The left lens of my goggles has a crack in it running from the top left to the bottom right. The electric light fixture bolted to the wall of my station flickers and my request for a replacement lamp has gone unanswered by the Upper Room for nearly a week. Condensation has formed inside the glass faces of dials Ten and Twelve. I think I am rusting.
Bronze cylinders with new orders engraved on them clatter down the tube and fall into the bucket with a heavy clank throughout the day and night. I feel compelled to read them all, though at least one a day will send me into an impotent rage. Lately, though, that is as far as my sense of obligation extends. I no longer carry out every order I receive. It is not that I am in revolt; only that I have learned over time that many of these orders are reversed soon after they are issued.
I hate this. Why can't they just leave me alone?
Sometimes the way my dimly lit station here on Shaft Thirteen, Level Ninety-nine looks through the red rippled glass lenses of my goggles, the venting of steam, the endless hollow rumbling of turbines behind thick walls of riveted iron, all make me feel as though I work in a volcano deep beneath the surface of the ocean. It is a strange feeling, both disturbing and comforting.
I worry that I will lose my connection to reality. I worry that I will forget what the upper world looks like. I worry that it will all someday become too much for me to bear and I will run amok, smashing the dials and taking a sledgehammer to the tube, then running through the tunnels to emerge at the nearby stations to tear the sparking, smoking, twitching limbs off my generally harmless neighbors moloch213 and moloch45 and beat them about their heads with them.
All right, it would be funny. The real pity is that they would doubtless bring me down before I made it to moloch17's station.
I will tend my small part of the Machine, and hope that something good happens soon.