View Full Version : Where Have All the Workers Gone? (Short Story)

July 18th, 2016, 03:21 PM
This is an experimental Short Story I wrote. It is meant to be open to interpretation as to what it means. Thank you for reading!

There are kids in gas masks that skip with a crayon in their hand. They colour the leaves on the trees a bright yellow, the dead weeds a healthy green. It’s what all our scavengers have claimed to have seen. A world attempted to be rebuilt by the younger generations. But Astroturf lawns and cardboard houses are not going to beat the tricks of the trade. Where have all the workers gone?

I certainly couldn’t see any from where I stood, from on top of Tele Hill in Louisiana. I call this Tele Hill because of the grey bricked observatory sitting on the hill. Its empty now, it’s not yet felt a white crayon. It’s a shame the giant telescope is no longer used. It was once a device to scan the skies and wonder, but now a device to stare at a single image: a mushroom cloud - a photograph that has been taped over the lens by one of our residents of the trailer park.

The trailer park is situated down the long winding bricked steps halfway down the hill in the observatory’s car park. A cluster of trailers looked like God had chucked out unwanted white Lego bricks onto his front drive, letting whatever natural force sweep us away.

I live in number 8, and I labour through the already open door. My forehead immediately felt sticky, my cough dry in the muggy air. I stop in the doorway of the living room, well, it’s barely for the living. Teenagers and young adults lay sprawled across sofas and the matted carpet opening and closing their mouths like fish searching for water. Soot floated in the grey light from the only window not covered by white blinds. On the window sill were empty measuring cups - the measuring cups that were filled with rain sat by the idle teens. A music video by Archers of Loaf, White Trash Heroes simmered on a low volume from the sound system by the TV. The room gave me a headache almost immediately every time. It had the bored Sunday afternoon lack of energy to it. I guess you could say everyday is a Sunday here.

Later in the day the human fish called my trailer mates would play a video game: a fantasy RPG where everyone has their own character. We used to play it a lot in the week when the trailers were actually in a trailer park in Galveston. Everyone used to create their characters with bold armour and colours with goofy names like Sam Ben Dover, Big Mac and Puppy Stomper. But now people use create their characters to dress like them, look like them and have the same name as them.

I tapped Nadia and whisper, “I’m going soon, do you still want to come?” but she carries on starring at the ceiling. It’s strange; I didn’t know why suddenly in this day and age I wanted to find out what’s outside Tele Hill. When I was living with my Dad in Galveston I was offered countless times to work with him on his boat. A job that would allow me to explore the world, but I was focused on riding my bike down to the trailer park every afternoon and getting shoving needles in my veins, playing video games and making rock music. Our music didn’t rock.

Now I need to know if it’s possible to survive without turning into the dead roots my pals have withered to. I need to know where all the workers have gone. Have they been offered a paradise because of their skills and experienced? This is key. Soon this ravenous cough will peel the final layer from my wind pipe.

I headed outside and revved my motorbike. Laughing as I’d become closer to a motor-vehicle everyday with this bark.

All I can think of as I drove towards Louisiana’s dock while I past old billboards of missing persons, and shops and houses with curtains in their windows drawn, is what I will have to offer a warrior who presents his hand.

It looked like from afar the kid and his green crayon had laid a coat on the docked ship. It sat at the edge of the tree line in silence. I was used to hearing sea gulls and the crank of machinery when I used to meet my Dad when he returned from long trips. A hawk watched from on top of the ships Bridge. I wondered if it was my Dad up there, protecting his life’s work.

Inside the ships bottom levels were kitchens packed to the ceiling of dark blue metal crates that were up against the fridges and piled around the work benches. I soon found out why there were so many crates in these rooms because as I entered the Hold below deck where they kept storage, my footsteps and cough began to echo. It was a steep ceilinged room that was pitch black and seemed empty at first. Until my eyes began to adjust and I could make out shades of grey circles on the floor and the odd simmer of red and white. There were rows upon rows of these grey circles. As I walked further in I felt crunching beneath my feet and could make out the outlines of eyes and mouths like that of a bad water painting. However, I couldn’t see the bodies that I assumed were once attached to these heads. As I got about halfway though this room - well I might not have been halfway through it was so vast - I heard a voice echo from behind, “hang on,” it carried the withered tone of a seen-it-all-before hotel receptionist. I turned around to see a pale face rise in the black. I raised each leg high in the air slowly as I edged forward careful not to snag my feet on whatever was beneath my feet. As I drew close, getting within three feet of this aged, pale, yet full face. I made out a scar over the face’s right eyebrow. However, this face had other brush strokes added since I last saw it five months ago. Grass weeds had taken root on it, in fact, as my eyes began to adjust like the screen brightness being dialled up this was not like the scene from my trailer at all. All of these faces were still attached to their bodies. They were all wrapped in dark ivy and tree roots. And those flashes of red were roses, and the white, daffodils. I noticed my dad still had his silver cross around his neck. I joked, “You know, there are faster ways to heaven dad.”

