Space Janitor 001-020
Hi, thank you for reading. This is a compilation of the first twenty entries for Space Janitor. Over 6000 words and the whole reason was to get into a daily writing habit.
Do you want to write well and quick?
“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?
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