Sometimes the sky resembles the cold slate grey of a vacuum tube supercomputer. Other times, the factory spews smoke in belches of carcinogen-laced halitosis. The bell rings, drones to the hive. Lines of identical grey dots and nondescript clusters of middling earth tones start to form. A creak rings through the courtyard, the door to the factory opening slowly and ominously. It’s always been this way. Shafts of sunlight, pure and cutting with precision through the haze, now form and pierce with surgical accuracy through the scene at hand, revealing depths of fine cogs and gears grinding in synchronous motions, raising the door of one threshold and turning more gears to close another. Machines can be seen, made to endlessly create the same thing in the same manner for the same amount of time until the same parts need to be replaced. Humans are needed, but only to cover what computers can’t do yet – feel, visually gauge appeal, and define worth beyond monetary concern. A far lesser concern is well being when consumerism is king, so the drones question nothing and dress the same to allow a number to speak for them. A bell rings again, a five-minute warning to get to the stations across the Iron Bridge. PHOOOM, another cloud of noxious air dissipates into the sky. PHOOOOM-KA-CHLINK, a metal guard flap closes and ash is now ejected into a containment bin built into the stack. The door closes.

Working for the company means not asking what the company does. Workers are to press buttons, type minimally, and use the screens before them to determine what is the answer of best fit for the situation at hand. Concepts such as humanized aspects were phased out long ago. Imperfect machines have been left to the old ones who still speak fondly of machines like “pianofortes,” “ARP Odysseys,” and “Moog Rogues.” They now stroke long beards and drink nips of brandy while idly pressing white or black keys and casually turning knobs to change the timbres, while the machines only change their sounds when coming out of hibernation or going into a malfunctioning state. Memory leaks have been solved for the computers but the humans still have them, memory banks overloaded during training by the subliminal seminars that are now mandatory. Breaks in productivity are seen as criminal offenses, Idle Hands becoming the fate-sealing mistake of many workers. The bell rings again. Hours have passed and break time begins for the opening shift. A storm brews overhead, rain gently falling and washing away the premature filth of a half-day’s industry. Storm clouds churn into a violent whirlpool of black, grey, and white, rain falling in larger drops. Growing colder, the rain begins to turn into a continuous sheet of water, expelled from the sky and onto the merciless earth below. A bell rings twice in two short blasts. All workers back to the line. The storm continues, now unnoticed.

Time passes, the storm passes, and the sun drops. More workers come and go, leaving for breaks and returns to their domiciles. Following a single worker, #841265, it can bee seen that his shift Is over at 5.45 PM. The sky grows darker, dyed red and orange for brief moments before reverting to a dusky purple. Headlights turn on and begin to form a continuous stream on the single road leading from the factory. The sun drops. The cars are now out of view. Inside of the factory, a klaxon begins to sound.

Five technicians dressed in safety yellow and eggshell white can be seen lowering a thick rope into a vat of what appears to be molten lead. “He just fell.” “How?” “My report says he had slipped on his own pan leg, the cleansuit providing a hindrance to his mobility. He died instantly.” “Very well. Submit that as soon as possible.” A counter visible from every room on the ceiling that reads NUMBER OF DAYS SINCE LAST ACCIDENT changes from a 785 to a 0. Below the factory, a small, withered man with a hunched back is grinding gears down to size. Another man of an even more advanced age shovels coal and bones into a giant furnace. In the background, a row of doors marked FREEZERS can be seen. In the distance, the beating of three sets of wings can be heard, as can the sounds of agony and ebb.

Elsewhere, a Cliffside falls into the ocean as Caterpillars start to build a foundation for a hotel larger than any in the Middle East could ever be. Reports are filed again, papers trailing behind clerks and through pneumatic tubes filled with polyvinyl capsules. Drugs are made to prevent banal problems that cause serious problems as a result. Vanity thy name is biology. Imperatives are dismissed in favor of post-Orwellian monitoring, as the incorporation of Huxley’s proto-Infinite Jest theory begins integration. Bells chime services for the church of the treasury. Vague anxieties continue to get passed around like pinkeye at an elementary school, and dreams prove to be the only escape from this new modernity. It’s an old tale, hackneyed but relevant. The plagiarism of collective minds past obscuring the lost intent. Roll The Dice score this realization. In Dust is where humanization of mechanized ideals meets and proves that machines can be taught to feel if operated upon enough.

Imagine your life as SimCity 3000.