My hell on earth
A wild keening came from the windows as the stench of charred flesh overwhelmed him. Death trap.
Dust and heat scrubbed this sky of all colour. Disfigured roads and dismal buildings littered the earth beneath it; a desolate land in shades of dirt.
He looked upon the building below him. The veneer of smog and heat created the impression of a mirage, giving the factory an almost dream-like quality.
"Death trap," he whispered to himself.
Day after day, he was sent to observe, not knowing why. He never questioned, much like the people he would see filling into this building in just a few moments.
One door ─ they entered through one door every morning; they left through the same door every evening. There was no other option; all of the others were chained and padlocked.
Whether to keep profits in or miscreants out was debatable, but it was nevertheless the whim of the owners.
He always loved this time of day, before the people were swallowed up by the factory; before smiles were wiped off and drowned in the angry buzz of sewing machines.
His favourite among these people was a young girl. Every time he saw her bright eyes and sweet face, he would be instantly taken over by love for the Creator. He reached out to her and shrank back in delight ─ another heartbeat was strong within her.
Wait, what was this?
One of the older women held the hand of a little boy. Oh, this must be her grandson, the one she was bragging about with such loving pride yesterday. The supervisor had allowed the boy to stay with her while his mother was at work.
"If he makes himself useful, I might even give him a few rupees," the supervisor remarked offhandedly.
“He might have a heart after all,” the woman muttered to her friend.
Once the last of them had walked in, the door locked shut. Another work day had begun, and it would end after long hours were proffered by those inside. In the end, the workers would leave the factory with only enough time spared to prepare for the next day.
A terrible sense of foreboding washed over the observer, pulling his attention back to the people inside. Everything seemed as it had been ─ until he heard the screams.
A wild keening came from the windows as the stench of charred flesh overwhelmed him. Angry smoke billowed, cloaking the horror in a deathly veil. Fiery tongues licked at the desperate souls trying to squeeze through the windows. Those who could escape through the bars jumped.
Did they hope to survive the fall? Or did they only hope this form of death was more merciful than the one waiting inside?
Imploring screams tore through heaven and earth, beseeching for help. He heard, and yet, he did not answer, for he was still only an observer and he still did not know why he was sent here.
As he watched, ethereal light descended from above and the angel of death stood before him. He put his hands lovingly on the observer’s shoulder.
“I cannot reap this many alone, my brother, my fellow angel. That is why you were sent here.”
Read more by Zeba here or follow her on Twitter @zebansari
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