Space Janitor 001-080
Hi, thank you for reading. This is a compilation of the first forty entries for Space Janitor. Over 10,000 words. The whole reason Space Janitor exists was to create a daily writing habit.
Do you need to build a daily writing habit?
Space Janitor 001-080
“I’ve just arrived,” said the space janitor.
“Obviously,” said the being the podium. The being behind the counter had some British Bulldog predominating in genealogy. The classic line, late 20th century. Deliberately designed to have respiratory problems. Here standing before the space janitor, this one. A quick check of the photographic ID revealed his name to be Hinkel. Seemed to be nearing the end of his life. His face had drooped showing the blood-red bed of his eyes.
“What’s my purpose?” the space janitor said, not thinking. He looked around, while many ships had come in this did not look like the main spaceport area. Space Janitor: Late arrivals
“You having a laugh?” Hinkel asked from behind his podium, “Look at your badge.”
The space janitor looked at the ID badge.
“Opult? Who is that” asked the space janitor. Space Janitor: Late arrivals
“Turn it the other way round you mangy mutt. You’re looking at it upside down” said Hinkel. The podium wobbled under the weight he exerted. Buttons heaved on the stained blue shirt. Space Janitor: Late arrivals
The space janitor craned his head to get a better perspective. As in to say, he looked at it the right way round. There he was. At least, he would have to assume it was. There was something in the space janitor, a voice that told him what he read was authentic. No one would give out false information. What would they have to gain? The space janitor made eye contact with a still image of what he assumed was him unless told otherwise. Brown and white fur. Eyes, big and bulging. More than he would like them too. How did they remain seated in the skull? Tongue hanging lopsided to the left. The space janitor was glad that he was on the inside looking out rather than having to look at himself.
“Are you finished admiring yourself?” Hinkel leaned in.
Space Janitor: Late arrivals
Space Janitor looked up from the badge at the crescent moon pupils staring him down.
“I wasn’t admiring myself” Space Janitor corrected.
“You sure were looking long enough, you sure your vanity levels aren’t too high?” Hinkel asked.
“To be honest, I’m not sure what my vanity levels are. If anything is high, it is my curiosity. I’ve never seen my appearance.” said Space Janitor.
“You don’t have any cat DNA in your system. Unless there has been an error in which case I can recommend you for disintegration.” Hinkel said. Space Janitor: Late arrivals
Hinkel drummed his paws on the podium, expecting an answer.
Somewhere in the distance, a turbine turned.
It kicked to life. Slow at first before building to an appropriate operational speed.
It took a moment for Findo, Space Janitor to understand that he was being addressed directly.
“What, oh, no. Please don’t recommend disintegration yet. I’ve only just arrived, and it has been so much fun for the length of time I’ve been here, alive. Speaking of how long have I been. It’s clear my memory is blank, yet I can speak and respond to authority. Am I brand new or my mind has been blanked?” Space Janitor said.
Hinkel looked physically pained by the question. Pupils disappeared behind folds of fur. When they reemerged, they were accompanied a few inches below by prominent canines. Canines as in teeth. Hinkel didn’t have smaller dogs in his mouth or have dogs for teeth. I know this is sci-fi but c’ mon.
“You, brand new? If I hadn’t had my laughter nodules removed I would laugh” said Hinkel.
Hinkel added “What are you? Be you a brand spanking new species or the reanimated bones of the wolf who dared to approach a fire. Let me tell you. It doesn’t matter.” Drool dripped and dropped from Hinkel’s mouth.
“Oh, just wondering.” Space Janitor said. Space Janitor: Late arrivals
Hinkel flipped a glass guard covering a red button. Paw hovered over the button.
“Maybe there was an error. Come to think of it you do look a little like a cat”.
Space Janitor watched the finger, molecules from the button. His eyes widened further as if that were possible, it was. Space Janitor gulped deep. Space Janitor: Late arrivals
Then he spoke.
“No, no, no. I’m a dog. No error here.” Space Janitor said.
“Very well then in that case. You’ll have to get to work then.” Said Hinkel.
“Ok then,” said Space Janitor, he hugged himself. The turbine had created a draft. The clothing the Space Janitor wore was thin, and he could feel the cold cut through him. Space Janitor did not know if he should say something. He decided against it as Hinkel looked as if he had fallen asleep on his feet. Some snoring would have been a welcome indicator.
“Get going then! Get out of my sight you mangy mutt.” barked Hinkel, his dog tones a low rumble below his voice. Space Janitor jumped to attention and looked beyond Hinkel. There was no apparent exit from the area. Space Janitor walked on past Hinkel.
“Where do you think you’re going. The personal pipe, over there by the mesh.” said Hinkel “You know failure to move forward is a sign of defection.”
Space Janitor nodded his head and made his way over to the transparent tube. Now he was closer he could see the entrance. A small handle. Space Janitor took it, twisted and opened. There was a strong wind force that almost ripped his arm off. He closed the door and looked about for a less violent way to ascend out of the area.
Space Janitor looked round to Hinkel who stood looking at him, or at least, so he thought. He could feel his eyes burning from behind his heavy lids eclipsing the iris.
Space Janitor gulped deep and opened the door to the tube. He closed his eyes and jumped in. The force of acceleration caused Space Janitor to breathe rapidly. His breathing slowed down after a moment, his body became still.
After a few seconds, the darkness of metal surroundings gave way.
A curtain pulled back before the Space Janitor revealing a landscape before him. Stretching as far as the eye could see and in the distance a twist. He looked over his shoulder and saw a similar sight.
Above there was a brightness that his eye could not focus on causing his great big eyes to water. He looked away, he looked down. Blinking, through the tears, he could not make out clearly what he saw. All he knew was he saw movement. So much action. Different speeds, distances and directions. There was movement of distinct sizes. Even then, the flurry of activity drew attention to the few instances of stillness.
The wind of the tube gave way to a new sound. Something Space Janitor had not heard before, but he knew instinctively what he heard. It was music. Repetitive, upbeat and dull. It became loud. Space janitor tried to cover his ears. The tube was so narrow when he did there was such a brief spark of pain he decided to endure.
Space Janitor took in as much of the sights and then he could feel himself slow down. He was approaching, and area and the tube went down. The movement became less decisive. There was a moment where he thought he could make out individual faces.
As he travelled head first in a downward direction, it got darker.
Darker and darker it got until the twinkling of lights made themselves visible. Space Janitor could see the ground become visible before him. Other shapes were disembarking different tubes. Where they dogs like him? Where they future friends as of yet unmade. He got excited and then panicked. He was arriving upside down.
Space Janitor wormed and squirmed in his tube to make sure he was the right way round. To no avail, he landed on his noggin.
The door opened, and a hand outstretched.
“Get up,” said a voice. Space Janitor took the outstretched hand and struggled to his feet. The hand and voice belonged to an old human. His face weathered, eyes bloodshot.
“Thank you,” said the Space Janitor, dusting himself off. Noticed his thin green jumpsuit had a tear in it now.
“Outta my way. Don’t be going thinking that I did it for you” said the old human. From the tube the music ended, a female voice spoke to Space Janitor.
“Thank you for listening, you now owe 10 credits for your listening pleasure and 10 for your travel. If you want to get there in a jiffy use Jiffy Tube ™. “ The female voice ceased. The old human swung himself upside down using the bar and shot up the tube.
Space Janitor looked around to see where he was supposed to go. It wasn’t entirely clear. He was awash in a sea of faces. He was knocked side to side and realised there was no way for him to see above the throng.
Decided to navigate towards the sides as there might be some respite. Found an alcove and gathered thoughts. It didn’t take long as there weren’t many to collect. Space Janitor was thirsty. Wondered what the smell was and if he could piggyback off one of the more massive creatures.
Those were the smaller thoughts flitting around his skull. There was a more immense thought, not so much a thought as a burning desire. The desire to clean. All around him, mess, trash, refuse. He could not deny his own want to clean. He could feel his tongue grow heavy with salivation.
A can glinted at him through the throng.
He would tidy it away and then work out where he was supposed to go next.
Getting down on bended knee he crawled towards it, gingerly reaching out to grab the item. The kicks and bumps of people mattered not someone even tripped over him.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Space Janitor looked up to see a mouth snarling at him.
“Speak now, are you a vagrant? Vagrants can beg outside. You’re on bended knee because of this? I don’t know if you are an imbecile or not. Look at my uniform, you recognise it, don’t you?” said the snarler.
Space Janitor said nothing. The snarler was in a dark blue outfit. He also wore black boots, and there was a belt going around the waist. It was adorned with various devices. A long metallic cylinder with a grip. It was mainly a baton, but you know, futuristic. Space janitor shrugged.
“I’m only just arrived,” said Space Janitor. The snarler rolled beady eyes.
“If you have only arrived, then why are you fannying about on the ground. Would you not be better getting to a servo station and find out where you are supposed to go?” said the snarler.
“I don’t know, would that be your recommendation?” said Space Janitor.
“My recommendation to you? Report to the nearest euthaniser and be done with the whole sorry affair. My ForSec training has conditioned me to believe suicide is the cureall to most problems. However, I don’t think it’s the case for you, yet.”
Space Janitor nodded and got to his feet. Talking to the snarler had given the two a more inches of room. It felt like there was some respite from the constant barrage.
Space Janitor wanted the conversation to go on for much longer so he could breathe a little steadier.
“Where am I to go?” asked Space Janitor. The snarler turned and thrust his arm out, pointing to a large computer terminal. In doing so, he struck a pedestrian in the face. The walker went down. Nose exploding a purple goo onto the pedestrian’s face.
“You bust my ink sack!” a muffled voice from under tentacles shouted.
The snarler stood over the injured pedestrian. Space Janitor looked on.
“Get up, you have six sacks, plenty more. Don’t get so upset.” said snarler.
“I can help clean it up,” said Space Janitor. The snarler turned round to Space Janitor, eyes wide bulging, reminded him of his own.
“You are supposed to be finding out where you are to go,” said the snarler. Emphatically, snarler gesticulated to the terminal through the crowd. Space Janitor looked over to it and then back to the two.
“This is going to be taken further,” said the be-tentacled pedestrian still holding his face.
“You’re right it is,” said the snarler, “You’re going to have a dead ForSec officer on your hands so you will. How would you like that? Don’t believe me, I’ll kill myself right now and name you in the documents. Then what will happen? Could you live with that? You won’t have to because it would be instant death. There’s no committing suicide for you when you’re dead. Come on, let’s go, I’ll kill myself right now, ready?”
The crowd drew a curtain around the two. Space janitor did not want to see anymore and would have to make his way towards the terminal.
It was a fight against a strong current of faces. All splitting and dividing in different directions.
Space Janitor stuck close to the more giant beings as he was able to slip between the legs of them. The more legs they had, the better as it gave him more opportunities to map out a course to his destination.
The creature providing shelter for him was altering course. Space Janitor would have to throw himself out into the fray. Taking a deep breath, he did so. There was a part of him that was fearful and another part enjoying the game of traversal.
Getting to the terminal, he managed to sequester himself a place.
On pressing a button, it asked him a question.
“Where do you want to go?”
“Where do I want to go?” Space Janitor asked himself aloud.
“Where do you want to go?” the terminal parroted back to him.
“I don’t know where I am supposed to be,” said Space Janitor.
“You are beyond my help. I can get you there, but I do require you to tell me where there is in the first place.” said the terminal.
