Space Janitor 021-040
Hi, thank you for reading. This is a compilation of the first twenty entries for Space Janitor. Over 6000 words and the whole reason was to get into a daily writing habit.
Do you want to write brilliant in a short space of time?
Space Janitor 021-040
“OK, I consent,” said Space Janitor.
“Now you’re getting the hang of things,” said the Spenglactic. Space Janitor could feel the heat of it on his back, and he knew that it was going to be a long day or night. To be honest Space Janitor didn’t even know if he was to be close to any particular form of a significant light source. There was the internal lighting of the buildings, but he knew they would not sustain him for long.
Space Janitor longed to be out in the fray. There was an urge he felt deep within him. With the Spenglactic on his back, it felt as if that urge was about to be sated.
Space Janitor turned to go back the way he came.
“Wow, wow, wow. Where you going?” the Spenglactic chimed in. Space Janitor stopped dead in his tracks.
“I thought we were going to get to work. At least I was hoping for that. I’d really like to get to work now.” said Space Janitor.
“Oh, and you think I like hanging around sitting on tables waiting for mutts like you to come in and abuse me?”
“Well, I don’t know,” said Space Janitor.
“If you and I are going to work together, then you’re going to have to listen better and follow my lead from time to time.” said the Spenglactic. “We go through the back door, so we can get stuck in sooner. That’s what you want, right? Otherwise, you can take the long way. Go down that pipe there, and it’ll drop us off where we need to go.”
There was a dull dark hole in front of them, and Space Janitor hesitated before the maw.
“It looks scary,” said Space Janitor.
“You can do it my way, or you can waste your life. You have to trust me, mutt”.
Space Janitor gulped and jumped into the pipe.
The tunnel carried Space Janitor along he felt the air pushing against his face. His gums flapped in the breeze. Saliva, paratroopers, bailing from his mouth when they reached a certain mass.
The light strobed before him as he twisted and turned in the system. From what little he could make out, it was clearly a different style of the tube system. It was different from the one he travelled through earlier. This one felt tighter, more compact.
Space Janitor felt himself slow down and the tube came to an end. The momentum carried Space Janitor along. Space Janitor without thinking held his arms out to steady himself.
“Hey buddy, you’re a dog not a duck. Hold your arms in” the Spenglatic said. Space janitor tucked his arms in tight. Gravity grabbed Space Janitor and brought him towards the ground.
“Am I going to die?” Space Janitor asked.
He may have been addressing the Spenglactic, he may have been addressing himself. There is also a chance he was talking to some higher power he was unaware of.
“You got a chance to not if that’s any use to you. Take the nozzle off the side there.” said the Spenglactic. Space Janitor reached down. “I’d do it a bit faster if I was you.”
Space Janitor unhooked it from the holster. The ground was getting closer and closer. He must have been launched skyscraper height into the air. How he had not hit anything was a mystery to him. Space Janitor could just about make out the ground below him. As the dark blur grew more significant, he knew that he was running out of time.
Space Janitor felt thrown, literally, from one scenario where he was about to die to another.
“What do I do now?” asked Space Janitor.
“If I had arms, I would point it at the ground and pull on the handle,” said Spenglactic. The author subtly dropped the “the” from Spenglactic because he forgot if he were to still use it or not. He decided against.
Space Janitor did as he was told. He pulled down on the handle, nothing happened.
“Nothing’s happening,” said Space Janitor.
“Obviously I can tell, it’s part of me. Did I tell you to pull the chord?” said Spenglactic. Space Janitor’s eyes widened. From his perspective, the ground was coming up to meet him rather than him flying down towards it. Either way one of them was going too fast for Space Janitor to survive the oncoming collision. “I’m going to take that silence as a no. Mutt there’s a chord I need you to pull for me. Reach up and grab it and pull down hard. I’d move lightning fast too. My sensors tell me that you’re going to go splat.”
Space Janitor reached and got it in his hand. He pulled, but it came loose in his hand.
“Nothing,” said Space Janitor. He resigned himself to the fact his life was to be smooshed on a literal pavement of progress.
“You’re treating it like a prom date. You gotta get your fingers and give it a yank,” said Spenglactic.
Space Janitor reached and pulled again.
Nothing, there was no change.
“Get stuck in there, hold on let me try something,” Spenglactic said.
“We’re going to crash,” said Space Janitor.
He thought about some of the cool adverts he saw on his travels through the station.
