Published March 05, 2017 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 20

Story Summary

Ethan is a soul in the Underworld with no memory of his life on Earth. He is bought and sold by various masters for centuries. Traveling from large industrial towns to scorching hot deserts. During his journey he picks up the skills, knowledge and magic to escape his enslavement. He runs with the intent of living a free life, but is pursued by agents until he's cornered on a remote mountain range. With little time left, Ethan begins to recount his life and masters in the hope of leaving a record of his existence. These are his memories.

The Factory

That day.

The day came a lot sooner than I expected, or maybe it just feels that way after all these years. I didn't hear a word from Skanky Legs since our secret meeting, so part of me assumed nothing would happen when that fateful Thursday arrived.

"Oi, Tomboy!" yelled Foreman across the factory floor. "I'm going to the loading area. I need you and Big Guy to watch over these slackers and make sure they don't start fooling around while I'm gone."

"Aye, aye, Foreman, sir." Tomboy saluted with a smile and I was overcome with dread. Tomboy pretended to be obedient and loyal while Foreman was around, but she experimented with her own creative punishments the moment he was gone. Unlike Foreman, she didn't give a damn whether or not you'd done anything wrong.

I lowered my head and tried not to stand out, hoping that Tomboy would leave me alone if she couldn't see my face.

"Skanky Legs! Get your skinny arse over here!" Foreman called. "Along with Whatshisface, Shitface, Waste and..." He looked straight at me and paused. "Girly Boy."

I slowly stood up and moved to the front of the room. Trying my best not to panic. I had no idea if this was the moment, or just another chore. I searched for an answer by exchanging eye contact with Skanky Legs. She subtly nodded her head before quickly looking away.

There was no turning back.

The idea of actually attacking Foreman made me too nervous to move, but I forced myself to walk forward and gather around the others at the front of the room. I was terrified that my paranoid expression would give us away, so I slouched and hid behind Whatshisface.

"You're all coming with me to load cargo," said Foreman. "Some of you idiots may have never done this shit before, but if any of you screw up, or take a step out of line, I'll shove you into a cupboard for a week. Got it?"

We all obediently nodded and he looked satisfied with our attitude, but I felt his eyes linger on me before he turned to go.

I hung back behind the others as we walked down the hallway. Frantically trying to work out what kind of signal I should be looking for. It was my first time to do anything important, and the last thing I wanted was to screw everything up.

"Nice day isn't it, sir?" said Waste to Foreman.

"Really?" Foreman huffed. "What's so great about it?"

"I mean, there's little chance of the goods getting soaked by rain."

"I suppose that's one positive thing to look forward to in this dump."

The two of them became engaged in small talk which I followed, until Whatshisface slowed down and approached me.

"Wait for the signal and don't do anything abnormal till then," he hissed. "We all attack at the same time and no backing out. Got it?"

"Yeah." I nervously nodded. "Got it."

"And take this." He quickly pulled a short steel pole out from under his shirt and passed it to me. "Keep it hidden until it's time."

I snatched it from his hand and shoved it inside my own clothing.

Whatshisface broke away from me and continued walking ahead like nothing had happened.

Two tall rusty doors stood at the end of the hallway. Foreman confidently strode forward and unlocked them with an oversized key. He then took a step back and crossed his arms like he was waiting for something. We all froze and blankly stared at him as we tried to work out what we were missing.

"Don't you dumbarses know how to open a door?" he snapped.

"Sorry, sir!" Skanky Legs rushed to grab one side of the door and began pulling it open.

"Won't happen again, sir," said Shitface as he grabbed the other side.

"Better not," said Foreman. "Otherwise your new name will be Slow Shit."

Skanky Legs struggled to open her side of the door, so I quickly rushed to help.

"Just a little longer before we don't have to worry about that guy anymore," she whispered with a smile. "When we attack, whatever you do, don't stop, or look around to see what the rest of us are doing. One moment of hesitation could mean the end of us all."

I nodded, and together with our pathetic strength we managed to slide open the door.

