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Storycodes: Solo-M; factory; accident; glue; stuck; encase; discovery; storage; cons/nc; X
His footsteps echo in the empty hall, as Lucas patrols the plant this Friday night as he has done every night for the past week. It’s his first job, his first week on his first job. Being a night watchman is not particularly exciting and not at all what the teenager had in mind as a child. But then again, it’s easy and, more importantly, he needs the money, so has nothing to complain about. His mind wanders to the Golf GTi he has set his mind on … if he saves a good chunk of his pay, he could have enough for a down payment in a couple of months.
A noise… a tiny little sound. He can’t place it, but he knows it shouldn’t be there.
Lucas stops and stares into the hall. The light of his torch plays along the spider’s web of pipes, tubes and vats to his left, throwing shadows that jig along in time with his motions.
“Is there anyone there? … Hello?”
There is no answer and he slowly takes a few steps towards the source of the sound. There it is again, a slight click – or tick? His heckles are up, as if somebody is watching him, and he lets the light run along the industrial plumbing.
His breathing speeds up and his heart is beating rapidly. Stupidly. Pull yourself together. “You’re an adult now, Lucas, and you can’t let yourself be scared by ghosts.”
With deep breaths to compose himself, he gingerly tiptoes deeper into the main hall of the factory, looking for the putative intruder.
Tick – tick
Somewhere to his right…
“What the hell?!”
His torchlight swings to the floor, illuminating a puddle around his feet. He tries to pull up his right foot, but he can barely lift it an inch before tough strings of rubbery liquid hold it down.
Relief washes over him, forcing a nervous laugh. No intruder, no problem. It is just a small spill in a superglue factory and a stupid guard, who manages to stand exactly in the middle of it.
Something drips on his bare forearm and as he wipes it away with his other hand, his fingers almost get stuck to his arm.
Lucas looks up, and the scene above him, lit up by the torch, causes a chill. He is standing directly underneath a massive vat and while he’s watching it, a drop of fluid escapes from a connector and falls dead-centre through the beam of light to splat onto the lens of the torch.
He is standing underneath a leaking container of superglue!
He pulls up a foot, but his shoes are completely stuck now, not an inch, not even a fraction of an inch of movement.
With the light clenched between his teeth, he fumbles with his shoelaces. He needs to get away from here. Managing to free his right foot, he puts it down on top of his shoe, careful not to touch the glue.
The laces of his left shoe – slightly longer than necessary – are stuck underneath the sole. He tries to pull them free, but to no avail. Balancing, the lad yanks the laces to pull them from the glue, until his right foot slips from its precarious position into the puddle of glue. Almost in slow motion, he begins to topple over, and with both feet stuck, he cannot stop it! He has to put down his hand to stop himself landing flat on his face.
Oh hell, hell, Hell!
Lucas desperately pushes himself back up onto his feet, but the seconds that takes him are enough to leave his hand stuck fast to the factory floor.
Through his shirt he can feel a drop of glue landing on his back.
Drip – drip …
It takes him a minute to take stock of his situation and by then a wet patch has formed where his shirt is stuck to his back. And taking stock hasn’t really helped much: he’s stuck, completely stuck with both feet and one hand glued to the factory floor. There is glue dripping on his back and he can’t see a way to get away.
Drip … drip – drip … drip, dripdripdripdripdrp.p.p.p.p
The slow trickle suddenly turns into a steady stream and within moments there is glue running off his back down his legs. Paralysed by fear and glue, Lucas is frozen in the stream of superglue that seems to flow quicker and quicker. He can’t feel it falling on his back anymore, so thick is the crust of set glue there by now. It is running over his shoulders and neck, down his right arm, all rapidly getting covered with a hardening layer.
When a trickle of glue runs down his chin, Lucas wakes up to the danger. His trunk and legs are fully covered already. If it covers up his mouth and nose, he won’t be able to breathe. The stream of glue is now resembling a shower and he knows that it won't be much longer before it is too late.
With his free left hand he grabs the torch between his teeth and twists until the end comes off and the 6 batteries fall onto the floor. The glue is flowing over his neck and down the sides of his face, and his head is pretty much stuck in position now. He grabs the shaft of the torch in his mouth and twists off the head, leaving a tube of an inch wide and a foot long. With his left hand he holds one end between his lips and angles the other end upwards, praying that the steam won't reach so far that it covers the far end. Within seconds a torrent of glue clatters onto the growing mound on his back, flowing over his head and face, gluing his lips to the lifesaving tube.
It is Friday night. Nobody will come to the factory until Monday.
Mr Rutherford swears out loud. "Bloody teenagers, no work ethic, lazy bloody useless buggers!"
He'd come to the factory early on Sunday and found it deserted. Doors locked, watchman's cubicle empty, not a living thing in sight. If the lad thinks he still has a job when he returns tonight - IF he returns tonight - he has another think coming.
He walks onto the factory floor and is stopped dead in his tracks by the semi-transparent pyramid of plastic in the middle of the room. Hardened glue, he realises, from the No 2 storage tank. What really shocks him, though, is the dark shape shimmering inside the mound. A human shape, a night watchman's shape. In a fraction of a second he realises what happened. The seal on the pump had blown again, as had happened a year before, and the stupid boy had got himself caught by the flowing glue. He knocks on the mass - glass hard, as expected. He can't be alive in there, can he? With his hand he covers the tube that sticks from the hard surface, and after a few seconds, he feels the desperate suction that betrays the presence of the living, breathing teenager inside. Fuck!
Lucas doesn't know how long he has been stuck. Time loses all meaning in his current situation. He hurts, from the immobility, from the rock hard surface around him, from the difficulty breathing. Someone will come to his rescue, surely. Monday morning he will be found and freed from this encasement. The knocks wake him from his slumber. Is there someone there? Someone who knows he is stuck and who can bring in the emergency services? His air is cut off and, before he can panic, restored. Thank God, there are people there.
Mr Rutherford knows he has a decision to make. He should call the fire brigade and the ambulance service. But that seal has been a nuisance for ages; he had known about it and done nothing to deal with it. The Health and Safety people will have a field day when this gets reported. The lad will sue him for every penny when he is freed - how long has he been stuck? Long enough to warrant a couple of million? How much more if he is injured, perhaps even permanently disabled?
What if he removes the mound in its totality, the boy inside it, and makes it disappear somewhere in the back of the storage sheds? He can keep the lad alive, feeding him through the breathing tube, without freeing him. Nobody will ever know what happened to him.Twenty-four hours until the next shift starts. He has time to think it over carefully ...
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