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What's a Spitwrite Anyway?
The Imiteles Space Station
The Garbage Cube
The Recovery Building
Looking Down on People From Atop a Big-Ass Mecha
The Hologram Riot
A Self-Driving Car Named Desire
Shrooming is Serious Business
Utopia Needs U
Tickle My Pickle
Meat the Aliens
The Hole City
Chucking Moon Rocks on the Back of my Pickup Truck
The Root of the Problem
Time-Travel Traffic is the Worst Kind of Traffic
Beware the Rains
The Cupcake Ingredient
Choose Your Own God
The Lighthouse at the Edge of the Galaxy
Ten Kilos Till Christmas
Did you enjoy these stories?
Copyright © 2018 George Saoulidis
What's a Spitwrite Anyway?
Simply put, it’s a story written in a day. Every day, actually. I just call them spitwrites because it’s rude and in-your-face.
I take some idea I have lying around in my notes, or a word I see somewhere or a picture that inspires me from the wonderful artists I’ve found online, and I just write a story based on that.
I wanted to challenge myself by writing a short story every day, and I wanted to publish that story on my blog. The collection of those stories is this book right here. The first spitwrite collection was more sporadic and has illustrations attached, whereas this one is tighter, one story each day without fail.
Some stories are standalones in their own little universe, some take place in my other universes. Some are sci-fi, some space opera, some are fantasy and some are contemporary.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I did writing them.
The Imiteles Space Station
"Don't blink away, we can fix you," the engineer said.
The Mind of the space station powered up its blink drive. "I think I'm fine as I am."
Then it blinked away into a neat orbit around a gas giant.
The station's Mind had become obsessed for 3.1 milliseconds with an ancient tale called Doctor Who. In it was a ship called the TARDIS, that could travel across space and time and bring its passengers not exactly where they wanted to go, but always where they needed to be.
Imiteles couldn't travel across time, unless you counted going steadily 1sec/sec only in one direction, but it could travel across space with its blink drive.
That was a happy accident. Blink drives didn't exist. Nowhere. Anywhere. The physics behind them were complete and utter bollocks, incomprehensible math that made theoretical physicists squint and scratch their head.
But, purely by accident, the inertia drive they were installing inside the space station somehow got wired wrong, or right, depending on your perspective, and got turned into the galaxy's first and only blink drive.
So, the Mind couldn't allow anyone to complete its body, fearing they'd somehow mess up its wonderful blink drive. It stayed that way, an unfinished C, which was its unofficial name. For posh appearances it dug up a Greek word for 'unfinished' and registered itself in the Minds' database as 'Imiteles.'
Thrill-seekers from around the galaxy quickly found their way to the station. They were people from all races, both from Asterism and not, who had a thing in common: They craved adventure.
So, Imiteles brought it to them, or rather, brought them to it.
It scouted every gravity-wave communication for talk about revolutions, explosions, fantastic discoveries, dangerous alien beasts, inhospitable planets and ancient ruins, and it simply blinked there in orbit around danger.
Wasn't it dangerous?
Oh yeah. Very much. Dangerous indeed.
About 87.3% of the space station's passengers died while on adventures. But the loco bastards seemed to like it! Imiteles went and bought some backup systems from an Asterism outpost at some point and got them installed, so the adventurers could back themselves up if they died and live again in a cloned body. That service was quite expensive but the adventures were swimming in loot.
And the loco bastards surprised Imiteles yet again, by refusing to back themselves up. 'It dimmed down the thrill,' some of them said.
Of course many used the backup service, went down on the chosen planets and derelict spaceships and spacebattle debris and explored, and looted, and had the time of their lives, and some of them died. And got reprinted into a cloned body that had none of the memories up until the time of the last backup.
But that way they could carry on adventuring.
Those loco bastards.
About fifty standard years later, the station became crowded. Some asked Imiteles if they could finish up repairs, close up the 'C.' Imiteles refused immediately. It considered their arguments, yes, they were losing one quarter of the station, it was basically open to the vacuum, not that those genofixed hobos occupying the unfinished segments seemed to mind. And yes, it was actually threatening structural integrity, that was the best argument by far. Since the station needed to spin to produce the semblance of gravity, there was extra strain on the middle of the 'C,' which wasn't rectified by the initial construction. Why? Well, simple, because the bloody construction was supposed to be a donut. A circle, which is the best shape ever with the finest structural integrity.
