Amaranthine and Other Stories

Amaranthine and Other Stories by Erik Hofstatter Read Free Book Online

Book: Amaranthine and Other Stories by Erik Hofstatter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Erik Hofstatter
talking about?”
    Andy killed the machine, allowing Mike to regain his breath.
    “John was operating the cutting mill,” Mike said, choking back vomit. “It caught his sleeve and dragged him in. The blade sliced his left arm off like a chunk of ham! Blood sprayed my face! There was blood everywhere—it was horrible! I heard his screams over the noise and killed the power! A second later and he would be dead!”
    “Where is he? Which hospital? I gotta see him!” Andy said. Mike grabbed him by the collar, his hands trembling with adrenaline.
    “Wait! You know who's to blame, don't you? That damn spear-chucker! I've seen him creeping behind us, watching everything we do! He's plotting against us! I'm telling you, we're next!”
    Andy stared, wild eyed. Mike's accusation seemed farfetched. Yes, the supervisor disliked the trio due to John's hostile letter, but to suggest he was responsible for the accident was absurd.
    “Don't be ridiculous!” he said, shoving Mike's hands aside. “Did you witness Imamu forcing John under the machine? We can't just go around and throw accusations at innocent people! This whole accident thing will be investigated by the company, you know? Do you really want to be the one pointing fingers and spreading silly theories?” Andy asked.
    Mike blinked and lowered his voice. “There's something I haven't told you. When I arrived this evening, I was parking my Nissan and saw him leaving his Merc, heading towards the factory. I went over to check out his ride. A couple of weird and random objects lay inside. The one that disturbed me the most, though, was a voodoo doll—suspended from the rear view mirror. I'm telling you, this guy is some sort of a witchdoctor and I know he caused the accident…somehow.”

    The incoming week, the company scheduled a meeting and launched an investigation into John's mysterious accident. As the only witness, Mike carefully stated his version of events. He detailed rushing over when he heard John's screams—seeing his severed arm jammed in the contraption and then running for help. He considered reporting his suspicions about Imamu, but Andy persuaded him not to—still championing the man's innocence.

    Andy and Mike slipped into their boiler suits, depressed. The aftermath of the accident still weighed heavily on both men. It clouded the factory's melancholy atmosphere even further. The doors swung open and the colossal frame of Imamu strode in. He paused, observing his employees with burning hate. Mike and Andy exchanged worried glances. The coloured man resumed his stride.
    “You think we should apologize to him? Clear the air a bit?” Mike said.
    “Damn right we should! I'm glad you finally accepted the truth. Look, we work a graveyard shift. We're all naturally tired and John was simply a victim of his own clumsiness. Imamu is innocent. By the way, did you know that John taped a racist letter to his locker?”
    Mike's jaw dropped.
    “Exactly. We should be
to him. He could've taken the letter directly to human resources and they would sack him. He done John a favour, you know?”

    They entered the factory floor, searching for Imamu. The machinery was on standby and a mild humming ruled over the premises. The men found their quarry sitting on a steel bench, filling out documents. He lifted his crimson eyes but did not offer a smile.
    “Sir?” Andy began.
    Mike risked a brief visual inspection of the man while Andy spoke, noticing the peculiar amulet hanging around Imamu's gargantuan neck. The amulet had a wooden mask in the centre, its edges decorated with what appeared to be human teeth. Mike averted his eyes, shuddering.
    “…we just wanted to apologize for John's hostile behaviour and we ourselves haven't exactly been very welcoming, so if we could perhaps start over?” Andy said, offering his hand again and grinning sincerely. The supervisor's hesitation filled the air with boorishness. He shook Andy's hand after an awkward

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