The Blacking Factories are going to be opening soon, and look to be a great new role play game. This story is to keep the narative of a running rp going, and shows the flavour of factory life for an urchin – details may be innacurate! Have fun.
Tepic had been going to the blacking factory for a week now, starting at six prompt in the morning and working till two in the afternoon. In the mornings, the doors were opened at five to six, then closed and locked as the clock struck the hour, not being opened again for half an hour when those who had not arrived in time were let in, their cards being marked for a deduction at the end of the week. Since the boy usually woke much earlier than that anyhow, he had a clean record so far.
The workers had to stay by their work the whole time, and they were not allowed to talk, except for the lady at the end from the Asylum, who sang all the while. He was not sure quite what she was singing as the words didn’t seem to mean much and the overseer just ignored it. The smaller workers had to stand on boxes to reach the tables which were laid out with bottles and bowls of chemicals to mix up the polish.
The tables had steam pipes under them to keep the chemicals hot, otherwise the polish would set before they had it in the tins, but the windows were kept open wide to let the cold outside air circulate to prevent the fumes building up and exploding. It mean the workers were alternatively sweating from the heat and shivering from the icy blasts. What it would be like during the summer, when the weather was also hot?
Some of the bottles had glass stoppers to prevent the chemicals evaporating. Woe betide the worker who didn’t put it back, the overseer in his high chair would spot an open bottle across the factory floor and flick through the cards in front of him, cutting a notch in the culprit’s, another deduction.
The work was easy for those with nimble hands and fingers. It was just a matter of adding the ingredients from each of the bottles, in the right order to the levels marked in the bowl. Put each bottle back as you finished, quick as possible, then mix the brew, lifting it off the hot bench, feeling as it began to stiffen. Before the mixture became to hard, you had to pour it into the five waiting tins you had put ready on a little tray.
The trays were removed by teams of children, who took the full ones, replaced them with an empty one, and took their acquisitions to the cooling bench. The younger ones also brought new bottles of ingredients, keeping the workers productive. If someone ran out, both they and the team of youngsters would get their cards notched.
Despite the open windows, working at the benches was smelly and dirty, the fumes billowing into the worker’s faces, seeping through their pores, saturating their clothing. Though easy to do, the work was repetitive, boring, unhealthy and depressing.
Tepic’s fingers and hands were cracked and red from the hot chemicals, his hair was coated in naphtha, brittle and stiff. The fur on his ears and tail was plastered to his skin, lacking it’s normal colour and life. After his shift he moved like an old man to the door, bent almost double until his muscles relaxed enough to let him stand upright again. He was getting thinner too, his normal healthy look fading with each day. This life was so far removed from how he loved to life, a free spirit, it was draining him. The only thing that kept him going back, day after day, was the thought of helping out his friend, his determination to earn enough to pay for her care.
Tepic was in trouble.