In a green and mossy wood, a beam of sunlight lit a clump of ferns.
Not just any old clump of ferns, this lucky sunbeam chanced today to shine its way like a spotlight right down on the very fern factory headquarters. The moment the golden beam kissed its first frond, inside the plant the claxon sounded, signalling the start of a new day shift.
Phil paced impatiently in his office. Before long, he heard a timid knock on the door. It was an intimidating door, to be sure, and being called in this early on a Monday morning to see the factory foreman could only mean bad news.
“Good morning Mr. Chloro. You wanted to see me?” The Root System Supervisor poked his head through the doorway, clearly not wanting to step all the way into the room.
“Come in and take a seat, Mr. Raiz. Mr. Blatt should be joining us shortly.”
Raiz perched on the edge of a chair, twisting and intertwining his fingers. He jumped when Blatt walked in without knocking. The Chief Engineer of Oxygen Production and Export had always projected self-importance, strutting around as if the whole factory would shut down without him.
With no introduction, Phil started into the tirade he had rehearsed all night, in front of the mirror, in the shower, on his way to the office.
“I’ve had enough of this ridiculous rivalry between you two. This is the last time I am going to speak with you. We have a job to do here, and it is a vitally important one, and I will not have petty personal differences slowing down production. Raiz.”
At the sound of his name, Raiz stiffened.
“Raiz, you’ve been slowing down of late, and it’s unacceptable. We can’t produce if we don’t have the raw materials. I don’t care if you have to hire more labour to make it happen—you must meet your quota of water and mineral intake. The earth is rich here if you tap into it properly. And as for you, Blatt . . .”
Blatt started to speak.
“No, Blatt, I don’t want to hear any more excuses. You will not be pointing the finger and shifting the blame any more. If we don’t do our jobs, everyone dies. Do you want earth’s atmosphere to be devoid of breathable oxygen? Do you want this planet to be without organic matter? Unfurl some new fronds if you need to. I expect oxygen output to be restored to optimum levels by this time next week. And do something about the carbon dioxide filtration—the efficiency in that department lately has been an abomination. I want you two working together, not against each other. Do I make myself clear, gentlemen?”
Both nodded sheepishly.
“You are dismissed. Get back to work.”