THE GLASS FACTORY.           
                                        
                                        
                                      
                                  
                                  
                                          
 SEVERAL  CENTURIES  AFTER  IT  HAD  LAST 
 BELONGED TO US, WE  WENT ON AN OUTING TO 
 THE GLASS FACTORY THAT  BORE OUR  FAMILY 
 NAME.  IT HAD CHANGED OWNERS MANY  TIMES 
 SINCE  OUR  ANCESTORS  DEATH,  AND  THEN 
 STOOD  ABANDONED   FOR   A  LONG  WHILE. 
 FINALLY,  THE  NATURAL END  STATION  FOR 
 THE BUILDINGS  THAT  SURVIVE: A  MUSEUM, 
 AND A GIFT SHOP.                         
                                          
 THERE'S  A LONG  TIME  SINCE  MY  FAMILY 
 MADE  ANYTHING. BY  MANY,  WE  WOULD  BE 
 CONSIDERED POOR.                         
                                          
 THERE  ARE TWO MAIN  FACTORY  BUILDINGS, 
 DOMED  THINGS OF SEVERAL FLOORS, MADE IN 
 YELLOW BRICK. LARGE  BUT NARROW WINDOWS, 
 REMINESCENT     OF    SOME    CATHEDRAL. 
 CUSTOM-MADE GLASS, OF  COURSE, LARGE AND 
 LEADED, AND ASHEN. A BIT  TOO DARK TO BE 
 PRACTICAL.   ON  THE  EASTERN  BUILDING, 
 SOME ARE SHATTERED.                      
                                          
 THE OTHER ONE IS PUBLICLY  OPEN. THERE'S 
 A MUSEUM,  WITH WAX FIGURES OF  MY GREAT 
 GREAT GREAT  GRANDFATHER,  OR SOMETHING. 
 VARIOUS TOOLS  (OR REPLICAS) LAID OUT ON 
 TABLES, WITH EXPLAINING  TEXTS. A LOT OF 
 GLASS     OF      VARYING     THICKNESS. 
                                          
                                        
                                      
                          
                                      
                                        
                                          
 I  QUICKLY SNEAK OUT, AND CLIMB INTO THE 
 OTHER   BUILDING.    THE   CONTRAST   IS 
 OVERWHELMING.   IT   MUST   HAVE   STOOD 
 DERELICT  FOR  A  LONG   TIME,   WINDOWS 
 BROKEN,  METALLIC  TRASH  AND  POOLS  OF 
 DARK  GLASS  ALL  OVER   THE  FLOOR.  NO 
 ELECTRIC  LIGHTS, BUT  I CAN  SEE BY THE 
 LIGHT THAT  SHINES IN WHEREVER THE  DARK 
 WINDOWS    ARE    MISSING     A    PANE. 
                                          
 HOWEVER, THE  GREATEST DIFFERENCE IS THE 
 HIGHER FLOORS: THIS  BUILDING  HAS NONE. 
 IT  IS ONE MASSIVE HALL, STRETCHING AWAY 
 INFINITELY ABOVE ME.  SOMEWHERE UP THERE 
 IS  SOME  GREAT  IRON  LATTICEWORK, FROM 
 WHERE  CHAINS ARE  SUSPENDED,  AND PARTS 
 OF  MACHINERY  HAS  BEEN  FALLING  DOWN. 
                                          
 THERE IS,  IN  THE MIDDLE  OF  THE GREAT 
 HALL,  A  THIN  SPIRAL  STAIRCASE   THAT 
 LEADS UP THERE. I SNEAK OVER THERE,  AND 
 TAKE  A FEW RELUCTANT STEPS.  AFTER JUST 
 A  REVOLUTION,  I NOTICE  THAT  FOR EACH 
 STEP  THE  BUILDING STARTS TO  GLOW, THE 
 BRICKS  TURNING  A DARK  RED,  AND  THEN 
 ORANGE, ALL  THE PILED UP  DEBREE  BEING 
 LIT FROM BEHIND.                         
                                          
 I STOP  READY  TO RUN DOWN AND  OUT, BUT 
 THERE'S  SOMEONE  ELSE  ON THE STAIRCASE 
 WITH   ME  NOW,   PRESSED   CLOSE.  HE'S 
 LOOKING  LIKE ME,  SHORT HAIR  AND  THIN 
 ARMS, BUT  WITH  EARS FROM SOME  ANIMAL, 
 AND MORE  DISTURBINGLY, COMPLETELY  MADE 
 OF DARK LIQUID GLASS.                    
                                          
                                        
                                      
                          
                                      
                                        
                                          
