The light from a single broken window picked out a single machine, and made it stand out from the rest of the abandoned factory. The rest of the space was lost to shadows with occasional brighter spots where a window was inexplicably cleaner than the rest, allowing a little more light to pass. The light from the broken window was placed perfectly to emphasize the complexity of this particular machine.
No one remembered what this factory made when it was in operation. The business name had been taken down ages ago, and most of the paint was faded outside. Even if the name had been legible, it was clearly one of those generic names that leaves no clues as to the identities of either the founders or their industry. Inside, most workstations had supplies of decaying parts and the occasional drawings. But the paper was yellowed with age, and the parts were as mysterious as the machines that had made them.
The most interesting thing was illuminated clearly. A bin of carrots, spilling out on to the floor into a mound that flooded two of the aisles between the machines. At the fringes, the carrots were rather old and dry, cracking in the dusty air. But near the top of the pile, the carrots might have been picked yesterday.
This bin, and the large machine beside it, were near the center of the factory, surrounded by the pile of aging carrots, and further out surrounded by undisturbed dust. There was no obvious way for fresh carrots to reach the pile. And yet, there they were, plain as day. The bright orange root glistened in the sunlight, a few grains of dirt and just a single dewdrop clinging to its sides. The greens were standing fresh and crisp as well.
Looking closer, I realized that the dust was not completely undisturbed. There was a single trail of small footprints, punctuated by occasional marks from what could have been a long tail. From the size of the footprints, a well fed rat was coming and going from the carrot pile, but was also clearly not sharing the location of his find with any other critters.
I heard a rustling noise behind me, and turned.
There at the top of the pile was a second fresh carrot.
I swear it wasn’t there before.