The Facility: Chapter 3.
Life continued at an unsteady truce after the ominous building appeared. The conditions of it's arrival was a change in the weather, tossing a blanket of oppressive humidity over the misery of the populace. A heat grinding in despair, an atmospheric pestle on the soul's mortar. I watched the ants beneath the magnifying glass of the austere building, they scurried with heads down as usual, young and old, male and female, all in a collective shuffle of the damned. Their ankles bound by the shackles of perceived class and order... we're all bound for the gallows, I thought. Infected with a cold unrelated but in spiteful concord with the weather.
Days wore away on a wick of an undetermined candle and my life was the flame. Most of the time I burned in my hovel, sat in a chair, observing the barely tamed wreckage held back by uniform faded yellow wallpaper and deflated blue carpet that had given up the ghost long ago, surrendered to footfall's attrition. I would sit motionless, immobile, trying to settle the disquiet like magma in my chest, what was life? Here I sat, doing nothing, toying with the very boundaries of meaning, the TV screamed at me, it's sound and vision a geyser spewing desperation for attention and conformity at me. My bed, laying in repose, a restless sculpture of my unsettled life, was the centre piece for disorder in my bedsit, light brown wood chip cupboards and the little sink, fridge and counter, all gathered together to create an illusion that somehow, I was still civilised, still mattered.
Life wears painfully away as it scrapes along the path of life, chalk against a blackboard, you wore down gradually as you left a mark, though was soon dusted off to make room for something new and improved, raindrops coursing down a window to oblivion once more. I itched in my chair, a recess of me almost too terrified to move, I knew it was watching me, that building. There was an intelligence infusing those stones, surpassing the mere disdain man made slabs like that had for nature. Hunger growled, feral radiation beating from an oblong of forced perfection, haughty order keeping a close eye on surrounding chaos, eager in eliminating it. Mental itch flared into a real one, hand ghosting up to my neck, fingers frantically scrubbing away the irritation, though sickening clouds of worry wafted across my gut after I moved. What if it had noticed? I wondered... I smothered the concern, paranoia was an odd side effect of today's boredom. I leaped up, suddenly possessed by a callous demon of ambition. Every person is a lightning rod for their own destiny, right? I deluded myself. Marching down the stairs, through the anonymous cream wallpaper and red carpet, dousing the majesty of a once fine and spacious Edwardian house, someone once marched with pride through this hallway, I realised as I threw open the heavy dark brown door. Muted daylight threw the blessing of an old beggar upon me as I burst the bubble between inside and outside... time to find the world again.
I spent a day trudging in relentless hot rain. A frogmarch to nowhere, like an arrow loosed towards a wall of steel, I went to the Job Centre. The people within dallied like those at a wake, unsure of their place or passion, ghosts awaiting the next life. Tombstones, touchscreen job ports to search for work, offered useless platitudes to those bereaved of purpose in capitalism.
Eventually, the pretense of trying to be productive and gainfully motivated in this place sapped out of me, a sponge squatted over my brain. It earnestly drank upon motivation and optimism, pulsing out misery in steady drum rolls, I was a rower on an ancient slave galleon, the DOOM! of the drum to deliver a kidney punch reminder of my lot... I had to get out!
Back under the dominion of indifferent summer rain, sweat budded on my back, the physical weeping tears of desolation, or attempting to shed a burden onto the earth in tandem with rain. Oppressive, snug heat sprayed over me, coming from, there, looming to my right. The giant breeze block leered wolfishly at my attempts, forcing hot, squashed bilious fury up through a restrictive tube, I flashed it a mischievous middle finger and darted off. Ostensible laughter of the building accompanied the moist splash of my footsteps.
A useless afternoon was spent with my curb crawling for work, agencies concealed their derision beneath polite apathy. Everyone else took my CV as though I'd just wiped my arse on it! I trudged back in the wet, damp, like a survivor of guerrilla warfare, the Nam of battling despondency to find gainful employment: what can be gained from gainful employment provided by the tossers I've just encountered? I thought, this drowned rat barely noticing the fracas at the top of my road. A crowd of unwashed dossers congregated like refugees. They were in a way, fleeing from a land they scarcely inhabited, one of meaning, direction and financial security. A sign post skewed the road, rupturing the sanctity of stone, government bureaucracy as strong and ruthless as this now. I drifted through the unnerved throng, yanked by the gravity of the ominous spirit of the sign. It read smugly:
"Each of you have no doubt noticed the erection of a Facility in your locality.
Facilities are compulsory methods of engineered rehabilitation of easing the unemployed back into society.
Each member of this street is now entered into a raffle.
You will be randomly selected at a moment of The Facility's choosing."
Not even a thank you, I thought as the cold I felt earlier flooded my veins with more vigour than the rain. Something was up, I knew that building was going to change our lives... if only I knew how much!
© Brad James, 2014.