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It sprung up overnight, and no one is quite sure who built it. The Wonder Factory. The neon sign blazed upon the hilltop just outside of the city. There were no announcements, no advertisements, nothing. One day we went to bed with a lush and forested hilltop in our horizon, and the next day we saw the sign. "The Wonder Factory". Naturally, a small town like our's was buzzing with curiosity and soon the whole town made their way up that hill to see what new marvel sat where only trees had before.
If only I could go back.... if only I could save them all. I would give anything to have stopped the townsfolk from ascending that hill that day, to have saved them. I was the only one to make it out, just me. So now as I sit here, forty-two years after the incident and ready to die, I will share with you my story. So open both your ears and your minds and prepare for quite a journey.
It began many summers ago, I was just a young man who had just moved out of my parent's house. Having lived in a small town my whole life, one in the middle of nowhere like we were, I was a bit out of touch with the rest of the world, as were the rest of the townsfolk.
So, when we saw the sign for "The Wonder Factory" we all assumed that this was something rather common in the rest of the country. No, that's not true. There were many different theories but eventually that theory was adopted by the folks in town, all fifty-eight of us. So we found ourselves trekking up the hill to see what modern marvel awaited us.
The factory itself looked rather odd. It was surrounded by an iron fence, but the iron was painted a very bright white which made it almost look as if it were ivory. The building was painted an assortment of colors, ranging from green to blue to pink to yellow, all of them bright and cheery enough, in some areas it was so bright it hurt my eyes. It was very large, massive even, encompassing nearly the entire length of the hill. Large tubes protruded from various points which led down to the ground where they disappeared from vision, presumably entering some sort of underground area. Outside of the factory stood a man, a rather tall gentleman who donned a white cape and a white top hat, standing upon a box shouting out to all the townsfolk:
"Come one, come all! Come see what lies beyond your wildest imagination! Enter the world of magic and mystery! Let your mind's eye open for the first time! Be swept away by joy and creation! Welcome to the Wonder Factory!"
Needless to say we were intrigued. The man jumped off his box and approached the front gates, placing his hands on the bars and looking out at all of us. I finally got a good look at him. He had a wide grin and emerald green eyes which the sun seemed to catch at just the right angle, making them sparkle. He had a long nose, but not crooked in any way, shape, or form and a thin moustache sat just under it, forming perfectly across his upper lip.
"So," he said in a rather sing-song voice "Do you believe in magic? Have you ever had a dream? Then come right and and see my bright and cheery Wonder Factory" With this he pulled open the gates, and we piled in to the front door. The man nearly skipped with glee towards it, unlocking and opening it, then pausing in the doorway, beckoning us inside.
We entered and were instantly filled with disappointment. We stood not in a room of magic and wonder, but in an empty room filled with dust and dirt. Soon our little crowd began to rabble.
"What gives?" asked Mr. Barkley, the towns shop owner "I thought we were supposed to see some kind of magic. This is nothing." The crowd mummered in agreement.
"My friends! You must allow the magic in! All it takes is for each and every one of you to close your eyes! Go on now! Close your eyes!" the man shouted, dancing around the room. I could see people around me began to squeeze them shut, listening to the man as he continued urging us to do the same. "Hmm, it seems someone isn't closing their eyes! Go on now! Or it won't work!" I looked around to see I was perhaps the only one with my eyes open, so I took a deep breath and squeezed them shut. "Okay everyone! Open them!"
When I did my jaw nearly hit the floor, along with every single person's in town. We no longer stood in a musty, empty factory floor, that was long gone, instead we stood in a long hallway filled to the brim with odd gadgets and devices the likes of which we had never seen. Machines purred, gears spun, it was truly a wondrous sight and the audience, including myself, let it be known we were amazed, the room filling with various ooh's and ah's. "Welcome to the Wonder Factory everyone! Let us tour!".
We followed the man to a large room on the left side of the hallway. In front of us stood a machine we had never seen before. It had a table in the center, obviously where a man or woman was supposed to lie, and various arms protruding from either side. "This, my friends, this is the Feel Goodifying Table of Relaxation!" the man shouted with a laugh. "Lay upon this table and these hands will help relax you to lengths you have only dreamed of before! Are there any volunteers?"
Many of the townsfolk eagerly rose their hands and the man skipped up and down the row before selecting Mr. Aldeer, the towns mechanic and gas-man. "This hardworking gentleman looks like he is in need of some good old relaxation!" he said, pulling Mr. Aldeer from the crowd. The man helped Mr. Aldeer lay on the table, and began working the controls. We all watched as the table began to rise, suspending him above the base. The arms began to encircle him, landing very gently on his back and stomach. As they began to rub Mr. Aldeer he let out a pleased sigh.
"It's.... it's the most marvelous feeling of my life!" Aldeer said with the glee of a schoolchild. The audience, including myself, began to clap, cheering the Wonder Factories first invention. Suddenly, however, my head began to hurt. I jerked back and squeezed my eyes shut, to be met with screams of extreme pain and suffering. I opened them to see Mr. Aldeer suspended above the crowd that stood in a musty room, with viscous metal claws ripping the flesh from his back and stomach, the blood and entrails falling onto the cheering crowd below. But, as soon as I blinked, everything was normal. "I love this!" Mr. Aldeer shouted. I looked around to see that no one was disturbed besides me. The man skipped towards us and out of the room.