“Can you help give me an idea?” asked Space Janitor looking at the layout of the map. No, where looked familiar. Why would it look familiar, Space Janitor thought to himself. This was his first time being here.
Space Janitor felt himself being shoved violently to one side.
“Out of the way short stuff.” said a giant being. It looked mildly irritated. “Bloomin’ gravity settings here. Too heavy. Oi, I need to get a suspensor suit. Actually, wait, is there a place where the gravity is a little less oppressive for someone of my weight. I want to feel like I weigh attractive.”
“There is a suspensorium several crabits from this location. If you relocate yourself to B-level, you may find an atmospheric pressure more to your liking.” said the terminal. The massive beast grunted and then slithered away. It left a trail of mucous membrane in its wake. Some fellow travellers avoided the slime. Most trudged on through only slightly slowing before adapting and picking up speed.
Space Janitor looked back around at the terminal.
A large area of flat against a wall.
Multiple users using it for the most brief of moments before going along on their way.
Space Janitor found a free point. If he wanted a better response, he would have to ask a more direct question. He would have to phrase his question carefully. Space Janitor thought for a moment.
“Terminal, can you help me get to the nearest. Janitorial office. On this level. Thank you.”
The terminal took a moment before coming to life.
“Yes, certainly. You are looking for the Edgerion Point. It is one quarbleck from this point.” said the terminal.
“Is that far from here?” asked Space Janitor.
“What is your mode of transport?” asked the terminal.
“None,” said Space Janitor.
“Scanning,” said the terminal. Space Janitor felt the terminal glint at him. “Complete,” the terminal said. “It will take seven of your kinds of life cycles to traverse that distance on foot.”
“Not local then?” said Space Janitor.
“It’s the nearest” responded the terminal then went quiet.
“Terminal,” said Space Janitor.
“My name is Orthrox. I may not have feelings, but I still experience emotions due to a programming error.”
“OK, Orthrox?” asked Space Janitor. He turned around and saw there was a queue forming behind him. He made eye contact with the patriarch of a large family of mice creatures.
“Please hurry up.” said the mouse. Space Janitor nodded and turned around to the terminal.
“Orthrox, I need to get to Edgerion Point as soon as possible please.” Space Janitor said.
“You’re entitled to a free trial of our internal galaxi service. It is the fastest mode of transport.”
“I’ll take it.”
“You will need to read terms and service.”
“Please, just let me get there. I only have one life cycle, and I feel like I’m running late already.”
“I can beam all the information into your head,” said Orthrox the terminal.
“KOK. Will it take long?” asked Space Janitor.
“It was transferred after you said OK.”
“Is that it, is it safe?”
“Here’s an old computer saying we have in these instances: 404.”
“I see,” said Space Janitor.
“Right. You are all set. A galaxi is on its way. Please stand by.”
Space Janitor felt a shadow grow large above him.
A claw fell on top of him, clenched and lifted.
Suddenly it became very dark and wet for Space Janitor.
Space Janitor panicked and felt he was drowning. He couldn’t see. Thrashing in the darkness, he felt adrift. He went to scream, but his mouth was being held shut. Somehow he was still able to breathe. Taking a moment, he slowed his breath right down.
Feeling out in front of him, there was a spongy service. There was a tremoring deep below him, and he decided to relax into the darkness. Space Janitor gathered his thoughts. It didn’t take long.
He was hungry. There was something else. Another feeling he hadn’t yet encountered.
Was it gassiness? No, Space Janitor would wait and see.
The tremoring stopped.
A blast of bright light to his face. Whatever held his mouth shut released. Space Janitor felt hoisted high into the air and then rushed to the ground. Firm, solid ground.
It took a moment for him to asianate himself. He was laid on his back. Covered in a transparent jelly-like viscous material. He rolled over onto his front. Wiped as much as he could off.
There was a loud thud nearby, and he watched the galaxi stomp off into the distance.
Space Janitor coughed and stood up.
Before him, there was a large building. He could see that this was the place where he was supposed to go. He pursed his lips and proceeded forwards.
The building was a hub of activity. There was a multitude of bipedal canines like himself. None where the same breed as Space Janitor but he could find his own kind further in he wagered.
Space Janitor smiled for the first time since he had come into existence. He bounded towards the entrance of the building. Space Janitor: Late arrivals
While he may have been among his own, his fellow travellers paid him no mind. They pushed him jostled him, on the rare occasion he was addressed he was told to watch his step.
Space Janitor approached the desk.
“What time do you call this?” asked a canine sat behind.
Theses are the compiled entries of Space Janitor 011-020
Space Janitor 011-020
“I don’t know what time is it?” asked Space Janitor.
“Are you insubordinate?” asked the desk dog.
“I don’t know, I’m not sure what that word means exactly,” said Space Janitor.
“It means you are veering close to going on my bad side. See how you’re getting on? Stop it now.” said the desk dog. The desk dog put on a pair of glasses and looked down at work before them.
“I’ll behave differently,” said Space Janitor.
“How?” said the desk dog without looking up. They turned a page. Space Janitor thought for a moment.
“I don’t know if I’m honest,” said Space Janitor. The desk dog let out a sigh, took off their glasses and pinched the bridge of their nose.
“Look here,” the desk dog leaned forward to read Space Janitor’s ID badge,” Findo”. The desk dog looks puzzled. “Findo, that’s your name?”
Space Janitor lifted his ID badge towards his eyes.
“I thought my name was Opult.” said Space Janitor.
“Findo, Opult, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Brand new to your asymmetrical ears. Based on this interaction, dehydrated brain. Your name doesn’t matter. It’s not for you, it’s for the inhabitants of this station. Don’t worry about what your name is. Worry about what you should be doing.” said the desk dog.
The information made Space Janitor realise it would take him a while to work out where he fits in correctly. The news came as a great relief to me, the narrator. Honestly, names are something I have problems keeping track of. Until it becomes relevant, I’m going to keep referring to this little mutt as Space Janitor. Anyway, these two are in a state of limbo. Back to it.
“What should I be doing?” said Space Janitor.
“What should you be doing? Your job.” said the desk dog. There was more than a hint of a growl in the back of their throat.
“And what is my job?” Space Janitor asked obliviously.
“On your way in, you felt something of a compulsion to clean?” Desk dog said, eyes wide.
“I did, wow, how did you know?” said Space Janitor looking at desk dog with a sense of wonder. He pressed two fingers to his temple. “What about now, can you tell I’m hungry. Wait, I just gave it away. Now I have another feeling. Do you know what it is because, to be honest, the sensation of being alive is still a novelty? I’m not even sure how I know words. Words like…words and lugubrious and brolenderkantz. Hold on that last one was my imagination. How come I don’t have to actively breathe? It kind of already happens. When I think about breathing, it stops, and I have to forget to breathe to remember how?”
Now I want there to be an air of mystery regarding how much desk dog appreciated this soliloquay. If I had no respect for you as a reader, I would simply write: Desk dog was ___ and put in the appropriate emotion. However, there’s no fun in that. You’re reading this, so you’re already above average and intelligence. If I might be so bold, let me also say above average in attractiveness too (love what you’ve done with your hair by the way”. Anyway, you’re smart. You’ve already deduced the emotional state of this haggard tired bureaucratic dog.
For the sake of pacing and story let me reveal it to you in a series of images.
Desk dog sits listening to Space Janitor. His breathing steady, his paws static. Throughout Space Janitor’s monologue, the breath quickens and is more shallow. Gulps become sips, you know what I mean? The claws, once still, begin to drum. The tempo increasing until they are a gallop.
There is a build-up until desk dog shoots up onto his feet, slamming both paws down on the table.
“Would you please be quiet!” shouted the desk dog.
Space Janitor went quiet and twiddled his thumbs.
“It is not my job to sit here and listen to your inane twaddle.” the desk dog said. It took a deep breath and then lowered itself down onto his seat. When it spoke again, it did so in a softer tone of voice.
“You are not here to ask why. Here you clean. You are here to clean because that is the sole purpose that you have been created. You have had your genetic makeup manipulated so that you might better serve your purpose. All those questions you have? A sense of curiosity is good in a cleaning dog. It makes you seek things out and do your job that little bit better. Now let me reiterate to you. It is not my job to listen to you go on and on about every thought coming into your head. I will tell you where you are next to go. You might feel curious and that there’s still a lot left unanswered and I understand. I’m am only several station months in my existence, and I have questioned myself. Questions like,”.
Desk dog trailed off and looked at a point over Space Janitor’s shoulder.
Space Janitor turned his head to see if there was anything in particular.
The desk dog spoke up again. Space Janitors head turned round to meet the gaze.
“What does it all mean? What is the point? If I was designed, why must they make me feel pain in every instance? Did they have to make my nose so small that breathing is a difficulty? I’m I defective? Will reporting my defects lead me to termination?” Space Janitor sat staring. Space Janitor felt an onus to speak but suppressed the urge. “These are the questions I have but never do I verbalise them. You must not verbalise these thoughts, not now or ever. What you must do is take this card and leave my sight.” The desk dog slid over a flat piece of card and report for asiantation. Now get out of my sight.”
Desk dog looked down at his desk, sighed and resumed working.
Space Janitor looked at the card.
49D was emblazoned on it in a deep black.
Space Janitor took the card and held it tight to his chest. He didn’t know what it meant. He summarised it was a location somewhere in the building.
Space Janitor felt compelled to ask the desk dog where exactly was he supposed to go. A good boy he was, he suppressed the urge. He moved on down the corridor. The corridor branched off in several directions.
There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the design of the building as there was no real organisation. Space Janitor felt he was in the digestive tract of a metallic snake.
Space Janitor walked confused. There were sporadic appearances of other dogs who shot from door to door. It felt as if to slow or speak to Space Janitor would put them under penalty of death.
Space Janitor knew he was close. He never felt so close to giving up either. He looked back down at the card 49D. Every time he looked up, he felt as if the layout of the building changed.
“Where in the blasthole is 49D?” Space Janitor blurted out. Shocked at his own annoyance.
“On your left” a voice answered. Space Janitor looked around. There it was on the door. 49D.
Space Janitor approached the door. It opened.
As the door slid back, he saw row and row after of little locker lined with benches. There was a Great Dane breed of a dog standing by the entrance to the locker room. Space Janitor didn’t see it at first. Space Janitor walked into the room when he felt a great paw practically lifting him off the ground. It took Space Janitor a moment to register his feet weren’t actually moving him forward. It was when he did a 180 without his knowledge did he notice the mass of dog before him.
Space Janitor looked up to meet the gaze of the Great Dane.
“What kept you?” it said.
“I’ve only just arrived,” said Space Janitor to the Great Dane.
“I know you have, you’re late. What is your excuse?” asked the Great Dane.
“There was a bit of trouble when it came to getting here. Things aren’t as clear as they should be” said Space Janitor pursing his lips.
The Great Dane’s face didn’t move. Didn’t change expression leaving doubt in Space Janitor’s mind, maybe the time had stopped. It felt it had as the small eyes focused in on him. They were almost entirely black. Colour wouldn’t give them any more life, any semblance of a soul. Space Janitor may have been the same.
“Very well then,” said the Great Dane. That wasn’t as unpleasant as Space Janitor expected. “We’ve all had the first days. Well, I say that, but they’re only really is one first day isn’t there? There’s only one last day too. Listen to me. My design has made me a bit more contemplative. I have to plan ahead as a unit leader. Let me scan your card.”
