EPA

A SciFi Short Story by Margret A Treiber

EPA

by Margret A Treiber

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“This is crap,” the robot complained. “Complete bullshit.”

“Just hold on when I dump this already,” I was trying to maintain planetary orbit while avoiding detection from the authorities. It was becoming difficult to focus with the robot’s continual whining.

The ship’s computer chimed in. “If we’re going to unload this, we should do it now before we’re discovered.”

“Robot, EVA time.” I threw on my suit and prepped the airlock. I was looking forward to completing this task. I was dying to get in some quality slacking and a decent bite to eat.

“Too late,” The computer stated. “There’s a Pinae ship coming.”

“Dammit!” the robot slammed its hand on the computer panel. It made a disconcerting cracking sound.

“Ow!” The computer complained.

“Shut up,” the robot muttered.

“You cracked my console,” the computer responded. “Who’s going to fix that?”

“You are,” the robot replied. “It’s not my fault you’re cheaply made.”

“You should talk, you moody bastard.”

I tried hard not to laugh. “Will you both stop arguing already? Let’s just get this done.”

“He started it,” the computer protested. “Why do you let him break me?”

I looked at the console. “I don’t see any damage. It must be a hairline crack. I’ll have it checked when we go for maintenance.”

“What in another twelve years?”

“Really?” I asked. “I haven’t had this ship for more than two.”

“Just making my point,” the computer stated.

“Your point is taken. Can you find us another dump site?”

“I detect an empty planet a few parsecs from here.” The computer brought a star map up on the screen.

“Please go there,” I stated. “Let’s get this done already.

The computer calculated the route and accelerated. I started looking for snacks. Like usual, the food stores were empty. I rummaged through every space I could access until I found a single sealed container. I opened it. It was full of something brown and lumpy.

“What’s this crap?” I asked.

“Cookies,” The computer answered. “I made them for you.”

I grabbed a lump and took a bite. It was so hard, it almost broke my tooth. “What are these made of? They’re really hard.”

“I ran out of organic materials to make flour,” the computer replied. “So the robot said to use cement.”

“That’s not how cookies are made!” I threw the container back into storage.

“Don’t blame me. Talk to the robot.”

“I blame you because you asked the robot. Since when does a robot know how to cook? I’m starving. Just because you assholes don’t eat, doesn’t mean you should starve me.”

Suddenly, the robot started throwing his arms up and cursing.

“It’s a freaking circus!” he yelled. “What the hell are you doing?”

I looked out the port window and saw lights flashing. There was some kind of event taking place in the distance. I activated the ship’s audio sensors. It was some kind of music concert. Although it was quite a distance from the computer’s projected dump point, I knew the robot wouldn’t want to hear it.

“Find another place,” I sighed.

“Please,” the computer corrected me.

“Fine, please find another freaking place.”

“I have found an empty world not too far from here,” the computer replied.

“Well go,” I said. “Please. Maybe we can get this done sometime this millennium.”

The computer flew standard speed minus four in the direction of the planet.

“Slow the hell down,” the robot complained. “You’re driving like a freaking lead foot.”

“We’re going standard minus four,” I stated.

“Don’t bullshit me!” the robot shouted. “I can feel the inertia.”

“You may need a tune-up,” I suggested.

The robot growled at me.

The computer slowed to standard speed minus six. We arrive several moments later.

I set us in a low orbit. In theory, we could dump our load from here and take off. I found a clear spot in an instant and targetted it for the computer.

“Computer,” I stated. “Prepare to eject.”

“Affirmative,” The computer replied.

Just as the computer was about to proceed, the robot jumped up.

“The cops!” he bellowed. “The freaking cops are here.”

The computer broke orbit and sped away at near light speed. I checked the sensors. I saw flashing lights a few sectors away.

“The cops are several parsecs away. What the hell?”

“They were onto us,” the robot stated. “They know what we’re up to. We’re going to end up in jail.”

“Relax robot. We’re not going to prison. Computer, please find another place.”

The computer sighed. “There is a munitions dump just ahead. They are closed in observance of armistice month.”

“Do that.” I was getting a headache. “Please.”

The computer pulled into the docking port. There was no sign of any activity.

The robot and I disembarked. The computer began unlatching the doors to the cargo bay. They creaked and groaned as they opened. Obviously, they had not been serviced for some time. I was beginning to think that I overpaid for the ship.

“Shut up!” the robot screamed. “Shut the hell up. You’re making a freaking racket.”

His voice echoed through the expanse of the junkyard. I scrambled to unload the ship. I got halfway through when the robot called it.

“That’s it!” he shouted. “We’ll be lucky to get out of here before the cops show up. All your damned noise.”

I was about to argue the point with the robot, but I knew better. Once it was in a mood, you had to just ride it out.

We climbed back into the ship and took off.

“Should I find another location?” the computer asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “Please.”

“I found one about an hour from here.”

The robot kicked my chair. Luckily, I wasn’t sitting in it. It tumbled into a bulkhead. I retrieved it and sat down next to the robot.

“Maybe we should pay someone to pick up our trash from now on,” I suggested.

The robot slammed the console again. The computer stayed quiet.

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