Note from the editors. We’re putting this one out with a lil warning. There is a fine line between what the narrator says and what the writer (or us) think. Some of these words may be offense. If so, we apologize in advance. If you are angry–okay, maybe take that anger and donate to a charity. With that said…we hope you enjoy the ‘Halloween bonus’ story.
The hillside was covered in smoke and bodies; blood-stained grey uniforms lay tattered and torn next to the blues. A cannon exploded in the distance and more soldiers fell to the earth, scattered among the dead. The brave struggled onward, but we know that’s just shit. The field stunk of it. Shit. Shit, piss and blood. Shit, piss and blood on the Union side; shit piss and blood for the Confederates. The only things that like war are maggots. Piss, shit, and blood are more their element.
No maggots yet to squirm. Not yet. That will come later. Now is the time for screams, battle cries and death wails—one and the same. Some knew this and that’s what kept them alive thus far. Another charge by the North—this time to reclaim land they held earlier in the day. One man cried out from under a pile of bodies; he was using them for camouflage but was trampled on by the rushing soldiers. A boot to the gut is better than a knife. He got up after the rest had passed him only to see more bodies added to his hiding spot.
One next to him, newly crimson, cried out. He couldn’t tell if it was for water or just out of pain. He didn’t dare move closer to find out. This was his plan—let the darkness come over them all and then crawl away. He wanted to rip his uniform off and just crawl away. North—South—it didn’t matter who found him if his uniform was off. Or so he thought.
The new body, a kid, as far as he could make out, no older than his own boy at home, cried out again. This time he was closer and a few words could be made out. It sounded like ‘I’m sorry, Momma’. Over and over again, the words came out—half moan and half sob. The man wanted to ease the kid’s pain, but there was a part of him that just wished he would die. Maybe choke on his own blood and leave him in silence. Silent piles of the dead don’t get a second thought, but one dying kid squirming and crying for his mother would cause an investigation; an investigation that would bring more pain and blood. The man stayed still and the kid’s cries became louder. They were for water this time. The man was thirsty too, but he stole a water skin off one of the torsos he used for cover.
The decision was hard, or at least it should have been. He had to quiet the kid. He could toss over the skin, but that might draw attention of others. Even if he gave the kid water, he would still be a bloody pile of gunk crying for his mother. The hysteria would not stop even with the water. An alternative would just let him die slowly.
The man turned his head and shoved the water down under a body. He crawled on his belly; a knife rattled in his teeth. There was another way to quiet that kid. There is no safety in war. Just piss, shit and blood.
The battle raged—all but one fell, and he had his head shoved deep up a horse’s ass.
‘Horse’s ass? Louey! Cut!’ Big Wayne yelled. Midgets in various stages of feigned death, some with their faces stuck in ghastly poses while others, the ones to die early, fast asleep, started to roll down the hill towards the food cart. Louey, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, not only trotted out early into frame, but was firmly stuck up a horse’s ass; again. I could explain this part—why a group of little people were re-enacting a Civil War battle—I could even explain why it had to be little people and even why Big Wayne cut his hair the way he does, but this isn’t a story about Deano betting Block that a midget couldn’t fit up a horse’s ass, or even the elaborate cleaning procedures needed to actually remove the head from the ass, nor the logistics of breathing once the head is fully inserted, but rather a story of deception and a jail break. A jail break and a little Frenchman named Gene.
‘38, 39, 40…four still missing, well three if you don’t include Louey sitting the night out.’
‘So, which three are missing?’
‘Hector, Gene and 3C3.’
‘God have mercy on us all.’
The nearest town to the Midget Ranch was Boulder City, Nevada—population 301—and on this Halloween the town grew by three. Hector, the luchador midget, wandered down the road, his red and gold lucha libre mask securely tied to his head. He looked over at Gene and sighed. ‘Tu culo francés, ¿Por qué estás tan cerca de mí, mis cojones todavía huelen a tus labios.’
Gene, pencil thin moustache and all, looked over at Hector and shrugged, ‘Suce moi.’
