The Peddlers Of Smut, Fragment 4

smut_MoreThe Old Man, our fearless leader in all things smut and, ironically, only 43 years-old, wore the face of a man who hit his midlife crisis at the age of 21 and has been stuck in it ever since. A functioning alcoholic, a mean connoisseur of the female form and a model general of the Industry.

That morning he entered the Analytics Deck in his usual manner – hung-over and swearing. Surveying us with bloodshot eyes, he ran his hands through his short-cropped, greying hair, muttered “scum” under his breath and stumbled over to his station.

Once, when dinosaurs roamed the Old Earth, the Captain’s Station was a vast and heavy oaken desk, nesting above the Analytics Deck, crafted for the very purpose of commanding respect and instilling fear in the underlings. Whichever cracked-up carpenter carved this particular specimen, he really put the full terror of space into his work. Either his psyche was already twisted inwards, or the stims he was running were particularly strong, but the screaming astronauts, their helmets smashed and eyes sucked out by the sudden pressure change; the rockets, their hulls cut open by some intergalactic can-openers, spilling men into the void; and the ghostly sirens, all swollen breasts and sharp teeth; they all looked too convincing as they tore their way out of the wood. Over a dozen monitors were built into the desk’s surface, each feeding the captain data from the individual stations of the analytics team.

Now though, the polished oak was scared by countless cigarette butts – the Old Man refusing to acknowledge the very existence of ashtrays. The screens, those that still worked, struggled to peak out from beneath the countless of empty and half-filled bottles that littered the surface. The Old Man’s menagerie of liquor was truly astounding. Booze from every corner of the galaxy, things that the Federate Health Bureau deemed unsuitable for human consumption. Montez and I, on a particularly thirsty night, rummaged through the collection and found a bottle that pre-dated the commissioning of the Ship itself, making it decades older than anyone on board. Its contents was violent green, thick and protested loudly when we attempted to pick it up.

The Old Man couldn’t give a fuck. He drank through-out the day, picking up bottles at random, slamming them down in drunken rage more often than not. The engineering team now refused to even attempt to fix any of the cracked monitors, citing the fact that if all the screens were to be maintained in the working order all the time, the Ship would burn through its yearly budget in two months. Not that the Old Man needed all the monitors. The Analytics Deck, once staffed by two dozen specialists, now only held four people – the Old Man himself, me, Larry the Conversion Technician and Margot, the Packaging Director.

The Old Man sucked on a bottle, let out a satisfying burp and focused his gaze on the one sliver of monitor he could see. The monitor that was showing, as luck would have it, my feed.

“Shenkov!” he roared, “You inbred Russian, you call those tits? TITS?! I have bigger knockers that that!”

Which wasn’t strictly true, the Old Man somehow remained in great shape for a man who drank his own weight daily and hasn’t left the Ship in six years.

“Aye, Captain!” I barked back, “Upping the tits, sir!”

If my boots had heels, I would click them. The Old Man loved this pantomime of discipline. Generally though, if the dispatches and transmissions went out on time, we were left to do as we pleased. That was the one upside of working on a Service Ship, no one really cared about anything.

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