for the presence of multiple voices overlapping one another. The two people who had precedently spoken silenced, in contrast with the general tendency. They stayed, staring reciprocally as if a solution could come out from their play of looks.

    One voice, finally, surged from the clump about, and it was the umpteenth critical shout. “You claimed you had produced twice than us yesterday, but you have taken back fifteen times the products on the sliding carpet, and all justifying it with the excuse they weren’t correctly assembled. We had controlled, and everything was ok, no defects, no fallacies. For me, which you were making were justifications, made up appositely to deny the errors”. Consequently, as he wants to specify something, added: “Your errors!”.

    The disorder reigned supreme now. The first person who had started the discussion resumed speaking: “The direct outcome of this situation”, “it’s that now the members of Factory Number Two, like you,” and in saying so addressed a stern look to the individual he had in front of, “are coming here. Do you read the new directives arriving from the supervisors? Do you wondered yourself about the why are you here? Because if you are, you realise it will be a significant reorganization in our sector with the addition of working forces withdrawn by… Factory Number Two”. A general “wow” raised from the crowd about, and the tension grew up to the breaking point.

    The personage who has recently pronounced about the material coming back, he decided to foster the crowd, yelling: “They are going to ruin us, as they did with their factory too. We have to block this! Come with me and teach him what’s the end for similar sort of traitors.” The vibes in the air flashed out and the circle about the two people, before large, narrowed disturbingly. They all were preparing for lynching.

    Abruptly, a platoon of women soldiers broke into the room, wearing military harnesses. Allegedly, they had heard the confusion coming from there, actioning consequently. The angry crowd now settled down, probably the frightening apparition of figures, with balaclava and rifles, had done the desired effect. Only the individuals that have spoken before took the courage of squaring the platoon; the sights of others preferred to go away, in different directions, mostly downward. But one person did the comrades didn’t dare to do, maybe because not accustomed to the rules, more probably because youthfully inexperienced. He got a step outside the host and began to launch a series of insults against the army women. The response was immediate; all the collars girding the slave necks had been activated, contemporary transmitting the electric shock all around. A series of men knocked down because of the woe, writhing on the ground like a snail after a well-assorted spade hit. Consequently, a series of grief’s yells arose from the mass of desperate people which loosed itself, scattering all about in a confused way.

    The run was uncoordinated and fanatical with bunches of slaves rushing at breakneck speed, who know where. The two embedded before into the circle tried to gain the big exit door, located not far from the point where it was happening the discussion. Meantime their steps were overtaking a curve, a section of the platoon began to chase them. The bodies disappeared behind a tank for the water gathering. Only a narrow corridor, dug between two rows of machinery, was separating them from the capture, which would have reserved a period in isolation and a series of tortures. They travelled it quickly, turning aside at the end, in the direction of a leaver necessary to trigger the opening. When that it has accomplished, and a light of hope drew on their mind, a dull thud followed by a click was felt on their back-spines surface. They realised immediately to had been shot by the thread of a teaser. It was only about time.

    A quite strong electric shock hit them, forcing the corps to leave themselves going down. The writhing caused by the collar summed up to the teaser one and one slave started to puke painfully on the ground. A series of guard-women began to tie the troublemaker’s hands until, at a certain point, they stopped mysteriously. Something had drawn their attention. The prisoners remained surprised by that too and, as soon as the drop in electric-tension gave them the chance, they peeked to understand. What they watched was astonishing; they hadn’t noticed it before because they were engaged in the hurry of the run, but on the door was printed, in red tonality, a long speech, reporting the following content:

The bad life of your condition,

It’s ending with a new day

Which will end your affliction

I mean the last year day

When everything will change

If you Follow which I say

The terrible range

At midnight, disarrange.

***

The clouds were bulging of rain when Chanya appeared at the checkpoint of Factory Number One. Shortly thereafter, there would have been a downpour. The customary procedures took place in no time, allowing the cleaner to prosecute along the usual route. She also passed the second checkpoint, but this time there wasn’t the gentle black guy. In his place stayed a man, older, who showed off a certain lack of tact. All the answers were harsh, and it seemed he neither had time to interchange a glance with the interlocutor. It was so that Chanya, after has prosecuted along the corridor, found herself face to face with the forbidden door, yet encountered last time. The memory of the discover, with the consequent arrived of the guard, was fresh in her brain. The decision to try again, after a few time passed, worried her, but on the other hand, she knew must find something quickly. The head wandered about to scan the spot, and once decided there weren’t others, she pushed the cold metallic door, stepping into for the second occasion in two days.

