A Factory

You walk into a lively place full of hustle and bustle. The noise seems odd since you came from somewhere so eerie and silent.

"Hello, there, where is this?" you ask one of the workers working away at a long assembly line. There's no reply, so, assuming the worker hadn't heard you, you tap her shoulder. "Hello, there."

There still isn't any answer, so you shrug and continue on your way, deciding to find someone else who's more cooperative than that worker. There is a grey-clad man standing at the head of the assembly line, his head nodding to some silent beat and his eyes fixed on the clipboard in front of him.

"Hello, there," you say to the man. He says nothing. You, being the good mannered person that you are, repeat your words instead of getting frustrated and annoyed, thinking that perhaps he hadn't heard you. "Hello, mister."

There is still no answer, then you see the thin white cords coming from his ears into his pockets. Earphones. You tap him on the shoulder, and he looks up, slightly surprised. Soon, though, he looks back down before you get to slip a word in.

"Mister, I need your help." You tap the man again. He looks up, and this time, you make sure you have the right words on your tongue at the right time. "Mister, where am I?"

He looks around as if you aren't there, frustrating you a bit, before looking back down. What is it with people and ignoring you? You push the man in the shoulder and start to shout. 

"MISTER! LOOK AT ME FOR AT LEAST ONE SECOND! I'VE BEEN WAITING AGES! NOW, ANSWER MY QUESTION WITHOUT IGNORING ME AND LOOKING DOWN! OKAY ..." you force yourself to take a deep breath and continue in a calm voice. "Where am I?"

You had expected everyone to turn and look at you because of your outburst, but they pretend they hadn't heard you, making you slightly annoyed, but it is the man that you want to notice you. He's moving, making you blot out all the other sounds around you.

"Mister? Sorry for yelling."

The grey-clad man slowly reached down into his pocket, eyes darting this way and that, as if he were trying to see some phantom foe. Then he took out his iPod and stopped the music. He replaced the iPod into his pocket then slowly, ever so slowly,  pulled his earphones out of his ears, one by one. His eyes were still darting to and fro.

"Hello?" he squeaked. This is the first time you'd heard anyone make any direct noise towards you, and you scream in delight. "Yes! You heard me! Sorry. I've just been frustrated because everyone else has been outright ignoring me. You'd think that a person coming out of nowhere into your factory would make a big surprise, but no, it is ignored and people just refuse you talk to me."

The man's eyes suddenly stop darting, and he seems to have reached a conclusion that his invisible phantoms aren't real, because his shoulders sag when the tensed-up fear he held is released. His eyes go back down to the clipboard, though, and he puts his earphones back in.

"Why is everyone ignoring me these days? I'm not that unfriendly as to have people not wanting to talk to me!" you huff, but still, you think that these people might be just the unsociable type. Then something hits you ... the man resumed his activities once he had decided the phantom was unreal, and he only heard you when you screamed...

"WAIT! MAN! COME BACK AND STOP LOOKING AT YOUR CLIPBOARD FOR A MOMENT!" you scream, yelling at the top of your lungs. "I AM THE PHANTOM. I WON'T HURT YOU!"

The man looks up, frightened. "Hello?" he squeaks again. Then his posture changes to defensive. His clipboard goes up like a shield. "You don't scare me, you ghost. Come out and show yourself!"

"THAT'S THE THING!" you scream. "I CAN'T SHOW MYSELF! I'M A GHOST, OR SO YOU THINK. WHY CAN'T YOU SEE ME? I'M RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!" You feel slightly exasperated. "Oh, it's no use. I really just want to wake up from this weird dream I'm having."

"You're right in front of me?" the man says, terrified again. He scrambles backwards. "Don't touch me, you devil!"

"I'm not a devil!" you protest, before remembering he can't hear you if you don't shout. "Forget it," you mutter. Shouting would just take up too much of your energy.

"Ha!" the man says, obviously thinking he had the last word. "Take that, you foul ghostling! May you not plague people any more!" With that, he scuttles away, still holding his clipboard in defensive position, you note. Then you realize he might be the key to you going back home.

"NO, WAIT, MAN! I NEED YOU! I PROMISE I WON'T HURT YOU AND I'LL GIVE YOU A MILLION DOLLARS!" you yell.

The man stops in mid-scuttle. "A million dollars?" There is a long silence. "How would you do that?"

"With my ... WITH MY GHOSTLY PROPERTIES! GHOSTS LIKE US CAN DO THAT, YOU KNOW." You smile to yourself, now, happy that he can't see you. You are a horrible liar and if he saw you, he'd know that you were lying because of the grin that you can't wipe off your face.

He seems to consider this, and holds out his hand.

The End

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