Last Week’s FFF – Faithful
It was hot and muggy inside the desalinization plant. The building was drenched in sunshine, but enclosed, allowing no wind. It was so continuously bright that it forced the laborers to wear dimming goggles.
Craig worked the machine, his strong arms pumping, helping extra fresh water from the salty soup. His mouth was dry, and his brow was wet. He stayed an arm and raised it to wipe his forehead. He cleared the perspiration from his face. Some clung to the rim of his goggles. He lifted them and brushed beneath to dry his skin.
He looked as his had as he pulled it from his face. It was wet with his sweat. He licked his dry lips with a sandpaper tongue as he thought of the liquid. Half tempted to drink it, he instead flicked his hand, flinging the liquid from it. He reminded himself that it was only sweat, not fresh water. Not drinkable.
A whistle bellowed. He turned his back to his station, and his attention to the second floor balcony where his boss stood. His boss was middle aged, but looked younger. The opposite was true of Craig. Just barely broken into his thirties, he looked mid-forties. That’s what a lifetime of inadequate water will do, he figured. His boss had clearly never had that problem. This was a family factory, and the manager was old money. He didn’t know what thirst was.
“Attention!” the manager called.
Any who hadn’t paid it before turned now, and the operations floor went silent as they waited to see what he had to say.
“We got a big order to fill. Everyone will be working doubles today. Possibly triples,” he said.
A groan crested over the crowd. It had been a long day already. They were hot and tired.
“Do we get double and triple rations?” Craig yelled.
The boss thought a moment.
“No. This water is for powering machines, not people. Do your job, don’t get greedy. We pay you, you can buy your own water,” he said.
“Even working triples we can barely afford water for our families! You’re going to work us into the ground!” Craig said.
“That’s not my problem. I employ you, you do what you want with your money. Don’t like it? Find another job!” the boss said.
He quickly adjourned to his office, ending the conversation.
Unrest washed through the mass.
Craig thought of his young daughter and wife. They were dehydrated, desiccating. He became agitated. He paced back and forth, the rage inside fueling him.
“We deserve better!” Craig shouted.
Everyone hushed, eager to be rallied.
“People out there are dying. People in here are dying. We’ve all seen it. The one they work too hard. The one who is too afraid of losing their job to speak up or sneak a drink. Just dead, on the floor. They’re removed, and no one cares. The boss doesn’t care. His family, the owners of this place, they don’t care. And you can bet that the people getting this water don’t care where it comes from or how they get it. We are dying! And for what? So those who were rich when humanity existed on oil could continue their reign by controlling the world’s water? Because those alternative energy engineers all cheered when they discovered that they could use fresh water as an energy source and didn’t think long term. My father worked in the Arctic as they mined the last of our poles. They greedily used up all of the natural fresh water stored in the ice caps. They used up the lakes and rivers. The mountains. And it wasn’t enough! It’s never enough. Now, they have us, here, working ourselves to death removing salt from the ocean so that they can continue to live like nothing has changed. I say, no more!” Craig said.
“Yeah!” the crowd shouted.
“Let’s show them that they can’t control the water or us! We make the water, we should get as much of it as we want!” Craig yelled.
Craig rushed the metallic staircase that led to his boss’s office. Adrenaline made his muscles forget their lack of moisture and function fluidly. He got to the top, and crashed against the door. It was locked. He bashed it again. This time, it relented. Fragments of wood flew from the door frame as it exploded inward.
His boss sat in his chair, wide eyed and afraid. Craig ignored him, and went to the mini-fridge in the corner. He opened it. Inside, the shelves were filled with cold, crystal clear water.
“See? He has enough water to last for days, just sitting in his office for him to sip at his leisure. This is everyones right!” Craig said.
He gathered the glass containers of water in his arms and took them to the balcony. He called everyone’s attention and threw the bottles to them, keeping three for himself.
He popped the metal snaps and removed the cap from the bottle. He poured it into his mouth, letting only a little spill over his face. He chugged and chugged, opened the next and downed it.
The boss appeared behind him.
“Stop! For the love of god, stop!” the boss cried.
Craig ignored him and continued to drink. Two bottles down. He started on the third. The cool, wet and clean liquid felt so good. It hydrated his tongue, it soothed his throat, and filled his stomach. He finished the third bottle.
“Now, let’s take our fight to the public! Let them know what’s going on!” Craig yelled.
His coworkers cheered.
He began down the stairs, but stopped.
His head was pounding. His stomach twisted, rejecting the water. He heaved, but the liquid stayed put. The pounding in his head became pressure. It grew and grew. He placed both hands to his head. He was dizzy. His muscles were suddenly weak.
Losing his senses, Craig fell down the stairs. He tumbled and bounced, unconsciouses before he hit the floor. A coworker ran to him and checked his vitals.
“He dead!” he said in disbelief.
The boss shook his head.
“Water intoxication. You can’t drink like that, it’ll mess up your electrolytes. See, we do have your best interests in mind when we ration the water. Don’t question it. Clean that up and get back to work!” he yelled.