By C.W. Spalding
On the oven hung a sign which read “Do Not Enter.” Petre passed it every day as he loaded up the trolleys. The wheeled devices were so heavy, running in their treads like a train on a rail, and each one was chocked full of uncooked morsels of chicken. Each trolley was filled, pushed in, sealed up, and then set to bake.
“You about done?” Wurman asked.
“Just ’bout,” Petre replied.
He wiped the sweat from his brow on the sleeve of his plaid shirt and placed the last basket of legs on the cart. Wurman turned away to his own baskets; his quota was not nearly finished.
Man, it was hot. And loud. The industrial fans did little to quell the intense heat of the ovens’ baking.
“I’ve gotta piss,” Wurman said.
He was already behind.
“Hurry back,” Petre said warningly.
Wurman went hobbling off and Petre turned to push in his cart. But as he put his shoulder to the edge of the trolley, it didn’t budge. That was odd. He grunted with effort, pushing with his hips too. Still nothing. So, he glanced into the dark long tube of the oven.
There must be something on the rail.
When he stepped inside, the oven was cool. The tube was stale with the smell of grease. It muffled the monotonous roar of the factory. As Petre peered into the darkness, he pulled out his mini-flashlight.
Oh, there was the source of his troubles. A stray basket which must have fallen off the night before lay wedged with its corner in the rail’s divot. Quickly, he went inside to grab it. And he chuckled as he picked it up. Stupid thing.
But then he heard a rumble and he turned to get a face full of trolley as it was pushed in.
He could see the door, over the trolley. He cried out. But not louder than the factory’s noise. The last thing he saw was Wurman smiling, having done a good deed for his friend Petre, as the door… swung shut. The oven hurred to life.