Space Janitor (121-130) tried to fight and get to the pit, but it was of no use. The guard dog was too mighty. Space Janitor couldn’t grip the floor. All he ended up with was paws full of dirt. Space Janitor was taken further and further away from the pit. He did not like to leave his fellow dog, but he was exhausted trying to claw his way back.
The guard dog, now accompanied by another one carried Space Janitor down a new tunnel. They had removed the Spenglactic from his back. Sharp stone scraped and clawed at him. He twisted and turned as it cut at him. Space Janitor yelped, but the guard dogs carrying him pretended not to hear. He felt his body give up, but his mind worked to return power to his limbs.
Space Janitor heard the whine of a door being open. He hit the ground with a splat. It still hurt, and he could feel the electricity of pain shoot up his body.
Space Janitor lay still for a moment. Regained his composure and his breath. He sat up where he was. It appeared to a prison cell. It was burrowed into a small alcove.
Space Janitor wasn’t alone.
Across from him on the other side of the bars, there was another dog. It was young by the looks of things and some weird crossbreed. Its eyes didn’t move, and they were fixed on Space Janitor.
Space Janitor smiled and heaved himself onto an upturned bucket. The dog in the other cell tracked Space Janitor’s movement. Never once did Space Janitor see the eyes blink.
Was this new dog friend or foe?
Space Janitor sat looking at the dog opposite.
“Hello,” Space Janitor ventured. There was no response from the other dog aside from a slight nod. Space Janitor smiled back, hoping there would be some form of verbal response.
“Not the best facilities I’ve seen,” Space Janitor said. There was a snort from the other dog. Then the eyes blinked rapidly. The pupils, despite the dim light, refocused.
“Facilities, facilities. Oh, sure, sure. I know what you mean. Not the best facilities. No, no way not now or ever,” said the other dog. Space Janitor didn’t know how lucid his new companion was. There was something off about the dog. Space Janitor wondered if there was a chance he could go back to the trance-like state. He didn’t mention it. This was because while Space Janitor may not be the smartest pup out there, he does know the value in being civil.
“You look like you’ve been here a while,” Space Janitor said. The other dog didn’t immediately respond. It was this delay in the response that made Space Janitor uneasy.
“Here, a while, sure. Sure, sure sure. That’s me, they say, he’s been here a while, and you know what? They’re right. You must be one of them.” said the other dog.
Space Janitor knew that to get more info out of him, he would have to ask him a direct question. That would be the real test to see how together this dog was. He hoped it wouldn’t annoy him too much or cause problems. It seemed like a simple enough question, but at the same time, things never went simple for Space Janitor.
Space Janitor took a moment.
“How long have you been here?”
The dog took a while to answer Space Janitor. If felt as if Space Janitor was going to be left in constant suspense. Space Janitor wondered if the poor dog opposite had heard him. Suddenly there was a flicker, and the dog started nodding.
“Me, how long I been, oh you know not long, not that long really, just in and out you know. Same old, same old,” said the dog.
Space Janitor nodded and didn’t respond. He knew that if he wanted to get through to this dog, then he would have to choose his words carefully.
There was no way the poor dog had full control over his faculties. The last thing he wanted to do was to scare him any more than he had to.
Space Janitor would have to tread carefully.
The dog sat there, smiling blankly at Space Janitor. Space Janitor knew there was some way to get him out of the haze and helpful.
Space Janitor had been through quite a bit that morning and wasn’t ready to let himself die like this.
The more he did so, the more Space Janitor realised he liked living. He wanted to do it for a while longer at least.
Space Janitor knew his very existence depended on getting out of this cell. Then getting back the Spenglactic. He could sit and rot in the cell, or he could somehow get this other dog to be an accomplice to whatever it was he had in store.
There was a limited window of opportunity.
There didn’t seem to be any guard nearby. He would have to take a chance and reach out to the other dog.
Space Janitor took a gulp.
“I don’t like it here.” Space Janitor said.
“What you mean by that?”
Space Janitor took a moment and collected his thoughts. He would have to tread carefully.
“As in, I don’t like being in this cage,” said Space Janitor.
“Huh, huh, oh yeah, yeah. Bit small in here if you ask me there’s not enough space to run or dig,” said the other dog.
Space Janitor nodded along. The movements of the other dog were manic. Its head would bolt from side to side, two invisible companions sat on his shoulders. At least that’s how it would look to an outside observer.
“You liked to run?” Space Janitor said. Space Janitor didn’t care, but there was something in his belly. Something told him if he went directly to the question he wanted to ask he would close up again.
“Oh boy, did I? I did, so you know. It’s not a secret. It’s no secret at all. In fact, I can’t keep secrets. But the bosses told me I can’t tell secrets,” said the other dog.
