That's No Moon!

Dallin rode his scooter up the corridor. The whole ship a corridor. Going up and down and left and right. Even where they ate was called a mess hall.

Dallin put at least ten hours on his scooter every day. Gleaming corridors, polished to a mirror finish. And every single hallway had four coming off of it.

Sector H-L were Dallin's. His team called it hell, but Dante hadn't imagined anything like this. Sisyphus in year 700 might have had some feeling for hell's cleaning. If the dwarves had to clean the Mines off Moria to a mirror finish, they would have been able to feel the hell crew's pain.

Scuff marks from the storm troopers. Or someone sneezed. Or the HVAC system didn't filter out the recirc right. They had robots for just about everything, but the programmer that was working on the whatever it was that allowed robots to see the mirror finish died.

Easy way out.

When the robots cleaned, they couldn't see what they were doing. They just cleaned the surface area for a specified time or something. Whatever it was, it always missed obvious scuff marks. They cleaned things that didn't need it and didn't clean things that did need it.

Dallin didn't have to clean toilets; he was a head janitor. He puffed his chest like a rooster.

This was his life, looking for smudges in the corridors. There were four pods that cleaned and he whirred back and forth, listening to recorded radio from terra.

A lady asked him if he had job satisfaction. Two days later there was an accident where Dallin locked her in an air exchange and she flew into space. He didn't even watch her horrified look and hadn’t thought about it since.

Out of habit and conformity, all systems in the ship, were set to terra days, even though no one on the ship had ever seen terra, nor would they. If they traveled as fast as light, they may not age, but the cost would be more than they would make in a life time. Senators, the army, ambassadors and the very wealthy traveled that far and that fast.

Dallin was happy to stay in normal speeds. Light speed left him hung over with none of the fun from heavy drinking. And he wasn’t young anymore.

Retirement was five years away? Forty years and they put you in one of the holotubes and you can live anywhere you want and do whatever you want. And then you're iced, hopefully some years later but it probably depended on what you did. If you went skydiving didn't pull the parachute and your brain was certain that you were dead, you were dead.

He could sit on a lake, there were stories about the fjords of the northern lands. Or put his feet in sand of islands in the middle of nowhere, water as far as you could see. Electricity crackling through clouds. He'd seen pictures but Dallin always felt like there was so much more.

Dallin was thinking of what he would do in his retirement when he came across a lone chicken bot with a polishing attachment. He’d seen them before but never doing what this one was.

He could see from twenty seconds away a chicken bot polish, back up and then forward and polish again.

The bot was the size of a toaster with half a dozen spindly arms attachments. All but one of the attachments weren’t in use which meant that they were up and behind, giving it the appearance of a tail.

“Identify yourself.” He said as he pulled up. The bot turned to him and gave its readout, “86X3EZ…” and then produced a chip.

“I'm gonna call you 86,” the chip was what Dallin really wanted.

He plugged it into his belt which was connected to his specs. This chicken hadn't been docked in months. Dallin knew the guy working on the next iteration of these things had died around that time. Was this thing the end of his crews?

“86, what are you doing?” “Cleaning per protocol 18001.” That was supposed to be the new protocol. “How much have you done today?” “I've completed 1km since 100.” “By yourself?” “Yes.”

It had cleaned as much as one of his crews in about the same time, but they didn't have to feed it, or give it breaks and the thing would learn. They'd be out of jobs, or worse, he'd get transferred.

The thing looked sheepish, but he knew that the thing had no real brains. Dallin thought for a long moment, “Go to bay 10, room zed-haitch. Go into low power mode. Don't clean, don't dock.”

“Please confirm authority level 1b.” “1b!” Dallin hissed and thought for another long moment. “Who was the last human you spoke with?” “The last human contact was Dr. Dimitry Shink.” “Are there more of you?” “Unauthorized access requested. Please return chip.” “Request follow for superior access personnel. Code 264.” “Request logged. Please return chip, now.”

He had never heard a bot demand anything, he pocketed the chip. Dallin hoped that since it hadn't docked it wouldn't have access to broadcast that request. They made their way towards the air lock. Every 30 seconds the bot requested it's chip.

It felt a lot like the other time. With that lady, what was her name? Annys or something, a nice name. It didn't matter. They arrived at the airlock and Dallin let the bot go ahead of him and he closed one of the doors.

Though he didn't notice the bot used one of it's tails to have a tether connected to Dallin's scooter. When he closed the door and opened the airlock, the chicken bot flew about 10 feet and then dangled there.

Now he knew the thing was smirking.

Dallin stared at it for a minute before realizing the thing didn't need to breathe. He he could cut the wire but it was jammed in the door. He'd have to get the door open in order to cut the silver cord.

If the thing was smart enough to know to connect a wire, it was smart enough to know he was trying to get rid of it.

“Please return chip.”

Somehow the thing had reeled itself in and was on the door. If he didn't cut the wire and get it to go, there would be so much paper work. HQ might look over one airlock accident, but not after the chicken docked. Dallin cut the wire and started to crack open the airlock.

He was pulled out with 86 and passed from the airlock, with the momentum of the rushing air out, holding the chicken forever close.

#fiction #friday