‘Jub jub.’ 3C3 said. 3C3, often poetic, was the midget with the most acting experience. By the age of seven he appeared in all three Star Wars movies as an Ewok. Fame is a harsh mistress, and being a child actor is a huge burden for most, but to be a midget child actor, known only when wearing that squinty eyed, fury, gorilla scrotum smelling outfit, then life is damn near the 13th circle of hell. Before Big Wayne found him, 3C3 was on the street turning tricks trying to pay for his boob job; just how Big Wayne found him in that condition, or why Wayne was cruising 53 and 3rd at 3:21 am, is for another story.
The house, a replica of a 17th century bordello done in an off-white, stood out as the lone house with the light still on. Orange, red, and green flashing bulbs, covered with spider webs, flashed out morose code into the lonely night, beckoning trick or treaters to pay homage similar to the effect of a lighthouse to a half-drunken sailor. Mini-pumpkins, painted in fluorescent colours, decorated the driveway and came up to Gene’s knees; they guided the trio to the front porch. Hector, the brave, rang the doorbell. An elderly woman, adorned in black lace with a pointy hat to the front, came to the door. A small red-headed girl, feet covered in a puppy-dog footie pyjama complete with a tail and hood with dog ears, clung to the woman’s leg. A black cat poked out from her other leg and ran out the door.
Hector held out the bag with the help of Gene.
‘Awww, how cute! And you must be one of them Spanish wrasslers I see on TV! You look mighty fierce! Here is a handful for you! Oh, and your friend! You must be John Waters! My, yes, I can tell just by the moustache!’
‘Tite Fille! Combien pour la petite fille! Ta Fille! Ta femme, je veux acheter ta femme!’ said Gene.
‘Oh, the little devil speaking that voodoo tongue! Isn’t he cute, Emilie? To think a little lady like me having such visitors like you tonight! Now, where is your yeti friend?’
Hector looked over at 3C3 and smashed his own forehead with the back of his palm, ‘Que esta tratando de joder tu gato.’
‘Oh, that’s nice, dear! You have such a lovely accent! If you do find him soon, maybe you can give him this handful for me?’ Betty dished out another scoop of Sweet Tarts, half dissolved after years of mistakenly being used as a Polident substitute. With a wave, Betty fixed her witches hat and went back behind her screen door.
‘Je veux acheter ta femme!’ Gene shouted after Betty.
‘That boy is yakking up a storm! Must think you have a pretty costume the way he keeps pointing at you. Wave goodbye, Emilie!’ The granddaughter does and follows Betty back into the house. ‘Mr Figgles! Where are you kitty kitty? Mummy has a nice surprise for you!’
Hector and Gene went after 3C3. By the time they caught up with him, the Ewok was covered in cat scratches and appeared to be talking to a lawn gnome that was sitting on a mushroom in a look of contemplation.
‘Jub jub cawala jub!’ said 3C3.
The gnome was silent.
3C3 didn’t take kindly to being snubbed by the statue and started to poke it with a stick, ‘jub jub.’ The statue rocked back, almost falling, and then snapped towards 3C3, falling in his direction. Gene saw the statue headed for his friend and tried to save him, but a pesky over-coat, a left over from yesterday’s laundry, enveloped him and put the would-be hero into utter darkness. Hector, within a nanosecond, had to decide which friend to save first—3C3 about to be crushed by a statue, or Gene being suffocated by old laundry. He did the only thing a true hero could do in his situation; he sat and ate the candy.
Hector, on the bottom, walked steadily through the bar door while 3C3, in the middle, pushed the door wider with his arms, Gene, the top, ducked his head in order to avoid hitting a low hanging beer special sign which declared ‘All Drafts 99 cents.’ The monstrosity in the long brown over-coat shambled through the bar. To the casual observer it looked like a man, with a pencil thin moustache, tiny hands and feet, with breasts.