“Get your hand ready. Only when I say when,” said Spenglactic. Space Janitor got his hand in position. “Ready?” Space Janitor nodded. “When”. Spenglactic fired a jolt of electricity into Space Janitor’s back. Space Janitor saw a pedestrian frozen to the spot watching the approach. His arm spasmed. Janitor yanked the chord.
The Spenglactic roared, “Now, the handle.”
Well, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what happened to Space Janitor to know what happened next. Here’s the thing about writing. If you leave things up to the minds of the audience, then they have a tendency to not need you. Me not being required means I’ll wilt away. You’ll go somewhere else where the writer will tell you what does happen. In other words, don’t click somewhere else, let me tell you.
Space Janitor, are you ready for this?
Are you paying attention? Spoiler warning, he didn’t die. He came pretty darn close to it. Remember the pedestrian I half-arsed established in the last instalment? Yeah well, their noses touched as Space Janitor engaged the nozzle on the Spenglactic.
Space Janitor managed to slow himself down.
Now I’m sure there are some physicians, some scientists. Some nerds reading this will say something as follows. “Hey hold on. Mass deceleration would lead to major internal bleeding. The death of our beloved Space Janitor.” First of all, to that, I say, “Beloved? You mean you like him?” Then I would remember someone was nitpicking. Nitpicking a well thought out, not at all done on the hoof science fiction serial about a genetically modified dog cleaner. I’d get all severe and look you in the eye and say something to this effect.
“The space station is shaped in such a way that the gravity is always in a state of flux. There’s probably an undocumented black hole having an effect somewhere. Also, the dogs have been bred in such a way. Their vital organs are half size but double efficiency. It’s actually ingenious of me if you think about it” I would say.
You’re polite so you would nod and walk away.
As you walk, you would scrutinize what I said. It makes no sense or doesn’t hold up at least. As soon as you turn round, I’m gone.
You and I can argue this back and forth all day but can’t you be happy that Space Janitor survived. He’s a talking dog for crying out loud.
Space Janitor landed somewhere safe.
Away from people so he could collect his thoughts. There was a small, dark alleyway. Space Janitor stood there for a moment watching people go by.
“Look, we’ve wasted enough time today so let’s get to it OK. You have a quota you gotta keep up with. If you don’t, then there will be trouble. To be honest, sitting on a table for another bio-life cycle isn’t exactly my cup of tea. If you get me” Spenglactic said to Space Janitor.
“Oh, OK,” said Space Janitor. “What should I do?”
“Let’s see, hold on we’re somewhere in this sectors downtown. There’s probably some kind of clean up. Tell me what do you see. I don’t have eyes. What I do have is a series of sensors, but some of them have been damaged over the years. Gonna need your help to give me a rough idea. Describe what you see.” said Spenglactic.
Space Janitor looked around.
“Well, there’s a lot of people walking around. Many bags, many feet. There’s a large building up ahead.” said Space Janitor.
“Right, keep going. A large building,” said Spenglactic.
“There’s a lot of glass, a lot of things coming out. They’re slow-moving,” said Space Janitor.
“OK then get closer to that, it sounds like it could be something.” Spenglactic chimed.
Space Janitor exited the alleyway and made his way towards the building. Instinctively he sniffed and then put his hand over his nose. He felt his gag reflex kick in.
“What is it?” Spenglactic inquired.
“It smells bad. Like really bad,” said Space Janitor.
“Describe it to me. No, wait, cancel that, don’t bother. The dishes at the top of me are picking up massive amounts of, well, you’re a dog. Don’t take this the wrong way but you won’t understand.”
“What is it?” Space Janitor asked through his hand.
“You’re not going to like it,” said Spenglactic.
“You’re going to have to tell me,” said Space Janitor.
“Even if it changes approximately nothing?” said Spenglactic.
“Forewarned is forearmed,” said Space Janitor.
“My circuits, did you get cliche’s coded into you? Besides you technically have four arms anyway, or is it legs. Look, there’s no way that you need to know. However, since I’m a good cooperative pack. Remember this for later, OK, I may need you to do something for me. Right, this is a Glutorium.” said the Spenglactic.
“I don’t know what,” said Space Janitor.
He was immediately cut off.
