This was a joy. Total, electrifying, relentless joy. Darrin worked all the time, of course, but never like this, not in a long time. Too long, he though, as he grinned broadly. With every push, lightness, freedom. With ever pull, exhilarating influxes of raw, pore-filling energy. Of course, none of the others would have disagreed. Those in the legs hadn't been pushed this hard in decades; the massive strength of effort from their withering bodies was inspiring. Every once in a while, one of them would start complaining to his coach. But she would continue to prod him onward. His coach told him that he was becoming greater, to the benefit of everyone else around.
Darrin looked at his coach and smiled. He long, slight body weaved across his vision. Abrupt pulses of light over her pastel yellow clasps gave her a lovely tint of light blue. He felt himself keeping time with the flashes of her figure: flash, pull, flash, push...
His concentration was interrupted. The sound of a persistent whine began to grow in his ears. "Come on, please! I needed that! I'm even running out!" moaned Dom. Takers were walking off with a few generously sloshing jugs of essence, water as Old Boris called it, and dumping them into the River. Darrin noticed that the river was teeming with red Carriers, inflated and beaming bright with life gas.
It was enough of a chuckle to watch Dom's face when they made off with a small pile of gold earlier: payment to get the legs moving. His greasy fingers greedily squeezed the last gold piece as the Taker plucked it and tossed it into the River. Dom looked comically desperate to retrieve it, as if he had forgotten the astonishing, rolling hoard of gold he had accumulated over the years. (In all fairness, Darrin thought, most Movers had gathered more that their needed share of gold; but Dom's landmark of a gold mound was undoubtedly the largest.) Unlike before, however, Dom wore a face of pain, not resentment. His eyes watered as he watched what used to be his essence float away in the River. He grabbed a red cordon, sobbing, and pulled it. He was quitting.
Darrin scoffed as the whole Mover effort halted. He filled his eyes with black judgment and mustered the most contemptuous glare he could stand to make, then pointed his face at weeping, oily ball of sloth that was Dom. Tears were streaking down over his bulging chin and darkening his red dress shirt. His huge gut bobbled as he sniffed, wiping his eyes to meet Darrin's hateful look. "Oh, stop. Fine, I don't care. Stare. Laugh. No one works as hard as Darrin, who only stops to rub his gung-ho bullshit in my face," Dom seethed. He pointed downriver, where Big Glenn was making sure all the Movers had their traps out to catch clay in the stream. "You never look at them like that," added Dom, indignant.
"I don't think they complain half as much as you, Dom. Old Boris won't be happy when he finds out you pulled the cord for his 'jog' idea."
"Well, guess what! He already knows. And I submit, with the utmost golden confidence, that he'll never try it again."