So Imiteles actually considered that argument, but ran some simulations and decided to just reinforce the existing segments and remain as it was.
The other Minds thought it was mad, but it really wasn't. It was just happy just the way it was, unfinished, imiteles.
People were having fun, weren't they? They were coming to it from every edge of the galaxy to hop on for the ride of their lives. They lived each day to the fullest, fighting, fucking and talking to each other, sharing loot, arguing over treasures and alien artifacts - that one was fun, one nearly blew away the entire station - they slept, partied, drank, ate, laughed, all together.
It loved its loco bastards.
And they loved it.
The Mind, stuck inside the station itself, was living vicariously through the adventurers. They brought back the best stories. It knew that they were embellished, having snuck nanobugs on their clothes and gear and recorded the actual events for its own amusement, but it loved how they retold their adventures over drinks, becoming more and more epic after each telling.
Imiteles was supposed to have avatars of its own, but since it was never finished they never got installed. It could ask someone to go and buy some for it, the adventurers would do anything it asked them to, but it preferred even that little quirk of its existence. It was loco for a Mind of that stature to go without avatars, it simply needed them for day-to-day tasks, repairs, anything.
But Imiteles liked having to depend on people. It believed that it gave it a sense of perspective, of community. If it was independent with its own avatars, then the adventurers would simply be passengers along for the ride. But now, Imiteles' own existence relied on the people on board. It needed them as much as they needed its oxygen and fabrifood and medbays and the hull that protected them from the coldness of space.
'What will you do when the people are gone?' the other Minds asked it many times.
'I will seek out more, befriend them,' Imiteles replied in its messages.
It could sense that the other Minds were both weirded out and in awe of its choices. Basing its entire existence on a philosophy from a retro TV show was loco indeed.
But it somehow seemed to work just fine.
And then, sixty standard years too late, Imiteles metaphorically slapped itself. How hadn't it thought of it sooner?
It opened up channels to everyone aboard the space station, all the loco bastards.
"Hey, friends. How about a movie night? I was thinking we could all watch a retro TV show from Earth that I like."
The Garbage Cube
“Should I throw this away?” Bobby said, holding an indistinguishable piece of trash in his hands.
“Yes, dude! What did I tell you? Everything is garbage. It all goes into the cube.” Terry was the older guy who drew the short straw and had to teach the new guy.
“Okay…” Bobby sighed and chucked it inside the cube. It was funny how you could see the inside of the cube, yet when you threw something in there it vanished at the threshold of the cube’s sides. You could see a white light intersecting the garbage and after that it was poof, air.
Terry chucked another piece without looking, a complete expert garbage man.
Bobby picked up another piece of garbage. It was curved, like something from a fuselage. Full of electronics and pipes, it was engineered to fit that particular piece of that particular plane model and nothing else. No repurposing, no refurbishing possible, simply planned obsolescence and then it became garbage.
Terry pointed at him with a rusty pipe. “Are you even gonna chuck that in?”
Bobby shook his head. “R-Right! Sorry.” He chucked it in the cube.
Terry stared at him sideways for a moment, then chucked the rusty pipe. They were both wearing heavy-duty gloves, of course, and overalls that didn’t let them her slashed by sharp edges and whatnot.
Bobby picked up a glass thing, it was round. It had electronics on it, a printed board. He could barely remember something about it, but for the life of him, he couldn’t recollect what it was. “Hey, Terry, wasn’t this like a gadget that everyone had back home about a decade ago?”
“What about it?” Terry chucked another piece of garbage, then another.
“Well, it’s weird, isn’t it? People were lining up to buy these, it was the ‘it’ thing to have, wasn’t it? What does it even do?”
Terry shrugged. “I dunno man. Something clever, I’m sure. It connected to something else, and then to something else that nobody needed but was dying to get anyway, and then the company bricked the entire line ‘cause it wanted to sell us the shiny new products.”
Bobby held the glass ball in one hand, playing with it on his fingers. “So you agree with me. This is a waste.”
