Friday, October 1, 2010

The World in Miniature: Muscle Memory

by Bryan Russell
For Matt Rush (ask and you shall receive...)

Muscle Memory

The young man blinked tiredly, his hands sorting carrots. He no longer heard the bang and crash of machinery, and when he fell it was like a glide in a dream, weightless and against the grain of reality.

The cutters went schnick schnick and everybody screamed. There was a lot of blood, and one arm was flung back up to the sorting tables.

People rushed about.

“Damn, damn, damn!” said the plant manager. “Production is really going to be slowed down.”

The foreman grunted. “Shit. Now we’re down a man. Can we hire someone for tomorrow?”

One of the graders pointed shakily at the arm. It was moving.

Everyone watched. The arm moved slowly at first, but it picked up speed quickly. Muscle memory, it appeared, was a wonderful thing.

“Look at that,” the foreman said.

The body was carted away in the background. A sanitation chap lazily mopped around on the floor beneath the catwalks.

“It’s going pretty good,” the plant manager said. He looked at the other graders. “See that? It’s going faster than all of you. You can learn something here.”

“Um,” one of the pale graders said. “There’s a lot of blood on it…”

“Well, that’s what the plastic gloves are for, right?” the plant manager said. “Slide some on there.”

“Back to work, everyone, back to work!” the foreman said, waving his hand in a little circular motion.

The severed arm whizzed over the carrots, plucking and tossing. It was very quick.

The management team gathered. They were all very happy with the arm.

Look at it go! they said. Everyone was very pleased.

“Maybe we should give it a raise,” someone said.

“It hasn’t asked for a raise,” the plant manager said, and the others nodded sagely.

“It’s working right through break.”

“What does it need a break for?” the foreman said. “Doesn’t need lunch, either. No stomach, see.”

“Excellent,” the plant manager said.

“We’ll have to pay it for working through lunch, at least. Right?” the administration assistant said.

“We’re already paying for eight hours,” the plant manager said. “If this is how it wants to spend its lunch period, well, that’s its choice. That’s a worker’s right.”

“Yessiree,” the foreman said.

They all watched the arm as it glided over the grading table, selecting and casting aside carrots. No bad carrots would get through. None of the other graders got too close to the arm. They tried to recall, vaguely, the young man’s name. His face was already a shadow.

“An example to us all,” the plant manager said.


Matthew Rush said...

Commenting before reading:

YESSSSSSSSSSS! I was hoping the carrot horror story would be coming soon (assuming that's what this is).

Matthew Rush said...

Awesome! Great work Bryan. Probably not supposed to be as funny as I find it, but hey it's early.

Also, at our age, I'm not sure you can get away calling yourself a young man anymore, whether you have two arms, or one.

Matthew Rush said...

Also, I forgot to mention:

Today's guest blogger in Christina Lee!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Ha! Feeling a bit ground up, are we? I really don't like horror, even funny horror, but such is your talent that I was grinning through this whole piece.

Claudie A. said...

It's 11 am, my nose is clogged, I have a huge headache and I felt like crap but you, sir, have just made this morning an amazing one. This was hilarious. Thanks for posting! :)

Nate Wilson said...

So that's why I can't get a job at the local carrot plant. Stupid arm, taking jobs away from hard-working whole people.

Very entertaining story, Bryan!

Robert said...

I think this is satire, not horror, and I dig it.

Just wait till that arm joins the union.

Matthew Rush said...

Bryan please add a widget/tool/link whatever the hell blogger calls it to your posts where I can subscribe via email to the comments. Subscribing via RSS/atom is a pain and I cannot put up with it. That is all.

And Robert makes a good point. I asked for horror, damn it!

Taryn Tyler said...

Is there a carot version of a bloody mary we could make out of this story?

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

Glad everyone's getting a hoot out of this. I don't think I'm capable of writing about a carrot factory right now without a whole lot of satire creeping in.

And I don't write much straight horror! Though I did write a pure zombie short story once. Well, maybe it's a novelette or something, since it's like 11,000 words. Can't think of anything to do with it, as no one takes stuff over 10K words (unless literary fame has already been achieved), and certainly not in the horror genre. I only found one mag that would, and I submitted... and it closed down within a month. Yes, my story was so scary that they could no longer function and work and put out new issues. Yes, that's the reason they closed down, surely. Right? Right? Good, I'm glad we're all agreed.

And I, with all my untechliness, will try to look into the world of widgets. Though I thought they came in beer cans. I can look in a few of those, if necessary. Yes, this is what I do for my friends. Be in awe.