The Ghosts of Industry: The Buddha Rocks Project

Evelyn at Filling a Hole has a challenge called The Buddha Rocks Project.
The rules are basic. 7 days of posts inspired by 7 pictures taken by Eric who also has a blog over here Bubba’s Place.
Today’s post includes colloquialisms in Afrikaans from South Africa/Namibia. Click on the blue words to link to their meanings.
This is day 2.

The Ghosts of Industry
The heat radiating from the asphalt was enough to sear.
Herbert dragged on his cigarette, squinted eyes tearing slightly from the smoke-burn rushing down his parched throat. Nicotine coursed his blood to the point it made him nauseas, but he wouldn’t quit the cigarette until the cherry was into the filter.
“This is fucking bullshit,” he said to Pieter, his South African handler. “We’ve been waiting around for three hours in this stupid place and the sun’s the only thing that’s moved.”
Pieter was a boulder of a man. An ex-cop under the old apartheid regime, his shadow alone must have filled his adversaries’ veins with dread. His once blond hair had turned to ash and had grown out to shoulder length, while his fierce blue eyes had frozen over. It was those eyes that now scoured the abandoned industrial complex whose gates the two men sat outside.
Ja, boet. TIA. You know what is TIA?” Pieter’s pronunciation was thickly smeared in Afrikaans.
“No,” Herbert said, disinterested.
“This Is Africa. Hahahaha,” the big man slapped Herbert on the back.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Herbert started.
“Shhhh,” Pieter put a sausage shaped finger to his sausage sized lips. “Can you hear that?”
Herbert slanted his eyes and cocked his ears. “No,” he said, wiping perspiration from his forehead.
“Shhhh. Shhhhh. Listen very, very carefully,” Pieter leant in on him.
Both men petrified.
“I can’t hear…”
Pieter smashed Herbert’s mouth so hard with his giant fist, that Herbert was unconscious before the back of his head hit the asphalt.
Fokken doos,” Pieter cussed. “None of you ever hear your destiny approach, hey. The whole lot of you think you’re above consequences.”
He lumbered over to where Herbert lay and, satisfied the he was not going anywhere in a hurry, pulled a cell phone from a pocket with which to make a call.
Ja. Ja. You can come collect him. Ja, he’s here,” Pieter said.
He hung up the phone and walked to his car, a matte-olive pickup truck with tarpaulin stretched over the back. When he reached the vehicle, he untied the tarpaulin and peeled it back. Underneath, was a duffel bag. In the bag, was a bottle of brandy.
Pieter cracked the bottle open then took a long drink from it. When he lowered the bottle he gazed at the windowless factory complex in the distance, its pipes, vents and chimneys breaking the blockish design of the now anonymous building he had been so familiar with as a young man. He and his boss, Wouter Basson had visited it frequently when it was still known as RRL during the years they still ruled the country.
The Americans ran it now. At first, that had pissed Pieter off. But Wouter had told him to chill out and take the cash. There were no sides in the greater war, he had said. Wouter was right. And the money was good.
Then there was poor Herbert here, a brilliant scientist, but a bit on the rogue side, which is why the anonymous factory had been so appealing. The Americans had picked up where Wouter left off. They had inherited a bona fide treasure chest of research into chemical and biological weapons development, genetic engineering, assassination techniques and warfare programs of governments around the world. Herbert excelled in the uncontrolled environment. He was considered a bit of a star amongst his peers.
Until the anthrax scares of 2001. He was freaked out that America had been targeted. He was even more freaked out that his own people knew about it and put the rap on some innocent guy named Bruce Ivins. It took more than a year, but eventually Herbert ran. He disappeared off the radar. The Americans were concerned. They made calls all around the world. One of those calls was to Pieter.
A jeep was closing the distance from the factory. Pieter was not in the mood for conversation, so slugged more brandy, then hopped into his pickup and drove off.


14 thoughts on “The Ghosts of Industry: The Buddha Rocks Project

  1. Pingback: BuddhaRocks Project: Curtain Call! « Filling a Hole

  2. Kay Camden

    This one is quite info dumpy for you, as others have said. I have to say, the dump is a bit heavy for such a short piece. I really like the Afrikaans slipped in here, and nuance to the English that make it something new (for me). It shows a lot more than you’d expect, especially for readers in other countries like me.

    1. scribbla Post author

      Thanks for the insight into the Afrikaans addition. I wasn’t quite sure how it would come across. Never tried it before. I responded to the info dumpiness to Robin up above. Thanks, as always, for your astute eye. It keeps me sharp!

  3. Evelyn

    I agree about the details, it did take a bit of the punch out of the end of the piece. But I think they are necessary. Maybe more evenly distributed throughout the piece? Just thinking.
    I love pictures like this, industry, black and white. Great choice…

    1. scribbla Post author

      See my response to Robin above re details. But, as you now know, Wouter Basson and Bruce Ivins could fill a few volumes of backstory on their own.

  4. somethingnewplease

    As soon as I finish my personal challenge of posting a photo and story every day this year, (three months to go), I want to jump into some of these daily challenges you often mention.

    I enjoy the relationship between the story and the photo with this one.

    Enjoyed, as always,

    1. scribbla Post author

      I cannot wait! I have to say that I really, really admire your steadfastness and dedication to your post-a-day. Incredible!

  5. Robin Hawke

    I wonder if you needed so much of the back story? You had me in a grip so tight that I was there. The description of the ex-cop–I’ve not read many better. My involvement ramped up…at the destiny line I’m thinking you’re a genius. It’s not that I lost interest when the Americans came, but that it diffused the pulse of some amazing writing.


    1. scribbla Post author

      Thanks Robin. Of course, you’re absolutely correct about the rambling backstory. I think this may be the first post since I started where I did that. Frankly though, I started to meander after the first three hundred words, and just let it go on. I think that I’m mentally preparing for NaNoWriMo where I cannot allow the critic to interfere. Nontheless, your point is most valid. Thanks for mentioning it and for the terrific feedback.

      1. Robin Hawke

        Understand! I’m prepping for NaNo too…trying to empty my desk, so the inner critic just says, let it go, let it go, get it done… Robin

  6. Eric

    I like what you did with this one, Scribbla! The picture you chose is an old GM plant in Wixom, MI. The plant closed a few years ago and sits abandoned ever since. I’d love to go inside and take a bunch of pictures. (If I were braver, I’d sneak in!)

    1. scribbla Post author

      Thanks for the feedback and inspiration. Have you tried to contact GM and ask if you can go take some photographs? I remember I got lucky one time I drove past a brewery that shut down and wanted to photograph inside. They were going to start demolishing the next day and gave me 20 minutes to take pics of the interior. I was both surprised and delighted to get the permission. Try it. It will be soooooo worth it if you get the opportunity.


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