Not Person # 51-12

Breanna Hempel

I love my work. What a world where everyday is joyful and contented! I worked in a berry bush field as a youth beside those my own age. Our fingers reddened from the juices on the occasions when we squeezed them too tightly. It taught us to be gentle to the berries and to each other. We could hurt a friend ands neither of us knows it! How horrid! I don't know what occurred before I began my position in the fields, but we tend not the recall that far back. I think any memory before work would be quite sad. What are we if we can't contribute to our fellow man? Not sure what the berries are for, though. Definitely not eating, due to the poison content, but a good cause nevertheless.

As a teen, I was assigned to the apple groves when I was tall enough to reach. He had the gracious honor of having more responsibilities bestowed upon us. In the berry fields, we plucked and put them in baskets. The baskets would be taken away by other children into town to be processed for whatever. While I worked with the apples, we pulled them off the branches, no matter how high up the fruit was, and when we filled it, brought it over to town. Two jobs in one!

Into adulthood, I assimilated to a factory profession. It was then that my life was complete and it was the most satisfying of the three. The superiors were gracious and allowed two daily meals and an hour of sleep in the darkest hour of the night. Bed's made it so we never had to leave! And I didn't want to. Working outside made us go to the bed chambers for all the children so we wouldn't die in the cold, but the temperature was always fine in the factory. It was my favorite place in the Universe. My life and my friends and my work was here. I love my work. What a world where everyday is joyful and contented!

Smiling and chatting, I breathed in the clean, crisp air. The miniscule dust particles floating around made it more desirable to inhale. The fields didn't have those. The last bands of golden light shown through the vents along the perimeter. We didn't need the natural light, but they mentioned that we would run out of air. One does not simply run out of air; its all around us. And, the vents let out the dust. Sometimes I swear that those people who are status know less than an easygoing factory employee. On top of that, they were educated and look where it got them. What a shame, learning useless topics and spending years selfishly accomplishing nothing. I, on the other hand, had been working forever and would continue forever.

I set about my tasks and, this time of day, it involved with the conveyor-belt. My section of the belt bound two, relatively small parts. I had not been informed as to why I did it, but my work helped the worker in front of me and, eventually, it would form a finished product. When I done with it, I sent it away and it was somewhat tragic to see their leaving, every time. To me, they were all beautiful pieces and I sometime wondered what the product was, but why bother with such silly inquires? I learned to take vague curiosity and ignore it.

Funny thing, though. It was several hours before darkness and bed hour wasn't for another half a day. I didn't allow fatigue to inhibit my work, but it took some strain to keep on level with a typical day.

In a flash, all at once, in a moment, without hesitation, it crumbled. Failing knees sprawled what I was working on and myself across the suddenly hard concrete. Had it always been this unforgiving? Control of my body ceased and I couldn't move. I was trapped in myself and all I could do was blinking and breathing, but even that became a terror. Frantically, I tried to scream or signal for help, but my friends stepped over me to get to another part of the factory. Shortly after my fall, someone else filled in my place and assumed my place. I was simply replaced in a moments notice. They were either trying not to see me or not seeing me. I laid alone, sore and injured, wondering what this would mean. It was a dreadful feeling.

It hurt. All over. Everywhere had a different variation of agony. I didn't know the word agony was in my vocabulary, but there was never a sensation that could compare to what was wracking my body. I had not felt anything remotely similar in my working life. Which working is my life, so putting working and life together to each other is redundant. Regardless, I couldn't take it.

It wasn't my knees that failed, despite my assumptions. It was my bones. They shattered and the pieces pressed against the underside of my skin. I was moving though. Someone else was moving me, to be exact. A metallic, squeaking wheel carried me.

One eye skid open. My lash was curled under the lid and it scraped as I raised it. I fought the urge to blink, but it wasn't that hard to override the instinctual urge anymore. Where was this place? I was familiar... but lousy. I hadn't been outside my work since I was a teenager and in transport, but this was the corridor outside the factory. At the same time, it wasn't. It was like a film of filth over my pristine world. This had to be... something... anything else, but not reality.

I was in a metal basket that resembled the one from years outdoors. I took a moment to pause at the irony. Seems as though I was now the apple. Where was I going, to be processed? I would have laughed, but I couldn't. The wheel's noises echoed on the billowing ceilings as we passed adjacent door. The arches left barely any room between them.

