The Chasm

A short work of fiction.

On the outskirts of the city is the vast office complex, situated centrally in a housing zone largely disconnected from the rest of the population.

The primary feature of the interior of the building is a vast chasm half a mile long and stretching both 100 metres upwards and the same down into the ground. Hundreds of human office workers are suspended there, high up in the dark blue hues of the industrial facade.

Workers arrive in groups, on buses and clock in via fingerprint and their space in the chasm is allocated. Climbing to that day’s floor, of the fifteen available, they find themselves within one of the two walls of the endless trench. Submitting to a second fingerprint scan allows access to their workstation.

The worker takes their seat on their platform at the edge of the mechanical ravine. The combined seat and desk, suspended from substantial steel wire then glides out into its position, the space between the concrete walls. From this exposed position, with colleagues floating at different heights and levels all around them and their feet hanging over the drop, work begins.

In the far distance, in the permanent eyesight and permanent half-light is a vast video wall, the size of a skyscraper. Any deviation of the eye from the workers screen can only be diverted to this much larger screen, or the blurry, identical images of the various co-workers dotted further down the trench.

Immersed in their work, they will spend their twelve hour shift in this position, a small but efficient array of pipes delivering and removing all required liquid and solid elements.

The targets for the work day vary dependent on the requirements of the client that day, as The Chasm as a whole is available as a processing tool for any corporation or government. Failure to hit targets, either personal or collective, results in the hanging wires of the workstation being cut, with obviously fatal results. There is also a target for these ‘dismissals’ so at least once a day a sudden scream echoes around the otherwise mute workers. This reminds the workers of their place in the world, and their worth.

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