Last of the short stories for now and this is my current entry for the theme of Tales from the Clara Pandy which is the name of the starship the title character is working on in book two of the Ballad of Halo Jones. I've tried to bounce back from my last story's grim tone with some broad humour that steals some of the cast of well known science fiction comedy show.
The room was deep within the bowels of the Clara Pandy (but she’s a nice starship, let’s call them innards, not bowels), the sign on the door had originally read “Service Maintenance Engineers” but most of the letters had been rubbed away and now it just said “Smeg”.
The door opened and a man wearing a toilet technician’s jumpsuit walked in and greeted the room’s occupant:
“Listerine, my repugnant room-mate. What on earth are you doing?”
“I’m looking for Rat” came the reply from under the bottom bunk. “He’s gone missing.”
“Hooray. Maybe we can dine without your ridiculous, rancid rodent trying to swipe my crackers. I don’t know why you even have a rat on board. It’s a clear contravention of the space corps manual section 17, paragraph 3.”
“The same paragraph that means you have to be such a total smeg-sack all the time, Ass?”
“I’ve told you a thousand times, Listy, my nickname is Ace, not Ass.”
“I don’t know, Ass Rimmed has a certain poetic ring to it.”
“Why do you want that rat anyway?”
“He was company. I thought he might evolve into something cool. Or he would be a good talking point when I was entertaining ladies.”
“Entertaining ladies? Have you gone completely wibble? What ladies where you going to entertain, pray tell?”
“Cézanne Goleiter. I could show her a good time.”
“Listy, my repulsive little friend, Cézanne Goleiter wouldn't look at you if your hair was on fire. Which, by the way, your hair’s on fire again.”
Listerine pulled the electronic cigarillo from under his hat and patted out his smouldering dreadlocks.
“I bet she’d be more interested in Rat than in all those creeps who hang on around her. What did you call them the other day? Something about fed up of termites?”
“Maybe she’s so sick of those ants she would love a simple night out. Ten pints, a Vindaloo and some great tunes to finish with.”
“Don’t tell me, more of your rockabilly skank classics?”
“No, I’ve found new stuff in the ship computer. Twentieth century country and western songs. They’re great, and even better if you play them backwards.”
“Backwards? What do you get then, satanic messages?”
“No, you get your kids back, you get your wife back, you get your dog back. It’s brilliant.”
“Listy, you are the worst excuse for a starship technician it has ever been my misfortune to meet. Anyway, come on, we have a job to do.”
“A job? At this time?”
“That beardy weirdy in room 616 needs someone to sort his net connection again. He’s caused another internet outrage. We have to fix it because he doesn’t touch the buttons himself. But we won’t have to put up with him for long, he’ll jump off this ship once he’s burnt his bridges here and this will be one more story we never get the end of. More’s the pity.”