The story you are about to read comes from the scifi promptcast prompt: garbage. Once you’ve read it, why not go ahead and try the prompt for yourself? It’s a ton of fun, and I give you the time to do it! If you aren’t interested in writing, I ask that you like and share this for those who might be. Or you can simply go to the comments and talk to me about how the story is going. Are there typos? Does it feel like a good story? Did you like the premise? Eat my heart out, I want to hear from you!
“Christ,” She said, looking out the window, “There’s so many of them.”
“Ah!” Came a voice beside her, “Is this your first day? Threw me for a loop when I first saw it too, course now we’re pushing out twice as much of the stuff.”
“Really?” She turned and saw a middle-aged man, probably in his late 90’s. He stood tall and proud despite the added weight of the station’s gravity. As for her, turning to face him had confused her body with how heavy her legs felt in 1.2Gs.
He nodded. “Say, if it’s your first day, why don’t I show you around! It’s my last day and I could use a good walk. My name’s Orthogon. You can call me Ortho if you like.”
“Okay Ortho. I’m Emily.”
“A pleasure. What ship did you come in on?”
“No shit, really? I flew that boat for ten years! Does it still have the old-time vending machines with the cans of Death Wish? Best damned coffee I ever had, kept me tapping at my station all day.”
“I- I’m sorry I didn’t get about much.”
“Oh it’s all the same. And probably for the best. Here the coffee is that synthetic stuff. Sure the artificial chemicals isn’t gonna give you cancer like Earth Coffee can- but what’s the point of eating fake food?”
She nodded and smiled. Synthetics really had taken over since she was a kid, couldn’t even eat a real meal without half of it being artificial. Tasted exactly the same though- she thought it really did come down to principle: we don’t like what we don’t understand.
“So Emily, what’s your station here?”
“Life-support AI monitoring.”
“Making sure they remember to keep us breathing, eh? That’s good work, especially with the Driggers on board.”
Wow, that’s a bit racist, she thought- but smiled, best to let the nice man live in his ignorance.
“Did you know they preferred we called them that? They don’t like to be called Proximians. I don’t get it either- sounds racist to me to call them Drigger, but it goes back to the Scottish astronaut who first discovered them. Anyway, I’m glad you’re monitoring the AI, you never know if you can trust those damn things with how smart they’re getting.”
Emily shrugged off his ignorance. You can’t convince the non PC of their foolishness. “That’s true, unfortunately. But we kill the ones who overlearn, and replace them with approximates. What- what is your station?”
“Me? Oh while I was here I manned the garbage sorters. Pretty machines those- always know what we can refine and what we can’t. I had a great office overlooking them while they did their business. Not a common thing for someone like me because most of the fixing is software and coding, but I got my hands dirty a time or two with the jams. Old Debora would have been scrap metal years ago if I hadn’t fixed her up nice.”
“She’s one of the sorters on the station. Needed to be replaced with the TX4-D500 sorting Component, but I managed to rig her up with a hybrid that works better. That’s why I’m leaving actually. Sending the hybrid design with me to Earth for… Oh you don’t want to hear about my boring life! Here take my arm, let’s have the tour of the biggest dump in the galaxy… that we know of” he winked, and she took his arm.
“Say, you hungry? I can take you to the second best eatery in the place for lunch.”
“Well I’ll show you the best on the way, that way if you find love you’ll know where to go. But if I take you to the second best you’ll know just how good the best will be! Then I’ll show you around the station.”
“Sounds great, actually.” Emily wasn’t used to life out on the rim. The people here, she decided based on Ortho’s generosity, were a kinder folk than those in the UN supercities. Everyone around her seemed more interested in actually talking- in avoiding the local networks and living in the real world.
And how could they not? Every window pointed towards a black hole eating up the trash from civilization. Every bit of this station was dedicated to keeping the galaxy clean and pure. And so, as the infinite streams of trash spilled out toward the event horizon, Emily joined Ortho for a bite to eat on his last day.
Thank you so much for reading! The prompt is given in the video below.
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