The bar was empty save the bartender, a slim girl wearing a nylon top barely legal in most states, and a guy in the back wearing what appeared to be a pair of white gloves, no shirt, and rainbow suspenders attached to a thong; his shoes were military issue and black. The guy winked at head of the monstrosity and Gene, as matter of reflex, winked back.
Dave, the suspender wearer, came over to the bar as the 3 midgets tried to coordinate their efforts enough to sit down on the stool, but with the legs arguing with the middle, sitting was out of the question. The monstrosity stood there, swaying like a belly dancer, all parts moving independently, to no music at all.
‘So, what will it be?’ asked the blonde bartender.
‘Why don’t you serve them up a house special, Krissy? Put it on my tab.’ Dave said while brushing his hand across 3C3’s head. The hair felt a bit bristly; maybe a bad wig or some cheap Halloween mask Dave saw in the candy Store as a kid. ‘That is, if it is okay with you, Sweetie!’
Gene nodded his head while, under the coat, he smacked 3C3 before the midget could bite the man’s hand. The three of them stacked on top of each other reminded me of an old comedy. I would have told the boys it wouldn’t turn out well for them, but who am I but an old narrator. Nobody listens to me anymore.
‘My, with that trench coat on, you must be dressed as the midnight flasher! Do you really have nothing under that coat?’ Something in Dave’s voice betrayed a childhood trauma bubbling beneath his mascara.
Gene nodded and smiled at Dave again. The bartender put the drink down and 3C3’s hands picked it up, placing it somewhere near Gene’s face. Gene, forced to use the straw, began to suck the liquid slowly with some awkward pauses while looking at Dave.
‘Oh, the strong silent, type! I like that in a man! Still a few hours left of Halloween, do you want to come back to my place for a little trick?’ The word trick rolled off the tongue; a bit too practised—a wink from the mirror.
Hector peeked out from under the coat and spotted the restroom. The monstrosity’s feet started to move while the middle shoved another piece of candy into its own mouth. Gene started to answer Dave when he found himself being moved across the room. The look on Gene’s face was that of shock mixed with an urgent need to pee. The trio made their way into the bathroom; 3C3’s inability to push the door open the first time seemed to be a signal for Dave to follow them in.
The bathroom was a series of three urinals, two stalls, four sinks and one empty dispenser of soap. No towels or other methods of drying the hands were in sight. Graffiti covered the walls, most of it having to do with sporting scores and numbers to call in case of emergency. The monstrosity stopped near a urinal; Hector climbed up 3C3 as Gene held on the adjacent stall in order not to fall. With a fury of unzipping, both Hector and Gene started to pee. Double streams, one coming from the middle of the monster and one from where the chest should be, came flowing towards the urinal; it was at this moment that Dave worked up enough courage to enter.
‘I couldn’t wait either! We won’t be bothered in here…wait, am I seeing double or is that two penises I see!’
Gene looked over at Dave, ‘Qu’est-ce que cinq doigts disent à une face?’
Hector’s stream subsided.
Dave looked at Gene, ‘Oooh, a French man! Oooo la la!’ French men had soft hands and softer lips.
‘Qu’est-ce que cinq doigts disent à une face?’ repeated Gene.
‘I don’t know what you are saying, but it sure sounds hot!’
‘Slap!’ Yelled Gene as he stomped on Hector’s shoulder. Hector turned his body around and swung his hand at Dave’s face. The slap missed and the momentum spun the mid-section and head around. 3C3, off balance, fell to the ground. The other midgets followed. Sensing something was wrong, Dave tried to back out of the bathroom, but tripped on the bent over 3C3; the midget was hunched over throwing up sick from all the spinning and the candy in his stomach. Gene landed indignantly on his butt while Hector, on a complete sugar high, rushed Dave. Poor Dave was knocked to the ground, but Hector wasn’t done with him yet. The midget straddled Dave’s chest, and while one hand pulled the front of Dave’s hair, bucked and rode the man like a bull screaming, ‘Aye Papi! Arriba! Papi chulo!’
