This is one of my entries this week for therealljidol. I invite you to read and vote for the many fine entries. We writing on several topics this week. This entry is in response to the topic "Explode."
At the machine wall, the workers sweat as they feverishly watch dials. Each time the pressure builds, a man uses a wrench to open and close the heavy-gauge valves. Faceless and voiceless, their time belongs to Her. She is not interested in their comfort; they only serve Her purpose. They labor far beneath the surface of the Earth, never seeing the light of day. When they moan, she is not moved. Their fate and the Earth's are linked.
A formless spirit, she has sheathed herself in a metal body. She is an Art Deco goddess, a golden semblance of a woman. She haunts the dreams of madmen, a bullet aimed at society's heart. Humans have called her many names -- Pele, Hel, Adi Parashakti, Coatlicue, and Kali -- and She answers to them all. She notices their paltry efforts to placate her: with drumbeat, prayer and pleading. The humans do not understand her motivations. They do not see what She sees.
On the wall, the gauges are labeled with tiny aluminum letters, barely visible under condensation. From her observation post, high above the floor, she cannot read them, but she does not need to. The gauges read "Krakatoa" and "Mount St. Helens." They read "San Andreas Fault" and "Tangshan fault." They list the secret names, known only to Her, of every imperfection of the Earth's crust. The gauges also list the names of the winds that sweep the surface, like "Boreas" and "Diablo." On quiet days, she chants the names of winds: Elephanta, Foehn, Cordonazo, Maestro, Sumatra; Taku, Sharki, Ostria, Pali.
But quieter days have grown less frequent; the workers have grown tired. Fear pulses through their muscles, animating their dead-tired bodies. They make mistakes, naturally; mistakes she has no inclination to correct. An exhausted man falls, wrench in hand. His gauge blows steam; the workers scatter. The whistle, like the workers' alarmed calls, sound like music to her: a pipe organ, keening furious and fast.
As the gauge blows with deadly force, she surges forward through the chaos to read the name. It is a fault line in the Pacific, known to Her, and Her alone, as Ilead. The gauge blows its neighbor, "Tsunami," and a few smaller gauges, as well.
Upstairs, next to her observation post, the counter begins to spin: single, then double, then triple digits. The counter spins faster, but she is not moved. What must be, must be.
The story continues in my entry for "Patchwork."
As always, thanks to my wonderful beta reader, roina_arwen, for taking a look at this.