Eddie tried to ignore the screams. He had yet to complete a week but he heard the same scream each day; several times a day. He was worried at first, but no one else seemed concerned. Everyone kept their eyes on their conveyor while they worked. He tried to keep his focus on the never-ending line of mechanical parts but he happened to glance up. He was surprised to see Kathy, a cute brunette he met on his first day and had been trying to get to know better. She hurriedly ran toward the boss’ office while holding a blood-soaked rag on the stump that was once her left hand.
Eddie looked around at his co-workers. They did their work ignoring anything and everything else.
“This isn’t what I want to be,” Eddie mumbled to himself. He did not want to grow jaded by ignoring people’s screams every day. “I’m done,” he said and stepped away from his line. Parts continued to roll by as if he wasn’t needed. His first decision was to check on Kathy. He rushed to try and catch up to her; but, he did not reach her before she entered the boss’ office and closed the door.
Eddie hesitated but remembered he was quitting anyway and followed her in. He did not expect his boss to be in a meeting with two oddly dressed people0. A pair of men wearing sunglasses and black leather trench coats were standing in front of Kathy. One held her wounded hand and smiled while the other pulled a fist-sized black bag out of his coat. All eyes turned to Eddie.
“What?” his former boss asked. Eddie ignored him and approached Kathy.
“Hey, you okay? Is there an ambulance on the way?” he asked her. The two strangers immediately started chuckling.
“Don’t need one,” she smiled. “Canniac _420 can fix it for me,” she turned her attention to the stranger with the small bag as he opened it. “Right?” she added. The man nodded and pulled out a golden, glowing orb; it was about the size of a golf ball.
“What are you talkin-” Eddie started to ask but the stranger touched the golden ball to her stump. The moment it made contact a wave of golden energy flowed up her arm; then, across the rest of her body from the shoulder. The surge’s wake left her wearing an entirely different set of clothes. A long white trenchcoat with a red cross on its back replaced her green work shirt and blue overalls. Her short brunette hair became a bright red faux-hawk and a pair of dark sunglasses appeared on her face.
“No way! You got the medic!?” The second stranger said; his voice carried equal parts awe and disappointment. Canniac_420 paced around Kathy in her white coat looking her up and down, then smiled.
“Some of us are just lucky,” he said. “Your turn.”
“I wonder if I can pick him,” the second asked and pointed at Eddie.
“What the hell is going on?!” Eddie shouted. He had been trying to ask that question for almost a minute now but he was too stunned by what he saw that the question never came. The moment he had their attention again his question jumped out of his mouth.
“Try it,” Cannaiac_420 said with a shrug. They both ignored Eddie.
“Hey bossman,” the stranger said. “I’m looking for some long term help. Can you spare anyone?” As he asked, the stranger put his arm around Eddie’s shoulder.
“Well…,” Eddie’s former boss scratched at his beard in thought. “…depends on the work you need. Strict deadlines mean I can’t just let anyone go, but I think there was just an accident out on the floor. If one of our employees lost a hand they won’t be able to keep up one-handed. Does that work for you?” he asked.
Eddie’s mind was whirling at the conversation going on around him, about him, but he could not seem to find any words. He felt unable to speak despite wanting to.
“Yeah, I’ll take him,” the stranger said. He reached into his own coat and pulled out a small black bag. The moment hee agreed Eddie felt unbearable pain in his left wrist. It happened so fast and hurt so much that he let out a scream there in the office. Through the immense pain, somewhere in the back of his mind, he realized that his scream sounded exactly like all the others.