The Creepy Deaths At My Factory Made Me Look At The Soda Industry In A Whole New Light

arjun karkhanis
arjun karkhanis

“Well, if you want me to start at the beginning, I’ll uh…tell you a little bit about the job. I got hired in 2012 and learned quickly that Cold Confections was the place where all good things came to die. Um, not speaking literally, well at first.” I blinked heavily a couple times as we met eyes, his cue to continue on with the story as I sat there jotting down notes here and there. This could take all day.

“So as I was saying, got hired in 2012. I met my boss, Magnus, the day after I was hired, he was the main manager of the whole plant and-”

“That’s Agnus…with an M?” I asked, wondering if I had heard him correctly.

“Correct,” he gave in his slight southern accent, biting his lip.

“Continue.”

“So Magnus shows me around the parts and explains a little bit on the history of the place, which I’m sure you’re familiar with now. It became apparent that he hired a lot of, er, losers in that there place. I can attest to that because well, at the time I was a junkie and I, too, was a loser.” He laughed slightly, then realized I wasn’t laughing with him and continued. “He says, ‘Well, we’re a small plant and we like to give everybody a stable place to work.’ I found out quickly that Magnus was hiring people off the streets…homeless, druggies, everything of the sorts. Somebody told me that he had given a job to a guy who was fooling around with his wife before their divorce. I just can’t figure that out.”

“Is this related to what happened in any way?” My pen was ready to write down some information.

“Well, I would say so, given the events that took place. On with the story…Magnus shows me around and I end up in the back of the warehouse where syrups are mixed together in these giant, heated vats. You slide the cover off the top while you stand on a ladder, right like you’ve probably seen on any production movie, or documentary. There are these robotic stirrers that come down from the ceiling and mix the vats of syrup and then that said syrup is used in soda.”

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“So, this company, you’re saying, made flavored sodas and the works. Now I have the background.”

“Spot on,” he said, “And it was a cool job because a lot of us were welcome to free drinks. We specialized in this cotton candy flavored soda that was just…just the shit in the area.”

“Of course,” I retorted, completely uninterested and just wanting to get to the point.

“So,” he carried on, “I was there for about a week and only Chance and I were in the vat rooms at this point where this, er, syrup was mixed together.” He paused, and then his eyes lit up. “Oh, yeah! Chance is the other guy that was hired at the same time as me. He was a real good guy. I guess this is really who the story is all about.”

“What did you know about Chance? Did he seem pretty laid back? Lots of friends?”

“Oh my god, yeah,” he said, taken in by his words. “Chance was so well-liked that it was unbelievable. Some of the guys wouldn’t get along sometimes, there would be stupid little phases of bickering here and there, always bickering over something. But I don’t know one person who didn’t like Chance. And Magnus was always giving him raises, even if he would kinda dangle opportunities in front of his eyes like a piece of chicken.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Well,” he replied, “Magnus seemed to like to taunt us all with opportunities. That’s the only thing I really didn’t like about the guy. I knew our business was booming and close-knit and we were all doing a really good job, a few of us really getting back on our feet. But it seemed like he was always taunting us that it wasn’t good enough. Or that we needed to do this and this, and if we did, then we would get a prize at the end of the tunnel or something. He was kinda cheap. But I have to thank Magnus, because, hell, I got back on my feet because of him. A year and a half off of heroin for this guy.” He motioned to himself proudly.

“That’s a really great thing. I’m happy to hear that.” I nodded. “So, go in more detail about Chance’s treatment there at the plant, then.”

“Well, Magnus and he would always be alone talking about something. He would sometimes call Chance into the main office and I would see them talking about a promotion and what he had to do to get there, just things to keep him working harder. Eventually Chance was making more than any of us, which was hard to believe because we never thought Magnus would pay that well. He’s cheap, like I said.”

“And then…what happened to Chance?”

He gulped, looking up with a glaze in his eyes in a way that said, ‘I really don’t like to think about this.’ “One day, Magnus threw a little party for us but Chance was working so hard at his promotion that he went into the back of the warehouse and worked at those vats, trying to stir up the perfect mixture that would bring up sales again. We were all sitting around eating pizza and shooting the shit when Magnus comes in screaming for us, saying that we need to come help, that there has been a horrible accident.”

“And what was that?”

“Chance had fallen into a vat. It was the most bizarre thing ever, made even more bizarre by the fact that he was still gasping for air and trying to claw his way out of the thing, trying to stay afloat in this hot, molten syrup that was definitely melting his skin as he struggled. By the time we all got to the top of the ladder’s platform, Chance was falling under, unable to save. The last thing I could coherently make out before he went down was, ‘Pushed!’ which he was screaming bloody murder.”

“Pushed? Is that what you think happened?”

“Well, you just wait,” he said, giving me a specific look in his eyes that said everything. “Magnus told us to keep it under wraps. He said that we could all lose our jobs if they found out that the nicest, most high paid worker at that plant had fallen into a vat and died. We had to throw away his records for the day that he ever even showed up for work, and everything ended up checking out with his family when they called Magnus. It was all hush-hush around the plant. Everybody thought he had enough and just disappeared off the face of the earth. Magnus winked at us a lot, knowing he did a horrible thing.”

“So, he covered up the fatality and made you guys go along with it?”

“Yes, we had to comply or else we lost our stable work,” he said, sadly, as he lowered his head. “I know it’s awful. But then he transferred Herb, a front warehouse worker, to the vats. Herb was a little on edge about the whole idea but he did his part and took on the job to make up for the loss. He loved his job and pretty soon he was flying through the ranks. I have to say, it even made me a little jealous because I had been doing this job for months and now he was making all the money. Pretty soon, things were back on track and Herb was the most high-paid person in that facility.”

“And what happened to Herb?”

“Well, Magnus told us when we got to work one day that the plant was shut down for the remainder of the day, and it looked like he had a lot on his mind. He said that Herb had shown up earlier than us that morning to get a head start to the day and he had clearly been intoxicated. Lost his balance, and must have fallen over into the vats. He begged us, if we wanted to keep our jobs, to keep things on the down-low. Now, by this point a lot of the guys were talking and didn’t like this whole set-up but we were all junkies or without a place to go. What the fuck were we gonna say?”

“Yes,” I said, in disbelief, “But this is two deaths at this point. So what made you keep it a secret all this time? And now all of a sudden, you’re turning him in for what happened?”

“Well, you see, I really liked Chance and Herb. Even though I wanted to keep my job, I had a lot of guilt. But that wasn’t quite it, either. I was making a decent amount of money and I had a nice apartment of my own by this point; I was really seeing the light. I was a bit on edge, though…and one day, Magnus approached me.” He gulped again, this time not to clear his throat, but what seemed a bit out of fear. “He asked me if I wanted a chance at earning a promotion. By this point in time, I knew promotions never ended well. I put two and two together when I heard Chance screaming for help and that he had been pushed. Magnus was really that cheap.”

“So, you think that he killed his best workers? He got something out of that?”

“I believe so,” he said, bobbing his head away in a series of nods. “And you know what really makes me sick about all that?”

“What’s that?”

“After the deaths, he never even cleaned out the vats. He sold the soda that way.” TC mark

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