 MY  FEAR  HOLDS  ME  IN  PLACE WHILE  HE 
 STARTS  OPERATING LEVERS  AND DIALS  SET 
 IN THE CENTER OF THE  STAIRCASE. SLOWLY, 
 IT  STARTS  SPINNING, CIRCLING  UPWARDS. 
 IT'S  AN  ELEVATOR!  I   START   TO  RUN 
 DOWNWARDS,  BUT  NOW   THE   LIQUID  BOY 
 CREATURE  GRABS  HOLD  OF ME.  I  TRY TO 
 SHAKE HIM OFF, BUT HE'S  TOO STRONG, AND 
 PULLS    ME   BACK    UP   BESIDE   HIM. 
                                          
 THIS TIME, I  TURN  ANGRY INSTEAD.  WHAT 
 THE HELL? WHO IS THIS  GUY, ACTING  LIKE 
 THIS? I REACH OUT MY  FREE ARM AND  SLAM 
 A  RANDOM  LEVER.  SOME  METAL  BAR   IS 
 SUDDENLY  RELEASED BETWEEN  US,  HITTING 
 HIM ON THE  ARM, FORCING MY  RELEASE.  I 
 SHOVE HIM OFF OF ME,  AND HE  FALLS INTO 
 THE    LEVERS,    MESSING    THEM    UP. 
 IMMEDIATELY,  A  THIN  RUSTY   CHAINMAIL 
 CURTAIN IS  DROPPED  AROUND ME.  BUT THE 
 ELEVATOR  ALSO SPEEDS UP  SIGNIFICANTLY. 
                                          
 THE   WALLS  ARE  FLARING  NOW,  YELLOW, 
 WHITE,  ALMOST BLUE. I CLOSE MY EYES AND 
 CURL INTO A BALL.  BUT  THEN,  THE GLASS 
 BOY  SCREAMS,  A   PIERCING  SOUND  THAT 
 FORCES MY EYES  BACK OPEN. I WATCH AS HE 
 BECOMES  TOO  LIQUID, HIS  BODY  POOLING 
 DOWN  IN HIS NOW  MASSIVE TAIL, AND  THE 
 TIP OF IT SUDDENLY  BREAKS OF IN A GLASS 
 DROP  THAT  FALLS   TOWARD  THE  FACTORY 
 FLOOR.                                   
                                          
 HE'S  CRAWLING ON THE  STAIRS, UNABLE TO 
 KEEP HIS BODY  UPRIGHT. CAN'T REACH  THE 
 LEVERS,  CLAWS  AT  MY  CHAINMAIL  CAGE, 
 WHILE  HIS  BODY IS  TURNING  INTO  DARK 
 PEARLS.  FINALLY, HE'S LOST TOO MUCH  OF 
 HIMSELF  AND  THE SCREAM IS  CUT  SHORT. 
 THE   LAST    OF    HIM   RAINS    DOWN. 
                                          
 I  STILL  CAN'T  REACH THE  LEVERS  FROM 
 WITHIN  MY CAGE.  LOOKING  UP, I TRY  TO 
 MAKE  OUT THE  CEILING, BUT  IT'S ALL  A 
 WHIRLING SEA OF  COLOURS. BELOW ME GLOWS 
 THE HELLFIRE OF THE FACTORY  WALLS,  BUT 
 VERY FAINT. I SIT  DOWN, CURL  BACK  UP, 
 BECOME STILL.                            
                                          
                                        
                                      
                          
                                      
                                        
                                          
 A  LARGE CLUNK  SHAKES  MY  ENTIRE BODY, 
 AND  SNAPS  ME  BACK  INTO REALITY.  I'M 
 BACK  AT  THE  FACTORY  FLOOR,  BUT  THE 
 STAIRS   ARE  STILL   MOVING   SLIGHTLY, 
 CLICKING IN PLACE, CARRYING ME THE  LAST 
 FEW  CENTIMETERS.  I  CAME  FROM  BELOW, 
 SOMEHOW.  THE  CHAINMAIL  IS  RETRACTED, 
 AND  I   SLOWLY  DISMOUNT  THE   STAIRS. 
                                          
 SHAKING AND CRYING, I MAKE MY  WAY  OVER 
 THE FACTORY FLOOR, WADING  THROUGH  DARK 
 GLASS MARBLES. A QUICK GLANCE DOWN,  AND 
 I  SEE  THERE'S  SOMETHING FAINT  INSIDE 
 THEM.   EMBRYOS?   ARE    THESE    EGGS? 
                                          
 I   SHUDDER,   AND   CLIMB   BACK   OUT.