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Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #813752
Winner Writer's Cramp 2/11/04
The New Prompt is:
We all know that a rainbow has 7 colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) but today you noticed two colors were missing. You pull out your magnifying glass and try to discover why. Although this sounds like a story that a child would be interested in it does not mean you have to write a children's story.

Rainbow Central

“Hey, George! We’ve got another one.”

“Not again. What color is it?”


“Didn’t we just have green go out last week? Or was that violet?’

“Last week was yellow and violet. This is getting old fast. How many does that make for this week?

“Six, I think. We had four on first shift and Benny had two on second. I’m not sure what the guys on third shift are running into.”

“George, didn’t you hear? Benny’s not on second shift anymore. They bumped him to third shift beginning of the week.”

“No! What happened Harry? I thought Benny was doing real well on second shift.

“Last week when they had the second outage he just kinda snapped. He grabbed a harness and went down to investigate.”

“You’re kidding. How’d he get there? What’d did he find out? You know, I’ve been tempted to do that once or twice myself. I just couldn’t figure how I’d get away with it. I guess Benny didn’t, huh?”

“Nope. Like I said, he grabbed a harness. He actually rode the ‘bow down. Hasn’t been anyone do that in at least twenty years. Man, I would have liked to have seen it. Just thinking about it brings back memories for me. How ‘bout you George?”

“Yeah, makes you wish you could still do that doesn’t it? I’d give just about anything for one more ride down the ‘bow. Almost anything. But third shift? I don’t think so. That’s the dead-man-walking shift. Your next stop is out the door. Besides, there aren’t many rainbows on third shift. A few just before dark and one or two at first light if you’re lucky. The rest of the night you spend recalibrating the optics and updating the software. I’d sooner transfer to the Cumulus division, then work third shift. Remember, how it used to be Harry?”

“Yep, we used to arrive at daybreak punch in and take over from third shift. They usually had a couple of ‘bow’s winding down and then we’d fire up the early morning ones. They were a sight to behold; all the colors against that crisp blue morning sky. Made you stop and stare. We did it all then. We rode the ‘bow, polished and cleaned the lenses, changed the bulbs. We were the best. We woke them up and put them to bed with rainbows. The only guys that came close to doing what we did were the fellows over in the Northern Lights division. We had them beat because we had worldwide distribution and they didn’t. Have to admit though they put on a pretty show when they could. When did it all start going downhill, George?”

“Oh, I can answer that. First it was the incandescents. Remember? We had to stop using them because they burned up too much energy. Didn’t matter that they gave the best show. We were over budget so they had to go. They replaced them with mercury vapor tubes. Saved a lot of bucks but then the environmentalists found out we were using mercury. That court battle lasted two years. We lost. That’s when they brought in these new argon bulbs, energy efficient and safe for the environment. Trouble was, they needed a computer system to control and we had to retrofit the optics in order to get anything close to the brilliance we got from the incandescents. Instead of revamping the old computer system they built a whole new one from the ground up. And now instead of riding the ‘bow we sit in this control room and turn dials and watch gauges. It was a gradual process Harry. Most of us never saw it coming. The old timers did. They saw it and got out when they could. Those of us with families to support? Well, here we are.”

“Yeah George, Green goes out and we file a work order. The technicians down in optics review the data we send them, and if they can, they find a way to blame the loss on us. Then they assign a maintenance crew to go change the bulb. It’s a six-man team now instead of just two guys like when we used to do it. OSHA claims we need double redundancy built in to avoid extended down time and employee injury from job stress. And if we lose a color for more than thirty-five minutes we’re in danger of losing our NOAA license. Job stress! We’ve had to reboot the system twice this month and nobody can figure out why were losing colors as often as we are. Figure that out and let us ride the ‘bow once in a while to get a first hand look and there won’t be any job stress.”

“Geez, Harry. There goes another one. Orange this time. We’ve got both green and orange down at the same time! This will end up on our records for sure. Maybe Benny had the right idea. How’d he get caught anyhow?”

“All I know is rumors. They say he no sooner hit the end of the ‘bow when security appeared from out of nowhere, nabbed him and took him to building fourteen. Who knows what they do to you in there. Some say he saw what the problem was and knew how to fix it, but he didn’t get the chance. Guess we will never know. After three days in fourteen, he came out all smiles and giggles and reassigned to third shift. I saw him yesterday. Just kinda walks around smilin', poor guy. When you ask him about it he just giggles and says one word.”

“What’s that Harry?”


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