I craned my neck to the rear to bare witness to the person who was mumbling quietly. A muttered mantra could hardly be heard. His skin was stretched taut across his feeble frame and his weakness caused the basket to shift disdainfully. I winced as I impacted the sides with every gaze wouldn't meet mine and it was aimed everywhere, but at me. It was left, right, up and never down. He flinched at the clicking and creaking from around us, like the faint calls would jump out and eat him up. Such a wary were a million things I needed to now. "Where are," my voice became inaudible and I had to begin again. "Where am I going?"

"Death... chambers." He struggled getting out his words.

I noticed the stark contrast of skin pigment. His was closer to paper and mine was like a berry. "What is that?"

"It is... where go when no work... no more." He over-enunciated certain syllables and skimmed over others. Still, he couldn't spare a look at me.

My eyes were dryer and I shut them again. "I can't work anymore? How can that be, I love my work!"

"Dey always... say... dat."

"Say what?"

"Say, 'I... love work,' 'love work,' 'love work.' You is made... to think, 'love work.'"

"But working is in pinnacle of my happiness. I am only discontented when I cannot work." How could this be? I didn't know I would have to stop working someday. People came and left, but that was because they were reassigned, right? I figured one day I would return to the fields or go to another factory to discover the rest of what I was making. This wasn't correct. He was simply jesting and he was escorting me to be fixed. Precisely, that had to be what he was doing. There wasn't any other explanation. A death chamber? What is, 'death,' anyway? He must have made up some imaginary word to freak me out and spice up his day. Right.

"You not... person. Me. Person. Not persons made think, 'love work.' Persons no have work. Me work... but me person. Me wish me... not person. Me wish me could think,' love work.' Make work nicest."

"Your work is to take me to this alleged death room?"

"Yud." It was close enough to yes and I took it as such.

"It doesn't seem like it would be a difficult task."

"No... but it hurt heart."

"You hurt my heart by saying I'm not a person. That is very insensitive." I chided him on manners, but i couldn't take the situation too seriously.

"You no has name."

"What in the world is a name?"

"I call Yid. Other persons... call Yid and say, 'Yid... come Yid. Take this to death chambers.' You no have name like Yid. You be this, that, thing, it. You not person. Yid not want be person. Be person make Yid sad. Yid want like work. Work make Yid sad." A little moisture accumulated at his eyes. His job must have been tough on him if he was sweating from pushing me around a little, but what an odd place to perspire.

"How can you not love work? Doesn't it make you feel complete?"

"You not get idea. You not person. Persons make not persons. Not persons work and persons no work. Not persons do all work and persons no have any work. Persons has easy lifes. Yid person. Yid no have easy lifes. Not persons have no easy life... more than Yid. Not persons no get idea dat dey no had easy lifes. Dat why not persons think, 'love work.'"

"Alright," I said with a skeptical slowness. "Let me get this straight." I kind of laughed, finding this hysterical. He was looney. It was a marvelous distraction from the throbbing pain. "I'm not a person, but you are a person named Yid. Most persons can live without work because the not persons do all the work. But you happen to be the exception and be a person and still have to work. Could it be you're just a miserable fool who can't enjoy his work, like everybody? And what would these persons do without work? Wouldn't they be more miserable than you?"

He sighed and didn't respond to my inquires. "You go death chambers. It no important." He paused and said three words so incredibly clear that it made all others be a lie. "Rest in peace."

I heard what had to be a heavy door opening. He brought us through and it was positively rancid! No wonder he wasn't fond of his profession.

"I'll rest perhaps two hours tonight and I will be fixed and I'll be back. Tomorrow, I'll work without rest as compensation. I'll walk out of here on my own power. Watch. I love my work." He didn't respond to my vibrant enthusiasm, but he made a sort of disheartening groan. It made me momentarily doubt my hopes.

He lifted his end of the basket and dumped me onto a bed without regard for my comfort. Unable to move, I laid in a twisted heap of myself, my chin residing on my ankle. He clumsily fumbled with the straps and buckles before he cuffed me into the machine. In the process, he unravelled me into a more suitable position which I approved of. He input some data into it and he muttered, "Fifty-one twelve."

Yid left without a goodbye or an apology for his lack of respect, leaving me to only machine beeped obnoxiously and steadily. I wished for it to cease, but it had to be doing something. Why else would Yid have put it on me?

After several minutes, the beeps became lethargic and I was becoming weaker with the beats pace. I smiled, thinking of the next day with joy and contentment at work. The last thing I knew, the beep transformed into a continuous ring.

I love my work... I love my work... I hate my work... I hate my-