The Metal Lutari: Part Three
I found out on the first day that we don't actually make anything specific – everyone just tries to come up with something new, make it, and then you present it. The other inventors will try it out, observe it, tinker with it, and decide if it's good enough to be sold to Neopia. It was literally my dream job.
We all had our own benches to work at, tons of supplies were spaced out around the huge room, and we basically could do whatever we wanted. We tinkered, we tested and we invented. Within the first day I'd put together several new things that the Draik – whose name we found out was Ebe – thought were just marvelous. I was tinkering with the stand I'd invented for books that turned the page for you (for those who physically couldn't or for those who are just too lazy to) when an ear splitting scream pierced the air. Every single bowed head perked up to see what the commotion was about. Bent at the waist, a blue Kyrii was clutching his paw to his chest, clenching his jaw together to fight back another scream.
"What happened?" I whispered to the Kacheek next to me who seemed to be working on a flashlight that never ran out of battery.
"I think he burned himself." He shrugged and went back to work.
Looking around it seemed everyone had bowed their heads again and were back to whatever they were testing. The Kyrii wasn't even surrounded by any medical aides; he just stood by his bench, holding his paw. Confused, I stepped out from behind my bench and walked over, a frown on my face because no one else seemed concerned.
"Are you okay?" I asked him. His head jerked up and I saw he was biting his lip very hard and there were tears in his eyes. "Did you burn yourself?" I reached out to look at the injured paw but my hands were immediately slapped away.
"Go away!" he hissed. "I'm fine!" Seeing his paw – completely charred with some of the flesh burned away – I was puzzled by his words.
"No, you're not," I stated matter-of-factly. "Your paw is all burned. Why aren't you getting medical attention?" The Kyrii just scowled and looked back down at his work, sniffling slightly and shutting his eyes.
"We all know working here you can get hurt – it's just a risk you gotta take. And if you do burn yourself or hit yourself with a hammer, you don't get any help. It's just the way things are around here," he explained. Without another word he picked up a hammer with his good hand and began pounding out a sheet of metal as though he weren't seriously injury.
Frazzled, I made my way back to my work and stared down at the book stand, all inspiration lost. Why wouldn't someone help another pet who was injured? What sort of factory was this where the employees just expected to get hurt? Looking up and scanning through the mobs, I spotted the Draik. Determinedly, I walked over to him.
"Hey, Ebe," I called, making him turn around. "I have a few questions."
He set down his cup of water and smiled pleasantly at me. "Of course."
"Why didn't that guy get any medical attention?" I asked, waving my paw in the directly of the injured Kyrii. "He's seriously hurt and needs someone to help!"
Ebe sighed. "Around here people get hurt all the time. It's just a fact of life."
"Then hire some doctors to be on site!" I practically shouted. "This isn't safe!"
"Inventing never is safe, Haolys." His smile faded to a line. "If you don't like it, you can leave."
I hesitated. I loved this job, I didn't want to leave, but this was wrong. "I... I don't want to leave... but I think someone should be here to help pets who get hurt."
"Well, that's not happening," Ebe said, picking up his drink again.
"'Cause it's not like neopoints grow on trees. We don't have enough money to hire a doctor 24/7. Simple as that."
"That's just not right." I shook my head.
"Sorry, bud, that's just the way things are."
The Kyrii's scream stayed with me all the way until I got home, where Kate greeted me and handed me a steaming bowl of pasta. Everyone was gathered on the couch and shouting over each other to get a word in. "Hey," I called over everyone else. All eyes turned to me as I fell into my normal seat next to Lieder. "So, today at work a guy got hurt... like really hurt. His paw was burned and charred and... no one helped him. There were no doctors or anything! No one but me even went to see if he was okay... That's not right, is it?"
It took a few moments for anyone to respond, and even then it was Razor biting out a comment. "On the open seas it was every man for himself. If you got hurt, you got your own bandage. If you were sea sick, you got your own bucket. And if you got into trouble with someone else, it was your own problem."