“I can only guess what you do better,” said Space Janitor.
“Huh? No, I was going to tell you, but if you want to do it, then I guess you got to. I wouldn’t want you spoiling my game, so I won’t spoil yours,” said the dog.
Space Janitor knew he had messed up. The other dogs face dropped.
“Oh, please go on and tell me,” Space Janitor tried. “I’m not good at guessing,”
“Well it’s your game, and I don’t want to mess it up, or nothing so go ahead, yeah, you do that. I wouldn’t want you spoiling my game or nothing like that, so you go on ahead. Guess, guess and then guess again,”
Space Janitor wasn’t sure how to proceed. Would it be better off if he blurted it out, one way to find out?
“Is it digging?”
“Digging?” The dog said to Space Janitor. Space Janitor was hopeful that maybe he had finally got through to him. Credit to Space Janitor where it’s due this didn’t take as long as he was expecting.
You know what?
It’s been a while since I told the story. If I am, to be honest with you, there is a chance that I am skimming over certain particulars of the story.
Look I could tell you a blow by blow account of how Space Janitor subtly coaxed it out of the other dog. I won’t because it would be the death of you. There’s a lot of ground to cover. Either it took a long time, or it didn’t.
Anyway, back to Space Janitor.
“Yes, digging. Is that it? It sounds like your favourite thing.” Space Janitor said.
“Oh boy oh boy do I like digging, I do. I do. Digging is when it alls go quiet, you know? Then I’m all like if I dig a bit more then that would be good,” the other dog said. His face dropped. “They told me not to dig too much. I dig too far, so I listen to them because you know they want what’s best for me and the rest of us strays,”. The dog looked out and past Space Janitor to some invisible spot on the wall.
“Putting you in here, not digging doesn’t seem like what’s best for you. If anything you don’t seem to be doing any digging,” Space Janitor responded.
“No, they mean well and all that. Other dogs told me not to dig anymore, so I listened to them. But can I tell you something? Maybe I shouldn’t. But I want to. Oh, what do I do?
“If I were you, I’d tell me,” said Space Janitor. “But then again I’m biased when it comes to hearing stories about digging. If that’s what the story is about,”.
“How did you know? You must be smart wherever you strayed from,” said the other dog.
“Well, I have had a moment or two. Thank you, what is your name?” Space Janitor asked.
“Hmm, no one ever needs me, so no one ever calls me. I remember someone calling me, yeah way back there in the picture show. What was it? What was it, what was it? I know what it is what did they say. Was digging, because digging’s what I do best. I was digging but was digging too much. What was it, the guard said my name. He said it, and I can hear it. Idiot. My name is Idiot,” Idiot looked pleased to remember his own name.
“Your name is Idiot? I don’t think I’ll call you that. I’ll use a different name for you,” said Space Janitor.
“Stupid?” the other dog volunteered. Space Janitor grimaced.
“I’m going to call you digger, it sounds like something you do and like to do,” said Space Janitor.
“Oh boy Digger, yep that’s me. I much prefer that to Stupid Idiot,” said the newly named Digger.
“My name is,” Space Janitor started.
“I don’t care, all I know is I have a name I much prefer,” said Digger.
“Show me then,” said Space Janitor. “Your paws are so big compared to my small tiny ones. Look at those long nails too. I bet you could dig out of here with no effort,”
“You know I could it’s just that, hmmm, it’s just you know. Other dogs said for me not to. You know I can’t.”
Space Janitor could feel Digger becoming self-conscious, retreating inside his own head. There was a degree of anxiety associated with digging. What the other strays do to him. Space Janitor felt pity but cast it aside. Digger, for better or worse seemed like a happy enough dog. Since his arrival in the cell, apart from the staring on his first entry, the dog had been cordial.
A guard dog entered, holding two dog bowls. At least they were being fed. Treated with a certain degree of respect. The guard dog pushed it through the letterbox shape in the bars then left. It looked as if it was some meat. Where they got the beef worried him. What happened down here? The extent to which there was some form of dread in Space Janitor’s belly.
Space Janitor regarded the food. There were bright red berries in the middle. The beans, along with the ambiguous meat, looked extra disgusting. Space Janitor looked over and saw Digger getting stuck in.
“What is this exactly?” Space Janitor asked.
“What is this?” Digger started, “Oh well sure, it’s everything a dog needs. You got your processed edible carbon, and you have the beans to stop all the voices,”
“Voice, what kind of voices Digger?” Space Janitor was more than a little curious.
“What kind, oh you know, the ones that say all the boring stuff like, why are we doing this, somethings not right here. You know, voices,” said Digger.
