What Pegman Saw – The Big Man

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Talnakh, Krasonoyarsk Krai, Russia.

WPS - The Big Man 171230

The Big Man

Gregor was a big man, but he was puce and breathless after climbing the badly lit iron stairs of the dusty nickel factory. He sat at his battered metal desk scanning the production log and downed a vodka. Normal.

He coughed. Ten years ago he’d been the first to crack the Arctic ice. He’d swum for ten minutes, the ferocious cold burning him, his workmates applauding. He’d walked tall as he strode back up the beach. Nobody would have challenged him then.

The maintenance log. Another vodka.

Damn! The left reactor was running well over temperature. It would have to close for repair. Management wouldn’t like it, but they’d ignored that warning sign once before. The poor sod caught in the blast had screamed for ten minutes as he died.

This whole damn place was a death trap. He coughed. Nickel cough. He knew within a year he’d be dead.

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35 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – The Big Man

  1. Talnakh and nearby Norilsk are ecological disaster areas due to mining. From Wikipedia: “Nickel ore is smelted on site at Norilsk. The smelting is directly responsible for severe pollution, generally acid rain and smog. By some estimates, one percent of global emissions of sulfur dioxide comes from Norilsk’s nickel mines. Heavy metal pollution near Norilsk is so severe that mining the surface soil is now economically feasible due to the soil acquiring such high concentrations of platinum and palladium.”

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  2. Excellent descriptive writing (again :-)). I like the way you emphasize the repetitive nature of his work (checking the production log, downing vodka, and repeat). Gregor seems to be resigned to his fate. Sadly, it’s all too common for “management” to put profit before the welfare of workers.

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    • Dear Karen
      You make a very astute comment. He wouldn’t want sympathy from anyone. His self-image is of a man who would bow to nothing and no-one. Unrealistic, of course, but a delusion that seems to appeal to the masculine mind.
      Thank you for reading and commenting – much appreciated as always.
      Happy New Year!
      Penny

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    • Dear EagleAye
      Thank you for reading and commenting. At the start of my working career (over forty years ago now) I used to visit steel processing plants in South Wales. They weren’t as bad as the factory in my story, but they weren’t good – I still remember vividly what it was like having a two ton metal object accidentally dropped from a crane within feet of me…brrrrr! And they still had fatalities and near misses.
      With tighter regulation, things are much better now in Europe, and I should imagine in the USA too. But I can see a trend towards deregulation, and what that means is not lower costs but deaths, poor health and pollution.
      With best wishes and Happy New Year!
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love your little character study, Penny. You can feel his thick fingers on the glass, his resignation at the state of the world, at his fate within it. You’re written this so beautifully, so sparsely, the style perfectly matching the theme. Wonderful

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