Andrea, Attorney at Law

The Mad Dwarf: Part 8

    Inside the Delatrosh building was an even more bizarre experience than what I had imagined it to be outside. The look was some odd combination of executive lounge, reception area, and factory entrance. Workers and inspectors both were scattered about, large desks with secretaries and office workers lined the back wall. Male and female dwarves alike, dressed to the nines (as far as a dwarf would dress up, that is) stalked around corners, spoke in loud voices, ordering each other and all low-level employees about in odd fits of demand and rage.

    Andrea leaned over, half covering her mouth with her hand. “Is it just me, or does everyone here look... dazed.”

    At first, I had not noticed a thing. The overall oddness of what I was seeing did not allow me to see the small details: Every dwarf had a blank look on their face. Their voices, now that I paid attention were in fact too loud to be sincere.

    I nodded slowly. “They’re just shouting orders at each other.”

    A dwarf, in a poor fitting three piece suit, waddled over to what appeared to be some sort of manual laborer and began to poke him in the chest. “I told you yesterday! This just won’t do! Two more pallets! Two more!”

    The laborer backed up, hands raised and shouted back in an even louder voice. “Yes, sir! Productivity is the goal!” He then stalked away to the nearest exit but didn’t make it out of the building. He found yet an even dirtier looking dwarf about to enter the building, to only poke him in the chest demanding harder work in a similar way he had just been ordered about.

    Scenes like this were playing out all over.

    Andrea’s mouth hung open. She jabbed me in the shoulder with an elbow, then pulled me up to one of the main receiving desks. “Um, excuse me?” She asked a dumpy looking dwarf.

    The dwarf had thick, red hair pulled up in a bun over her head. She had a bright blue blazer and a small hand-knit patch over her heart that said ‘Delatrosh - Quality Only!’

    Not getting an answer, Andrea spoke up a bit louder the second time. “Miss! Can you help us?”

    Another dwarf pair came along, one ordering the other about, and it gave me an idea.

    I stepped forward and slammed my hand down on top of the desk. “Miss! You must help us now!”

    Andrea was startled by my abruptness, but was even more shocked as the dwarf looked up and said “Yes, sir! Productivity is the goal! How can I help you?”

    “Follow my lead,” I whispered to Andrea, then pressed on in the loudest, most commanding voice I could with the dwarf. “I have an appointment with Flannery Maddox. No excuses, I cannot be late. Show us to him now.”

    “Yes sir,” the dwarf said and began to rifle through a large ledger to her right.     Andrea’s eyebrows lifted.

    “Mr. Maddox is currently in a meeting.” The dwarf said, with a hint of finality in her statement. She put the ledger down, then swung back to her furious busy-work.

    “That's a shame,” I said, and the dwarf looked up through her eyebrows at me. “You must show us to him at once!” I smacked the desk again. A few dwarves around me gave a brief pause, then continued on their way. “We have an appointment! This will look very, very bad on the report. This is no good. I’ll need your name, Miss.”

    I pulled out a small notebook and pen from my coat pocket, looking at the dwarf expectantly.

    She had no idea what to do. She just stared at me, the notebook and then back to her ledger. “But, sir,” she let out. “Mr. Maddox is in a meeting.”

    I shrugged. “Obviously we should be at this meeting. Why would Maddox give you two orders that did not correspond with each other?”

    “What are you doing?” Andrea asked, her mouth barely moving. She eyed the dwarf, taking a step back as if it were going to explode.

    The dwarf’s head shook back and forth. “Productivity is key. Must be a good worker.”

    “Just tell us what floor and room, and you will have done your job very well. I’ll note so in my report.” I was way in over my head. But this line of questioning was getting us much farther than expected.

    The dwarf began to nod excessively. “Floor three, room fourteen. Good worker. Productivity is key!”

    “Thank you,” I said softly, putting the notebook back into my pocket. I grabbed Andrea by the sleeve and yanked her towards the main stairs at the rear of the reception center.

    “What was that all about?” She asked, wide eyed.

    “Don’t you see?” I said pointing about to all the dwarves yelling at each other. “They’re all brainwashed, or something. They only understand blunt orders.”     Understanding swept over Andrea’s face.

    “How do you keep an operation like this safe?” I asked her as we reached the stairs.

    Andrea grabbed my shoulders. “You get a workforce that doesn’t ask questions. That only takes direct orders.”

    Looking up the stairs, I inhaled deeply. The pieces were beginning to fall into place. “I bet our Mr. Blackstone was a drone that got away. Even if you’re a higher ranking worker here, to have such an intense operation...”
    “They must just erase your memories.” Andrea stopped. “Is that even possible?”

    “I don’t know, but my gut tells me it might be.” Then it hit me. “Or they give you false ones.”
    Andrea slapped me on the arm; she seemed energized suddenly. “Let’s go talk to Maddox.”

© 2016-18 Fitts Harper