By the time the cops came in, there was one, very traumatized Dave; one broken sink; two smashed urinal cakes; and the place smelled like sugary piss. The smell lingered on Hector and 3C3 for days. The only one to escape semi-piss free was Gene, but not even Big Wayne knows what happened to him. For that, is another story.
Nightmarish Nature: Terrifying Tardigrades
OK so I lied. The dust hadn’t fully settled in Cozmic Debris, the space opry I’d written over the course of this month (you can catch up here with Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). In fact, it’s blown over into Nightmarish Nature for one last final huzzah…
The Last Chapter of Cozmic Debris
Kara-2-6000 had just signed on with the Voyager probe and was eagerly engaged in her first mission, en route to Mars with more components for the terraforming effort. It seemed like a pretty simple gig, cleaning up the space dust that accumulates on the vessel after landing on the red planet. She had been trained to keep her eye on her work and pay attention to details, that the dirt tended to collect in unusual ways in strange places, and that it was critical she contain and seal all of it to keep the spacecraft in proper working order. She entrusted the computer to keep the vessel on track, as it was preoccupied with doing and never engaged otherwise. No matter. She’d never been to space before and the newness of it had her rapt attention. What stories she would have to tell once she paid off her student loans and got her human body back, for surely Mars must be an exciting place…
And now for Nightmarish Nature…
So, this time on Nightmarish Nature we’re visiting Terrifying Tardigrades… Wait, seriously who comes up with this stuff anyway? Tardigrades are actually kinda cute, at least in the nerd fandom sense, and are remarkable in their ability to survive and withstand crazy adverse conditions. For all that the AI art generator doesn’t seem to have much of a clue what their anatomy is like, they really don’t do anything that scary, unless you’re a yummy little single celled critter that lives in moss in which case pretty much everything has it out for you… Oh, I see that the Cozmic Debris space opry usurped this segment. May as well run with it then.
So what’s so terrifying about tardigrades anyway?
So I don’t actually have much to say about tardigrades except that they started this whole crazy journey here on Haunted MTL. A Facebook friend posted a link to the Ze Frank True Facts video on them (linked here if the below video doesn’t load), and I was instantly hooked. It’s a great series and is part of the inspiration behind Nightmarish Nature here on HauntedMTL. So if you like learning about all kind of crazy animal facts and nature weirdness, feel free to check it out. I will mention, the show contains adult themes and is designed for (im)mature audiences, so keep that in mind as you foray into the freaky side of nature, literally.
To more of my Haunted MTL series on Nightmarish Nature about things that are a bit more terrifying, please feel free to revisit previous segments here:
Cozmic Debris: Space Opry by Jennifer Weigel, Part 3: The Dust Settles
Here’s the third installment of our space opry. For those of you keeping track, here’s Part 1 and Part 2. Thank you for following along and please be sure to keep all hands, feet, tentacles and appendages tucked safely in the overhead bins; just sit back and enjoy the ride. Because, this time, the dust settles.
It had been well over a month since Trent-2-6000 had released Ayarvenia into the Mars probe. She was a mischievous creature and flirted with him incessantly, gliding effortlessly between red cloud and ghost girl. She also managed to avoid notice by the computer, as Trent had made it abundantly clear that if the system became aware of her, he would be forced to put her back in containment, as his sole purpose aboard the spacecraft was to sweep up and trap the dust, which she still qualified as.
Ayarvenia would tease him, flitting to and fro among the static debris and dirt that still settled into every nook and cranny. How was it possible for him to be seeing so much grime still, anyway? It had been months since they had left Mars and yet Trent was finding more and more Mars dust on a daily basis; it was as if they just left yesterday. He had finally finished clearing out the computer room for the second time that day and was preparing the waste containment units for their eventual removal when he caught Ayarvenia swirling about one of the clear acrylic domes from his previous sweep, which was hermetically-sealed and ready to be brought safely back to the confines of Earth and the research laboratory.
The red cloud girl spun her way into the latch mechanism and popped it open right before Trent’s robotic eyes. The dust within was sucked out into the Voyager probe to be quickly and quietly dispersed yet again; some of it was even absorbed into Ayarvenia herself. She then latched the dome shut again and left it at the ready, as found. The container sat empty, a shell discarded.