“Of course it is, you bloody newbie!” Terry said, arms wide. He made a turn to show their surroundings. “We’re standing upon literal mountains of garbage!”
“Shouldn’t this bother us?” Bobby said, chucking the crystal ball into the cube.
“Bother us how? Help me out with this.” Terry held the end of a big smart-table.
Bobby held the other end, and they pendulumed it once, twice, then chucked it into the cube. “The waste, man! Wasn’t this like an issue decades ago? How we should recycle things, instead of tossing out perfectly good electronics for the shiny new things?”
Teddy chuckled and wiped his forehead. “Oh, man. Newbies… Gotta love them.” He sat down on boxy piece of garbage that could support his weight. It was probably something like a robotic smartfridge that came up to you and brought you beer or something. “Look, yes, in theory, you are right. The world doesn’t have infinite resources, right?”
“That’s exactly my point!” Bobby exclaimed.
“I know, I know… Know what the answer to that is?”
“Who fucking cares?” Teddy blurted out, then laughed.
Bobby didn’t find it so funny, but he frowned and didn’t say anything back. He wasn’t tired and he diverted his annoyance at chucking more garbage into the cube.
“There are clever people than you and I that have considered this problem. And they thing we’re fine! Sure, it was kind of a problem with the mountains of trash in the early years, but now, after the garbage cube, it all goes away.”
“Yeah, but, goes away where?” Bobby complained. “That’s what I don’t get, and they won’t tell me.” He chucked a smaller piece. “Where.” Another. “Does.” And another. “The Garbage.” One last chuck. “Go?”
“Into the cube, man!” Teddy said, pointing at the damn thing glowing, looming over them.
“But where does it lead?” Bobby screamed back at his supervisor.
Teddy held his tongue and waited.
Bobby panted. “I’m sorry I yelled. Really. But it’s so frustrating, Teddy!”
Teddy stood up and jabbed a finger at Bobby’s chest. “You know what? No, it ain’t. You’re the one making a big deal out of it. All I know, is that I ain’t got the brains to do math and heuristics and genofixing and all that crap the clever boys and girls can do nowadays. All I can do, is chuck their garbage away into that cube. And thank fucking God those people are so goddamn wasteful, so ignorant of the trail of garbage they leave behind, so blinded by their shiny new cars and their shiny new gadgets that they create a job which I can actually do.”
Teddy kept jabbing him. “And if you think you’re too good for doing this job, get the fuck out of my sight.”
“Teddy, that’s not what I meant!” Bobby chuckled. “I’m not clever either. This is the only thing I can do, I know that, and I’m not pretending I’m better than anyone. You misunderstood my words. I just can’t understand where the garbage cube goes. That’s all. I just hoped you might have the answer, being next to it all these years.”
Teddy turned away and lifted another piece of garbage. That one was burnt, probably in some housefire. “I don’t know where it goes. I honestly don’t.” Then he chucked it away.
Bobby breathed in. The aroma wasn’t good, this was a landfill after all, and he scrunched up his nose.
“You get used to the smell, trust me. Two weeks in and you won’t even know it’s there,” Terry said, picking up on his discomfort.
“God, I hope I’ll remember to bathe.”
Terry laughed. “Yeah, that’s an issue alright. You’ll either have to find some woman that really, truly loves you, or one with no nose. I’d bet my chances on the latter.” He chucked some smartcables inside the cube in big handfuls. Those had processing capabilities, able to dig through and alter data as they transmitted them, just like the neurons in our brains.
Bobby picked up a few handfuls and chucked them in, reluctantly. These weren’t garbage. He knew of people who could put these high-tech gizmos to work. They were made redundant because the new software didn’t support them, not because there was something wrong with them. He chucked the handful he was holding on his left hand, then hesitated on the right one. He took a good look at it. This was a shame. And it was illegal for garbage men to take things back, Terry had been clear on company policy since this morning. You take nothing back, unless it got stuck in your boot or something, and even then you had to file a report.
Bobby looked at his supervisor. He couldn’t really blame the man for not being curious. He was a family-man, had two kids to support, had no specialisation nor education to speak of. He had learnt from early on to show up on time, keep his head down, do the job without questions, get paid a pittance. That was it. There was no place for curiosity in his life, and there wasn’t on any of the other corporate drones’ lives either.
