Factory City is full of dirty lumber mills, coal mines, and recycling centers. In the winter we don’t have white snow, we have black peppered snow. I sometimes wonder if the Pepper Gods look down on us, and think the snow is mash potatoes. We don’t dare play outside because a person could easily get cancer. The city is a living breathing cesspool of pollution.
My name is Amy Lee, and my grandparents died last summer from lung cancer. They never smoked a day in their lives. Just recently I heard my mom coughing up a lung in the kitchen. If I had a dad I’m sure he would be sick too. I’m not sure where he is. My mom says he left before I was born. My best friend Jimmy died last month over on Baker’s Street.
The only thing I know is death, sorrow, and pain.
I’m only fourteen years old, but I’m tired of this shit! I believe I can make a difference. After hours of research, I learned that all of the factories in this city are owned by Wilson Industries. Bob Wilson is the CEO, and he is one fat ugly dude! Just looking at his picture makes me want to puke.
It’s not hard to see that Fat Bob is paid up in all the right places. How else can you explain this corruption? I bet he paid the EPA and local officials a ton of dirty money to keep their mouths shut. I’m also sure that no environmental lawyer has the guts to take on this case.
What can a little girl like me do?
I remember an old ghost story about a man being hit by a train. His name was Frank Jenkins. People around town called him Old Franky because he was...old. Frank worked in a lumber mill down on Mason street. One night he came to work drunk, and had to take a piss. The shitter was full so he ran outside to relieve himself. He ran into an evil demon named Mammon. Old Franky was so scared he pissed his pants.
Mammon offered him a deal in exchange for his soul. Old Franky said he wanted to be rich. The next day, Old Franky hit the jackpot and won the lottery. He was so excited that he got drunk and went out for a midnight stroll. He had wandered onto the railroad tracks and was hit by a coal train. That was the end of Old Franky. I don’t know if that story is true or not, but I’m going to find out.
As the night swallows the sun, I grab my coat and head for the front door. My mom has ears like a bat and catches me trying to sneak out.
“Where are you going, Amy?”, she asks. “It’s late!”
I look up with my big brown innocent puppy dog eyes and say, “I’m going to the library to study.” I look back down, “I’ll be back soon.”
“You better be home by eight, you have school tomorrow,” she says.
“Ok, mommy!” I ran out with great haste before I could be persuaded otherwise.
Mason Street is only a few blocks from Gamble Street, where I live. I run as fast as my tiny little legs can carry me. When I arrive at the lumber mill, I use what little stealth I have to sneak behind the lumber stacks in the yard. My goal is to get behind the building without anyone seeing me.
As I sneak through the maze of lumber stacks, I notice the strong smell of pine wood. My nose starts to drip, and it takes everything I have not to sneeze. I keep pushing forward until I reach a clearing. I’m far away from the building now, and I’m sure that no one can hear me. I look around for any sign that might look out of place. I don’t see anything, so out of frustration I call out for the demon.
“Mammon!” I look around me to see if anything is stirring. “Mammon!” No reply came.
“This is stupid, I knew it wasn’t real!” I yell.
I turn to leave and see a silhouette of a strange looking head staring at me from behind the lumber stacks. I just came through there, and I felt a cold shiver rise up from my spine. It quickly spread to my shoulders and down through my arms. My hands start to shake.
I watch the demon step out into the moonlight. He stood about ten feet away from me. It has hooves for feet and dark grey skin. I also noticed that it has black fingernails, and deep dark eyes. Big sharp pointy horns encircled his bald head, and his fangs protruded from his mouth like a cat.
“What do you want?” he says with a growl.
I can feel my knees tremble as he speaks.
“Is...is it true that you can make things happen?” I ask.
Mammon snarls at me and says, “What does a little black haired girl want? Hmmm…”
I want to run away but I need to see this through. I need to save everyone.
“I want you to kill Bob Wilson, and make all of these factories go away”
Mammon starts to laugh, and I hear it echo through the night like a pack of wild hyenas. He starts twirling around like a mad man, and inches his way towards me. He makes one more spin and pulls out an ancient dagger out of thin air. The dagger is golden and has weird looking symbols all over it. A snake head rests at the bottom of the hilt.
“It will kill anything...yes it will. But I can not kill for you!” He starts to snarl again. “The deed must be done by you...yes it does!”
I feel my fear slip away, and my body stops shaking. I speak with a rage in my voice that I didn’t know I had. “I can’t kill him! I don’t know how to kill someone!”
Mammon starts laughing again, and now I understood why Old Franky pissed his pants.
“All that a black haired little girl needs to do is thrust it,” he says.