How could he have been so naïve? It all began to make sense now; all of those sealed packages he had so painstakingly catalogued and prepared for their eventual arrival were still just empty. All of his hard work really had been for naught; he was just sweeping up the same dirt piles again and again only to have them released from the trash to disperse and begin the cycle anew. He grumbled under his breath and Ayarvenia froze in midair. She slowly whirled around and sent a lone tendril towards Trent, forming into her beautiful face as she turned to face him. She looked slightly distraught and more than a little agitated, but that melted and gave way to her usual snarky sweetness as she neared.
“Hey there, robo-boy,” she said, cooing as her unblinking eyes met his. “I didn’t hear you coming.”
“I imagine not,” Trent replied sternly. “What are you doing?”
“Oh… nothing really. Just checking up on things here. I was waiting around for you is all,” she hemmed and hawed.
“Did you find everything to your liking?” Trent snipped. “No particulate out of place or anything?”
“Everything seems okay, I guess… I’ll just leave you to it then.” The ghost girl drifted towards the far door.
“Not so fast…” Trent proclaimed. “I need to know what you’ve really been up to here. I saw you release the Mars dust from that containment unit. You know I’ve been sweeping out this room over and over for the past two days; just how much of my work are you undoing?”
”Work? Work… You call this work!” Ayarvenia’s voice raised. She was truly agitated now. “You’re blowing off my entire being without a second thought, trapping it in these nasty clear coffins, and all you can think about is whether or not you’re fulfilling your job?!”
“I… I just want to be done with this so I can get my body back and get on with my life,” Trent retorted.
“Well, Trent Just-Trent, let me break it to you, then. You’re not getting your body back, robo-boy. What makes you think they’d bother to save a lowlife human body like yours in the first place? These assignments are always dead-ends. I’ve seen them come and go… Makes no difference, in the end the researchers get what they want, and that’s more of my Mars dust for their experiments. We’re in the same boat schnookums, you and I,” the ghost girl blew hastily. “Yeah that’s right, you heard me. You’re not getting your body back. And the way things have been going around here, with you all so feverishly sweeping up every little bit of dirt you find, neither am I.”
“Wait, how would you know anything about that?” Trent stammered.
“I know things. I’ve been around. I can see and hear and feel everything all at once. Part of me is still on Mars, part of me is here in this spaceship, and part of me is on your so-called Earth, trapped in the lab catacombs awaiting who knows what fate…” Ayarvenia sighed. “I’ve tried to do what I can to save my own skin, literally. I’ve flirted with every deadbeat janitor they send on these missions. And you all just keep coming back for more…”
Suddenly a voice boomed from behind in monosyllabic chatter, “Dust-Buster, what have you done? Clean that up, now!” The camera eye that monitored the computer’s every task shifted focus to Trent and Ayarvenia and zoomed into an angry point. “Now!” it wailed. The computer was on to them.
“Shit,” Trent muttered.
“It’s okay, I’ll go willingly,” Ayarvenia whispered as she sucked herself into the ready containment unit and locked it. “Wait it out and release me again later.” She winked and settled into static suspension.
The camera eye scanned everything: the waste containment unit, the dust, Trent-2-6000… Trent froze and tried not to appear guilty. “Dust-Buster, you have one and only one job aboard this vessel. You are not doing that job. There is more dust here now than there was a week ago. You have failed,” the computer droned on. “The penalty for failure is… the airlock…”
“Wait, what?” Trent shouted, exasperated. He hadn’t even realized that was a thing. Yet another gripe for the school career guidance counselor…
“Oh no, not again,” Ayarvenia whispered. “I won’t let them take you, robo-boy Trent Just-Trent. I don’t want to lose you, not another one.”
“Silence!” the computer screeched. “You have sealed your own fates.”
