PodCastle 97: Smokestacks Like the Arms of Gods


by Ben Burgis.
Read by Ben Phillips.
A PodCastle original.

At the time, it was pretty exciting stuff. The flaming torches on the tunnel walls as me and half a dozen of my fellow inductees rushed to the ceremony. The older guys who’d known my Da all standing around and beaming down at me as I pricked the drop of blood from my fingertip and pledged eternal loyalty to my fellow workers. Then the singing of the Anthem of the Red Flag and my first taste of whiskey.
Raise the scarlet standard high,
Beneath its folds we’ll live and die…
I knew Guilds weren’t exactly legal, but everyone still seemed to be in one. I’d heard some talk of Guilds sabotaging machinery when conditions got really bad, even walking off the job. In the excitement of the induction ceremony, I didn’t realize just yet that Guilds didn’t do that sort of thing any more.
In our grandfathers’ era, they might have gone on strike. Now that the companies have smartened up and started using drinkers instead of regular humans for plant security, we pretty much drink whiskey and hold induction ceremonies and sing. Good jaunty song, though, real nice beat to it.
Let cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We’ll keep the red flag flying here…

Rated R because those unionbusters don’t play around, and they might just be genuine bloodsuckers.