“THRUST IT DEEP!”
I yell out, “Ok, ok! I get it. I take the dagger and thrust it!”
Mammon seems to calm down and says, “Once a little black haired girl kills, factories will disappear. Oh yes...they will!”
Mammon spins around again like a damn fool. He comes to a sudden stop with his finger pointed at me. “This will cost your soul...it will!”
I reach up and slap his hand away. “I don’t care about my soul. As long as I can save this city from all of the pollution.”
Mammon looks at the dagger and drops it to ground. “The deal is done...yes it is!”
I bend down to pick up the dagger and when I look up, Mammon is gone. I don’t know where he went but I now have a golden opportunity to save this city. I turn around to see the high-rise tower of Wilson Industries. The lights are still on so Bob Wilson must still be there.
I run through the cold streets with a sense of purpose and determination. I know I’ll be missed but if I succeed…
My Mom will survive.
My friends will survive.
My city will survive.
Wilson Industries is right in my line of sight now. I slow down to catch my breath, and let my heartbeat return to normal. I hold the ancient dagger with a tight grip, and hide it in my jacket. I need to sneak in past the security guard but that should be easy. I’m a little girl after all.
I run into the main lobby and the guard watching TV stands up and asks, “What are you doing in here? We’re closed.”
I cross my legs together, and bob up and down. “I’m sorry mister I have to go to the potty and I can’t hold it any longer!”
He rolls his eyes, and points over to the bathrooms which are right next to the elevators. “Go ahead, but make it quick. You’re not supposed to be in here!”
I run past him and say, “Oh, thank you mister!”
He sits back down and his attention returns to the TV. I take this time to jump into the elevator. Bob Wilson here I come! With a loud ding I arrive on the thirteenth floor. His secretary is gone but I smell the sweet stench of cigar smoke coming from his office.
I burst through his office doors and yell, “You’ve killed my Grandparents, my friends! Now I’m gonna kill you, Fat Bob!”
He pushes his chair way back from his desk to stand up. He’s fat, so this is the only way he can get his fat ass out of the chair.
“Who the Hell are you?” he asks.
“My name is Amy Lee, and I’ve come for your head!”
Bob grabs his big fat Cuban cigar and places it in his mouth. He inhales deeply and blows out thick tobacco smoke. “Is that so?”
He looks at me with a creepy smile and says, “I’ve been expecting you my dear!”
Just then Mammon appears out of the shadows.
Bob walks over to me and says, “He told me you were coming. Don’t look so surprised. How do you think I came to own all of these factories anyway, ha, ha, ha!”
Mammon walks over and stands behind Bob. He places his evil hands on his shoulders and starts to rub them. “I’m sorry black haired little girl, he made the deal first! When he dies his soul will be mine...it will!”
My eyes start to tear up, and I reach for the dagger. I look as Mammon and Bob stand as one in front of me.
“You told me to thrust it,” I say.
They start laughing hysterically.
I wait for my moment when their heads line up perfectly. Then I throw the dagger. It flies through the air like a missile. The dagger finds its mark. It punctures right through Bob’s head and continues through to Mammon’s head. Bob falls to the ground with a big thud and dies. Mammon pulls the dagger from his head and throws it to the ground.
I run over to pick up the dagger as the demon screams in pain. I pick it up and say: “You’re not taking my soul! You can’t if I kill you first!”
I jam the dagger into his chest and scream,
I pull the dagger out and stab him again.
Stab, and repeat.
Mammon falls to the floor and I take the dagger and stab him one last time through the head.
“Thrust it HARD!!!”
I watch as Mammon’s life force leaves his body. He is now dead. I killed him.
I rush home to find mom waiting for me “You’re late! Do you have any idea what time it is?”
I look up with my big brown innocent puppy dog eyes and say, “I’m sorry mom. Tomorrow will be a new day...I promise.”
I run up to my room and hide the dagger underneath my bed mattress. I’m exhausted and then I see nothing but darkness. My dreams take me to a place where Factory City has no factories polluting the skies or rivers. Instead, I see nothing but candy buildings, cotton candy trees, and marshmallow clouds in a rainbow sky. A place where my Grandparents and friends never died.
When I open my eyes, I realize that it wasn’t a dream. I had reshaped and reconstructed Factory City into my dreamland. I look out the window and see my Grandparents wave up at me. I see my friend Jimmy eating some cotton candy from a nearby tree. My eyes open wider as I see Old Franky running from a beef jerky train!
I reach down under my mattress and grab the dagger. I smile and say:
“I think I’ll call this place... Candy City.”
Daniel R. Hayes