Lieder rolled her eyes at her older brother. "No, Haolys, that's not okay," she replied. "Did you ask someone about it?" I nodded and quickly told her about my conversation with Ebe.
"Well what are you going to do?" Katie asked, looking at me as though I had an idea.
"I don't know, that's why I was asking you guys!"
"Well, you're the genius, aren't you?" Katie tilted her head with question. "You should be able to figure something out."
"Well, I haven't," I snapped at her. "Jeez, I thought I could ask for you guys' advice and actually get something to work off of!"
"Try inventing something," Lieder said suddenly.
"Like what?" I snipped at her.
"Oh!" Kate sat up quickly, looking over at me. "You should invent something that people can use to help themselves when people get hurt. If your boss is so concerned with money, whip something up that... I dunno, if you put it on a burn or a cut it heals it instantly!" A murmur of agreement passed between Lieder, Razor and Katie.
"That would be cool," Lieder commented.
"But what would I make that out of? All we have is metal and wood and stuff like that."
Kate shrugged. "You're the inventor, come up with something."
The next day at work I spent nearly half the day staring at my work bench. Nothing was on it. There was nothing to tinker with or to test. All I could do was think. I was the inventor. I could come up with something. I'd need some sort of fabric though – not the metals and wood that were laid out around the factory. I could ask someone, but I didn't want anyone to know what I was doing.
By midafternoon I decided to get up and go exploring. Searching for any sort of fabric, I managed to walk around the entire factory without seeing anything that could even potentially help me. I had an idea in my mind: a wrap, infused with some sort of faerie magic – like their healing potions – that would slowly release the liquid into the injured area, healing it simultaneously. But after making two loops around and ending up right back where I started, I began to lose faith.
Before I remembered that we had grease rags.
Grabbing the blue towel from underneath my bench, I raced to the water fountain just outside the main area and began rinsing it furiously. After scrubbing out every little black grit, I held it up and was proud of how clean I'd gotten it. But the healing potions – I still needed those.
Wondering if there were any around, I decided first to perfect the cloth.
Before heading to work the next day, I left early to stop by Faerieland. Picking up several cheap healing potions, I still managed to make it to work on time and start in on my project.
I'd gotten the cloth correct after a few mess ups, but now it released any fluid within it slowly, not all at once. To test it with one of the potions, I made a small cut on my arm and wrapped the towel around it. Pretending to be moving around and working, I didn't even feel the towel, the healing potion, or the pain from the cut. When I lifted it up to check, the red line had vanished.
Grinning to myself, I prepared his invention again and sprinted to find Ebe.
Accidently bumping into and jarring a few people, I managed to find Ebe in his normal chair, sipping his water. "Ebe," I cooed as I walked up to him. "I made something that solves both our problems." The Draik glanced up from the book he was reading and squinted at the towel I held.
"Which problem are we talking about?"
"The one where people are getting hurt but there's no one here to heal them."
"Ah." He leaned forward in his seat, intrigued. "Show me."
I explained my invention, showing the different parts of it as I explained. I remade the test I had done earlier, and continued talking as the thin wrap was put on my wound. Moving my arm as much as I could I showed Ebe that people could still work as they healed. By the end of my mini presentation, I removed the bandage and showed him that the small red cut was completely gone. At that, he stood from his chair, taking the cloth in his paws.
"How..." the Draik stuttered. I was sure this was the first time I'd ever seen him anything by angry or stoic. "How did you think to make this?" I just shrugged and smiled at him. "Well," he said seriously, looking at me with a glint in his eye that most inventors get. "Whip up one for everyone in this factory."
By the end of the week I was exhausted, but every pet working at the factory had one of my wraps and a small supply of healing potions at their stations. Although most pets didn't acknowledge the fact that I possibly just saved many of them from severe injuries, it was the certain, silent praise I got every time I saw someone using one.
I also had gotten a promotion. Because of my amazing idea, I was allowed to take weekends off to spend with my family, and I get a higher say than some others in the final process of an invention. My dream job had finally become a reality.
I couldn't be happier about being me.