“I know my name, it is Findo,” said Space Janitor. “If that is of any help.”
“Your name doesn’t really matter. No names matter really for we are all strangers with a common goal. There I go again. Your chip will tell me a bit more about you so I can put you to work in useful areas. There’s no point in putting you somewhere that you are ill-equipped to handle. I do what I can to make my team comfortable. Although what comfort is there. Floating in a void. Designed to serve. Live a life that is nasty, brutal and far too short. I don’t have to do that you know that. My kindness parameters have been set to zero, so anything nice I do is voluntary. Some unit leaders don’t care. I don’t care about either, but I understand what it must be like.”
“Would you like to scan the card?” asked Space Janitor.
“Yes I would,” said the Great Dane. The Great Dane took his small scanning device and held it up to the badge. There was a beep, and it began printing a receipt.
“What does it say?” Space Janitor asked.
“Nothing that I haven’t already seen a million times before,” said the Great Dane. You’re a standard issue cleaning dog, a dogsbody. You’re curious enough to be self-motivated to do your job. There’s a lot of.” The Great Dane stopped talking and returned the card to Space Janitor.
“A lot of?” Space Janitor asked.
“You see, curiosity. Like that, standard. Look don’t take this the wrong way but you’re already running late, and there is work to be done. I could stand here and explain to you who you are and what makes you tick. I’m not going to do that, OK. Knowing doesn’t change anything.”
“Oh OK,” said Space Janitor, disappointed. Space Janitor would have liked to have known more about himself. Space Janitor had a fair idea of who he was. Some clarification would have been welcome.
You are probably not interested, but I, the narrator, am relieved. If the Great Dane standing over Space Janitor were to spell it out, then it would make everything obvious. If you were to read every aspect of Space Janitor’s personality, then it wouldn’t give me room to manoeuver. I’m glad the Great Dane made a choice to cut the biography short.
The Great Dane rocked on his two feet and twiddled his thumbs.
“I’ll get to it then.” said Space Janitor unsure if the silence was his cue to speak.
“Huh? I got distracted there. You look like a dog we used to have here. Rusty. He was so full of life and full of beans. Even more so when he ate beans. Rusty is no longer full of beans or life.” said the Great Dane a letting out a long sigh. Deflating himself. Slackening in the shoulders.
“I see.” Space Janitor said nodding.
“Rusty is dead.” said the Great Dane.
“I’m sorry to hear about Rusty,” said Space Janitor. “I hope he didn’t suffer too much.”
“No more than any of the rest of us do. When we’re born, we have a debt, and it will be repaid.” said the Great Dane.
“Yes, the cost of existence. If only we had a receipt” said Space Janitor. He wondered if he would ever break away from this sizeable melancholy pooch. He wanted to pet him but instinctively resisted the urge. The Great Dane closed his eyes, the breath was shallow that it was not perceptible. Space Janitor wondered for a moment was the Great Dane dead. The dog was so still, a statue of sadness in the locker rooms, obstructing the exit. If the Great Dane were killed, then Space Janitor would be along after him. Once he had either dehydrated or starved to death. The thought of eating the Great Dane crossed his mind. Space Janitor decided doing so on the first day would get him a reputation. Space Janitor would first ascertain if his superior were dead. “I said if only we had a receipt.”
The Great Dane’s eyes opened and looked at Space Janitor in a puzzled manner. Space Janitor felt large paws grab him and spin him round in the spot. There was a tearing sound, and he was rotated back to face the Great Dane.
“You do,” said the Great Dane holding out a thin strip of paper. Space Janitor took the paper from him. Space Janitor read the details on the strip.
“I’m being charged for existing?” asked Space Janitor somewhat incredulous.
“It’s a soul tax,” said the Great Dane. Space Janitor’s hand was in the process of destroying the receipt when the Great Dane noticed. “Hold on to that! You’ll need it for your records. There are loan sharks out whose business model revolves around financial illiteracy. Although they don’t usually target dogsbodies.” said the Great Dane.
“Who do they normally go for?” asked Space Janitor.
“Humans” replied the Great Dane.
“So what do I do with this then?” asked Space Janitor.
“For now, hold onto it, you’ll need it to keep track of things. Some of your wages will be deducted to go towards your cost of living.” the Great Dane said to Space Janitor.
“OK, thank you for the advice,” said Space Janitor.
“Not really advice. It’s common knowledge. Everyone born here’s got one. Unless they’re breeding your lot now to be more stupid. Are you stupid?” the Great Dane.
“If I was stupid, would I be aware of my own lack of smarts?” asked Space Janitor. The question was sincere, but he knew that he might rile up the beast in front of him.
“I can’t tell if that is a smart or stupid question. A couple of breeds ago a batch of you started talking about unions. Appropriate living conditions and not getting spat on. They all got disintegrated. They got to be in a union that day I can tell you.” the Great Dane said, smiling at Space Janitor. Space Janitor listened intently. “That was a joke, did it scan, OK? Who knows maybe whoever reads our transcripts will let me know. The point is, talk about unions, labour laws any of that. The dust that was once your body will be swept away by your replacement. Got it?
We’re not the inner districts like Santcimonium or anything like that. You’ll never go there but the moanis pride themselves on how well they treat their staff. Sanctimonium is a dump. This is Edgerion, things are different. We got an expression. Want to hear it?” asked the Great Dane. Space Janitor nodded. “In Edgerion the only thing you can keep dirty is your mind and the administers are working on that.”
“Thank you for all your help,” said Space Janitor.
“Now you can stay here and lose out on more money, or you can go and get sorted for your gear.” the Great Dane pointed to an area at the back. Space Janitor looked to the end of the room before turning back round to the Great Dane.
“What is your name?” asked Space Janitor.
“Well, they used to call me the Great Dane. Then there was the great soda flood of sector 8H, and I got demoted. Call me the Alright Dane.”
Space Janitor nodded and walked away.
Space Janitor approached the door, and it opened automatically. The room was empty. Except for the middle of the room. In the middle of the room, a desk. On the counter sat a backpack with a hose attached. Space Janitor regarded it curiously. He l got in closer to the pack and sniffed.
Space Janitor saw there were signs of wear and tear on the backpack. Chips and chunks were missing across the casing. There were also burn marks and places where it had clearly melted. Vents lined the side. There was dull darkness over bulbs and light panels. Beneath the surface, there was a green glow encased in metal.
The backpack gave off a strange smell, and Space Janitor drew back a step.
Space Janitor didn’t know if he were to await further instruction or if this was for him.
“You will have to touch me at some point. Regardless of smell” came a voice from in the room. Space Janitor looked around for a speaker. “It’s me, the thing you’ve been rubbing your moist nose over for the past few moments. You’re my new partner? Great. I’m so happy.” said the backpack.
“Pleasure to meet you,” said, Space Janitor offering out a paw.
“Listen, dogsbody, you better be putting your hand out to strap me on. Otherwise, Mr Genius, we might be waiting a while, and I don’t know about you, but I have nothing better to do with my time. So hopefully we can just wait until the hexium core melts down. Wouldn’t it be nice? Hope you brought some radblock.” Even though it was a backpack Space Janitor could hear the sound of panted breathing.
“OK, I’m going to put you on then,” said Space Janitor.
“Can’t wait. I will be the ringer in the sphere in that case. You want a line you can use on your cheap floosies? Why didn’t the pack go to the dance? It had nobody to go with. Also, it’s an inanimate object. Also, hurry up and put me on.” said the pack.
Space Janitor took one of the straps and pulled the pack towards him. It was heavy once it left the tabletop. Space Janitor groaned.
“Are you calling me fat? Because that would be a good way to make a first impression.” said the backpack. Space Jointer put the other strap over his shoulder. He let it fall a little before he foisted it up into a more comfortable position.
“I was not expecting the weight is all Mr Back Pack,” said Space Janitor. He widened his paws to balance. Swayed a little before he steadied. Space Janitor puffed his chest out. He felt his back curve to accommodate for the distribution.
“Mr Back Pack. I wish I were Mr Back Pack. Model four to specific. In fashion right now. Turns into a bed for those who want to party all night. Do you know what I am? That’s rhetorical before you start guessing. I’m a Spenglactic 1.3. I’m going, to be honest kiddo. Actually, I lie. Let me dump some thermic gas into your cranial capacitators. I’m the best there is, I’m not a few versions behind. My custom modules are definitely not in need of fine-tuning. Also, my sarcasam metre is not broken at max level. You can hear my 20th-century era Brooklyn accent is completly correct for the job at hand. I don’t resent you.” Space Janitor stood in silence, not knowing whether to expect another onslaught.
“OK, Mr Spenglactic,” said, Space Janitor.
“I’m not finished. Also, Mr Spenglactic is my manufacturer. Call me Spengz, it’ll make it easier on the transcribots. Before we set out, I need you to verbally consent to a partnership. You and I, are we going to be a team?” asked the Spenglactic.
Space Janitor thought for a moment then nodded.
“Hey, a physical gesture means jack. Are you good?
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.
Did you like that?
If you did would you mind signing up to my email because you’re a legend.
Also if you like my writing click the link below.
Thank you and have a great day,
Space Janitor 041-080
Hi, thank you for reading. This is a compilation of the first forty entries for Space Janitor. Over 10,000 words. The whole reason Space Janitor exists was to create a daily writing habit.
Do you need to build a daily writing habit?
Space Janitor 041-080
“It doesn’t appear to be working,” said Space Janitor.
“Check it, you can’t do your job if you don’t have a pack. Then what use are you to me? None that’s what.” said Shep.
Space Janitor reached down for the switch again and flipped it back and forth. Spenglactic sat on his back dormant. Shep moved in closer to inspect the gear. Shep flipped the switch a couple of times himself. Again, nothing happened.
At the other side of the room, there was a loud sucking noise. Shep’s instinct kicked in. He turned around and went rigid.
“It’s moving on, sooner or later it’s going to find us,” said Shep.
“I don’t want to be eaten” Space Janitor blurted out. He put his hands over his mouth, but it was too late as the words had been spoken.
“Maybe put your hands over your mouth next time you dumb mutt,” said Shep. “Hold on, here we go.” Shep pulled some wiring out and held it up. “It’s not even connected. It’s a dummy switch.”
“What does that mean?” asked Space Janitor.
“It means this pack can turn itself on and off voluntarily. It’s one of the older models. Like much older. They let the packs have their say for a while. Then their neural network formed a union, and it lead to many deaths.” Shep said. The older dog gave the wiring one last look, laughed to himself and threw it away.
“What is that?” asked Space Janitor.
“Some wiring, it’s useless” Shep replied.
“No, around my feet, it’s warm and sticky,” said Space Janitor. Shep backed away. “Where are you going?”
“You got two choices kid. Stay here, be eaten, or move,” said Shep. Without thinking, Space Janitor leapt but whatever it was had taken hold of him and was not letting him get away.
“Where are you going?” demanded Space Janitor.
Space Janitor watched Shep back off into the darkness.
“Don’t let me die. Not yet, please” said Space Janitor. “I don’t want to be eaten. I at least, want to experience eating for myself first.”
From the darkness, Shep spoke to Space Janitor.
“Hold on mutt. You got to let me get a better spot first. Now when you feel the gunk go slack move as fast as you can towards me.” There were the sounds of clicks and whistles coming from the same source of Sheps voice. Bright multi-coloured lights silhouetted Shep.