“I know you don’t know. Let me build a little suspense. See if your a mutt who feels compelled to fill a silence, we’re going to have problems. A Glutorium is one of those more than you can eat facilities. Actually, more than you can take of anything. Whatever is in there it’s not going to be pretty. Except for the prostibots they’re usually modified to fulfil most of the basic desires. From a visual perspective. Are you neutered?”
Space Janitor thought.
“I don’t know,” Space Janitor responded.
“How can you not know?” said Spenglactic. “Like I have a couple of computer viruses. Most of them are benign or have been patched out, just be careful when inserting pen drives, OK?”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” said Space Janitor.
Still, he did not understand the information he received.
“Great, fantastic and smart. There are probably going to be Sirelots. They’re a psycho-magnatheric jellyfish. Respond to your brainwaves. They’re mass-produced somewhere on the station so don’t feel guilty about blasting them. Aside from those things, we’ll play it by ear. There might be something else we don’t expect.”
“Like what?” Space Janitor asked.
Space Janitor looked ahead while he waited for Spenglactic’s response. The smell grew stronger, now there was a burning smell too. Space Janitor walked towards the building.
“Like I don’t know, what part of, don’t expect gives you trouble? If I knew what to expect, then it wouldn’t be unexpected. Am I making sense to you?” Spenglactic asked.
“I’m a little stupid,” said Space Janitor.
“You’re a big stupid,” said Spenglactic. “The readings are getting stronger, where are we now, describe it to me.”
“There are steps in front of us. There are some big robots with scanners. We’re getting scanned. It’s gone green” said Space Janitor.
“Go up the steps, then in that case. Those are part of SecFor. There must be something going on inside. If this were a standard clean up, then they wouldn’t be here. I’m not going to admit out loud to being intrigued. What I will say is that my sensors are seeking.” said Spenglactic.
“I’m at the top of the steps. I see another dressed like me. They’re ahead of me and going through a door. It’s dark inside there is some light coming through the ceiling. It’s glass, but much of it is shattered. There’s broken glass.”
Space Janitor’s description was cut off by a droning sound.
“Oh, that was my boredom sensor. You must have set it off. Look, I don’t need a play by play. Let me tell you what I need. If there’s something, you’re unsure off let me know. Say something like Spenglactic help. I’m going to focus on clearing up some memory space for a bit. Will I remember your name? You know what we’ll see. I’m going to tune out for a bit. If you die, what can I say? It’s been brief.” said the Spenglactic, it made a powering down noise. It was in the Brooklyn accent. This made Space Janitor believe that it was done for effect or to be extra obnoxious. It was probably both.
“OK, thank you,” said Space Janitor.
There was no response.
Space Janitor stepped into the main foyer area. There was a spiral staircase that led to an upper level. Space Janitor noticed it was getting darker. He looked up and saw that there were giant, long and narrow metal grids being placed over the ceiling. When the metal made contact with where the skylight had been, it dislodged some of the glass.
The glass fell towards Space Janitor, he found cover under a stairwell. The sound of shattering glass echoed throughout the foyer area.
Space Janitor looked around.
In the distance, he saw another canine cleaner disappear round a corner.
Space Janitor wondered whether this would warrant the attention of Spenglactic. He decided against it in the end. Space Janitor thought that he would probably have to use his own intuition. It would help him throughout his employ/existence. He decided to catch up to his fellow worker, and they could tackle, whatever awaited them together.
Space Janitor left the alcove and followed after the other cleaner. There was a lot of glass on the floor. As the light dimmed, he could see the ground. A veritable minefield of broken glass, damaged items and sticky liquids.
Space Janitor kept moving, doing his best to avoid debris.
For the most part, he was successful. Space Janitor possessed nimble feet and could hop further than he anticipated. It was not a flawless run. There was the occasional squelch or crack. The noises reminded him he was not the navigator of muck he would have hoped himself to be.
It took some time, but Space Janitor had found himself at the turn of the corner where he had last seen his colleague.
He turned the corner. Two options before him. Some stairs went up towards a faint light. There was a long corridor with a glow at the end.
Space Janitor followed the corridor.
The corridor stretched out in front of Space Janitor. He proceeded along, the glow in the distance flickered green against the gold of the walls. Was it real gold or some synthetic sci-fi gold? It didn’t matter. It looked authentic either way.
Space Janitor could see even less than usual, and it frightened him to an extent.
He slipped on something lumpy and thrust out his arms to brace himself from falling. Steady, he walked further trying his best to decipher the floor below him.