    The area seemed even more gloom. Her’s foot sounded out the surface, for comprehending where the staircase departed. The contact with a solid texture, cylindric in shape, was the turning point. It was the stair railing. Since then on, it was only necessary to follow it for all lengths, paying attention to not slide. Only at halfway of the ladder, the waitress remembered she had the phone-torch. “You’re a real idiot”, muttered with herself. Her hand began to rummage in the pocket, and finally, after a series of toils, she succeeded in the task. The object had extracted and the halogen beam sprawled all around. “much better!”.

    There weren’t passed many steps that something strange drew her attention. It was like a stain, impressed on the wall. She approached it, and the look began to investigate about, to discover the origin. The mark enlarged for some centimetres with an irregular outline. Because of the scarcity of light, it wasn’t possible to understand well, so the cleaner decided to use the sense of touch. A long-limbed index finger was prolonged till the surface, and once there, it brushed the tiny area. When the tip was brought nearby the eyes, they immediately recognized in it the blood. A shiver ran through her body. The solution was unique: that was human sap.

    The breath accelerated; indeed, she was quite sure last time there was no spot. The trembling hand took the courage for raising the beam of light and, slowly, to aim the following part of the wall, just after the blood.  In an instant, the stiffness took her arm, the fingers lost the grip, and the phone fell on the ground.

    They have been necessary different seconds to regain control. The terrible spectacle, over there, was creepy and totally disconcerting. The first thing now was to recover the cell-torch. Chanya squatted toward the light, which was some steps down her, illuminating the railing. She posed the hand above, strictly clenching the instrument; next, she dragged it to herself. The screen was cracked but either working. “Puff. That’s a good point,” brooded with herself.  A big sigh to gain courage and the hand yet pointed the light after the bloody spot. This time the phone didn’t fall but shed illumination on the wall. Over there, dug on the porous surface, spread a series of scratches, like as a hand’s fingernails had tried to cling it. The sad scene sprawled for long, showing how, whoever was the victim of it, had tried to safe him in every way.

    It was too late to surrender; her’s brother needed. With a smooth movement of the soles, the shoes restarted the track. The cleaner headed with circumspection, as if, from a moment to another, someone could show up in front of. The danger was concrete; the solution: not to think about.

    Finally, she gained the bottom platform, where was located the entry door for the world of the slaves. Softly, the young woman palm touched the cold handle. The remembrance of when she had been discovered, was clean. Even now, she had almost the presentiment that someone was behind the back. But they were only tricks of the imagination, and anyway, it was time. Now or never again.

    Hesitated… Hesitated yet… Finally, took the decision. She was about to enter having just rolled the rounding mechanism, when the recognizable human touch, pressed on the shoulder, it made itself heard. That was the end.

***

Linda was ripping weeds from the brown terrain. The result was a clean appearance of minimalism, a naked aspect that made the garden plants stand out. Once finished, she was totally satisfied by the accomplishment, and rested a bit to admire the spot. A feeble breeze caressed her skin, sliding away from her, across the little plants. The leaves shook a bit for its passage, next turned back to the natural immobility, hiding entirely the myriads of micro-elements that was stirring down there. Arrived the moment to broke the harmony, the woman took back the gardening tools on the wheelbarrow: shovel, rake, hoe, and addressed herself toward the usual path.

    At a certain point, something imperceptibly thin touched her shoulder, doing also resound a “plop”, light, almost a sigh. Linda rolled around curiously, but she didn’t notice anything anomalous; so she carried on. It wasn’t passed a bunch of seconds that, a tween “plop”, this time in the middle of the hairs, it made itself heard. Her face moved above, in the direction of the sky, and then it recured the umteenth, subtle, touched, this perfectly centring the inside of her right eye. She understood. They were the first signs of a downpour. It was better to hurry up.

