Janitor | In This Future Or The Next


There is a place in this ship that few people know about and that I like to visit. It’s hidden below the storage area in the back, near where June and Boid go and kiss themselves when the lights go off; They don’t know that’s where I spend the nights, they don’t know I watch them from the corner, from that secret place. It has a small window, it has a small chair, and when no one is watching I sit on it and look outside.

Captain Tarne knows. He caught me there one time. He pretended not to see me and walked away in silence, but I saw him looking at me. He never said anything about it. I like the Captain. He’s always been good to me. I wonder what he was doing down there. Maybe, when everyone is busy or asleep, and I’m up at his quarters cleaning the surfaces and sheets, he goes down there too and, like me, stares out to the universe in solitary confinement. Without noise, without work, without others… to have a moment of peace.

I have peace sometimes too. After spending the day cleaning the ship. Up and down, left to right, circle circle, repeat; After having Boid tell me how to do my job. Press harder! He yells. You missed a spot! He nags. Get out of my way! He whines. Stupid Boid. I don’t tell him how to repair the machines in the engine room. I don’t tell him he’s stupid and annoying. One time he was angry, the way he always is, and slipped on a floor I was cleaning. I warned him before he walked on it and he didn’t listen, and he fell to the ground on his butt and he got up and pushed me, and I fell to the ground too. That day, when he was eating, I went into the engine room and disconnected some cables to make his job more difficult. I know it’s dangerous. I can read the signs and I would never risk the safety of the ship. That’s why I took my time to choose which cables. They were very small, and they were far away from the large control panels, they weren’t important. And when he goes near my secret place with June in the nights, and they squiggle in the ground and make strange noises with their mouths, I sometimes think of walking up to them and stepping on their heads. They would burst like ripe strawberries and he wouldn’t bother me anymore, but the Captain would be upset with me, and I don’t want him to be upset with me.

I like the Captain. He only ever speaks to me to say hello, or to talk about our next stop, or about the weather on Earth. He is nice. So when I clean his room I always make sure to leave it extra tidy. Captain Tarne is not perfect, I see sometimes the illegal things in his room. I know ship regulations. I know because I must know, and because I know, I know those things are illegal. So every time I clean his room and his illegal things are out of place, I return them to their place. Out of sight, safe, secret.

Anyway, I was saying. I have peace sometimes too, just like the Captain. I sit on the small chair and stare outside into the large nothingness that we travel through. It gives me a funny feeling. I’m not very smart in many things -except in cleaning- but I know beauty when I see it. Beauty is the shining stars around us, providing us with light where none is meant to exist; Beauty is the job that I have, making clean things that were dirty, making everything look new; Beauty is Captain Tarne, saying hello to a robot in the mornings, when no such thing was programmed into him.

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