Somewhere in the distance, there was the sound of dripping into a large pool. His mind boggled at how big this building was. Cavernous in many different ways. Some of the green glow at the far end of the corridor reflected off candelabra. Reflected off silver plates and platinum goblets. Where they authentic? If they were, do you think Space Janitor would know? He’s a janitor, not an evaluator. Let us check in on his thoughts. Hold on, it might get quiet.
Space Janitor to himself, those are shiny.
See what I mean, I wouldn’t exactly put a bid in just yet.
Space Janitor felt himself slipping and sliding once more. He caught his foot on something. Space Janitor was proceeding to skate all over the place. He skated face-first into a set of drawers and went to ground.
Something soggy yet substantial cushioned the fall. His mouth turned into a deep frown caused by texture and smell. The material stuck to his face. His tongue instinctively emerged from his mouth. Space Janitor forced the tongue back into his mouth.
Space Janitor rolled on his back. The ceiling above, dark. He couldn’t tell whether his eyes were open or closed. Spenglactic dug into his back. Space Janitor moved fast. He would cramp up in that position.
Space Janitor rolled onto his front.
His jumpsuit became saturated. Smells of all different types marched up his nose. A parade of putrid. Space Janitor’s eyes watered. He put out an elbow. Found a grip and hoisted himself along. He put up the opposite elbow and pulled himself along. He alternated between the two.
Space Janitor was crawling along to the end of the corridor with haste. The green glow still flickered. He wondered to himself, was it getting dimmer? Were his eyes becoming strained trying to focus in on the source?
A silhouetted mountain of flab eclipsed the light. Space Janitor came to an abrupt stop. He was working out how to traverse the mound. He poked it, the blubber oscillated wildly. As it shook under its own girth, there was a noise.
Space Janitor didn’t bank on hearing that particular noise.
It was a groan. It came from one end of the fat.
Space Janitor ignored the noise. Put a paw on the fat. The groan was now a whimper. Space Janitor ignored it again. The quickest way, over the top. Once he got to the top, he could survey the area.
Space Janitor began to climb.
“Who climbs my belly?” Space Janitor stopped in his tracks. The voice called out again. It was soft, but you could tell that this was not it’s usual tone or volume. “Is there someone trying to scale me?”
“It’s me,” said Space Janitor.
“Who is me? I know who I am, but as in who are you. Are you a delivery bot?” said the voice in the darkness.
“No, I’m a cleaning dog,” said Space Janitor.
“You see, I made an order a while ago and received a message that it was on the way. I mean I’m a long term customer, very loyal. I was wondering where could it be?” the voice in the darkness asked.
“I don’t know if I can help you,” said Space Janitor.
“OK, I understand it’s just that I’ve been lying here for so long. I’m starting to get hungry all over again. I know the Glutos has a zero tolerance on outside eatery infiltrators. In this case, it feels like Glutos must fulfil its end of the contract.” said the voice.
“You’re bleeding, you know that?” said Space Janitor.
“That’s fine, we’ll deal with that all in good time. Right now as a subscriber. As a permanent resident here, it would go over very well if you were to either reimburse me for the lost food. You could double the eating time at least.” said the voice.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a humble mutt. There’s no way for me to be sure. Not until we get this mess sorted out.” said Space Janitor.
“I’m a salamonium class customer. My name is Slimpins Kezor. I would like to speak to the owner. Who is your super? I’m hungry, alright.”
“Where is the owner?” Space Janitor whispered.
“I contribute to this place. You are the employee. You do what I say. What is this your first day?” Slimpins said, getting louder.
“It is, and I don’t work here. I’m with the cleaning branch, sector, people. We’re dogs, mainly.” said Space Janitor. He had backed away from the body by this point. He was standing up and noticed that the giant mass was getting smaller.
Space Janitor noticed Slimpins was deflating.
There must have been some hole somewhere leaking the insides out. The chances of Slimpins living a long full life were Slimpins. (Too soon, I mean, he’s not dead yet.)
Space Janitor walked towards the source of Slimpins voice. There was disapproval in Slimpins voice.
“All I hear from you are excuses. What I want to know is what are you going to do for me?” Slimpins demanded.
Space Janitor thought about what Slimpins was saying. Slimpins breathing was shallow, but the frustration took on a new depth.
“I don’t know if there is anything I can do for you. I don’t work here, I don’t even know what’s going on here. What happened?” Space Janitor asked.
