The Cleaning Crew

Everyone on the job site knew their job and performed it well, day in and day out without complaint. No one would dare complain anyway, what with the new laws about talking on the job. Joshua thought the new laws made sense, after all, people were there to work – not to have fun or make friends. A job needed to be done, so just get it done. It was that focus on getting the job done that pulled the country back together after the great war and he was happy to be part of that rebuilding process. That’s why he was the first in his city to sign up for the construction crews the government sent to rebuild.

“Get a move on,” the driver screamed at the crew as they stepped off the work bus.

“Joshua,” the foreman announced. “I want you to take your crew of carpenters into sector 3G and get that started.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Oh, and take the new guy too.”

Joshua’s heart sank. Why was his crew subjected to the new guy? These younger guys just don’t follow the rules and the certainly don’t have the work ethic of the older guys. “Yes, sir.”

The 10-man crew walked into sector 3G and glanced around. Rubble lay everywhere, but that was not their job. They were responsible for reclaiming what could be used from inside the buildings. After two blocks, Joshua pointed at their destination.

“What was Thomas Jefferson Elementary School?” the new guy asked, reading the sign over the entrance.

“Listen, Carter,” Joshua said. “Better get used to being quiet on the job. We have one job to do and that isn’t talking.”

“Geeze, I just asked—”

Another member of the crew shoved him in the back. Carter looked around as he quietly entered the building. Drawings of honey bees, flowers, and rainbows lined the main hall. Joshua pointed to three men and pointed to another hall. They started work there, while another three went upstairs, and another three stayed in the main hall. Joshua and the new guy started in the last room in the main hall.

Carter walked in the room and began reading the letters to the President that lined the walls asking him to stop the war. Joshua could see the glint of curiosity in Carter’s eyes and laughed. He too had been young and intrigued when he saw his first school.

“Researchers think the people who used places like this thought the world was full of possibility and wonder,” Joshua said, leaning on the large overturned desk. “We find letters like that all the time. As if they had anything to say about it.”

Carter looked around and listened as Joshua relayed what he had heard about this culture from the researchers. He listened to stories about the artifacts they have found and about how they used to skirl daily because they thought that made the sun rise. Places like this were used to house young people who were unable or unwilling to follow the rules where they would be told lies every day until they learned to see the truth.

“How very dystopian,” Carter said, flipping through a copy of Harry Potter.

“Downright terrifying,” Joshua said, taking the book from him. “Let’s get to work.”

They worked the rest of the day removing the remnants of life before the great war.


This story was inspired by the following prompts:
Swimmers One-Word Prompt — letter
Word of the Day Challenge — possibility
Fandango’s One Word Challenge — artifact
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day — skirl (means to play the bagpipes)
Three Things Challenge — carpenter, honey bee, dystopian

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2 thoughts on “The Cleaning Crew

    1. Some are so primed to believe the truth nowadays that Hollywood could produce a video showing N.K. throwing “God Bless Trump” parades and people would believe it. After all there are people who are still convinced the earth is flat, the moon landing fake, and Obama was from Africa.

      Liked by 1 person

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