Research Project

Posted on March 24, 2011

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SASKIA FISCHER

Okay, I’m ready for part two. No. No wait.

Let me get myself a drink, if I can find anything. Can’t drink the water here, it’s poison. So it’s the little pink or purple freckly potions instead. ‘Less your slick enough to get your hands on a bottle of the real thing. Think I’ve put them in one of the crates back here. Ooh, my back! Snapped, did you hear it?All right. Can you hear me okay? Don’t like this side of the room, except my chair’s here. It’s been drafty ever since they removed the containers from the far side of the lot last year. Proper wind corridor it’s become, with exclusive access to the back of my neck! Ugh, the pink flavoured ones really are disgusting. Like a sugar coated plastic doll. Oh, I forgot, would either of you like one? Sorry, not used to company. No? Ok.

Alright, yes. Yes, now I’m ready. Ask away. Work? I work at a production plant. Well, the kind that produces things, clearly! What kind of things? Well, parts you know, in metals, plastics, sometimes foams. That wasn’t part of the job description, to dream up uses for the parts. That’s someone else’s work, and I was never in that league. I’m part of the base. There are about 30, 000 of us at the plant, mostly at my level.

But then after the crisis, things changed. The hours got longer and the pay shrank. They started giving us coupons valid only at their stores and we drank what we had left. TV ads changed, it was all dreamy women on drugs. People got sick and many died of drink and tension. Oh and big groups stormed the supermarkets I remember, arms linked, we got our dinners. And there was a whole wave of those seeking out distant country cousins. And there were riots. Not just in this city, all over the world. The hungry threw rocks and the rich bolted their doors. And after a few reassuring and manly statements, governments stopped talking.

Wait. Wait wait wait wait wait a minute. Do you have any money? I could really do with a couple  thousand. I’m a tired old woman as you can see and I struggle, every Research Project day, for my crumb and shelter. It’s no life. I remember my grandmother. Lived down the road from us in a small brick house. Heating and electricity. And healthy too, not a bag of aching bones like me. And all this, this luxury of health and security, paid for by the authorities! Well, through our work actually. Anyway, will you give me some money? Or coupons? I’d settle for those. Buy an old woman a bit of peace and security, to pad her last years in this jungle of concrete and steel. Now where’s that phrase from? Never mind. So, can I have some money? NO?

Are you crazy? Not now? Okay. Later. I won’t forget. Later, yes.

All right, all right, I’ll tell you. But my patience is thin, remember that. So. One day, it all stopped. The papers shut down, media evaporated. You turned on the TV and got no signal. You asked your neighbour and they gave you a worried look. Only the old posters were left, and they soon got ripped down. So it was just us, the government and the companies. And how could we know what they were planning? It was an incredible time. In the streets and at the plants, it was pure panic. Especially amongst us, amongst the base. The bosses didn’t look too worried, which only raised our suspicions. So then those of us who knew about these things, about electronics and digitals, we started to try and build our own networks up again, because those had been taken down too. Also you started to see hand printed, or more often hand written papers, circulating in the streets. Always half hidden, you’d find them at bus stops and tucked in little stacks behind bins. They were full of crazy rumours, and plans and notices about meetings. What, are you leaving? What?

So soon? No. But there’s a whole part of the story I haven’t gotten to yet. An entire era, there were good times too, energy. You don’t have the time you say? Listen, I took a day off work for you. An entire day’s wages that is, that I would’ve spent buying food, because Monday’s wages always go toward food. And now you’re off. Just like that. As you appear, magically from the ether, so you vanish. Bloody bastards. I’m on the edge of my. I’m on the edge of. Wait. Where’s my money? Wait, before you leave, my money!

Posted in: 3. Ed One