Trusali while important was not well known to many outsiders.  At first glance it was nothing more than a small, quaint, town.  Located far enough from any city, so as to be considered out of the way, it boasted a mine, fertile farm land, and not much else.  Perhaps the most important good Trusali could offer the world were its people, who were both hard working and capable of collectively keeping the secret.  That was the real surprise to all branches of the government; that unanimously the people of Trusali had chosen to take on the secret.  For the good of all mankind they told themselves indoctrinating the young rather than allowing their noble purpose to become diluted.  So the work continued, though the risk was high, and so far the people found the price of peace worth the cost.

Life went on as usual, mostly.  Children ran to school late with the ringing of the great brass bell, hardworking men and women worked the mine and associated plant, and life, loosely defined, continued on. 

In Trusali each day started with the sounding of the air raid sirens.  This signified the beginning of production in the plant.  Unless you were currently working in the mine or plant what was actually being produced was largely misconstrued.  In the school kids were told that their parents were heros striving to bring a lasting peace to the world, rather than the truths about what exactly was being mined from beneath their fine town. 

For the people of Trusali, though life ran like clockwork, it was the siren not the tolling of the clock tower bells which dictated life.  While the plant was in production mode none entered or left the grounds, but in the pre-dawn darkness curious children would meet at the town center and watch as the adults filed wordlessly past.  From this vantage point the brave ones would bet and dare each other to sneak inside the mines or look into the windows, which leaked  flickering grayish light before the sun rose high enough to mask the weird glow.  Until this night no one had been so foolish as to go more than a few steps onto the plant’s grounds, but Trish, feeling bold in the face of her 18th birthday, had more than just peaked in a window she had slipped inside the plant.

As the door clanged shut behind her an awful sense of foreboding stole over the girl. Trish who only moments ago had looked and felt so alive, as dark strands streamed from her ponytail and light reflected from her bright blue eyes during the mad dash from the gazebo at town center to the well hidden back door, but now the gray light washed her out and dulled her young features. Contemplating either the stairs to her left of the long hallway before her she stood frozen, folded nearly in half, with caution and fear. The sound of someone in the stairwell decided her. Trish, once again determined, started down the hallway, unaware that the person from the stairs was diligently making his rounds to secure and lock all exits.

The hallway had been uneventful, though she had paused and listened at every doorknob there had been neither movement nor sound, which only caused her curiosity to pique. After what seemed and eternity of intermittent tiptoeing and pauses Trish finally neared the end of the hallway. Rather than bursting out into the open space of the lobby she hugged the wall and waited. In the eerie quiet she heard the clock tower bells chime the five o’clock hour and visibly relaxed, knowing that by now all workers were inside and that production was still 30 minutes off. The loud click and whirl of an old fashioned movie projector drew her into a main corridor where she quickly dropped to the floor in an attempt to avoid being seen. Rather than moving through the corridor of windows to the plant, which must lay beyond it, she stopped realizing that she had found the source of the flickering light.

It was an old black and white news reel, the kind which was interwoven with public announcements. Trish was in no risk of being spotted as every set of eyes were glued to the screens at the opposite end of the room. Without the sound she could make out very little of what was going on but to her it looked like something the very first plant workers would have watched to convince them of the good they were doing. Shaking her head Trish moved on, but was disappointed to find that the movie was the only thing happening no matter which corridor she ventured down or which windowed room she peaked in. Standing at the end of one hall she considered making her way back to the stairway, then a series of events occurred so quickly she barely had time to react.

The monotone dong of an electric bell sounded, a horrible hissing sound filled the building in time to the windowed rooms filling with greenish-yellow gas, and the factory, a windowless pit of a place dead just moments ago, whirled to life in a mess of random moving part sounds. Just as quickly the bell toned again, the gas cleared, and the doors opened.

The sound of the air raid siren cut through her confusion and sent the girl into action.

Trish, finding no other options, crouched beneath a wooden bench doing her best to calm her heartbeat and steady her breath. Her eyes, shut tight in an automatic response to fright, were forced open as she heard them and their uneven gait scraping ever closer. Trying not to move an inch Trish scanned the room for an exit, even an improbable one, but in every direction she was met with horror movie images. Her family members and friend’s parents were no longer recognizable with their gray skin, yellowed eyes, and blackish drool as they made their way with single minded intent towards the plant.

A scream caught in her throat nearly broke free and the strangled sound was enough to have diverted a few of the “workers” from task, they moved towards her bench blindly searching for sound or smell to identify the anomaly. Television sets she hadn’t even noticed click into life, a repeat of the film from earlier, catching the attention of those “workers” not yet in the plant. So terrified by recent events Trish stared at the floor hopping a very young hope, that if she could not see those around her that perhaps they would not see her either. Finally the slow sickening shuffle of the “workers” couldn’t be heard anymore, but the propaganda film continued on even without its captive audience.

Unable to walk away from such horror without answers Trish stood and listened to the clean cut man in the nice suit talk.

“The world was brought to the brink of annihilation with nuclear war threats. Parents and children alike in a state of constant fear, but fear not people of Trusali for your government has found the answer.

Peace.

Peace is an element that in its raw form, which has been found within your mine, can be processed in such a way as to put you, your town, and our lands well outside the reach of nuclear fear forever. Sound too good to be true? Well it isn’t.

All we ask of you and your fellow workers is devotion to our cause, career long devotion, and daily aerosolized vaccinations, for your own protection of course. By taking these vaccines you will be able to work with the element as it is converted into its final stage without any fear of harm to yourselves or your families. The reason we are asking this grave favor from the people of Trusali is because without your help…”

Trish never heard what Peace could do for the world nor saw what the finished product looked like. Because while watching the t.v. she had failed to notice the high sharp sound that kept her motionless or the gurgling “worker” moving towards her with slow awkward intent. It was not till the thing had its hand on her shoulder did she awake from the trance, and by then her ability to care was lost in a spray of red as the thing feed.

That day the other children whispered possible scenarios to one another about what Trish might have seen and how much trouble she would be in when her parents found out what she had done, but none were brave enough to look for here even as the sun started its decent and the end of day siren sounded.

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