A fiery ball of light dazzled in the sky, it's rays running through the eerie windows and into Woodgum Factory. The sky was cloudy, filled with dark clouds pregnant with gallons of water. A single stick-like crow swept onto a rusty sign that said Woodgums Factory. The workers inside the factory worked, wood chips stuck in their hair. They carved deep brown beds and birch book side tables.
In a luxurious house, still on the same lot, but just placed far far away, the owner of Woodgums lounged on his chair in front of the crackling fire. The embers flitted around his ankles which were covered in brown, striped socks. His suit was hideous. It had a pocket, which had a dead daisy sticking out of it. The entire suit was pinstriped, alternating between a rusty penny shade and dark indigo.
On his desk was an arrangement of stale gummy bears with missing eyes, rock-hard lollipops and chocolates which were smelling suspiciously of mud. Those were for his employees.
Next to that box was a basket filled with sugared sour worms, fresh high-quality chocolate that was dotted with red raspberries, and sugar plums in paper bags. That was for him.
He sighed pleasantly, a red and sparkly white candy cane dangling out of his cracked lips. A dark fur-ball cozied on his lap, he stroked it's fur with his fingers.
"Times are good, Puss." he smiled, "Times are good."
The cat meowed in agreement.
The living quarters of Woodgum's was crammed with bunks. The bunks were worn with springs half-out. The workers all sat on their bunks exhausted, leg-crossed waiting for their meals. A man walked in with a dingy lantern and a bag of candy. He circled the room, tossing one gummy bear and one lollipop to each worker. Then he dropped a medium-sized oil-black bucket onto the hardwood floor. The workers all rushed to the bucket, excited to fill their bottles.
A few employees were left with no water, they sucked on their lollipops in tears.
As the workers peeked outside their netted windows, they saw a slit of a moon, faint and young. The crows flew back onto the naked trees, filling the air with croaks. The feeble stars glowed softly whispering, too afraid to speak.
The owner sat on his desk, swirling in his leathery chair. His hands filled with green paper, he was counting his 100-dollar bills.
Last time, he had 150. Now he only had 99, he sighed and stuffed them back into his desk. Then he turned around and walked to his dusty blackboard. Picking up a piece of chalk in his hand, he began to alter the workers' food schedule. Every Sunday they'd get a slab of fresh bread, he crossed that off.
It was early Sunday morning and the workers were chattering excitedly as the honeycomb medallion of light floated into the pale blue sky.
“I wonder if the bread will be soft and foamy.”
“Or hard and crunchy.”
The same man marched into the room, holding the basket of water, but no bread. They all began to bombard him with complaints.
“Why is there no bread?”
“This is not fair.”
“I want the bread!”
He kept silent easily and hurried out the door into the twinkling sunshine-flooded air.
“Sir, they complained.”
“So what?” the owner of Woodgums laughed, brushing his chin with his red knuckles.
“They’ll never leave.” the owner of Woodgum said, “Mark my words.”
The night winds were heaving as they ran around, thick and heavy. The owls flew from dark branch to branch and the nightjars swept underneath the moon which was shining like a brass pendant.
“I want to leave.” A woman frowned, a snow blond curled bang swept over her white eyelashes. Her skin was pale as snow and her eyes were like a dawn sky. She looked like a human poodle.
“How do you suppose we do that?” A man with sleek black hair sighed, his hands were dangling over the bunk-bed railing and he was gazing at the woman down below.
“We can’t!” a man with long dreadlocks and dark skin cried, his eyes foggy hazel.
“Why not?” the man with sleek black hair questioned.
“Because,” the poodle-looking lady began, “We get paid in lollipops. We have no money and nowhere to live.”
“Is it illegal?” the man with dreadlocks asked, rubbing his stubbled chin.
“Possibly.” the sleek-haired man smiled.
“If so, then we must have loads of money, right- just for us.” the poodle-looking lady laughed.
“We just have to return the lollipops.” the man with dreadlocked almost shouted in delight.
The owner of Woodgums was sprawled on a maroon cushion, his ankles falling over the armrests. His hands were flailing around and he was crying loudly like a toddler throwing a tantrum. He had recently counted his 100-dollar bills and they were barely 60 of them, he continued to shout, his voice breaking with sobs.
Then an idea sprouted into his head like a growing bud.
It’s the employees. It’s all their fault, I’ll just cut down their food until they get better!
The Woodgums workers had realized that their candy food had been rocketing downwards, by every yolky sunrise one item on the list decreased. It started with water, the Woodgums workers’ tongues’ were dry as sandpaper. Then gummy bears began to decrease. But this only motivated their escape.
Every night, they’d take maps and plot their escape. After weeks they had developed the plan. But they must pursue it quickly or else they’d starve.
The owner of Woodgums stared at his blackboard carefully. Now the workers were only getting three jellybeans a day. But he began to realize that in 2 weeks they'd die of starvation. He wrinkled his nose and began to think. He couldn’t kill them! No, then he’d be broke. He continued to pace, back and forth across the checkered tile floor.
All of the employees except three or four gathered their clothes into knapsacks and watched the sun excitedly as it set. It’s rays danced along the naked trees, bathing them in crimson. After two hours of waiting, the moon showed up like a baby ghost.
They all rushed excitedly through the door.
The owner of Woodgums was snoring like a billy goat. They smiled and used this loud atmosphere to sneak to all his money easily, returning the candy they had been given.
Then as the moonlight began to fade, they all ran like a swarm of birds down to the green rolling hills. And as the sun rose like a fresh marigold, the factory was left empty. The machines still humming, the carvers still beeping. Leaving the owner of Woodgum with zero bills.