The chemist was lank and pale and had a liquid smile.
“I want to thank you, gentlemen,” he said.
Henry sipped his drink. To both sides, half a dozen men nursed amber spirits and listened thoughtfully. They had come for their payment.
“Our product is unique among narcotics in that it is readily absorbed in the bone,” the chemist said. “This affords certain advantages, not least of which is ease of transport.”
He gave them a shallow bow.
“We prefer to move the product in cadavers, of course, but every now and then a border must be crossed, and for this we rely upon fine young gentlemen such as yourselves. You’ve done an admirable job.”
“How are the drinks?”
“Fine, sir,” Henry took it upon himself to reply. “Just fine.”
The chemist waited a moment, observing them carefully.
“Splendid,” he said, and he strode across the room to a door. “Let me show you the process.”
The next room stank like death and roared with a sound like the fires of hell. A conveyor belt zigzagged the floor, lurching from the weight of bodies piled upon bodies. Here and there they slid from the sides and collapsed on the floor like abandoned marionettes.
“It’s quite ingenious, really,” the chemist called over the din. “In those ovens, there, the skin and muscle is boiled from the bones….”
He circled to bring them round to another perspective.
“…which then fall into these chutes, here, to the gears, which crush them to a fine powder. Soon the recycled product will be ready for market.”
The men shifted uncomfortably.
“What about us, sir?” Henry asked.
“Live bodies, sir. How do you get the product out then?”
The chemist turned away, folding his hands behind his back as a wasp might fold its wings.
“Oh,” he said. “The same way, naturally.”
And suddenly the man to Henry’s left hit the floor, shattering his glass and splashing what remained of his drink across the concrete.
This is my response to this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge, 33-333 words on the prompt crush (it clocks in at 332). Head to the link to check out the rest of this week’s stories!
Leave your comments, criticisms and various other what-have-you below.