Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Night Shift

The night shift come on late at the plant; no sign of them at all when I left late myself on Monday at 9:45pm.

But in the morning we can sense they’ve been and gone – a stapler is on someone else’s desk, high vis jackets are damp on the pegs, a few yellow sticky notes are posted here and there, and a cold half empty coffee mug sits by the printer.

Somewhere, deep within this huge ancient factory complex, is a freezing dark crypt with coffins in neat rows.

As daylight breaks late on November mornings, the last of lids is secured by the exhausted night shifter within.

Then a long sinister silence, broken only by dreams of darkness and nightmares of sunlight and blue skies.

Around midnight, to sounds of faint scratches and foul oath or two, the lids are pushed off, and engineers and mechanics and drivers arise.

Pale as death, they dress in orange overalls and trudge up the long staircase to ground level, and the hated fresh air.

Once in the office, the men and women with fridge white skin and arctic blue eyes collect their work schedules and drink coffee made with ice cold water from the cooler. Nobody touches the light switch.

Outside, windowless white vans idle in the darkness, ready to speed their crews through the deserted streets to whatever maintenance work awaits them.

When the white vans return, always before dawn, a security guard might shudder for no reason… But he never says a word.


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