Noah Paulson



As I step around the corner I am confronted with a cavernous room. Everything is dark except for one livid, blue, illuminated ray on the floor. The concrete is splotched with dark stains of an unknown fluid – dirty oil, or possibly something more sinister. I tilt my head up slowly and see a white disk, encompassed by indigo night and framed with a massive window. A spindly silhouette interrupts the moonlight. Fear rises in my chest, like malevolent bile. From the back of my left ear I hear a slight crunch. The sound seems to be magnified tenfold in the silence, like the click of the heater in bed at night. “Who’s there?” I yell. The warm yellow circle of my torch searches. A jarring crack makes my entire spine convulse and I stumble backwards. My body hits roughly shaped metal, cold and hard. I turn to the side and trip.        SMACK       I slump against the wall and grab a large switch. There is a light, green flicker and then full florescent safety. The factory and all of its metal laborers are illuminated. Smoke wafts from an ancient machine. Then … silence.


There used to be a different watchman at the factory. The heels of his boots had clicked like a metronome for decades. Once, during his watch, he brushed against me. I had turned on my motor and caught him in my gears and whirring belts, yanking him in. Tonight, a new guy infiltrates my domain for the first time. Now, I start my ancient motor and move my work-weary pistons, blackened by years of service. They extend and contract in the moonlight like the limbs of a giant spider. That should get his attention. The vibrations loosen something and it falls into my grinding machinery.    CRUNCH    I feel the strain of my motor jamming, like a strongman struggling under a massive weight. The tension builds within my body, wrenching in all directions. The old watchman has had his revenge, destroying me with his metal key ring.


Copyright 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.