Tuesday, August 18, 2009
When Agent Octavian finally reached the end of the ventilation shafts, several feet above the floor of the final basement level, he heard human voices arguing about soap, and it made him pause at the base of the shaft. He looked out at the dimly lit scene below him. For a cat—perhaps for anyone—it was the scene of a nightmare.
All was lit by an unnatural blue-green light. The repetitive noises were coming from several places. Closest to the ventilation shaft were the ceiling conveyor belts with the scrub brushes attached, hanging just low enough to scrub the paper bills clipped to the conveyor belt below, that ran parallel to the floor at waist height to the human workers, who deftly grabbed each bill in its turn and clipped it to the drying belt above their heads.
The work was steady and monotonous. Undoubtedly, those who worked in this diabolical establishment soon lost the true feeling for what money—in any denomination—really was. Scoop, lift, clip, turn. Repeat. It was no kind of life, for human or for cat, or, even for the pale grey mice, with their red eyes and their nervous paws, who waited in the corners for some change, some meaningful difference, something for lunch that was not in fact low-grade French cheese.