Space Janitor 041-080
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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?
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