The loading dock was a large concrete room full of wooden carts and crates. I spent so many miserable hours there loading shipments for customers, that I can remember the stains on the floor better than some of my old friend's faces.

"Shitface, go get the carts and park them over there," Foreman ordered and pointed to an area before the cargo door. "The rest of you will get the crates and start loading. Those pompous department store stiffs will be here in less than an hour."

"Yes, sir!" Skanky Legs obediently chanted and went to get the crates. I followed behind her like a puppy. All the while imagining Foreman's face contorting in horror as we threw him down the pit.

That bastard sat back and did nothing as we worked. He then began berating us on our progress which only made it harder to concentrate.

"Hurry up, Skanky Butt! Chop Chop. Waste, I know you're stronger than the others, so don't you dare try to carry just one box at a time. Stop touching your hair, Girly Boy. This isn't a beauty contest. Flattening it won't make Skanky Legs like you."

I slammed down the crate I was holding onto the cart. I wanted to lash out and scream back at him, but luckily Foreman was in the middle of lecturing Waste on how useless he must have been when he was alive, so my tormentor didn't notice my small act of defiance. Skanky Legs quickly shot me an anxious glare, and I took it as an unsaid message to calm down.

Our moment was coming.

"Watch it!" Foreman yelled. Shitface had accidentally crashed one of the carts he was pulling into a pile of old cloth. "That's worth ten times more than your lazy arse!"

"Sorry, boss, I mean Foreman," Shitface quickly apologized. He attempted to pull the cart out from the mountain of sheets, but the wheels were jammed. "I think it's stuck here, sir."

Foreman let out a growl of frustration and slowly pulled himself to his feet like it took immense effort. He then strolled over to the cart. "I knew that I should have called you Shit for Brains the first time I looked at you. But I decided to be nice and everything, and now look where it's gotten me. An infant could do a better job than you."

"I'm awfully sorry, sir," Shitface apologized and sadly bowed his head.

Foreman reached forward like he was going to pull out the cart, but he instead slapped my fellow soul across the face. Foreman held back just enough to stop his hand from passing through, but it was still enough force to knock Shitface to the ground.

"I asked you to do one thing," Foreman growled as he towered over Shitface. "Just one small tiny thing, and you still had to go screw it up. You asked for this." He then brought his foot down on Shitface and began stomping on him like crushing an insect. "This is only a tenth of what a shitty soul like you deserves!"

"Please stop, sir!" Shitface cried. He looked so powerless and sad. "I won't do it again! I won't do it again, I promise!"

I watched in horror as Shitface began to sob. His whole body shook with misery, but Foreman refused to let up. "If only you could feel pain. Oh, the things I would love to do to you."

I glanced over to Whatshisface to see him exchanging eye-contact with the others. He slowly put down the crate he was holding, crouched, and took a step back like he was preparing to attack.

Waste pulled a handful of rope from his back pocket and nodded towards us.

"Now!" Skanky Legs hissed and shoved me forward. Whatshisface and Waste also lunged towards Foreman, but I quickly overtook them and led the attack.

I pulled the metal bar out from under my shirt and raised it to smash Foreman to the ground, focusing all my hate and loathing into that one hit-

But at the very last moment, Foreman spun around, clamped his hand around my neck, and slammed me into the ground. He then pressed his elbow against my windpipe and rested one knee on my stomach to hold me down. Making it impossible to get up and fight back.

"You lose, Girly Boy." He grinned like he'd won.

"Really?" I spat. "I may have missed, but the only loser today is you!"

"Is that so? And who's gonna help you, loser?"

"Everyo-" I said until I realized that Foreman was still talking, instead of being pounded into the ground by my new friends.

I tilted my head back to see that the others weren't attacking. They weren't making any attempt to help me. They weren't even on the same side of the room. Instead, they had all returned to packing cargo like they had no intention of starting a revolution at all.

Whatshisface was whistling away as he loaded boxes, Waste was staring blankly in surprise, and Skanky Legs dropped her crate and opened her mouth in horror like my actions were unpredicted and shocking.

And then the realization hit me.

I'd been set up.