“OK, I consent,” said Space Janitor (021-030).
“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.
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