“This is not how you run a business. I’ll not be back if this is how you treat a valued resident. When I came here, I was malnourished. Over time through loyal custom, I was able to put on enough weight I became dependent. Then I moved in. There were extension mods I had to have installed all at my own expense. I worked hard to get this size. Now look at me, I am wasting away.” Slimpins pushed his stomach. More of the contents fell out the side.
There was a wet, sloshing sound. Slimpins was in pain and Space Janitor didn’t know what to do. What would you have done in this case? Slimpins regardless of species, was dying. Space Janitor wanted to move away, but he remembered how alone he had felt at the beginning of his life.
Space Janitor wanted to proceed and get on with the task at hand, but he felt he should stay a little longer. As Slimpins deflated, there was the green flicker on the far wall. It was at it’s faintest. If he wanted to catch up to it now would be Space Janitor’s chance.
Space Janitor stood for a while longer. He closed his eyes and regained his composure. Space Janitor was aware he had not responded to Slimpins.
“Are you still there?” Slimpins asked the darkness.
“I’m still here,” said Space Janitor.
“Are you going to stand there mute, or are you going to get a manager or whatever your power structure?” asked Slimpins.
“There is no manager, there is no power structure. Right now, everything is in the dark, and I’m not too sure what is supposed to be happening. Understand you’re hungry, but the fact of the matter is in a few moments it will not matter” said Space Janitor.
“Oh, won’t it now? How come, you’re going to remove me for rudeness is that what it is? Well, go on then in that case. Throw me out. I want my food. You’ll be hearing from my other goods provider. Do not expect any more money. I came here skinny, and by the sounds of things I shall be leaving here skinny too.” said Slimpins.
“The fact of the matter is that there appears to be some hole on the other side of you. I can’t see, and all your insides are leaking out the one side. Are you aware? Are you aware that you are leaking?” said, Space Janitor.
“What? I mean, I’m hungry, but I thought that was because I was waiting for so long. I’m going to die?” Slimpins asked. There was a whimper creeping into the voice now.
“I don’t know. I’m just a standard-issue cleaning mutt. I don’t know if there is anything I can do to help. If there is, I will do what I can to serve. Otherwise, any information you have as to what happened here would be a great help. It would help me to perform my job better.” said Space Janitor.
There was a dripping sound. It came from somewhere in the corridor. A loud echo. Space Janitor was aware. He was aware that he was not doing his job. Space Janitor was aware somewhere up ahead of him there was a colleague that was working. While his colleague worked Space Janitor was technically slacking off. Slacking off by listening to this dissatisfied customer.
“Are you still alive?” Space Janitor asked.
Space Janitor listened to make sure Slimpins was dead.
“No, I’m not dead yet. Although I have come to accept my fate that I will die in a way, I did not live. Not eating, this is deeply disappointing, and I will be putting in for refund procedure. Posthumously I will be buried with what I’m owed.” said Slimpins. He sounded weak and fed up. Not fed in the food sense. Do you know what I mean?
“You want to be buried with food?” Space Janitor asked.
It wasn’t until this moment that Space Janitor realised that he was hungry. As in famished. He had been on the move since he was conscious. Even though there were many bad smells, there were a few fragrant ones. Space Janitor was aware he was panting somewhat.
“Yes, bury me with the food. It’s mine, I’m entitled to it, would you deny me food?” Slimpins said. Some of what he said was becoming garbled as he was choking. It could be on his tongue, it could be something else. The amount of inhale/exhales was definitely down to double digits. It was a case of was it 99 or 10. More than likely it was somewhere in-between.
“I’m so hungry,” said Space Janitor.
He didn’t mean to say it aloud. The phrases slipped out his mouth. Had his stomach commandeered his speech centre?
“I don’t see how that is relevant information to me. I’m the customer. You work for me. I am the hungry one, and somehow you manage to make this all about you? I will see to it you get a negative review and I hope a termination. You selfish mutt. How dare you. How dare you.” said Slimpins.
“You’re giving me a bad review?” said Space Janitor.
Space Janitor waited for the inevitable response.
“Of course you’re going to get a bad review,” said Slimpins, “What were you expecting to happen? To be showered with praise. You stupid mutt.”
“Is there anything I can do to help you out any further?” asked Space Janitor.
“How desperate would I be to have to admit to needing your help. You have provided me with nothing and offered me nothing. Your bed is ready-made. Now is time for bed.” said Slimpins. What little strength was in him was being used to conjure up bile from within.