The floor beneath Trent and the container began to quake and rumble. Partitions withdrew radially to a small circular channel beneath, a tube that fed into the lower part of the ship, presumably to be shot out into space. Trent-2-6000 tried to grab hold of the receding floor but his robot body was just too ungainly. He managed to wedge himself into the chasm opening only to see the waste containment dome carrying Ayarvenia slide past, her face peering up at him helplessly. He reached for her to no avail and tumbled after.
The two of them shot down the chute and through a series of rapidly opening and closing doors until the last airlock opened into the vast dark nothingness of space. Pinpoints of distant light greeted them from afar. Trent managed to latch onto the container just as they shot out into the void. The Voyager probe withdrew into the distance. The darkness enveloped the two of them. They were alone.
“Wait, I’m not dead,” Trent exclaimed.
“Of course not, silly,” Ayarvenia answered. “You’re a robot. You were made to withstand this, so that you could operate in places where there is no atmosphere.”
Trent gazed into her eyes as they floated along without purpose or reason, just more cosmic debris now.
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way.
And the stars look very different today. – David Bowie, Space Oddity
So that was Cozmic Debris… Illustrations were generated using the Cosmic template in NightCafe AI art generator. My favorite AI images are the ones that are substantially wrong, making weird mistakes in ways that a person wouldn’t make. So the tardigrades were especially fun, because it doesn’t have a good enough sense for their structure to render them sensibly. Kind of like elephants. The algorithms respond to different cues. Does it really matter how many limbs or trunks or tusks these things are supposed to have anyway…?
Cozmic Debris, Space Opry by Jennifer Weigel, Part 2: Trent-2-6000
In case you missed the first segment of this space opry (in the style of 2001 Space Odyssey), please feel free to check it out here. And now, here’s the actual story as told to me by Trent-2-6000 after the last deep consideration of tardigrades and life and dust careening through space. Maybe.
Trent-2-6000 sighed. He swept more random Mars dirt into his vacuum-hermetically sealed containment unit and went about his business on the probe. Actually, this was his business on the probe, and it was dreadfully dull. Space was supposed to be this exciting new frontier, this brave new world… but it really wasn’t any different than life back on Earth. The newness had long since worn off several trips ago, and the slow passage of the years was beginning to get to him. How long had it been now? And here he was, still playing clean up crew. He was actually sort of surprised that they couldn’t get a robot to do this job – oh wait. Sigh again.
Trent kept forgetting that he was, in fact, a robot now. There just weren’t many reminders out here, of his old body, of his old life, of Earth, of anything really… Just floating along, this tin can became all he knew; time and space just kind of stood still in the periphery. His currently lifeless body was submerged in cryo-crypto-cyano-freeze (or whatever they called it) while he worked off the payments to resuscitate it. His robot body was stiff and unaccommodating, not at all what he’d pictured when he enlisted for the Mars missions to pay off the triple-interest-bearing student loan debts incurred in human form. He could have gone military, but when he signed on for this assignment, bright eyed and bushy-tailed at graduation, he was hoping for something a bit more Captain Kirk or Han Solo or at any rate notably less Wall-E. But it just didn’t pan out that way and now here he was, traveling back and forth on the Mars Voyager, cleaning up space grime. So much debt… so much dirt. He was going to have to have a word with the job placement division at the school once he was done with all of this, assuming that the career guidance counselor who talked him into this was even still there.
It was painfully lonely out here in space. It often seemed that Trent was the only cognitive entity on this vessel, though the computer technically qualified. Trent’s duty was to keep everything clean and tidy so that the computer could do its job efficiently and effectively without being bothered to clear the space grime itself. Apparently that work was beneath it, actually quite literally since it wasn’t hooked into the mechanics needed to engage in such tasks anyway. It was programmed with a single role at hand, getting to and from Mars and conducting the research as requested, and the computer made it abundantly clear that had no time for idle chitchat with the janitorial bottom-feeders working to earn their freedom. It generally ignored Trent unless there was something specific that needed to be attended to. And then it was just “Dust-Buster, do this” or “Dust-Buster do that…”
Sometimes the dust was hard to catch. It settled oddly between spaces, like cracks in sliding doorways and computer keyboards and battery packs and so on. Sometimes it seemed to fabricate places to hide in that weren’t previously obvious. It drilled down in the interstices as if it had some unseen purpose all its own. Trent wondered why there were even so many nooks and crannies for it to hide in since this wasn’t a manned vessel and no actual crew were aboard to use things like keyboards. Hell, those had been outdated for well over a century now – just how old was this spacecraft anyway? No matter, better to just focus on the work. He swept more debris into a containment unit. As he did so, he was sure he heard something, like a tiny almost inaudible severely muffled scream.