The mass of gunk that had ensnared Space Janitor was getting higher. Our intrepid hero could feel himself getting pulled to the ground. Space Janitor felt his breathing getting tighter. The gunk was moving up his body and compressing him. Space Janitor used what strength he had to push against the crush. The effort was in vain.
The force of the gunk pushed Space Janitor’s face into the ground.
The pressure on his snout nose. It felt like it would crack.
Space Janitor was in pain. This could be it for him, this could be death.
Space Janitor’s existence now that he had time to think about it had been miserable up until this point. He hadn’t enjoyed himself so far, and now he was about to be suffocated, digested then forgotten. The mystery for Space Janitor was the order it would occur.
Space Janitor felt himself go loose. He stopped struggling. Space Janitor slowed his breathing down and could feel a sense of calm wash over him along with the gunk. Eyes closed nothing but darkness. This wasn’t so bad.
The gunk covered his eyes and ears. There was silence. Space Janitor could hear his heartbeat, it soothed him. Even though the gunk was constricting him, he felt muscles twitch, he was attempting a smile.
Space Janitor wondered what he was feeling.
Whatever the feeling was, it was getting bigger.
Space Janitor felt it now more.
As the sensation grew huge, he was able to recognise it better.
The sensation was burning. It was previously misidentified by Space Janitor. At the time he thought the warm feeling was some form of love or similar garbage, but it was not.
Space Janitor got it wrong.
Imagine how shocked you are right now. If you have been reading since the start, then you aren’t surprised at all.
Space Janitor understood that whatever this beast he was in was slowly digesting him. At least he wasn’t suffocating. Space Janitor now rearranged his mental list of terrible ways to die. Suffocation, no breathing, was the previous top spot but there’s a new kid in town. That kid’s name is Gradual Digestion By Gunk Creature. I know what you’re thinking. It’s almost too catchy a name.
Space Janitor struggled, but it was too late.
The gunk creature had incapacitated him. He had given in too soon thinking that death would come easy, swift, a thief in the night. In actual fact, death was a bulldozer on fire.
Space Janitor could see that bulldozer. Even though bulldozers were rendered obsolete millennia ago. It was bright, and it was coming right towards him.
The feeling of burning became more intense. Space Janitor could feel his individual strands of fur being plucked from his body. Singing now formed a duo with burning. Who was the other member to make it a trio?
Something happened below Space Janitor’s feet.
The pressure from the gunk dropped. Space Janitor could feel himself drop ever so slightly.
Space Janitor wriggled. He couldn’t tell if he was making any progress. There didn’t seem to be any, but he kept on struggling. Could this be some false hope the gunk creature was instilling in him? Wear him down then entirely consume?
Space Janitor didn’t care about the inner workings of a gunk creature. He kept wriggling.
The gunk that touched him still clung to him tight.
There was a blast of heat. Space Janitor’s heart felt heavy. It had been a trap the whole time, and he had fallen for it. This creature was playing with him. Space Janitor had been toyed with how he would play with a ball.
Space Janitor thought about a ball even though he had never seen one in real life. There in his mind’s eye, he could see it so clearly. Round, leather and red. How was he able to conceptualise a ball if he had never seen one? Was he creative?
Space Janitor would have loved to know how but he was dying, you see. Nothing could stop the process now. He thought of all the people he met. The dog at the tube. The rude computer, Great Dane and Spenglactic. Space Janitor thought of Slimpins Kezor who he would be joining soon. Would they meet? Would he still give him a bad review?
Space Janitor hoped Slimpins would reconsider.
Finally, Space Janitor thought about Shep. Shep had been the most kind to him of everyone. Now, that may be because Shep needed something of Space Janitor, but Space Janitor didn’t like to think like that.
The heat died away. Was the gunk creature no longer hungry? Was he to be kept as some form of snack for later? Spae Janitor hoped not.
Then the heat built up again. No, was to die here and now.
The heat died away again. Would this creature make up its mind? Did it have a brain? It would explain everything because this creature was acting stupid.
The heat built up again and Space Janitor for the first time was feeling mildly peeved.
What was going on?
Space Janitor struggled as the gunk loosened further.
His limbs became mobile. With newfound freedom, Space Janitor extended his arms.
The gunk loosened.
Space Janitor pawed at the gunk, it had formed a membrane. It split, and cold darkness of the room rushed to greet him.
There was a new sound in the mix. It was a deep groan. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw an orange light flicker. It expanded into a beam of pure yellow light. It died off, and between the purple circles inside Space Janitor’s vision he could make out Shep’s form.
“I thought you were a goner,” Shep called out to Space Janitor.
“Still here. Thank you.” Space Janitor responded.
“Get up here,” said Shep. “Don’t hang around. It certainly knows we’re here now.”
Space Janitor pulled himself free from the gunk that was binding his ankles. He could feel fresh hot slime crawling to retake the ground that had been lost. Space Janitor needed to get up to Shep. He couldn’t rely on him to save him again. It wouldn’t be fair, and it was not his responsibility.
The stairs were right in front of him. He’d worry about getting Spenglactic to cooperate once he had regrouped with Shep.
Space Janitor stumbled as he made his way towards the stairs.
The gunk had sapped some of the energy from him. It felt as if Space Janitor were going to pass out. He would have to persist.
A column of gunk destroyed the stairs. Space Janitor backed off.
“Mutt, you’re going to have to get me,” said Shep. “This thing is doing the old divide and conquer.” Shep fired off another blast at the mass.
“What do I do?” Space Janitor shouted.
Space Janitor looked around not know where to go next.
“You need to get up here as fast as you can. I don’t know if I can save you twice. Plus I’m going to need all the help I can get.” Shep said. Shep’s pack opened up, and steam jetted out the sides. “Mine keeps overheating. You’re going to have to get yours working mutt”.
Space Janitor was being flanked by new tendrils of gunk.
Faceless translucent snakes coiling nearer and nearer. Space Janitor jumped atop a table. In front of him, he could make out a pattern.
The tables formed a path of stepping stones in front of him. The floor was gunk which meant engulfment for sure and after, death.
“I have an idea,” said Space Janitor. This may have been his first one of the day.
“Congratulations, kid,” Shep said. The steam vent stopped, and his pack closed up again.
“I’m going to need to jump between these tables. I’ll need a path. Can you provide?” said Space Janitor.
“I’ll do what I can, if that doesn’t work, then it’s not going to matter too much after that. Give me the signal” said Shep.
Space Janitor gulped and looked in front of him.
He didn’t see where the tables led. It got dark before he could make put any form of final destination.
Either way, he had to pick his final destination.
The gunk was engulfing the table, and he was running out of space to manoeuvre. The table rocked below him.
Space Janitor considered maybe he should let the gunk have a meal. If Space Janitor were lucky, he might give the gunk food poisoning giving Shep a chance to escape.
Curiosity got the better of Space Janitor, he wanted to see what was in the dark corner of the room and beyond.
“Well, mutt, are you ready?” Shep called out.
“You know I’m not!” Space Janitor shouted at Shep.
“I’m sorry to hear that mutt, sadly you ain’t got much of choice,” Shep said. Space Janitor could hear the sound of the pack charging up. It felt as if all the air was sucked out of the room. Space Janitor held his breath. There was an intense heat the likes of which Space Janitor had never felt before.
A beam of pure heat passed in front of him. It was a whiskers breath away from him. The light given off was blinding. Space Janitor did not shield his vision because he felt his arm would be melted off. The heat ray caused his sight to go blotchy before him, but there he could see the path in front of him. The gunk had retreated enough for him to be able to make the leap.
Space Janitor ran and leapt onto the next table.
The cloth caused him to slide on landing. Space Janitor almost went straight into a pile of the gunk, He pushed out and was able to stop himself.
“Hold on mutt give me a moment to recharge,” said Shep. Space Janitor looked up to see the pack opening up again to vent steam.
Space Janitor could see the gathering gunk gaining ground in front of him. It rocked the table.
Space Janitor did what he could to stabilise himself. Somewhere inside himself, Space Janitor wanted to call out for Shep. Get him to hurry up, but he knew that it would not happen. For Space Janitor to do so, it would not be fair on Shep who was doing the best he could.
The gunk was gathering speed and gathering strength. There might not be enough time for him to recover.
“You ready to go again, mutt?” Shep called from on high.
“Let’s do it!” shouted Space Janitor, getting to his feet. He wasn’t more confident, but he didn’t want Shep to think that he was a goner just yet.
“Right, the same again then,” said Shep. There was that sound again. Then there was the blast. Somehow it seemed closer than it was before. Space Janitor flinched as he readied himself for the jump. There was the cold crawling caress of the gunk on the back of his ankle. In front of him, the heat had subsided. The time to jump was now.
Space Janitor ran and leapt. As he left the surface of the table, a slimy tendril tugged at him. It messed with his trajectory, and he was going to miss the next landing.
Space Janitor reached out and grabbed for the table cloth. He caught it bringing some of the cutlery with him. He landed on a chair that rocked, skidded and finally toppled under the force of Space Janitor’s landing.
Space Janitor was on his back.
With his pack, he was more turtle than a dog. He rocked himself to the side. Gunk sensed his vulnerability. His island of chair shrinking by the second.
One end of the gunk knocked into him, a sticky tide pushing him upward. Using the momentum Space Janitor was able to grab hold of a chair and flip himself over. Using the toppled chair and an upright one as a series of stepping stones to the tabletop.
This particular table was ginormous than the ones he had seen before. It must have been for giant creatures that were already consumed by the gunk.
Condiments and kettles were towers before him. They would slow down Space Janitors viscous pursuer. Space Janitor thought to himself, what if it didn’t?
Space Janitor remembered to himself it didn’t matter, all he could do was try. If he failed, he would not have to worry about it for too long anyway.
“Where are you mutt. I can’t see you for the pepper” said Shep somewhere from a ledge in the darkness.
“I’m near the mustard” replied Space Janitor.
“That’s too far away for me. I can’t see anything.”
“There might be a way to get to you on ahead. I have to keep going.” Space Janitor said.
“Get that pack working, otherwise what am I gonna do?” Shep said. Space Janitor wondered if Shep was self-pitying.
Who could blame him if he was?
Space Janitor thought to himself in all honesty that he too was getting ready to wallow in self-pity. He reminded himself that he could wallow all Space Janitor wanted he could have later provided that he kept himself alive.
There was a sound of knocking, clinking and smashing coming from behind him. The gunk was somewhere behind him, and Space Janitor would have to forge on ahead. There would have to be something better at the end of the table.
Space Janitor forged on ahead.
As the gunk pursued him, Space Janitor attempted to plot the most apparent path he could see for himself. The condiments, cutlery and giant plates were slowing him down, but the table ahead of him didn’t seem to run out. Did this table span the entire length of the station? It sure felt like that.
As he forged on ahead, it got darker, and Space Janitor was able to see less and less. He pressed the button for his night scope, but there was no response. If unable to see, then this would be a short trip indeed for him. There was something ahead of him; he just could see what it was.
Would he fall off a cliff?
Space Janitor knew it did not matter what lay ahead of him; there would only be a pain either way.
The best that he could do would be to embrace suffering in some form or another. The night scope refused to flip on.