“Oh, OK, then. If that is how it is to be, then I shall be on my way. Enough of your mound has deflated that I can step over you. I’m sorry that I have not been of any use. Your patience and feedback have been invaluable to me. Enjoy dying, and if you do reincarnate, then I might ask you to reconsider. Have a wonderful death.” Space Janitor said in one go.
Space Janitor stepped over Slimpins body. Slimpins head moved to follow the silhouette of Space Janitor.
“Wait, don’t leave me. Don’t leave me, please. I am scared and hungry. Don’t leave me, please.” said Slimpins. The voice shrunk down. The distance between Space Janitor and Slimpins grew larger.
Space Janitor heard sobbing, then choking then the corridor was silent. Space Janitor stopped for a moment to consider the passing of this great fat alien. He shrugged as if a silent partner was talking to him.
The green glow had vanished from the end of the corridor. It split left and right. Which way would he go? There was no indication of the correct path.
Space Janitor listened. He didn’t want to disturb Spenglactic.
There was something in the air. Space Janitor wondered what it was.
Space Janitor sniffed the air. It was definitely there. What he could smell was a form of a biscuit. How did he know that is what it was. To be honest, it was instinctual, and there was an aspect of it that not even Space Janitor had considered.
Space Janitor was able to identify the smell and the direction it was coming.
There was a way forward for him to take. Space Janitor followed the path and the smell. It would bring him to an opening.
The room opened out in front of him. The smell was stronger now. Something that made Space Janitor salivate. He stood still and breathed it in. In the still dark, he could hear the sound of snapping and crunching.
Space Janitor was drawn towards it and walked in the direction in the hope that he could get to the centre of this maze. A loud crash emanated from somewhere. Space Janitor was startled by the noise. He carried on further down the path towards the sound.
Over a railing, in a lowered area of the floor, he could make the outline of someone in the same jumpsuit as him. They were crouched down to be as small as possible. Space Janitor leaned on the railing to get a better look.
Space Janitor’s force on the railing caused it to creak.
The being in the jumpsuit below looked up at Space Janitor startled. The eyes glistened in the darkness. It didn’t move, and Space Janitor felt uneasy.
Was it like him, or was it something else entirely? The thing didn’t pose an immediate threat; otherwise, they wouldn’t be staring at each other for so long. The shape in the jumpsuit went back to eating.
Space Janitor looked a little longer. Gripped his paws around the railing and breathed in deeply before speaking.
“Are you alive?” Space Janitor asked.
Space Janitor looked down at the shape. It stopped eating. Without looking up, it spoke.
“Of course, I’m alive. Are you some kind of new mutt?” said the voice.
“I’m glad to hear that. There was someone back there who was alive when I found arrived, but that appears not to be the case anymore. Are you in the process of dying?” Space Janitor asked.
“Aren’t we all?” the voice said back. Space Janitor didn’t feel the barb. “Guess break time’s over. It stood up. It was a dogsbody like Space Janitor. “Who sent you? This is supposed to be a one dog job” said the shape.
“I did what my pack told me,” said Space Janitor. The shape stopped, it turned in Space Janitor’s direction.
“What?” asked the shape. “You’re letting your pack dictate to you. Step into that light over there.”
Space Janitor did as he was told and did so. The shape approached him. It was a dog of black and white patches. The face was mainly black fur with white protruding along the chest. It got in close and sniffed Space Janitor. Space Janitor smelled the black and white dog’s breath. Biscuits reminded him of his hunger that still panged in his stomach.
“Where did you get the biscuits?” asked Space Janitor. His stomach again.
“You came here, cause your pack to say so?” said the other dog.
“Yes,” said Space Janitor.
“You talking like it’s your first day but you smell old.” said the other dog.
“It is my first day,” said Space Janitor.
“Don’t lie to me. You recognise me?” said the other dog.
“To recognise you I’d have to have met you before. I haven’t so I just cognise you,” said Space Janitor standing as still and upright as possible. The weight of the Spenglactic unbalanced him.
“You don’t recognise Shep?” said the other dog.
Space Janitor looked at the other dog. He didn’t want to make assumptions, but he was going to guess he was the “Shep” he kept going on about.
“It pains me, a little, but I must say that I’ve never encountered you before in my existence,” said Space Janitor. In the shaft of light, he could see Shep’s expression drop. Shep blew some breath out through his nose.
