This is the 114th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
The Red Button, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 24th March 2013
Word count: 791
“Under no circumstances do you push this button,” George Fabia said sternly, “Never.” This was the most serious Christian had seen George all day. It was Christian’s first day in a new job, he’d previously worked carrying the boxes with all manner of things to feed the great machine that produced a series of toys for sale to shops the world over. It was a minor role in the great machine, but he’d been doing it dilligently for two years, and as a reward they moved him into an apprenticeship with George, as understudy to the machine’s engineer. George didn’t appear to be very happy about it, and he’d been doing his best to fob off his curious audience all day.
“What does it do?” Christian asked.
“Nothing, it does nothing,” George said flustered, “Here if you want to make yourself useful, go get yourself a drink. Come back in a couple of hours.”
“Oh, okay,” Christian said, nonplussed. He headed off to the staff canteen quite happily.
When George was satisfied his new annoyance was gone, he smiled and looked at the button.
An hour later Christian returned again, “Sorry George, Margaret sent me back,” he said as he climbed into the control room. As he entered he noticed George wasn’t around. He looked through the grimy windows down to the factory floor, but he couldn’t see his unwilling mentor.
Christian took the only seat in the room, and sat fidgeting for ten minutes before combing over the boards filled with lights and gauges. Then he found himself in front of the big red button, and he studied it. It was set in a board surrounded by gauges that showed pressure levels, and oil temperatures, and the like.
“George,” Christian called out experimentally, but there was no sign of the man. With childlike eagerness and curiosity, Christian pressed the button.