“Papers,” said the supervisor, so I held out my paperwork. He rifled through roughly, scanning for key words and anything that might distinguish me from everyone else. “Do you have anything?”
“No,” I replied, “only my health and the clothes I’m currently wearing.”
“You have the ability to move,” said the supervisor, taking a burning cigarette from the ashtray in front of him, “and we always need movers.” He gave me back my papers through the smoke. “You need to be in room fifteen every day from now on.”
“I’m not sure if I understand,” I said, crumpling the papers nervously. “I was told that I’m to come here now that I’m 16-”
“Room fifteen,” repeated the supervisor, his attention now on his computer screen. “Go now. You don’t want to be late on your first day.”
I went down the dark corridor indicated by the man, past large cork panels that lined the walls until I came to a set of doors with opaque vertical windows. I pulled the dented metal handles and crept inside. It reminded me of a gym with its shiny wooden floor, high bright ceiling and whitewashed walls, obviously decorated for efficiently rather than aesthetics. Lined up in rows in front of me were dozens of people, young and confused, all facing the other side of the room where three people were. One of the trio, a tall gentleman in a suit, beckoned to me. “A newcomer! Come here boy!” I weaved my way through the ranks of people, unnerved by their blank tired expressions, and accepted the warmest handshake I’d ever gotten from another person. “Welcome to room fifteen, welcome! I am Dorrell and I am in charge of you.”
“In charge?” My gaze drifted to the other two people; the first was a woman in a very tight white dress, leaning against the back wall and smiling like a coyote at me. She winked, but it lacked sensuality. The other person was seated in a plush chair, and if not for his enormous bulk, would have been mistaken for Dorrell. They must have been related, possibly twin brothers. Unlike Dorell though, his expression showed contempt for me, like my mere presence was offensive. “How are you in charge?” I asked.
“I am responsible for you, you’ll answer to me, and you’ll do what I say,” said Dorrell not unkindly. “Now go join your fellow… movers, and we’ll resume our duty.” He pointed to a spot at the end of the front row, next to a young guy with heavy eyelids. I reluctantly stood in position, still unsure of why I was there, and tried to catch the eye of the chap next to me. He was staring into the air, mumbling something to himself. I caught the whiff of some intoxicant; I think he was stoned.
“Now everyone,” cried Dorrell, “move!” As one, the room started to shake their arms and legs energetically and without co-ordination, and without any kind of emotion. It was a bizarre spectacle to see, as if the body and the head were unconnected, or at least unaffected by the other. Dorrell noticed my lack of movement and marched over to me.
“Move,” he said, “move now!”
“Like them!” His arm swept the room. “Copy them, move like them.” His smile started to wane and I sensed some danger in his body language.
“Because I told you to,” was his simple answer. I started to shake my arms, and allowed my wrists to go floppy. This pleased Dorell so I continued. “Faster! Stronger! Now your legs!”
The fat clone of Dorrell struggled to his feet, which made some of his shirt buttons pop open. “Move, you bunch of fucking scumbags!” He sat back down, grinning evilly.
Dorrell went to walk back to the front of the room but stopped in front of the guy next to me. “Do I smell narcotics?” he asked.
“Uuuuuhhhh,” replied the guy, his head lolling around.
Dorrell gripped the guy by the shoulder. “You need to move. You have nothing but the ability to move, therefore you move. If you impede your own ability to move, then you need to go. You’re useless to us.” The floor that the stoner was standing on suddenly opened and he fell from view with a cry. Dorrell walked back to his place and paced slowly at the front of the room.
“Move move move!” chanted Dorrell.
“Move move,” added the girl, her wicked smile still on her face.
“Move,” muttered Fat Dorrell.
And so I moved for forty nine years, for many different Dorrells, women, and Fat Dorrells. Not once did any of them tell me why I had to move, and more importantly, why they didn’t. Every day I moved, as fast as I could, without any clear reason, simply because they told me to. And after forty nine years to the day that I had started to move, the Dorrell at the time came to my spot and put a hand on my shoulder. “You’ve moved enough,” he said, handing me a bracelet. “You don’t have to move for us anymore.”
“Thanks,” I said, looking at the piece of jewelry. “What now?”
“You’re free to go and do whatever you want. You’re too old to be of worth to us any longer.” He clapped five times, then spun on his heel and went back to the front. “Goodbye”.
The trapdoor underneath me opened and I fell into the dark.