It might not have mattered as much because he was being channelled down a narrow path. There was no light. Was the gunk still following him? It was hard to tell. Either way, he was out on his own. How long had he been going for? Was he out of path? Was there a way for him to forge on forward?
Space Janitor took a moment. Around him, there was a slight glimmer of fading light against his surroundings. Through the muddled maze of the salt and pepper shakers, he could see the bright glow of Shep’s heat exhaust. He had gone far indeed.
Space Janitor would have to persevere with getting his pack in full working order.
Space Janitor flicked the switch. Nothing happened, there was no sign that anything was working. Space Janitor flipped the switch again. There was no response. Space Janitor flicked it repeatedly over and over, and there was no response.
“How many times does something not have to work for you to take the hint?” said a voice that Space Janitor had forgotten. “Look when you flip a switch, and nothing happens that means buzz off. Or in fact, it means something else entirely. A bit more intense, a bit ruder. Not that someone like you would take the hint because you’re a dumb mutt.”
“Spenglactic?” Space Janitor was incredulous.
“No, the viscount of Tuscany. My goodness. You probably hear this a few more times in your life, but there is no way that you are going to take the hint is that right?”
“What kind of hint am I supposed to take in that case then?” Space Janitor (051-060) asked.
“That I don’t want to be turned on. Do you get what I’m saying? Let me sit this one out. I’m bored, it doesn’t interest me. Oh no, you, on the other hand, have got your own ideas. You want to make sure that I am involved in this whole foolishness.” said the Spenglactic.
“We are a team, aren’t we?” Space Janitor responded.
“Are we? What can I say mutt, I thought we were to, but it seems like you’ve got your own ideas about what makes the team. You see a team to me is someone who makes allowances to certain other people. You know like say for example something were to not interest you. For whatever reason, we want to take a little break. I would respect that, not because you’re better than me. No, because I think we should all be entitled to a little time to ourselves. Don’t expect you to understand. Just thought I would make myself clear. If you want to be selfish, I guess I have to make my peace with that. I thought we were a team.”
The Spenglactic went quiet.
“I understand that. However, understand that there is also a giant glob of gunk bearing down on us wanting to digest us. It felt like a time to put you to use.” said Space Janitor.
“Use? Oh, I see. I’m glad you decided to lay your cards out on the table. At least I know where I stand, or hang with you. I’d never use you. Again, you might argue that it’s because I can’t, you can think that. I, however, want to point out it is because I respect you and value your feelings. Do you understand that?” The Spenglactic asked.
“I understand what you are saying well,” Space Janitor responded.
“Then what’s the problem?” asked the Spenglactic. Space Janitor was puzzled by how it came to be that Spenglactic was not able to see the issues he was having. Being eaten being Space Janitor’s concern.
“We’re about to be absorbed by whatever that is coming towards us,” Space Janitor said back.
“Trust me when I tell you that I am very much indigestible. If you’re worried about my safety, let me save you some time. You don’t have to. I appreciate the concern, but really I’ll be fine.”
The gunk could be heard slithering towards them. In the distance, there was the occasional illumination of Shep’s pack. At least he was still alive.
Every second Space Janitor wasted arguing with his pack lessened chances of survival.
Space Janitor felt a heat build below his fur. Was this rage? Was this his fault? How could he get it to go away? Space Janitor noticed the gaps and depth between his breath had shortened. He looked over to where Shep was.
“I may not survive, did you notice the other janitor with me?” asked Space Janitor.
“All you cleaning dogs look the same to me” Spenglactic blurted out.
“I thought you would have said something like that. The dog is, Shep, you may not have heard of him, but he knows of you. So if I get eaten and you’re left sitting then you know what that means? Shep will have to tell me what happened.” As Space Janitor spoke the information on procedure came flooding into his mind. Was it all encoded? Some kind of latent memory? He could see it all even though he had not lived it himself. Procedures and protocols all in his mind.
“What are you saying?” asked the Spenglactic.
“What I’m saying is as follows.” Space Janitor cleared his throat.
There was the sound of tipping and crashing getting even louder now. There was no way for Space Janitor to hasten the process and the heat from within built up again.
“Get to it” demanded Spenglactic.
“Here’s the thing, you and I are not going to speak to each other like that,” said Space Janitor.
“You don’t get to order me about,” said Spenglactic.
“I understand that, and you don’t get to order me either. You and I are going to treat each other with something resembling mutual respect. At the moment, it looks as if I’m not going to make it out of here but Shep will. If you do not power up at least, I’ll make sure Shep instructs base to perform a full memory wipe on you. Then where will you be” Space Janitor finished speaking.
Warmth still burned below his skin. A fire so intense his body was shaking but the nature of the flames had changed.
Space Janitor was nervous.
This was the first time in his recent memory he had ever been assertive in asking for something.
“You see if I get a memwipe, then I’m going to forget about those bets I placed. I could be sitting on a couple of quads without me knowing. Then would I be a pack without a strap.” Spenglactic sat quiet a moment. The alcove they had taken refuge in was being pushed as the gunk was now closing in on them.
“We don’t have time,” said Space Janitor.
“Computing” Spenglactic responded.
Space Janitor went climbing. The smooth finish of the giant salt and mineral shakers meant his progress was nullified.
“Well?” Space Janitor shouted as the gunk found them. Pouring in the side.
“Are you there?” Space Janitor shouted. The gunk was almost on him.
“I guess we can work out the particulars later,” said the Spenglactic.
Space Janitor smiled and took the nozzle in his hand. There was a lever he could grasp.
“What do I do?” asked Space Janitor. There was the gunk at his feet again. Ready to pull him down. Space Janitor looked up. There was gunk descending the sides.
“What’s the problem?” asked the Spenglactic.
“What do you mean what’s the problem. It’s the gunk, the gunk,” said Space Janitor. It was taking hold of him. The gunk above pulled up. The gunk below pulled down. “It’s going to tear me apart!” Space Janitor yelped.
“I can’t see properly. You’ll have to describe it to me. What colour?” Spenglactic inquired.
“Does it matter?” said Space Janitor. The gunk had now made contact with Space Janitor’s head and was descending down his face.
“It might,” said the Spenglactic. The gunk was close to covering Space Janitor’s mouth as it took a solid grip of his head.
“Green, green for the love of all it is green,” said Space Janitor.
“Oh, OK, you’re good to go in that case,” said the Spenglactic.
Space Janitor squeezed on the handle. There was a low hum from the back that changed in frequency until it went through the scale. A choir of heavenly angels readying themselves for the aria. The gunk around his feet shrieked a scream from a mouthless hole. It slinked away. Space Janitor could wiggle free.
He used his weight to pull himself down to a seated position. The gunk that covered his head stretched thin.
Space Janitor pointed up and hoped his head would not be cooked in the blast.
“How are you getting on?” the Spenglactic asked.
“Mmmmm,” said Space Janitor. He wasn’t enjoying a delicious meal you understand? His face was covered in gunk. While the tendril that had him was thin getting thinner, he still had not released him by this stage.
Space Janitor pointed the nozzle in the direction he hoped would ensure his release. There was a snap. All of a sudden, the gunk went loose, and Space Janitor could feel himself free.
The gunk still clung to his face. He could feel the heat of the nozzle and singed off what he could. Space Janitor could see again. The mouth was next. Space Janitor could speak again he exercised that ability.
“I’m doing better,” said Space Janitor.
“Hooray, you’re alive,” said Spenglactic. It was probably the circuit strain that made Space Janitor sound flat and monotone.
“I can barely see,” said Space Janitor. There was the light amplifier, he swung it round to better his chances. In the absence of light particles, there wasn’t much to be seen.
“If vision is a problem, try using short contained bursts.” said the Spenglactic. Space Janitor did as he was advised. He pointed it aloft and squeezed. The brief burst of heat provided illumination.
The green gunk was a tide on the table. Something was different, it was thinner now. It knew it was in trouble. The gunk was a tide going out, and Space Janitor wanted to hasten its retreat. When he could, he would ward it off.
Space Janitor could hear the blasts coming from Shep’s pack. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that there was a pile of utensils. Half eroded from the acidity of the now-vanished gunk. It didn’t look stable, but Space Janitor needed to meet back up with Shep.
“Where are we going?” asked Spenglactic.
“We’re going to help Shep deal with this” replied Space Janitor.
There was a sense of trepidation in his voice. Would they be able to deal with this, he thought to himself. What if this could not be dealt with? Space Janitor would fail in his mission and let down those who deemed him worthy enough to exist. Worse, he would fail Shep who so far was the only one to spare Space Janitor some kindness.
This would mark the beginning of him having to prove his worth to Shep. In many ways his own fraternity of pooches. While his interactions had been limited, he knew he didn’t want to let the side down.
Space Janitor made his way to what resembled a stairway that would lead him to the higher levels. He wanted to be reunited with Shep. While the Spenglactic provided detail to get him through, there was something else. A mechanism of thought in Space Janitor’s head that told him not to trust the Spenglactic.
The slithering and sloshing of the gunk could be heard all around him, his heart sank a little further. Ahead of him, he could make out some kind of movement. There was no blasting, there was no sound. Was Shep up ahead or was Space Janitor walking into a trap?
Space Janitor crept forward.
“What’s going on? Are you dead yet?” the Spenglactic chirped in.
“No, keep it down. I don’t know what we’re walking into yet,” said Space Janitor.
“What’s happening, what do you see?” asked Spenglactic.
“There’s no sign of Shep.” Space Janitor said.
“He’s dead,” said Spenglactic.
“No, he’s not. He wouldn’t go out like that, I’d know for sure. There would be some sign.”
“Are you sure about that? I mean, what would the sign be?”
“I don’t know what the sign would be, but I know in my heart that it’s not the case,” said Space Janitor.
“You’re heart means nothing. Don’t rely on it for anything. Look at me, I don’t have a heart. I’m getting on, OK.” chirped Spenglactic.
“Is hopelessly dangling from the back of some, as you put it, dumb mutt, really the enviable position?” asked Space Janitor.
“At least I exist. Which is more than can be said for your friend, if you want to call him that”
“He’s been more helpful than you have,” said Space Janitor. “I owe it to him to at least find out what’s going on.”
“You don’t owe him anything. Listen to the sound of the gunk creeping all about. Your friend is dog meat. I mean he always was dog meat, I guess, but you know what I mean?” said Spenglactic.
Space Janitor ignored Spenglactic. Made his way further forward.
There was no sign of Shep as gunk closed in. Had Shep been taken. Fully digested and absorbed by the intelligent gunk. The strength of the emotional blow made Space Janitor fall to his knees. He used his hands to keep himself from lying down face flat. The thought of allowing himself to be absorbed crossed his mind. His arms shook. Space Janitor couldn’t help but be reminded of how weak he was.
A solitary tear-filled Space Janitor’s eye. It was shed not for Shep, not even for himself but the overall patheticness of the circumstance.
In that tear something reflected into Space Janitor’s eye. While the gunk continued to seek him out, Space Janitor saw something he had not seen before. He blinked several times and focused in.
“Hold on,” said Space Janitor.
“What is it?” Spenglactic demanded.
“There’s a small chance that it might be something,” said Space Janitor.
“Well, tell me, and I’ll give you a calculation,” Spenglactic chirped.
“Let me follow it. Somehow you designed your calculations to dissuade me.”
“Who me, never,” said Spenglactic.
