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Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc.
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Jatawaff

by Michelle Day


‘Crew, we’re receiving a Priority 1 distress call on the emergency com. Stand by for orders’. Swinging his captains chair to face the screen, arms taking full advantage of the padded rests, he studied the blackness seeking a visual. Nothing. Was this another ploy by the Florax to tempt them into the pirate ridden territory of the Zeno system or a genuine call for help? He went with his gut.


‘Battlestations. Arm photon torpedos, shields on stand by’.


The spatial distortion they dismissed earlier was too much of a coincidence.


‘On my mark, fire torp….’


‘Clive could I borrow for a brief second?’ Mr Entwhistle was standing quietly by the door, the door that had slid open without Clive hearing the accompanying ‘fssshh’.


Sheepishly Clive stood, extracted himself reluctantly from the captains chair and walked around the imposing table that dominated the office.


‘If you could bring the vacuum too. Wouldn’t want anyone tripping over would we?’ asked Mr Entwhistle with a friendly squint designed to acknowledge this was already an acutely embarrassing situation.


‘I’ll give you a moment to return it to the sanitary cupboard and meet you in my office’.


Five minutes later they were sat opposite each other, the pokey room nestled between the cafeteria and laundry storage.


‘I think we both know why we’re here’ Mr Entwistle began with a weary sigh of resignation.


Clive knew what was coming, he would hear how many applicants there had been for his job, how there was an implicit level of trust invested in a cleaner of the captains office and how MR Entwhistle didn’t want to go back to using the automated cleaner which had inexplicably carved ‘Dimwit‘ into the conference table. What he wasn’t expecting was the mention of ‘final warning’, ‘shipped back home’ and ‘vending machine maintenance’.


Clive left the office vowing, once again, to do better. It was never his intention to mess up, he was the most conscientious Trubearian you would ever meet. Years of working in the family mining business on Trube had taught him the importance of punctuality, respect and plain old hard work. Perhaps he had spent too long on Trube, by the time he saw the recruiting advert for cleaning operatives aboard the exploration spacecraft ‘Drusilla’ he was more than ready for a change. Ideally he would be boarding as a cadet having trained at the academy but that involved finances beyond his means.


‘Why do you want to go and clean for some snooty space monkies, all they do is meddle in other planets business. Why you feel the need to change your name I don’t know, what’s wrong with Jatawaff, it hasn’t done your Father any harm?’ his mother had said. ‘Is it even safe? I hear they don’t wear seatbelts!’.


Space had always been his dream, mining in the backwaters of Trube...not so much.


Returning to his quarters, Clive found his roommate, a fellow Trubearian, watching the news sprawled on his bunk.


‘What’s going on in the world?’ enquired Clive hoping for a some lighthearted news to replace Mr Entwistle's words which still circulated in his head.


‘The conflict in Bode’s galaxy is going to push up the price of everything and the Titans won the final 3-1’ Lexatang replied with a shrug. He rolled off to fetch his half eaten sandwich but hearing the word ‘Trube’ yanked his attention back to the screen like someone calling his name across a crowded room.


They both watched in silence as the news reader told of the sad death of Donald Flastingbox, the most successful and revered Trubearian in history. Despite humble beginnings he had forged a business empire across countless planets, not unusual in itself but he had retained his reputation for ethical, honest dealings throughout his career. He had also used his public profile to defend the rights of Trubearians, successfully backing campaigns against theme parks and spaceports planned for the nature reserves of Trube.


The two room mates spent a subdued evening in the ships bar with fellow Trubearians toasting Flastingbox. As was traditional the funeral would be held the next day and whether attending or not, all Trubearians would wear the traditional Trube hat and participate in the ceremonial dance at sunset.


Clive startled a few crewman as he went about his cleaning duties the next day.Yes, the fold of material hanging down on either side of the hat which represented the Trube core values of honesty and courage, did in some respects make him look like a rabbit but he’d always felt it’s lime green hue compensated for any bunnyness. One thing was true, the folds did flap about the face excessively during floor mopping.


All Trubearians were permitted to finish work early and congregate in the main hall where they performed the ceremonial dance regaled from head to foot in historic green. Solemnly they danced as their ancestors had before them, since time immemorial this custom had been performed to honour the passing of one born of Trube. Those that heard the mutterings of observing crewman chose to ignore the comparisons made with the Macarena.


After a brief respite they seated themselves in a semicircle around a screen to hear the last requests of Donald Flastingbox. He hoped for a more peaceful world, more support for young people trying to make their mark in the world and a strong future for his beloved Trube. To that end his final bequest was a scholarship fund for ambitious young Trubearians but held back by lack of funds, it would be open to anyone from Trube.


Clive’s heart leapt so high he felt those around him must have heard it hit the roof of his mouth. It was as if Flastingbox had been done this specifically for him. Now, now was his time to apply for a cadetship. He may even consider changing his name back to Jatawaff.

 



2014-08-26 11:18:49
Ya gotta love these Trubes. They're hardworking and upbeat, and go along with tradition even if others make fun of them a little. Nice use of day-in-the-life scenario to build world background. Fun piece, thanks!


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