“The Forge” Home Away from Home

Evan/Eve Miller

I yawned as I hung up my jacket on the cast iron coat hanger.  It’s too early for this, I’ve only been up for ten minutes.  Everyone likes being warm and cozy when they wake up, but this was excessive.  The air was heavy and hot, and it waves back and forth if I stare at one spot for so long.  I’ve only just arrived and I can already feel myself sweating.  I have no idea how my Dad’s managed to work in the heat all these years, but I suppose it’s a small price to pay for safety.

I’m wearing these big metal boots, they aren’t comfortable and they cover my feet in blisters but I need to wear them.  The floor is practically molten, made of coals that burn almost as hot as the blast furnaces all around me.  Oh, gods, the blast furnaces.  Those things are massive, much larger than I am, and they cover most of the walls.  The covers might as well be garage doors, hiding racks of steel that pulled out so we could put whatever needed smelting inside without touching anything within the furnaces.  Doing so would be a death sentence, those flames inside them burn a bright white and evaporate anything but the strongest alloys.  Believe me, I tried to put copper in there once, and when I opened the furnace the metal was all gone.  Crazy how hot those things burn.

I grab my apron and welding mask from my station and start to put them on.  There’s about four stations to a furnace, each worked by someone far bigger than me.  Heavily reinforced tungsten counters with pegs for us to hang our tools sit firmly at each station, but despite the tough metal, there’dents and burn marks covering all but mine.  I’ve got a couple markings, but my station is as new here as I am.  Everyone has to build their own in the Forge.  It’s a strange way of interviewing, but it’s effective.  Lets people see your skill in action, instead of relying on their judgment of your testimony.  Which is good, cause when I first showed up, I nearly got laughed out.  Everyone else here is built like a wall, seven feet tall at least with arms thicker than tree trunks.  I, however, sit at a healthy 5”3’, and let’s just say that my ‘guns’ are fresh out of ammo.  They only let me interview ‘cause my dad put a good word in for me, but I got the position from my own work.  I’m proud of my smithing.  I got it from my dad.  

As I slide on my heavy duty gloves, I can’t help but notice that everyone else seems to be running late.  I do not want to wake up this early on a Monday morning, but c’mon, we need all hands on deck to keep the Forge running.  The coal shovelers aren’t even here yet, and I can’t really start working until they are.  Which is a pain, cause I was halfway through making a set of titanium caltrops when we closed on Friday.  I wanted to get them finished early so that I could spend the day on my next project, but oh well.  Guess I’ll just have to wait.

There’s only one clock in the Forge, and it’s up on the ceiling.  That way, no matter where you are, you can always just look up to check the time.  The clock is massive, made of giant gears that are apparently made of a copper and chromium mixture.  It’s been here since the Forge’s construction, and was the first thing ever made here.  It’s quite the feat for a lot of reasons.  Making something that large is hard enough, but I’ve already said what happened when I tried to use copper.  Melted into nothing.  Mixing it with the Chromium was a stroke of genius, although no one has been able to quite replicate it.  There’s no numbers on the clock, but the cardinal directions are marked and North is assumed to be 12.  You can figure out the rest of the numbers from there.  The minute hand isn’t very useful for telling exact times, but all that really matters is the hours and  how close we are to the end of each.  

Speaking of which, I should check what I’m on for today.  I’ve got my planner in my bag.  You can’t bring paper into the Forge, fire hazard, so I use a thin slab of stone that I paint over every time the month changes.  Todays the 22nd, so if I just pull up the slab. . . Oh.

No wonder no one’s here.

Today is Sunday.