“It sounds like you’re talking about thoughts Digger,” Space Janitor responded.
“Whatever you want to call them, go ahead. You know what I call thoughts? A distraction. They’re good for nothing. Don’t you wish you get rid of them?”
Space Janitor thought for a moment. He never thought about his thoughts. At least to level of depth that Digger did.
“I must admit Digger, I’ve never considered, my thoughts. But then again, this is my first day, so I’m not the most accustomed to them. You must forgive me for not considering,” Space Janitor said.
“Sure, sure take your time thinking about it. That’s part of the problem, you spend your time thinking about thinking about things. That’s why Denabol did the right thing by not asking us. He says we don’t have enough brains to think about thinking. My daddy said he liked thinking, but Denobol didn’t listen. Made him eat the berries and then after a while he didn’t mind so much anymore. Denobol is good to us like that,” Digger had finished his bowl. Was in the process of licking it clean.
“Denabol forced you, that’s not good.” Space Janitor commented.
“Huh, oh no, you get it all wrong. Denabol is doing us strays a favour. We only would have wasted our thinking anyway. Me, as you can see, now I know that’s what you’re thinking. I’m not the brightest. I’ve been brought up the stuff my whole life,” Digger said, a smile on his face.
“And what would happen, if you stopped?” Space Janitor asked.
Digger was eyeing up Space Janitor’s bowl. Space Janitor handed the bowl over to Digger. Hungry, he grabbed it and began nibbling it through the bars.
Digger stopped, looking up to see Space Janitor awaiting a response.
“Well, I guess I would get distracted from digging what with all the voices coming back. Could you imagine voices?
Space Janitor didn’t have to imagine the voices, they were talking away in his ear asking “What are you going to do?”
Space Janitor got it into his head that he would have to make some play. There was no way he could stick the remainder of his existence out in this cell. Mind control or manipulation was going on, and Space Janitor would have to solve it. While he knew without being told this was not part of his job description, there was mistreatment going on.
Digger was still licking away at Space Janitor’s bowl. Denabol, the top dog, the one in charge, is this how he kept in control? Space Janitor was hungry, but he decided a rumbling stomach was preferable. He would not eat for a variety of reasons. Space Janitor was not sure where the meat came from. He would also need to hold onto whatever brains he possessed.
It didn’t feel right letting Digger eat the food. What were the options? Let him either get more stupid or remain at the current level of stupidity. Digger was the only chance of Space Janitor getting free you see. Digger was a big dog with thick fur. If he wasn’t smiling the whole time with a tongue lolling all over the place, he would be an intimidating figure.
Space Janitor watched him eat until Digger finished.
Aside from the guard dog that brought him food, they had been mainly left alone. Their cages were closest to the doors. The jail area reached round the corner. Were their other captives? Space Janitor didn’t hear any barking at least so maybe not.
Either way, he pushed the welfare of any other pooches to the back of his mind as he needed to get out himself.
Could he use Digger as a tool?
Space Janitor swallowed a lump in his throat. He knew there was a chance if this went severely wrong, he would definitely risk his life. He would have to coax Digger into living up to his new name.
“Say Digger, how about you show me how to dig? I bet you can be really good at it when you want to be,”
“What, no, no, no. No, listen to me,” said Digger then stopped.
“I’m listening,” Space Janitor said. Digger had stood up and begun pacing the cell, his tail wagging behind him.
“You see, they, as in the other dogs, the big dogs, Denobol, told me I can’t dig anymore,” Digger said. “I can’t dig any more,” he continued, “The guards said Idiot don’t dig. Promise us. And I said, don’t put me in a cage. They said OK, so I said OK. I stopped digging, and they didn’t put me in a cage,”
“Well, they broke their promise to you,” Space Janitor.
“No, they didn’t, they made a promise they wouldn’t. Dogs said they would keep it and they did.”
“You’re in a cage,”
“This is a kennel, it’s for my own good. Guards said if they need me for some big dig they’ll get me,” said Digger pacing about quicker.
Space Janitor would have to try a different track.
“You know what? Feels like this whole digging thing is a story you tell to impress people,” Space Janitor started. He didn’t want to be mean to Digger, but he saw no other way.
“Huh, no, no. I dig,”
“All you di is talk about digging. You’re a liar Digger,” Space Janitor said. Digger flinched and paced quicker. “Why am I even calling you Digger? You lie and expect me to believe it. Liar.”
Digger was even more agitated grabbing the bars trying to bend them.
“You wanna see who the liar is?”
Would you mind reading from the beginning because it’s a fantastic place to start. You can find the first instalment of Space Janitor by clicking here.
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