The first thing that hits you as you open the heavy, slate grey door is the aroma. It wafts out of the room like an ocean tide, carrying with it the clean but poisonous stench of bleach, ammonia and other volatile chemicals. They tickle the inside of your nose, Soldiers on a mission to slay every last cell that can smell. The room itself is as bleak as a sheet of new paper. Vials and bottles of unpronounceable chemicals line the shelves along the walls, Liquid shades of emerald, ruby, and sapphire. Small ventilation ducts where the roof meet’s the walls are the only difference in the smooth, white tiled surface surrounding the room. They spray the small space with a cool, filtered breeze, keeping the room at a temperature that is somewhere between livable and uncomfortable. It is as if the rat-a-tat-tat of the fans suck most of the oxygen out of the air, turning an otherwise pleasant atmosphere near un-breathable. In the far corner, there is another door. An elevator door with crisscrossed wire mesh instead of a window. It was painted a sunny yellow and lined with twilight black chevrons. Behind it there is a large winch motor to lift the elevator, producing a cliché industrial hum.
Only one object in the room makes any other sounds, and it is the array of vials, beakers, and tubes on the central table. Tiny whizzes, bangs, and pops shoot out from the piece of equipment. This strange contraption is the only thing in the otherwise practical room that could remind you that you were, in fact, in the factory of the crazy Willy Wonka. It was a complex and seemingly impractical mess of tubes and burners, vaporizing chemicals before they traveled through glass tunnels, then combining with other agents to form new bubbling liquids. In some beakers, there were reactions going on, little chemical clouds bubbling up to the top. The entire thing took up nearly all the table, save for a small sink and some unlabeled beakers on the side. On the corner of the perfectly flat tabletop was a little piece of off-white paper. Written upon it were three visible words, drafted in a light, flowing scripture. MKUltra, combine and heat. The surrounding characters had faded over time and were unintelligible. You could almost make out what looked like a signature in the corner of the page. It seemed to spell “Mr. Wonka”.
Against the wall, opposite the door, was a rolling trolley. It was shiny and silver, like the moon in the night sky. On the trolley was a cooler box, similar to the ones that families would take to the beach in the summer. You open the white, bumpy case and an icy cloud wafts out, bringing back memories of cold winter mornings. Once the liquid nitrogen cloud cleared, you could see the box had two removable trays inside and both were full of small 500ml beakers. Each of the beakers had been filled to exactly 450ml’s with a strange green liquid, that swirled and writhed like it was alive. You raise your head to look out of the window above the box and find yourself staring out over a vast loading bay. The walls are a cold, stone grey, with the letter B stenciled in humongous yellow writing above the bay doors. Metal gantries criss-cross over the cavernous space. Below the window you look out of, there are long aisles of tall industrial shelving, Steel behemoths in the loading room. Sitting on the shelves are cooler boxes, identical to one beside you. On the room’s large floor, Oompa Loompa’s wander about like worker bee’s, moving to the shelves and picking up rough pallets of cooler boxes with small forklifts. These pallets are then loaded into the backs of the iconic Wonka factory trucks, wheeled bugs sitting in the loading bays, ready to transport Willy Wonka’s delicious and rich goods outside the massive rolling doors and onwards to confectionary lovers all over the world.