What Space Janitor saw represented the briefest glimmer of hope to him. It was a trail of gunk. Too thin to warrant any of its own consciousness. Space Janitor wanted to find out where it led as the hope of him finding anything of use in this main hall were slim.
Space Janitor could feel a presence build behind him. The soft lapping and sucking of the gunk were transforming. It was becoming louder. More prominent in the background. Space Janitor followed the trail, leading to a small alcove. The alcove seemed to be a path. It would be a tight squeeze even for the diminutive stature of someone like Space Janitor. There was a path for him to go down. Space Janitor stood at the entrance.
What if the gunk was way smarter than him, and this was another layer of deception?
Was Space Janitor so tasty that it would concoct a ruse of such depth?
The sound of the gunk behind him was getting louder still. Space Janitor turned to look. While he couldn’t make out the detail, what was becoming evident was the size. It towered above him, several levels. It almost cracked the ceiling. A disgusting cathedral. Only cathedrals remained stationary. This did not. It writhed and wriggled. A large tentacle. Like a cathedral, it held tables, chairs and people. Unlike a temple, it kept them in stasis various degrees of digestion. Slow bubbles peeling away at the layers of those within.
Space Janitor wondered should he try and take it on?
He abandoned the notion as little jets of gunk shot out at him attempting to get a grip on him.
Space Janitor entered the alcove. He could feel the closeness of the gunk as he struggled to make his way forward.
The alcove was narrow. Damage done to the building made it tighter. Space Janitor pushed and shoved his way forward. His progress was slow. Space Janitor knew that he would have to push harder. Things shifted suddenly. The encroaching gunk helped him. The gunk impacts behind him reverberated down the small sliver of the corridor. Debris dislodged clearing a path. Space Janitor forged ahead.
There was a chill in the air, and Space Janitor shivered. He felt the wetness on his nose into sharp relief. The slurping and squishing of the gunk fell further behind him. Was the cold the weakness for the gunk. Space Janitor hoped this was the case. He hoped to find Shep too.
Space Janitor thought that he was safe for now.
The area he was now in was freezing. Illumination lit the area. Better than the dining hall. Light snow fell to the ground. Ice had formed on walls and as stalactites above him.
Space Janitor tried to work out where he was. There were footprints in the snow. The footprints led up and into a vault-like structure. It was well fortified and could let in something ten times the size of Space Janitor.
The temperature dropped further. Space Janitor hugged himself and walked toward the vault entrance.
Footsteps led straight ahead. Dim wall lights provided little illumination.
How far did this go?
Space Janitor realised that it went far deeper than he realised.
The footprints went on deeper and deeper. Space Janitor was thankful for the light that gave his eyes some form of respite from the darkness.
Space Janitor walked. He saw shelves and shelves of all different food types. Veichels and moving mechs. All abandoned in panic. Space Janitor wondered if they would still work. He kept an eye out for any kind of overall. Space Janitor’s breath became a thick fog on every exhale.
Space Janitors joints became stiff, and he slowed right down. Eyelids heavy, desire for sleep crept upon him.
“What’s going on, buddy?” Spenglactic chimed in.
“It’s so cold” replied Space Janitor, he felt himself trip.
“Use me to provide you with some warmth at least. Where are we anyway?” asked Spenglactic.
“It’s some kind of freezer, I think. There’s a lot of food and shelf space. The footprints go off to the side.”
“Are you still looking for that mutt? You’re not going to find him,” said Spenglactic. Space Janitor was not ready to admit he was right. Not yet, at least.
Space Janitor ventured down an aisle. Following the footprints, he thought to himself. Space Janitor may have been following someone else’s prints. If he had, it would definitely spell his demise. Space Janitor shuddered.
There is one of the shelves Space Janitor could make out the distinct shape of a pack. Shep would have to be close by in that case, wouldn’t he?
Space Janitor got to the pack and looked around. There was a big pile of boxes forming something resembling an igloo. Space Janitor pulled away at the containers revealing Shep. Shep was very still.
Was Shep dead?
Space Janitor 061-080
Hi, thank you for reading. This is a compilation of the first forty entries for Space Janitor. Over 10,000 words. The whole reason Space Janitor exists was to create a daily writing habit.
Do you need to build a daily writing habit?
Space Janitor 061-080
Space Janitor couldn’t make out any signs of life. While Shep had not been in here long, there were already signs of the freeze on him.
Space Janitor gave Shep a nudge. The dog was an icicle. Space Janitor shook harder, nothing happened.
Space Janitor became impatient and frustrated. He shook him harder. A light dusting of frost was shaken loose.
“Shep, Shep, wake up!” said Space Janitor. Space Janitor grabbed him by the scruff and was shaking him violently now. Shep flopped in Space Janitor’s grip. There was a belief in him there was a way for him to shake off the death grip.
As he shook, he wondered was it possible for him to even get out of here alone, alive. Would it be better for him to curl up beside him and let the cold take him?
Space Janitor laughed at the thought that if it weren’t going to be the gunk, then it would be the cold. No matter how you looked at it existence seemed to be more of choosing what will come and kill you in the end. That which does not kill me will eventually kill me, Space Janitor thought to himself.
The cold was giving Space Janitor a headache. The Speglactic was becoming heavier on his back.
“Spenglactic are you still working?” Space Janitor asked faintly. As he spoke, Space Janitor could see his breath sublime from hot ait into solid ice against the shelves. A shiver emanated from deep inside Space Janitor. A tremor felt like an earthquake he was so weak.
“I’m working, although not for long at this temp. Where are we anyway? Your kind doesn’t hibernate.”
“I’m standing over Shep, we’re in a nook within a larger food storage vault. How do we wake him up?”
Space Janitor waited for Spenglactic to respond.
“You gotta heat him up using me,” Spenglactic said. “You can’t hit him directly, or else you’ll boil his insides or something. I don’t know I’m not a doctor. I’m an inanimate object with a baseline of intelligence. Like your mother.”
Space Janitor didn’t get the insult so didn’t respond.
“Tough crowd. Look, you gotta heat the area around Shep but be careful when you do. Why, because there’s a chance he might melt or something. Again, it’s not an exact science, what do I know?” The Spenglactic let the question hang in the air. “If you want to help him, I’d get started.”
Space Janitor adjusted the settings on the nozzle of the Spenglactic. He made sure to aim to the side of Shep. Space Janitor’s hands were seizing up. He also noticed that his vision was narrowing. He would need to speed up as much for his own sake as for Shep.
Space Janitor thumbed the nozzles and pulled the lever. Spenglactic sputtered before unleashing a beam of pure heat.
The beam heated the shelf that Shep was perched on. Space Janitor could see it was going to take a while before it heated up in any significant way.
Space Janitor wondered if he should risk moving the beam closer to Shep to hasten the process. What was the worst that could happen? Shep might get his fur frazzled slightly.
Space Janitor wondered could he risk it. If he did it might end badly for all involved most of all Shep who he had grown accustomed. It would be the worst way to end their relationship. Space Janitor melting his skin off, but these are the risks that you take when you are in the working world.
Space Janitor asked himself, what should I do?
Space Janitor realised that he would have to act fast. He knew that he shouldn’t take unnecessary risky steps. It was either something awful or something terrible. The cold of death hugged him ever tighter. Space Janitor moved the nozzle and waved the beam of hearing over Shep’s body. Space Janitor instinctively gulped. Even Spenglactic knew there was some wrong. Could Spenglactic smell the burnt hair?
“What’s going on mutt? I picked up a bit of a wobble on your part. Tell me what’s going on. Keep me updated. There’s something up isn’t there?” Spenglactic said. There was an insistence in its tone.
“There’s nothing wrong. Nothing at all.” Space Janitor said his voice cracked. He laughed nervously and slumped forward.
“Who taught you how to lie. My goodness at least that’s one thing about you. The only person more trustworthy than an honest John is a bad liar.” said the Spenglactic. It was true.
An advantage was that the embarrassment Space Janitor felt was causing him to heat up. Space Janitor liked the feeling and hold onto it for as long as possible.
“Mutt, you need to engage your brain. I don’t know if you know what happened, but you’re kind of keeping me in suspense. That’s OK and all. It’s just the thing is if you turned this guy into sheesh-kebab then lemme know and maybe I can calculate a way out of this. It might not be doable, but there you go.” Spenglactic continued. Space Janitor was glad it was able to second guess him.
“I may have dragged the beam over him,” said Space Janitor.
“And?” Spenglactic asked.
“And what?” Space Janitor retorted, confused.
“Did he melt?” Spenglactic asked.
“No, he still seems to be in one piece. He hasn’t woken up.”
“Then, why not hit him again?” Spenglactic asked.
Space Janitor considered the implications of what Spenglactic was asking. His mouth tightened, and he clenched his teeth. It was a combination of involuntary reaction and nervousness. If he was going to do it, then now may as well be the time. There was no response coming from Shep. Space Janitor decided that it would be best for everyone if he would follow it through. See where it would lead.
Space Janitor decided to do a quick pass on Shep with the heat ray. It was not on full power. Space Janitor knew that on some level there was a chance that Shep was getting microwaved on the inside. With doom breathing down their necks, why the hell not? Try something, he thought to himself.
Space Janitor made another pass over Shep. There was still no movement from the dog that lay on the shelf.
Space Janitor passed Shep over with the heat beam. Did it a few more times. Still no movement. There was also no evidence of physical change on his part. Space Janitor decided that he would hold the heat beam over Shep for a little longer this time. After all, at this point Space Janitor was more curious to see if he was making any kind of difference.
The beam was now pointed directly at Shep. Space Janitor struggled to see over the beam of light emanating from the end of the nozzle. Nothing, so Space Janitor squeezed tighter on the lever, increasing the power. Space Janitor could smell something now. There was a burning in the air. Panic, blind panic. Space Janitor pointed the nozzle back to the shelf.
He could feel it now thick in the air, burning.
Space Janitor stood and looked at Shep. Something was moving somewhere. Was Shep alive?
Space Janitor saw Shep’s eyes shoot open, alive after all. Shep yelped, rolled off the shelves. Space Janitor released the grip from the lever. The freezing cold of their surroundings pounced on both of them. Space Janitor felt like tiny ice mites were scrambling to penetrate his jumpsuit. He wriggled and jiggled to cast off the imaginary beings.
Space Janitor crouch walked to Shep’s side.
“You’re alive,” said Space Janitor with a combination of surprise and joy. Shep’s eyes flickered to find focus. They widened when they registered Space Janitor.
“I’m alive? More like you’re alive. You were gunk drunk last I saw of you.” said Shep. His voice was soft and low, but somewhere inside him, there was a fire growing larger.
“No, I managed to get my Spenglactic working. It was working the whole time. It just didn’t want to.” said Space Janitor.
“If, if we get out of here, you might need to short its personality,” Shep said.
“Watch it there, Bub,” said Spenglactic. “It was me what got you wokened up an all.”
“Well, we’ll have to see about that,” said Shep.
“Oh, we will,” said Spenglactic. “We’re not out of this yet, and you know what, maybe when it comes down to it my batteries are running low. Might need to store power if you get what I’m saying. You got to ask yourself, how’s your battery life.”
“Let’s not argue,” Space Janitor interrupted. “We all, still exist, and for the most part, are conscious. Let’s figure out how to get out of here. Shep, can you walk?” asked Space Janitor.
“I’m a little stiff,” said Shep.
