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The people watched as the smokestack crumbled. First, an ember which began at the base and began to wander upwards. As it moved, the surface of the stack began to crack delicately to reveal molten ember underneath. Ash rained from the top of the cylinder, a giant cigarette being flicked on the masses.

The firemen watched helplessly as the situation grew out of control. Their thick yellow jackets being flecked with black soot. A single tear rolled from the eye of a dedicated fireman as he considered the impact this disaster would have on the small factory
town that he was native to.

Before the gates of the refinery stood the entire population of the town. Men, women, and children stood in a staggered formation, awestruck at black mass forming in the skyline. A man stood at the head of the crowd, demanding answers from a police chief who stood at the perimeter of the factory. He exaggerated a shrug to display that his ignorance was equal to that of the crowd.

Plastic synthesis and distribution was the only reason that this particular town was on the map, without the factory the entire economy of the town was directed towards failure. The local politicians thought exactly this as a second smokestack fell with more ease than the first one. Feelings of dread, emptiness, and anger filled the atmosphere and suffocated the townspeople.

Enormous clouds of smoke and soot spanned across a formerly blue sky, and rained over the citizens of the town. The people were too defeated to move, and some even looked straight up. Fires broke out in the factory windows and the firefighters sprung into action, trying to contain what the could of the caustic flames. The police officers moved forward to disperse the crowd, herding them down the path that lead to the refinery.

A thin layer of ash began to settle over each and every storefront and home in the town. A young boy began to draw on the sidewalk with a stick. He drew a home with his family standing in front. Slowly, he detailed the portrait which depicted his sister, his mother, his dog, and his father. He spent extra time on his father, who had gone missing right before the smokestack crumbled.

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