“Begin purge,” Ianto said. The gears clicked loudly, and the computer responded by opening the trash bay doors. With a hiss and the sound of metal against clattering chaff and slushing organic matter, the spray of browns and yellows and blacks are propelled into space by diffusion force. For Ianto, it was beautiful to watch. He’d always wanted to go into space. As the ship’s biowaste technician, he was a glorified janitor and trashman, but he didn’t mind the work. And it paid more in one month than his overachieving lawyer brother got paid in a year. So there was that.
“Purge complete,” the computer’s female voice announced, and with a second hiss the trash bay doors sealed shut. Ianto nodded. The computer didn’t have eyes to see him nod, and there was no one else there to see him do it, but it felt fair to answer her announcement with the same gestures that one would use for a human being.
They had been out now seven months, and the bags of pale yellow juices were being sent down from medical more and more often. It was called zerograv psychosis. The lack of gravity would occasionally keep the cerebrospinal fluid from draining properly. Some of it would occasionally push through the pia mater and into the cortex where it would cause hallucinations, gaps in memory, and other issues. So it had to be drained manually with a syringe through the back of the neck. Ianto had always been afraid of needles, so he refused to get checked. Because his position wasn’t considered critical, he wasn’t required to get checked for the warning signs. He was just a trashman after all.
It was a sort of freedom.
“Begin purge.” Ianto said.
“Of course, Ianto,” the computer replied with an invisible smile, and Ianto’s work began again.
Occasionally, a bag would get stuck and the trash bay doors wouldn’t seal properly, so he had to play with the pressure in the bay to loosen the bags. The female voice would thank him then, with her somniferous hum, and Ianto would pet the panel warmly. The doors also grew thick with sludge and would sometimes fail to open. In those cases, Ianto would slide into the trash bay and scrub the hinges until the doors were able to open properly.
“Softly, Ianto,” the computer would say. Ianto rubbed more gently, sometimes using a warm cloth, which he was sure would make her more comfortable. She would whir gratefully.
The bay doors were stuck again, and Ianto saw that it was because there was a nude woman stuck in the bay. She rubbed her own leg and looked sadly at Ianto. Ianto didn’t want to frighten her, so he removed his helmet and crawled inside the bay. “Computer?”
“Ianto, I hurt,” the woman said, and she continued to rub her leg.
Ianto walked over to the woman and pet her leg, slowly raising his hand to rub against her inner thigh. She was cold like metal but soft. She hummed seductively. Then she whispered, “Tell me, Ianto. Tell me what I love to hear you say.”
“Begin purge,” Ianto moaned. He felt the ecstasy rise up in him as the blood poured from his every orifice and left him as cold as metal and floating in empty space.