    The arrived at home was hasty because she hadn’t the intention to get drenched. Only inside, Linda realised the time would have kept, at least for a bit. For distraction, her brain suggested going in the kitchen, and so she did. The quietness the woman was used to finding there, among chopping board and cookers, was incomparable with anything. Her hands began to take things and moving other stuff; it was necessary a certain time before she realised someone else was inside of the room. Indeed, Emily sat straight on a chair, just in the middle of the kitchen, near the table. “Hi,” she greeted distractedly, once took note the friend had sawn her. Linda replied: “what a surprise! I haven’t observed your presence here”. The other nodded in a detached way. Next, between the two, it followed a long silence.

    They are some days that Linda has recorded a strange sort of behaviour in the friend, she was distant, odd, in a word: weird. Her usual ‘Ouverture d’Esprit’ was died off, melted in a plethora of silences and far condescensions.

    Linda tried to strike up the conversation: “Tonight there is, live, The Night Show; Do you know… the talent”. The guest seemed not interested and shrugged the shoulder as if she understood the quote but didn’t want to speak about. Linda decided to insist: “I like it a lot. The format is simple: there are various groups of singers and multiple musicians, eventually a bunch of show business stars. In the first episode, the stars listen to all the artist, and they decide who choose for their group. Thus, they form different team, everyone with a balanced mix of singers, musicians and one leader. During the various episodes, the created crews try to interpret famous songs and a second jury, this time with the task to evaluate, gives a vote to the best. So…”, The speech was interrupted by the Emily raised of the arm with an open palm. “what’s the problem?” Linda inquired. “Nothing”, continued the other, “it’s only… that I know well the show’s format; maybe too well.”

    The features of the host shrank, she didn’t know what’s she meant; The only stuff came back from her lips were: “Can I ask you more elucidations?” Emily smiled, and turned the body on the chair, in a position more frontal to the interlocutor. She was finally disposed to make discussion. Then, she started to narrate: “what I was going to say it’s I once tried to participate in the selection of that particular television program.” Linda’s eyes widened. “And I say you more; I’ve been chosen as a singer.” Right now, like a demonstration of her statement, she ventured to practise a singing solo.

    A soft jingle, perpetuated by an angelic voice, propagated in the air, subtle like a breeze. The vocal cords shacked, issuing a recognizable tone, cloaked of loveliness. Linda stayed listening to, lured by that unknown girl talent. Once she had finished, the host applauded to the performance, subsequently congratulating with her. “Wow. You’re a force. Tell me about your experience in the talent; you said you had been selected.” The other frowned as if a sore bottom had been pressed. Next, sighing to take courage she dove, still, in the story.

    “It was a long time ago, and I was young. The commission had retained everything was ok in my curriculum, as well as my voice was exceptional, so they give me the pass for the registration study and a schedule of date in which I should have been present. I worked a lot to prepare myself, do you know, the tension for the big screen.” Linda nodded, suggesting to be involved in the account. “Still, The organization was entirely different than expected. In the prior edition, they had left the chance to take proper pieces, but now it was impossible. Every song performed by the group, it must have already well-known. This has been a first hard blow for me because I had put aside many kinds of stuff which I was looking forward to showing.

    The second hard blow had been when they said me to fake, to stage an interpreted quarrel with some members of my crew. They motivated it with the necessity of drama, but for me, they are all bullshit!” She interrupted herself, and Maria chose to intervene: “I’m sorry to be inconvenient and maybe a bit realistic, but these dynamics that you’re explaining are quite commune in the television world. The people who try to take part in it, they should know”. Emily shrugged the shoulder, and say: “Probably was I to be immature, but it’s different when you experienced it on your skin, with a person that comes face to face and dispense order in a harsh mood.” The older woman comprehended and apologized for not being polite. Next, she pleads the other to continue. Linda’s lips resumed the flow.

    “The third blow, the definitive, had been when they said to me I would have been eliminated. Not for a decision of the public, not for a stylistic motif, but because I wasn’t extravagant enough for the next level; when the jury should have collected all the members by the crews, to form a unique, significant, band.” She has just finished talking, that blew up a hefty punch on the table deck. So, Linda approached her from the rear and started to tap the friend’s shoulders as to settle down the mood. It seemed to succeed, and the other nerves subsided. At least, She had opened up with her, differently from the precedent period when there wasn’t communication. She was happy about that but, still, she didn’t understand the why. The woman was going to ask it when the younger exploded in a terrible cry, so she had to postpone the question, to comfort her in maternal behaviour.

