Take the orange pill

Orange pills on a green conveyor belt. Jack’s eyes began to blur after half an hour, but he was unlucky to be paired with Deidre on the quality control team. Deirdre never stopped the machine, not even when she was told to take a comfort break every 30 minutes by the super.

Deirdre just sat there, silent, her lumpen bloat immobile, her brain long turned to mush years before, staring at the orange pills rolling past on the green conveyor belt, occasionally plucking a broken one off the line and flicking it into a bin. That was all the job was. And Jack stared with her. Stuck there.

It may not have been hell, but for an 18 year old saving up money for college it sometimes felt it. Rorer Healthcare paid the best money, and for that he was grateful, at first. Now, stuck inside the clean white walls of the windowless compound for twelve hours he was less sure. We make our own hell, and our own heaven, he mused to himself, mind drifting with his eyes. But every so often, we get a Deidre to make it for us.

No-one left the air-conditioned eco-chamber of the factory until the end of the shift. He began smoking in the canteen with the other drug slaves, despite never having touched nicotine before. It was anything just to get through the shift.  Just counting the minutes, the hours, the days, until he could leave. When he closed his eyes, the pills keep rolling past the inside of his retinas, a kaleidoscopic stream of clashing sick that never stopped.

Jack finished his last shift at the end of summer, departing the pasty  fluorescent-tubed light of the pharmaceutical plant for the bright, funny, lively warm sun of college life. As so many naive young fools do, he believed he was free from the thumb of Deidre and her brand of steadfast, unthinking level of bureaucratic servitude, not realising that he had a lifetime of Deirdres to look forward to.

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