"Let's allow him to enjoy the table, and let us move on to see more magical creations!" the man said with a grin, leading us across the hall into the next room. Here sat a very long table lined with numerous chairs. In front of each chair sat a covered plate, a bib, and a set of silverware. "This is our Good Eatery Mealifier! All of you may participate in this glorious invention! I hope you're hungry however, because it packs quite a punch!
All you must do is take a seat, place your hands on the cover of your plate, and think about your favorite dish, and your favorite dish you will eat!" he yelled, hopping on the table and guiding us to our seats. I took mine next to my good friend Alex Cooper, placing my hands on the cover and wishing up a good old porterhouse steak, something that was quite a luxury considering the time and my location. "Okay everyone! Lift your covers!" the man shouted with a giggle. I pulled off the cover and my mouth began to water.
The smell was divine, and as I looked down at my plate in awe, seeing a perfectly cooked, juicy, huge porterhouse steak under me, I began to dig in. It was delicious! Each savory bite left me desiring more and more, I began gulping it down, and my steak seemed to never end! Every time I took a bite I looked to see there seemed to be nothing missing!
After a little while though, something began to taste....off. My head began to swirl and hurt and I bit down into another piece, it tasted awful. I quickly spit it back onto my plate and, to my horror, I saw a slab of rotted, moldy, maggot infested meat sat in front of me. I quickly shot up from the table and jumped back. "Is something wrong?" the man asked, skipping over to me.
I was about to ring him out when I looked back at my plate, seeing nothing but a delicious looking, tender, steak. "No I.... I thought I saw a bee..." I muttered, making up any lame excuse to cover myself up. Was I going crazy?
The man frowned and then looked at his watch. "Well! Look at that! There's only time left for one more exhibit!" the man yelled. "Whoever is finished eating, follow me!" It seemed, however, many of us were not finished eating. I wanted to get the hell out of there, but only about twenty or so joined me. "Follow me! We'll go and see the last marvel of the day!" The man gleefully said, nearly galloping out of the room and down the hallway. We were nearly jogging to keep up as he headed down the hallway, passing door after door, some of which I swear I heard faint screams coming from inside. "Ah, here it is!" he sang out.
We followed him into our final room. "This, boys and girls, is your last stop." He smiled. The door shut behind us and a dim light flickered on overhead. We stood in a room that looked identical to the one we started in, before we all closed our eyes and let the "magic" flow through the factory floor. My head began to pound, nearly making me keel over and vomit all over the floor.
"What the fuck is going on here!?" I shouted out, and noticed everyone turn to me with a puzzled look on their face. I began to hear faint screams coming from all around, looking around the room and seeing horrors beyond my wildest imagination. There was no hallway, there were no rooms, it was just a blank factory floor. I could see people being torn apart by various machines. A group of people were devouring another man who lay on the floor directly to my left. People chained to walls and the ceiling in all sorts of disgusting positions with all sorts of things stabbed into them. I saw what seemed to be about a dozen people, stitched together, dancing behind me. Hundreds of people, covering the factory in every which way, but it was completely silent. "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING TO US!?" I screamed. Everyone began to back away from me as I fell over from the wave of nausea and the pounding of my head.
"You don't see the Caring Lovatron?" the man asked with a frown. I began to cough and gag in response. "Oh dear...." he whispered. "Everyone! everyone! Please enjoy this machine! I will return shortly!" he shouted and picked me up, carrying me to the factory door. I tried to cry out, to strike him, to struggle free of his grasp, but I found myself too weak to even move. Instead, I could only watch as he opened the doors, and fainted as he led me outside. When I opened my eyes I found myself laying on a lush, heavily forested hilltop. I looked around and shot up, remembering where I just was. The man stood before me, holding a small black briefcase. "You're honestly the first to see through it all, my friend," he said.
"What the fuck are you talking about!? What the hell did you do to them!?" I screamed. He simply lifted the briefcase and patted it.
"They're right here, they'll always be right here," he smiled. "They can live forever here my friend. Their souls forever trapped. How else would I power the Wonder Factory?"
I staggered back, unable to comprehend what I was hearing. The man simply shrugged and tipped his hat, walking away into the forest where I would never see him again.
I never told my story to anyone, just moved on to another town and pretended it never happened. It sounds rather crazy, and I for some period of time I thought that perhaps I WAS crazy. But that can't be the case, I know what I saw. I know what awaited me. This is why I warn others, be careful what you wish for, be careful what dream you might have. You just might get it.
So that's my story, take it or leave it, enjoy it or not. Like I said, I'm not sure why I wrote it, perhaps it was a warning, perhaps it was just the ranting of an old man. Still, I occasionally think I see that big neon sign in the distance, and maybe someday I will.
Maybe someday you will.
I guess nothing is certain in life. Not even death.
Written by Icarus88