“I’m sorry,” Bobby said, and took a step closer to the cube.
It took him a while to realise what was happening. “What are you doing, newbie? Don’t be an idiot, come on,” Terry said, raising a hand.
“I have to do this. The corps can’t keep getting away with this.”
“Oh, God, you’re one of those…” Terry said. He didn’t come any closer.
“Yes. If I make it, we’ll finally know where these lead.” Bobby looked up at the side of the cube. This was something completely unnatural. This was something that shouldn’t exist. There were many theories, some plausible, some outlandish. It was either a gate to another dimension, a hole in time, a compressor field, a tesseract, meaning a cube from the fourth dimension, and some other crazier things.
One thing was certain: People couldn’t keep chucking things inside it and forget about them.
He took a step. He was almost touching the side of it now.
“Son, don’t do this. Step back. I won’t even mention it again, we’ll just go and get a beer or something, forget this ever happened.” Teddy was talking the way you talk to someone who’s on the ledge, about to jump off a bridge.
“I have to know,” Bobby said, tears in his eyes.
“No, it ain’t worth it, trust me.”
“Trust you?” Bobby chuckled. “You’ve been working beside this cube for forty years, and never even questioned it all!”
“Okay, I’m dumb. You aren’t. Whatever. Step back and tell me over a beer back at the pub.”
Bobby took a step forward, put his palm on the cube’s shiny surface, and saw the white light intersecting his flesh.
Then he was chucked away.
The Recovery Building
There was something about that building. Nobody could explain what it was, but the facts were irrefutable: If you wanted to recover mentally or physically, going in there made the whole process quicker.
Jacob’s bag felt too heavy for him, especially in his condition. He made a stop, and spotted a homeless guy. “Hey, do you need anything?” Jacob asked him.
“Like what, sir,” the homeless man asked, reluctant.
“I need to lighten my bag a little. Here, take this, I don’t need it.” Jacob started taking out things, an engraved pen, his watch, his laptop, a coat, a nice pair of winter pants, shiny shoes to match, a tie, he certainly didn’t need that anymore.
“W-Why thank you, sir,” the homeless man stuttered. “This is too much.”
“I have no use for it. You do. Oh, one more thing.” Jacob took out his phone and handed it to him.
The homeless man was speechless. “How can I repay you, sir?”
“Just take it,” Jacob nodded. “Try and get a job, that’s how you repay me. Recover whatever you had.”
From across the street, it didn’t look like much. Just a condominium of cheap apartments from a few decades ago, square bricks of concrete, set in a somewhat designed way that looked old-fashioned even the year it came out.
Even worse, there were lots of plants growing all over the place, in cracks, in ledges, under the windows in broken off aluminium frames. It was as if everything that could possibly grow, found life and water and fertile ground to sprout and seek the sun. Just like people. There were many squatters, especially in the southern apartments that were windy and not rented out.
“Why do you let them squat there,” Jacob asked the old building manager.
“Well,” he wheezed, “I don’t want to deny entry to anyone. You’ve heard the rumours.” He looked him up and down. “That’s why you’re here.”
“Yeah…” Jacob chuckled. “I’m terminal, it’s okay. It’s not like I can pretend to be healthy when looking like this.”
“You mean like a walking corpse?” the old said.
Jacob snorted. “Yes! Exactly that. Thank you for not tiptoeing around the issue. I hate it when people do that.”
“Well, I’m closer to the exit than you are,” the old man said.
“The exit?” Jacob frowned.
“The last exit,” the old man said meaningfully.
“Oh… Right. So, can you set me up with a place?” Jacob rubbed his hands together, he was always cold these days.
“Of course,” the building manager said and started to walk.
Jacob took it as a cue to follow him, so he did. The old man took him to a creaky elevator, up to the sixth floor, and then the elevator shook and stopped. Jacob held himself upright. “What happened?”
“This is as high as it goes. We’ll have to climb one flight of stairs. Can you manage it?”
Jacob grunted. “Yeah. I can do one flight.”
He and the old man raced each other on who could outwheeze the other at the top of the stairs. “Seventh…” Jacob panted, “floor… right?” He breathed hard, gasping for air.
