“Here’s your shovel. There’s your pile of dirt. It needs to be moved from there to there. Get to work.”
“What happens when I’m done?”
“We’ll give you another pile of dirt. If you’re real fast you get a bonus at the end of the week. If you’re slow, it comes out of your check.”
Halfway through the pile of dirt the sky cracked open and a vast face full of stars looked down on the camp. Then it was gone and the rain poured down.
The whistle blew.
“Okay, that’s it for today. Get a tarp on that pile! You want it all to wash away? Move your ass! Okay, okay. Shovels in this shed, picks in that, bins stacked — stacked, I said! — neatly under the roof.”
The shed smelled like sweat and new-turned earth.
“Line up against the wall! Hands out! Fine, okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, okay. End of shift, file into the cafeteria in an orderly fashion and present your tickets for your meal. If you have lost your ticket, you will not be fed! Tickets may not be traded. You may not redeem more than one ticket per meal.”
Inside the door.
“You did good today. Good work. Thank you for your work. Thank you, thank you. Thank you.”