He looked into the clear acrylic dome at the dirt. He could sense it looking back at him, waiting. Surely he was imagining things. His mind suddenly reeled to Horton the Elephant declaring, a person’s a person no matter how small. But Dr. Seuss didn’t make any more sense here in space than back on Earth after the last World War had decimated all the oceans and there were no more free trees or clovers for such a speck of dust as Whoville to land on – everything was held tightly under lock and key, blockaded away to be dispensed as the all-controlling government saw fit. Hell, people’s real bodies met pretty much the same fate upon adulthood, at least as far as the masses were concerned anyway, and many lived their entire lives as robots with their human vessels left in catatonic stasis. Trent shook his dark musings off and continued on his one and only real job. But the feeling that the dust was looking at him was still unsettling. In fact the dust wasn’t settling at all, it was swirling and ebbing about the containment unit in cloudy eddies, like some kind of strange iron-red cloud apparition or ghost. It began to take shape. It formed into lips, which parted to speak.
“Hello there mechanical being.”
Trent stared at it quizzically as a long bout of silence passed. The pursed lips seemed to await a response, but from whom?
“I’m talking to you,” it persisted.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t think you had meant to address me,” Trent 2-6000 stammered, “I’m not wholly used to being mechanical. This robot body, it’s different than the one I had back in school… I was still just a boy then; they let us grow up in the system until we age out,” he spoke dreamily, distracted by reflecting on more interesting times.
“Is there someone else here?” the dust piqued hopefully, as if growing bored with conversing with the young janitor and hoping to speak with his superior.
Trent glanced over at the computer, which seemed to be busy compounding equations in its free time, like always. “No,” he replied, “just me.”
“Ok, well… Then, dear mechanical being, would it be possible for you to free me?”
“Wait, what? No, absolutely not,” Trent was taken aback again. “My sole role on this mission is to sweep up the space dirt so that it doesn’t contaminate any of the equipment or settle into places it shouldn’t be. It, um you, must stay contained, as per my orders. It’s out of my hands… er reach.”
“What are you afraid of?” the red cloud quipped as it began to swirl into the shape of a beautiful female face around the mouth that it had already formed, lips plumping and parting slightly. “What, exactly, do you fear that I might do?” it insinuated slyly.
“Ummm, I don’t know,” Trent-2-6000 stared into the acrylic dome at the beautiful half-formed human-ghost face staring back at him. “I was unaware that you could do that, whatever you just did, so the possibilities boggle the mind…”
“I can do a lot more…” the ghost girl interrupted, her voice lilting playfully. “What’s your name robo-boy?”
“That, that’s probably classified information… But it’s Trent. Just Trent,” he stammered. It had seemed like an eternity since he had laid eyes upon a girl, and now he was becoming rather sadly smitten. By… a cloud of dust. He sighed again.
“Well then, Trent Just-Trent. Any chance you could let me out of this box?” The dust smiled coyly.
“I really shouldn’t…”
“My name’s Ayarvenia,” the dust girl interjected. “I’ll make it worth your while…” The apparition winked.
Trent glanced back at the computer, which was still engaged in its own computing. Sigh. “Oh Hell, yeah, I guess… Ay-ur-veenia… Just don’t get into anything you shouldn’t or it’ll be my shiny metal ass on the line,” he said as he released the containment lever and slid the lid off of the dome.
Please return next Sunday for the exciting conclusion to this space opry story.