“Colburn! New Girl! The pipes on floor Seven-A-iii are clogged again!”
It was Georgia’s first day on the job, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her. “It’s Georgia, ma’am, Georgia Fredrickson.”
“I don’t care if it’s Queen Anne III, the pipes in 7-A-iii are clogged and they need to be unclogged.”
Colburn, Sandra of the first name, grabbed Georgia’s arm. “We’ve got it, Madam Tomlinson, ma’am. Sorry about New Girl.”
“She’s new. She’ll learn or drown. Take her down to the dungeon, then, and shake Manster’s cage. Tell him he’s got to get the clog out, or the priest’s start screaming, and you know what that does to the sisters-and-brothers.”
Dungeon. Cage. Priests. The Facility had a language all of its own. Georgia could only let the water carry her along and hope that she could stay afloat.
“Come on, new girl.” Colburn grabbed Georgia’s arm. “I get to show you the dungeon, lucky me. Which means I get to show you the slide.”
“…Slide?” Keep afloat. Just keep afloat. The Facility paid better than anyone else in all of Compton. They also had this way of… leveraging people who didn’t work for them. Carrot, stick, all Georgia had to do was keep floating along until she knew what was going on. “Colburn, what are the pipes?”
“Heating, cooling. Cooking. They carry steam and… other things… all through the Facility. But, uh, the other things. They clog sometimes. And then they have to send the weasels in. It’s complicated.”
“…Weasels. Sandra, tell me honestly.” Georgia was a hand taller than Colburn and she was having trouble keeping up. “How long does it take for this place to make sense?”
“Oh, not long.” Colburn pulled open a sliding door hidden in the metal-paneled walls. “You just have to get your brain around the fact that everything is different here than is it in Compton.” Inside the wall compartment, a slick-looking ramp led downwards into the dark. “Hold on here and here, then let go all at once. Like this.” Colburn stepped onto the ramp, sat down, and let go. Immediately, she was transported downwards. The sounds of whooping trailed upwards.
Feeling as if the water was closing over her, Georgia followed suit. The ride downwards was smooth, terrifying, and rather short. She had, she realized, no idea how far she’d come.
Colburn was alreading bouncing in place as Georgia found her feet at the bottom. “Come on, the dungeon’s right over here.”
Georgia had been expecting a basement office, a dark place, perhaps, or a gloomy place. What she had not been expecting was the guard, with a pike, no less, the barred doors, the cage hanging in the middle of a mess of pipes. Weasels swarmed in and out of the cage and climbed up the outside of pipes, sometimes seeming to vanish.
And in the middle of all that, a small man with a very large beard was working on a pipe, his wrench nearly as big as he was.
“That,” Colburn explained unnecessarily, “is Manster. And his cage.”
Keep floating? The water was most definitely over Georgia’s head.
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