    Among the weeping, the dreadful phrase came out. The same sentence that Linda never wanted to hear. It cited: “When I come back home after that awful Thursday, I ran on my mather lap and we, together, started to recite the verses learnt at the Party meetings. For the mercy of them, I’m here now, and I have not succumbed to discontent. Those verses saved me, and they gave me the power to continue, endeavouring for the university application, as well as, eventually, to conclude that. I had been fortunate!”

    Linda had to keep the facial discontent. She didn’t agree with anything the other was saying, believing all extremely exaggerated. Her’s temper imposed to follow the discourse so as not to arouse suspicions, without interruptions or contrasts. At the end took out a huge false smile and asked the friend what she wants for dinner. So, the second answered: “I’d like your recipe of pasta with broccoli, almonds and pine seed!” The tears had switched into a smile, on her face. But when Linda got out from the room to recover the various stuff necessaries for the plate, Emily launched her back a look, at the same time intense and coy; a sight of who know something about the other, something profound and painful, something she didn’t dare to reveal.

***

Chanya turned around abruptly, repeatedly apologizing: “I’m sorry… Sorry. I’m…” She had been caught for the second time in the act, this probably definitively. But, when she raised the look, a sign of relief drew on her face; indeed, in front of her showed up Barbara, the other cleaner. This latter said: “What are you doing here?” And, meantime she was pronouncing those world, read the fear in the colleague eyes and comprehended she was there for a specific reason, job apart. Chanya hesitated as if something held her, so the former intervened before the latter could move the lips and remarked: “I’m not your enemy; I have secrets me too. I want you to tell me everything, and, in exchange, I’ll do the same”. The voice was comforting and seemed to chill out the Chanya’s worries. She gathered the hand, in a narrative pose and started the recount.

    “My name is Chanya, and I come from Africa”. Barbara’s sight became interested. “I was grown in a Colony, with mixed people black and white. This, until my fifteenth birthday, when they withdrew me readdressing to my mom’s home, who meantime was died. Hence, it had been assigned to me the cleaning task, in particular in the mineral centre of Shabunda and…” Barbara interrupted the sequence with her sneer. Accordingly, she said: “I Knew it… I knew that exist colonies of mixed people! Do you comprehend what does it means?”. The second shacked the head negatively. “It signified that my anarchic association was right; that in Africa don’t exist only man slaves; that the Party had lied it to all world; that live exploited women conversely the regime had always recounted to us!” She was practically yelling, and Chanya did her sign to low the voice, or someone could have heard them. Once calm had recovered, the black girl interrogated the second about the meaning of her words.

    Barbara took the place of ‘bard storyteller’ and spoke as follows: “You have to know that for the entire western society doesn’t exist female people in poor countries. Down there, there are only male slaves, according to the directives wanted by the government fifty years ago. What the average individuals know, it is that every year are withdrew a set of men slaves to employ them in the factories, nothing more. It’s a system solidly consolidated, favoured by the Party’s propaganda and the holy spirit with which they wrap the women rights.” Chanya has remained astonished by the allegations. She never could think something similar, never had minded her prior existence, her childhood, was so manipulated.

    At a certain point, Barbara reversed the discussion, asking the other to continue her report about the past. Thus, the black woman resumed from where she had interrupted. “For coming to the reason I’m here, I have to say is related to my brother, Silla. He was a good boy, always of comfort during the Colony period. When I wounded myself, he was there; when I was disconsolate, she hugged me saying everything shall be ok. But, after the age of fifteen, when they took me, I never saw him again. And now, we arrive at the actual situation. Just some weeks ago, I had infiltrated myself inside the area of mines where I worked, because aware of a critical meeting with occidental traders. Unluckily, I have been discovered by the guards but, fortunately, the representant of a certain international conglomerate chose for taking me with them”.

    Chanya added the name of Madame Elizabeth, the unique that she recollected among all her displacement. To hear it, Barbara shivered of rage but left the speaker to continue. “that representant decided that I had some motifs for had done which I had done, and decided to take me with her. Actually, a reason there was, and it consisted in to get back to hug my beloved brother. I had substantial evidence of finding him here, working for this enterprise. However, for the moment, I haven’t met him. I don’t even know if he is in Factory Number One, Two or Three… I’m at obscure of everything. This is all my story.”

    Barbara nodded, patting her shoulders as to instil bravery. But, when everything seemed overtaken, and every mystery revealed, a noise like a “click” resounded rear them. There was someone.

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