His face remained blank, his eyes looking straight through me, “I’m resting, I’m not going anywhere.” He spoke to me like a prison guard taking away a fragile prisoner. I said,

“How haven’t you been poisoned, this whole place is radioactive.”

“There’s nothing for you here, pal.”


My Dads gaze dropped to the floor like I was no longer there. He sunk himself back onto the ground and closed his eyes. I lay down next to him for a while before falling asleep and waking to my body shivering, my cough louder. I could see I’d not grown anything. He was wrapped in ivy again.

I returned to the trailer park that evening and lay next to Nadia. Letting myself fight for whatever air was left in here. Breathing becoming difficult, my arms and legs turning even more pale. Blending in with my trailers dying weeds.

July 26th, 2016, 11:40 PM
hello - I'm not sure that opening up a story to interpretation is a good idea - leave that to the poets!

it starts with a vague and complicated metaphor - which doesn't really draw the reader in.
and it doesn't recover until we reach the trailer - this is the interesting part, for me -
an insight into an alternative lifestyle, very well wrought.

getting through the ship was too long-winded and strange, as I read it - and was hard work.
he meets his dad - and what? - mysteriously mixed with metaphor, and the moment is lost.

this is strewn with grammatical errors - and needs a thorough overhaul for public consumption.

I would say, get rid of the poetry - the real grittiness of the narrator's trailer park existence shows
the promise of something much more interesting.


July 27th, 2016, 06:31 PM
Thanks for the critique Ned! I'm glad you liked the bits in the trailer. I will certainly work on the beginning of the story and the bit where he goes onto the ship. And I will definitely sort out my SPaG! Thanks again :-)

Saul Bee
August 11th, 2016, 10:20 PM
I like post apocalyptic stuff and this does paint a pretty good bleak picture. The image of a half ruined trailer park beneath an observatory on a hill is good, a sound setting. All that said it came across as a bit confused and clumsy in places. It starts to get clearer in the trailer as if there is more focus on what is actually important and it feels like there is some direction. There is something here almost like the description of a post apocalyptic acid heads trip. Probably makes more sense if you are in the trip, but we are outside observers and need a little help.

That being said not sure my critique makes any more sense but I am a new to all this.

August 13th, 2016, 06:07 PM
Thanks Saul Bee, I appreciate the feedback!

August 14th, 2016, 05:00 AM
Very interesting piece. Ned raises some good points, especially about the metaphor and the SPag, but I would like to add that I like the essence of the atmospheric setting that you've brought out here. The dreariness and the sense that the people in the story are lost is a great thing here. You captured it here. If you would revise keeping that in mind you would have a very stronger product.

Just my two cents! Cheers!

August 15th, 2016, 09:25 AM
Ok, thanks Danielstg. I will edit this piece soon and try and tighten it up a bit, but I'm quite happy with the way it portrays its meaning, that it's about the way the trailer park people have not equipped themselves with any skills or experience to survive in this world anymore, while the workers on the boat have done. Hence the metaphor of them growing.

thanks again!

August 18th, 2016, 01:20 PM
it's a good story with a pretty good interpretive theme going on. Maybe I'm wrong about this but the one thing I don't like his the rather underdeveloped character. I mean, who is this dude? I do however like how u explained his want of leaving his trailer park. I think that if we had some
more insight to to character, we could feel a bit stronger for who he is as a person. Good Luck!

August 18th, 2016, 07:57 PM
Thanks QuentinJW! I really appreciate that you liked it. And yes, maybe he's to an extent, but the stories metaphor develops him more as a character rather than the story. Thanks again ��