“Could be me, maybe my memory is not so good anymore, and I’m getting confused, but you got that old smell on you,” said Shep.
“I don’t know what to say. It could be my pack, it’s old,” said Space Janitor swivelling on his hips so Shep could get a better smell of Spenglactic. Shep brought his nose close to it and took in the scent.
“Oh, it’s old, alright. Very old, dogagers must not expect you to be working for too long. Your whole set needs updating. If you live through this, then you have to get it done. If you even make enough to get something done. Then again, we’ll see how useful you are.” said Shep.
“What’s the plan?” Space janitor asked. Shep looked at him, licked his lips then spat on the ground.
“Plan? To not die for as long as possible. It’s a simple plan, and I’ve been sticking to it pretty good. What’s your plan?” Shep asked. He turned away from Space Janitor and walked up a set of stairs. Space Janitor watched him then raced after him.
“I don’t have one. Guess I need to do the job first,” said Space Janitor.
“Right, all sounds good. What do you reckon that job is?” said Shep a few paces ahead.
“I don’t know, probably to clean but I don’t really know where to start. It’s all a mess, isn’t it?” asked Space Janitor.
Space Janitor followed Shep round a corner. The two had entered into a banquet hall. It was dark, there was some outside light piercing through giving a vague idea of the layout. Tables had been overturned as had some alien bodies. There was the sound of spilling and smashing coming from the other end of the hall. Shep crouched down.
“I said, it’s all a big” Space Janitor felt a furry paw pinch his mouth shut and pull him to a crouched position.
“Quiet, we’re not alone in here. Do you hear the noise? Something is feeding.” said Shep.
“Another resident? They must really want their money’s worth,” said Space Janitor.
She looked down at a display on his own Spenglactic. He adjusted a dial, and the brightness of the screen went down. For a brief moment, although all moments are fleeting, Space Janitor saw the dogs face proper. Shep’s fur was patchy. His right eye had a droop. The droop appeared to be related to a scar that began strong, low on his cheek and faded out above his brow.
“Resident? It really is your first time. Listen for the sound” Shep said, holding his index finger to cue up an effect.
“What sound?” Space Janitor asked. Shep’s finger elevated further. There was the sound of a snap and then sucking. Shep dropped his paw and smiled.
“There you go, that sound. We’re dealing with a marrow muncher. You and I are in the unfortunate position of having bones in our body. It’s going to want to eat us. Now, we’re not on the menu, and if we do get eaten on the job, we’ll face heavy penalties. There’s a chance of fines. I don’t want to get eaten or get a fine. What we’ll do is take it on from different angles and coordinate our efforts. How does that sound to you?” Shep asked Space Janitor.
“Sounds like a plan” Space Janitor said.
“Good, let’s get to it,” Shep said. His voice sounded like he was smiling. Shep rose from his crouched position, Space Janitor followed suit. “If you make your way to that remote area. Hug the walls alright because you don’t know how big it is. There’s so many dead, and they have a considerable mass on them. Could be the size of a cab, to be honest, we don’t know, but hey that’s all part of the job.”
Shep turned away and peered into the blackness where the sound was coming from.
“Can you see anything?” said Space Janitor. Shep turned back to him.
“I got rid of my amplifier scope. To be honest, dogagers keep me above the surface most times. I’m pretty used to my eyes too. All fun where I’m from.” said Shep. Shep looked at Space Janitor’s Spenglactic and run his paw along the side. “Say you have an ampi-scope. It’ll come in handy. Did you have this the whole time?”
“I don’t know,”
“What do you mean you don’t know?” Shep asked.
“It’s my first day,” said Space Janitor.
“That excuse is only going to get you so far, you realise that?”
“Up until my second day.”
“Don’t be funny,” said Shep wagging his paw in his face. “It doesn’t suit you and look, your Speng isn’t even turned on. How the in the moremuck did you get all the way in here? How you expect to get anything done with an unpowered pack?”
“It said it only wanted to be on when necessary.”
“You wear the pack. The pack doesn’t wear you. Understand? Some of these packs are overly enthusiastic. Especially when it comes to patching their programming. Don’t let them tell you what to do. Now turn it on,” Shep demanded.
“It’s not going to like that,” said Space Janitor. Shep got in Space Janitor’s face. Space Janitor reached down the side of Spenglactic. He flipped the switch from down to up, nothing happened.
“What’s the matter?” Shep asked.
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