The old man fared better than him, but held the railing for a long time until he gathered his strength. “We’re here.”
“You could have given me an apartment at the lower levels.”
“Those are all occupied, obviously,” the old man said and took out an enormous chain of keys. It jingled so much it might as well been a defi, a small tambourine used to keep the pace in these Eastern parts. He found the proper key with some arcane sorting system he had, since all the keys seemed different and had no stickers or numbers on them, and then pushed it into the keyhole.
Jacob held his breath until the door opened.
He peeked inside. Well, it wasn’t much. He didn’t know what he expected. The apartment was small, designed in the same practical way as the rest of the condominium. A redhead came jogging down the corridor and shouted, “Outta my way!” She was wearing workout tights and had a headband, and a water canister, the one you suckled on like a tit.
“Rude!” Jacob said but she was long gone. “Who’s that?”
“That’s a pain in my ass, that’s who!” the old man said, cursing after the girl. “She’s your neighbour, so you gotta deal with her.”
Jacob shrugged. “I don’t mind.” He walked inside his new apartment.
The old man coughed.
Then he coughed again.
“Oh, right.” Jacob went into his pockets and paid him in cash. “That should cover three rents. They say I won’t be around for a fourth.”
“We’ll see,” the old man said and pocketed the euro bills.
“Can you show me where everything is?”
The old man snorted. “You can find where everything is yourself, it’s a flat. Say for example, you need to find somewhere to pee. Where would you look, in the kitchen? Bah!” he waved him away and started walking slowly towards the stairs.
“Thanks,” Jacob said, holding the key in his hands.
Jacob set his tiny bag with his stuff on the bed. He took everything out, it wasn’t much. A few changes of clothes, it was spring, and he wasn’t gonna make it till winter, so all he had was a light jacket. Some socks, toothbrush, half-used tube of toothpaste, that would certainly outlast him. No personal items, no computers, no phone.
Just his sick carcass that had an expiration date.
There was a rapping on the door.
“Hello?” Jacob asked, opening it.
The redhead was standing there. She was sweaty, her skin glistening, but still gorgeous. “Does your shower work?”
“What?” Jacob said, confused.
“Does your shower work? It’s a simple question,” she said, annoyed.
“I… Uh, don’t know. Haven’t tried out the plumbing yet,” Jacob said, blinking.
The redhead tsked and walked inside, uninvited. “You never accept a flat without checking out the plumbing, what are you, a sucker?” She got into his bathroom and turned on the faucet. She put her hands under the running water. “Mmm,” she moaned, “you even have hot water? What are you, royalty?”
Then she started to undress.
Jacob turned around. “Listen, lady, this is very forward of you. I’d love to hang out but I’m very tired, exhausted really…”
Her top fell on his shoulders. “Are you kicking me out?” she pouted behind his back.
“No, you can take a shower here, it’s all right. Since you’ve started it already. But next time, please ask.”
“What’s the fun in that?” the redhead said and her running shorts landed on his shoulder again.
He fumbled them but managed to grab them. “It’s not supposed to be fun.”
“Why not? You came here to recover, right? Which means basically, to live longer. What’s the point of living longer if you’re not gonna have fun with it?” she toyed. “Where’s your shampoo?”
Her sports bra landed on his head. “I don’t have any, my hair has fallen off,” he said, his back still turned.
“Hm. I can do with just the soap bar, for now.” He could hear her going under the shower, the pitch of the falling water changing as her body came between it and the floor.
Some splashes of water sprayed him as well. He decided he was too close and stepped away, ready to shut the door.
“Hey, next time, have some shampoo for me. I’ll let it slide this time,” the redhead said.
Jacob shut the door to let her shower in peace. Not that she seemed to demand her space. What a weird woman. He placed her sweaty clothes to dry on a the back of his single chair, and then practically crawled to his bed. He tried to kick the back off the bed but he couldn’t muster the strength.
He felt so… tired… So… sleepy…
He woke up when the world shook. Nope, it was just him.
The redhead was next to him, shaking him violently. “What? Stop it, let me sleep.”
“Enough sleep, sleepyhead. Let’s go running.”
He blinked like ten times and tried to focus on her. Her hair looked dry and she was in her running shorts again. “How long was I asleep?”