Jesse Jarnow

looper in the dark, no. 5

(Short fiction, shorter increments.)

Looper in the Dark: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11, no. 12

In the warehouse’s halls, Looper felt as if he were on an exotic vacation. “We’re mostly a factory now,” Mr. Brown, the manager, explained to him as they walked. They passed door after door. The snowy street seemed miles away. The collar of Mr. Brown’s red shirt jutted at an unusual angle, Looper thought. It was most pleasing.

“The upper floors are for specialty machines,” Mr. Brown pointed out, showing Looper the building map. “None gets used more than once or twice a month. There are rarely more than a half-dozen men up there at a time.” Looper nodded. The tone of Mr. Brown’s desk was one he could not name, like a shade from an early color photograph.

On the factory floor, high windows transformed the thin winter sun into something magnificent. Earphones muffled Looper’s ears. Mr. Brown pointed out the fire exits, professionally silent in the din. It occurred to Looper that he did not know the factory’s purpose. One machine was at least two stories tall. Two men tended to dials and counters at its base.