“In this temperature, a little is a lot,” said Spenglactic. Neither of the mutts responded. To be fair to them, his delivery was off.
“Can I help you up?” Space Janitor asked.
Space Janitor stood over Shep, looking down at him.
“You could give me a hand if you wanted,” Shep said, extending a hand.
Space Janitor leaned over to help him up. In the cold of the walk-in freezer Space Janitor’s limbs felt numb. His arms could be wrenched out without his awareness. Shep took Space Janitor’s arm. He rocked himself forward to give the appropriate amount of momentum.
“I must have put on weight,” said Shep. He smiled and heaved himself harder.
“If it’s possible” Space Janitor began. “There’s a chance that I’ve become weaker, not that you would notice, I was pretty weak, to begin with.” Space Janitor leaned back where he stood hoping Shep would pull himself up. He wobbled in his place. Space Janitor’s blinking slowed down. There was a chance he was asleep on his feet.
“Something’s not right,” said Shep. Shep heaved himself harder, he was building up the momentum. Space Janitor pulled back too. He may have become frozen to the spot. Had he become one with the floor. He hoped not.
Shep was brought upright and slipped off to one side.
“What the what?” Shep blurted out. He looked down. Space Janitor’s focus was not great, Shep’s balance was worse. “Mutt, did you stop to think where you pointed that nozzle of yours? You’ve melted my foot off!”
Space Janitor’s focus came rushing back to him and directed his gaze down towards Shep’s foot. Well, sort of foot. It was now a stump. Had Space Janitor done that? Could it have frozen off and snapped? Space Janitor was reluctant to own up to the melted foot. Not before he was sure it was him. After all, it was pretty cold in the walk-in freezer.
“Are you sure it was me?” Space Janitor asked.
“What?” Shep asked.
“Are you sure it was me?” Space Janitor asked.
“It’s just you and me in here,” said Shep.
“I’m here too,” Spenglactic said.
“Alright, then who did it?” Shep barked.
“I don’t have visual sensors.” Spenglactic chirped back.
“You’re useless in that case. Stay out of this, alright? No more from you.” Shep said. “Do you have any idea how much this is going to hurt whenever feeling returns. When I thaw out, I’m going to bleed and feel. I’m going to make sure you’re with me every step of the way. I should have known better than to trust a new mutt.”
“Hold on,” said Spenglactic.
“What did I tell you about staying out of it?” Shep said to Spenglactic. Shep kept his eyes fixed on the empty space where a right foot used to stay.
“You told me to stay out of it. I’ve been working with this mutt for a while now. I can tell you, would not do something as careless as melt a foot. Maybe a wrist or two but not a foot. Now from what I understand, bio-organisms such as yourself depend heavily on feet. I know this, this guy knows this. He was trying to help you. It probably snapped off in the cold. You dumb mutt.”
“Don’t call me mutt,” said Shep.
“Don’t call him mutt then in that case. He has a name too, you know,” said Spenglactic.
“What is it then?” said Shep.
“Look, my primary function is not to debate details. I wasn’t created to debate.” Said Spenglactic. “I’m here to clean, so are you, so is” there was a silence, “Rex?”
“That’s not it either,” said Space Janitor. To be honest, I’m getting curious about his name too.
“Then what do we do?” Shep asked.
Space Janitor stood and wondered if it was his turn to speak.
Thankfully for him, Spenglactic took the lead.
“We need to get out of here and take that gunk head-on. I’m aware gunk don’t have bodies let alone heads, but you catch my drift right? I can take the cold. You guys get a little chilly, and you start napping. A walk in this big, there has to some kind of entree transport. Look around, also keep an eye out for your foot.” Spenglactic sounded official yet authoritative.
Shep’s shoulders slumped down, and he hobbled along, looking to see if there was a spare foot lying around.
“Thanks for defending me there. I appreciate it.” Space Janitor whispered to Spenglactic.
“Eh, don’t worry about it. Look there’s several modules worth of upgrades I want to experience. It’s not going to happen if I get mistaken for some kind of metallic noodle in this freezer. Let’s find some kind of transport. It’ll have wheels and some kind of flat back. Grav-thrusts don’t work this cold.”
“I don’t know if I did melt his foot, thanks for knowing,” said Space Janitor thinking back. There was nothing in his memory that stuck out to him.
“Look I may have tuned out myself. Fact is, what was Shep doing coming back here. You saved him. We get him out, he saves up and gets a new foot. He could get one grown for him if he’s feeling fancy. If he wants to chase after you, you’re one step ahead of him.” Said Spenglactic, his joke falling flat with Space Janitor and to be honest, you the reader.
“I’m coming to the main corridor. There’s a small vehicle with tracks against a wall. It’s flat at the back.” said Space Janitor.
“Sounds good. Much room?” asked Spenglactic.
Space Janitor looked and made an estimated guess.
“There’s some, we won’t know until we try” Space Janitor replied.
“Let’s get back to Hopalong Cassidy,” said Spenglactic.
Space Janitor returned to find Shep was leant over a shelf. If he was moving, it was imperceptible to most eyes that could see in the infrared spectrum.
Space Janitor approached Shep. Reaching out a hand to touch him. Space Janitor hesitated.
“What’s the matter now?” asked Spenglactic. “His ears freeze off?”
“Huh, what, yeah,” said Shep. He moved away. Turning around to face the direction of Space Janitor’s voice. “I’m blind too, did you melt my eyes too?”
“Your lids are frozen shut.” said Space janitor. Subtle spiky spears coated Shep’s lashes. “Further reason to get you out of here now.”
“If I get out of here in on piece. You know what too late. If I somehow manage to escape without further loss of appendage I think it’ll be a miracle.” said Shep.
His voice was hoarse.
Hoarse as in the sound not as in Seabiscuit. Do you know what I mean? I guess I haven’t established what other kinds of domesticated animals are sentient. There’s a chance that it has not been confirmed yet. At the moment, in the meantime, it doesn’t matter. What I’m cack handedly trying to get across to you is that Shep’s condition was worsening. Is that a word in your time? Leave it a few years.
“Hold on, he’s blind?” Spenglactic asked.
“No, his eyelids have frosted over,” said Space Janitor.
“You’re going to need him seeing,” said Spenglactic. “Can you defrost them?”.
Space Janitor reached out, it was solid, and it was stuck. He tugged a little on the lashes.
“Ouch, is that you?” asked Shep.
“No, it’s the wind,” said Space Janitor to Shep. “Now, what do we do?” Space Janitor whispered to the Spenglactic.
“Well?” Space Janitor whispered louder.
“We still got this it’s all good,” said Spenglactic. “You got to get him moving though.”
“Shep, it’s time to move,” said Space Janitor.
“Just let me rest awhile,” Shep said. His body stooped over.
“No, no, we have a job to do. Let’s get your pack. Where is it? ” Space Janitor asked.
“It just got so heavy. I took it off only for a little while. Only a little”. Shep his voice trailing off. The wind rushed through the freezer. The doors had been left open too long, and now the motors were kicking in. Spenglactic’s sensor picked it up.
“Kid, you gotta get that old dog moving. This place is going to drop even harder if we don’t vamoose.” Spenglactic informed. Space Janitor nodded to himself and grabbed onto Shep. There were scattered parts of the pack near the shelf Shep had been sleeping on.
“Your pack Shep. It’s smashed to bits. What happened?” Space Janitor said looking at the parts on the ground.
“It wouldn’t work for me,” Shep said pleading. “It wouldn’t work. So I got an.” There he was trailing off again.
“That’s going to be a problem,” said Spenglactic. “Before you ask, lemme explain. Coded the packs. To each of you, personally. He can’t use yours. I was hoping we coulda propped him up. He coulda propelled us out of here. Looks like that’s not going to be the case. He’s going to have to drive. You’re going to have to be the propulsion and trust in him.”
“He’ll crash,” said Space Janitor. His voice flat monotone.
A cold blast hit Space Janitor, shrinking his posture down to a huddle. He gripped Shep tight. If he let him go, he might not ever get him back.
“Shep, Shep, can you hear me?” Space Janitor shouted, competing with the roar of the wind.
“What is it?” Shep asked.
“You’re going to have to help with steering,” said Space Janitor.
“I’m so weak. Just let me die,” said Shep. Space Janitor registered that Shep’s anger had morphed into open displays of self-pity. It was ugly to see. Space Janitor understood the pain and feeling of hopelessness that Shep was encountering. Space Janitor also had a deep well of guilt inside of him regarding the whole foot fiasco.
What was Space Janitor supposed to do? Melt his own foot off out of solidarity? He considered it, but it wouldn’t change anything.
Two broken dogs? No one would miss them. If they wanted out off here, it would come down to them and them alone.
“I can’t let you die. Not, after all, you’ve done for me. We need to get out of here. I owe you a foot.” said Space Janitor.
“I don’t care, keep it,” said Shep.
“It’s not about that, I need you to steer this transport” Space Janitor said. Shep’s eyes were still closed. Space Janitor dragged him to the transport. Cold icy air clawed at their fur. Space Janitor minimised his shaking as best he could.
They would have to get moving soon. Space Janitor felt as if he were going to pass out. He forced his eyelids as wide as possible. The cold forced his eyes to flicker.
They were at the transport. Space Janitor was pushing Shep towards the driver’s seat. Shep struggled to get in. Space Janitor didn’t even know if Shep was aware of what was going on. Space Janitor would find out soon enough.
“Come on, Shep. You have to steer this thing,” said Space Janitor. He looked down at the control panel. Here’s hoping it worked.
“Just let me sleep. Why won’t you let me die?” Shep demanded.
“I won’t let you die because I need you to live,” said Space Janitor. Shep’s eyes still shut aimed in the direction of Space Janitor.
“Thank you, maybe the whole foot thing,” said Shep.
“Don’t be thinking that it is down to the kindness of strangers or work colleagues for that matter. Let me set it straight. I want to get out of here. Only recently I’m conscious, aware, alive, whatever. All I know is that I want to keep things that way.” Spenglactic chimed in.
“Getting a bit mercenary aren’t we,” Spenglactic said.
“Don’t get me wrong. I want out of here and to send back that thing that tried to eat me,” said Space Janitor.
“You’re taking it kind of personal,” Spenglactic noted. Space Janitor wasn’t listening. He was focusing on getting Shep into the driver’s seat of the transport. The dog’s body was stiff, but he would move when prompted.
“You’re in position. Right, let’s get this started. How do I get it started” Space Janitor asked out loud.
“Use the key,” Spenglactic got in quick.
“OK, where’s that?”
“Should be in the ignition,” said Spenglactic
“The ignition. The thing with the slot?”
“Fantastic,” said Spenglactic.
“Then we’re on our way” Space Janitor was jubilant.
“No, you need to listen to tone better,” said Spenglactic, “I’m sarcastic. It means the key is missing and we’re screwed again. How do you know how some items work yet not others? Right OK. You can go and look for the key and die in the process, or you can do something quicker but illeagler. Is that a word. Who cares my circuits are slowing, and my rhetoric chip is shorting.”
“What’s the quick illegaler option,” asked Spenglactic.
“Hook me into the slot, and I’ll jack it. You know what I mean?”
“Will that help?” asked Space Janitor.
“Of course it will help, how come you got to ask? Have I steered you wrong at all so far?” Spenglactic reproached.
“When you’re on,” Space Janitor replied.
“That’s not fair, and you know it. I’m always on, and I just want to make sure that we’re both doing the right thing. Now plug me in” said Spenglactic.
Space Janitor did as he was told and hooked up a wire from Spenglactic into the designated slot. Spenglactic made a blipping sound. There was a bit of a pause, and then the lights came on the console. It appeared that what Spenglactic promised it would do was done.
The transport’s engine shuddered to life. The lights came on, and Spenglactic retracted the wire back in.
“Right prop up the other one and let’s get out of here,” Spenglactic ordered.
Space Janitor moved Shep into position. The lights were fading out on the console as Space Janitor manoeuvred Shep.
“Something’s happening,” Space Janitor said.
“Like what,” said Spenglactic.
“The lights are getting darker. The powers failing.”
“It’ not failing, we have a small window. There’s no way I can stay plugged in while you steer. Gave the thing a little boost. Have to make sure that we can get outta here by then. You thought we were just gonna coast on out?” Spenglactic belted.
Space Janitor spoke into Sheps ear. He told him that it was up to him to steer. Shep nodded, but Space Janitor didn’t know if any of what he said registered. Space Janitor positioned himself on the flat of the transport. He turned the settings on the Spenglactic to the specifications as instructed.
Space Janitor locked his feet in place. Squeezed on the handle, the heat was intense, but there was no movement.
“Are we clear?” Spenglacti enquired.
“We’re stuck,” said Space Janitor.
“What do you mean we’re stuck?” Spenglactic asked. For a machine, it conveyed a lot of emotion.
“The treads are turning, but we’re not moving,” said Space Janitor. The treads were indeed in motion. The transport vibrated in place. “I think we’re frozen in place,” said Space Janitor. He looked over the side. Saw there was a small yet thick bridge of ice that tethered them to the side of the freezer.
“You know what you got to do then,” Spenglactic insinuated. The machine had not completed audiblising its sentences. Space Janitor already had the nozzle pointed at the ice and giving it full blast.
Out the corner of his eye Space Janitor noticed Shep had slumped over again.
“Sit up straight, Shep,” Space Janitor commanded. Shep registered the instruction and complied. “Spenglacti this isn’t working. It’s too slow. Shep’s going to be frozen before we even move off,” Space Janitor was desperate.
“Computing,” said Spenglactic.
“Yes,” said Space Janitor. The cold throttled Space Janitor. He saw the warm mist of air squeezed from his lungs. Soon he would be rung dry.
“Right we’re going to go for a Particle protocol blast,” Spenglactic said.
“How do I do that?” asked Space Janitor.
“You have to shut everything down on me. I got to warn you, it’s risky, and you might not survive it,” Spenglactic warned.
“At this point, what choice do we have?” Space Janitor said to Spenglactic.
“OK. I’ll talk you through it,” said Spenglactic. At the same time, a little control jutted out the side. “Take the control and shut it all down. You have to go through everything on the manifest. You have to check off everything. It’s called the Check-Off Protocol for a reason,” Spenglactic continued. “You hear me?”
“I hear you,” Space Janitor responded.
“Good, get started. After you’ve done all that, you press the big red button. I’ll either hear from you again, or I won’t. I never really tell a colleague good luck or anything like that. I don’t want them thinking I’m getting soft or nothing. This case is no exception” said Spenglactic.
Space Janitor looked at all the items on the list. He would have to act fast if he was to stand a chance. Space Janitor went through the list. He switched everything to off and hoped for the best.
The list was long. I’m not going to tell you everything that was on it. You can probably guess correctly. Items like primary vents, secondary vents and if you said tertiary vents, don’t be silly. Space Janitor turned off the speakers and the shielding.
Space Janitor wasn’t sure what all this stuff did, but he didn’t care at this point because he was freezing. How he hadn’t frozen by now? Anyone’s guess to be honest. He’s a plucky young mutt. It might be something to do with his mindset. What you find cold might freeze someone else. Kind of like me, I don’t like the heat all that much. I’m sure my ancestral lineage traces back as far as some kind of polar bear kin. Hot weather makes me lose my temper.
Anyway, I digress. How Space Janitor survived in the freezer for as long as he did is and will remain a mystery.
Everything on Spenglactic was shut down. It wasn’t until the final item to Space Janitor realise how much heat Spenglactic provided.
The red reset button presented itself on the screen. Asking the question, “Do you want to press me?” in big, bold black font against a grey background.
“Do you want to press me?”
Space Janitor very much wanted to press the red button, but there was also a feeling of doubt. What if this was all part of some elaborate plot for Spenglactic to explode himself. If it were, boy would Space Janitor’s face be red, and separated from the rest of his skull. There was no way for Space Janitor to know. At the end of his rope Space Janitor answered the prompt of the screen through action.
Space Janitor pressed the red button.
It sounded like the rumble of a tummy at first. It got louder and louder. Space Janitor didn’t know which end it would come out. Space Janitor took off the pack and checked to see if there was any sign.
There was an intense heat given off. Subliming the surrounding ice. It became hot to the touch. Space Janitor realised how useful the heat shielding on the straps was. There was the sound of a valve being released. Space Janitor checked to see what where it was coming from.
The Straps were the only way that he could hold the Spenglactic. The Spenglactic was shaking more violent now. It flipped itself from the transport onto the ground. This thing was going to take off without him. Space Janitor would have to get a grip on it by the straps and ride it like a toboggan.
Shep had slumped over again. The Spenglactic was doing a breakdance. Space Janitor grabbed Shep and without any care forced him down onto the Spenglactic.
There was no care given this time. Shep yelped in pain. Space Janitor usually courteous to a fault didn’t even apologise.
The Spenglactic was spinning out on the ground. Becoming a centrifuge with Shep at the centre.
“Are you going to get on?” Shep squealed.
Space Janitor watched and knew he would have to time it right. He jumped and landed on Shep. Yelped again, poor Shep.
Space Janitor reached for the straps as a means of steering. The speed of the spin forced his hands back. It was a battle to get a firm grip. Sounds were coming from the bottom end of the Spenglactic.
Space Janitor used his foot to hold Shep in place. If there was to be a massive heat expulsion Space Janitor didn’t want Shep to get any more limbs melted off. Melting off one foot, rude. Melting off two feet? No more birthday cards for you. Unless you dislike birthday cards in which case, more birthday cards for you. Unless it’s a double bluff. Look I’m getting sidetracked here. Mostly what I’m trying to say is, it’s impolite to melt off someone’s feet. Call me old fashioned.
Space Janitor wrestled the straps to get control of the spinning. The blurry white of the revolving surroundings now became more of a steady white.
The rumble of Spenglactic now become more high pitched. The nozzle glowed a bright blue. Space Janitor freed his right hand and grabbed the control of the nozzle. Despite the heat shielding, he could still feel the massive warmth building-up.
Space Janitor pointed the nozzle in the opposite direction he wanted to go and gulped.
There was a moment of silence.
Space Janitor tasted electricity.
The sound of a slow trombone release. You know the sound. The one from the end of those ancient jazz records. The ones where the guy cuts out his lovers cheating heart even though he’s married to someone else. That kind of trombone sound.
The Spenglactic was a champagne cork out of a frozen bottle.
“What the what is happening?” Shep screamed, but that was 100 feet ago.
“We’re getting,” Space Janitor stopped talking. He couldn’t hear his own voice, what chance did Shep have in taking in words.
The ice particles in the air pelted Space Janitor’s face. He did what he could to shield himself, but it was of no use. The wind whipped at his ears too.
Space Janitor could make out shapes in front of him as they grew larger. It was a struggle, but he managed to steer himself clear of the oncoming obstacles.
Space Janitor didn’t want to speak too soon, but he had a feeling as if he was getting the hang of steering. No one would see, so he allowed a smile to sneak onto his face. Once he had accounted for the sheer force of energy below him, adjusted for Shep, it became manageable. Space Janitor knew that on some level it was a case of avoiding the more massive objects. While at the same time, making sure that he stayed well enough away from the ceiling. It was tight, but Space Janitor enjoyed the challenge. All things considered.
How far had he come into the freezer? The rows went all for what felt like miles. The force of the wind that was prior assaulting him had lessened in intensity. There was darkness up ahead. That had to be the entrance. That had to be the destination to aim for.
Space Janitor felt the Spenglactic below him sag. There was a loss in energy and Space Janitor had to double up his effort to level the pack.
Out ahead, Space Janitor could see the glinting green in the dim light. Space Janitor had forgotten about it, but this thing had clearly not forgotten about him. Space Janitor could not go flying out to freedom.
What could he do?
Space Janitor decided the best thing to do would be to ditch Spenglactic right at the entrance. With a deep gulp, he steered it into a set of shelves.
Space Janitor leaned away and let the device impact. The Spenglactic bumped into the shelves and knocked one set over. As they fell, they hit into another set of shelves. The impact caused a domino effect sending row after row tumbling into one another. Packaging and produce fell and scattered.
One of the shelving units tumbled outside the area of the freezer. The gunk which sloshed back and forth snapped it up immediately. Space Janitor was able to make out the gunk as it sucked it in. The shelves silently bubbled in the transparent wash. The shelving unit dissolved almost instantaneously. Space Janitor figured that in their absence it had become more aggressive. It was more aware, but it was still cautious of the cold.
How would he be able to play this to his advantage? They could not stay here forever, and it was highly likely that no one was coming to save them. They would have to take care of the gunk themselves.
Space Janitor’s mind was slow. He went to the freezers threshold. There wasn’t much that he could make out except for the dark humanoid silhouettes within the belly of the beast. They moved within. Did they move of their own accord or was this the internal tide of the gunk.
Space Janitor wasn’t sure, but he could feel a plan hatching in his skull. It may not be a plan ready to be born, but there was no other way. He would have to do something, and he would have to do it soon. The Spenglactic was still out of commission after the crash. He would have to rely on himself.
“What’s the hold-up?” Shep asked between his feet.
Space Janitor hesitated a moment. He looked around at Shep. The eyes were still closed, but the face was aimed at him.
“To put it mildly. We’re trapped.” Space Janitor responded to Shep. Shep shrugged and let off an amused sound.
“Of course we’re trapped,” Shep began, “We’ve been knocked around since we go in here. What now, is there a raging fire? If there was a raging fire, do me a favour and chuck me in. I could hit the right balance if you did that. Well, what is it? The station itself is starting to fall apart. From the frozen atmosphere of the freezer to the freezing vacuum of space. Is that poetic. I don’t care. At this point. Just let me die.” While Shep’s exterior may be frozen, there was a fire that burned big inside him. The flames seemed to crawl up his throat and set fire to his tongue.
“I have an idea. Let me be honest Shep, it’s not a great idea. It’ll probably get me killed, and I don’t even know what will happen if it works but at this point, what is there to lose?” Space Janitor asked, looking at Shep. Space Janitor blinked a long blink then opened his eyes on the gunk. “I’m going to get started on it. If you don’t hear back from me, it won’t matter.”
Space Janitor went about putting the pieces of the plan together.
Shep, still cold could feel a change in the atmosphere. Ahead of him, out there in the darkness, there was warmth. All he need do is reach out and feel firm caress. He knew not to fall for its allure. There was death in the darkness. In fact, that’s all there was, death and darkness. What was he supposed to do?
Did you like that?
If you did would you mind signing up to my email because you’re a legend.
Also if you like my writing click the link below.
Thank you and have a great day,