Of all the stories I’ve uploaded this is one of my favourites. Delightfully tongue-in-cheek, funny and rife with wordplay, @gileadamit makes a great job of @thiefree’s cracking prompt. I don’t like drawing comparisons to other authors, but this really has a Pratchett-esque air to it, with a tangy Douglas Adams after-taste.
STORY NUMBER: 53
PROMPT PROVIDER: @thiefree
TITLE: Welcome to The Ecstatellite
With the last dayvisitors safely off the moon, Chester Horrocks made good the airlock and watched as the planet fell away beneath him. In eight hours, The Ecstatellite would make worldfall at Lanscombe, where it would pick up another day’s customers before returning on its corkscrew path to Jubeth.
Chester liked the sensation of being alone on the shared moon as it spun silently through the darkness, passing now and then through the glow of distant cities. The largest amusement park in the galaxy, it took him nearly three hours to circumnavigate it on foot, picking his way through the sticky residue of daily human infestation. Cleanerbots combed through the detritus around him, filling the refuse bunker with brisk mechanical efficiency.
As a rule, Chester’s first stop was the HoloPool, where he would test the chemical composition of the Ferrous Wheel and help himself to any leftover candy lace. But tonight, an unusual noise from the WormHole caught his attention.
The WormHole was The Ecstatellite’s prime attraction, a roller-coaster that passed through a garishly painted rip in space-time to tour a distant star. And though the whirring of its generators did occasionally make noises, at night the power sources were definitively disconnected. Chester bypassed the plasma-light barriers used for queue control and stood in front of the hole. It looked… different. He turned on his torch. A hand pointed a spray can defensively in his direction.
“Who are you?” asked Chester.
“TrendShatter,” said a voice beneath a jet-black fringe. “I’m an artist”
“And what do you think you’re doing?”
The fringe swayed petulantly. “Fred said it would be all right.”
“Sorry, Chester, sorry,” came a familiar ingratiating voice. Chester exhaled pointedly.
“Not again, Fred.”
“Last time, Chester, I promise.”
“TrendShatter,” said Fred. There was a pause. “Her real name’s Naomi.”
“Ok then, Naomi,” said Chester. “Let’s see what you’ve been doing.” He turned on the floodlights and looked up. There was another pause, longer than the first one. “Pretty arse,” he said, eventually.
“There’s no need to be hurtful”, said Fred.
“No,” said Chester. “I mean it.” And it was.
“We call it the SquirmHole,” said Fred, pointing up at the giant rectum, girt with vast cheeks of oily papier-mache.
“No no, let me guess. That we’re all too up ourselves?”
“Yes! Subversive, innit?”
Chester sighed again. “How many more of you are there, Fred?”
“Just us, I promise.” Two more pauses dawdled past in single file, admiring the view. “And two others,” he said eventually.
“Why do you keep doing this, Fred?”
“Artistic freedom! Guerilla expressionism!”
“Shut up, Naomi. I’ve got to, Ches’. Amusement parks are my life.”
“You can’t keep at it. They’re bringing in robotic surveillance soon. Don’t know why it’s taken them so long. They’ll make short work of you lot. Now where did the others go?”
“That way,” said Fred.
“Towards the aquarium?”
“It’s the Acquirium, actually,” said Naomi. “You see – “
“Yes, yes, conspicuous consumption. Very good.”
As they made their way towards it, they heard a scream that stopped them in their tracks. In a single fluid instant, a vast black shadow emerged from the tent and vanished over the horizon. Before they had time to react, it flew up over their heads from behind and sped out of view once more.
“What’s that!?” cried Naomi.
“It’s the flying mobula.”
“Why the fuck would you let it out?” asked Chester.
“As a statement about human fragility,” said Fred. “Probably. Showing how even our best attempts to assert dominance over nature will ultimately fail.”
“Yes, but it fucking wouldn’t have if they hadn’t set it free”
“Ah, but even human stupidity is, properly speaking, a product of nature”
“Fucking brilliant” said Chester, breaking into a run. “We’ll be safe in the refuse bunker. Past the spinning teacups.”
“You mean the Tea Cosy?”
“It’s the Tea Discomfort, now, actually,” said Naomi. As they passed, eminent politicians, their faces crudely carved into rubber, stared back at them from every handle.
“It’s about spin,” said Fred.
“It’s subversive,” said Naomi.
“It’s very clever.” said Chester. “Now run.”
With the shadow swooping after them, its vast wings rippling in the planetlight, Fred suddenly stopped, his eyes aflame.
“This is it,” he said slowly. “This is where I stop.” The mobula quivered delicately over his head as Chester turned to face him.
“What are you talking about?!”
“It’s a parable for the pointlessness of existence,” he shouted. “For man’s inhumanity to man. For our inevitable subsumption by the state.”
“But it’s not fucking inevitable. You can fucking stop it!” he bellowed. “Fred!”
“My name is ZeitGhoul!” said Fred, the last syllable gruesomely distended as he disappeared into the vast carnivorous cloud above him.
“Jump, Chester!” said Naomi, leaping down ahead of him. Chester allowed himself one last look back, and promptly wished he hadn’t. He closed his eyes and jumped. The hard metallic floor of the bunker did a lousy impersonation of cushioning his fall.
“Three dead, sir?”
“Is that three dead or four?”
Chester opened his eyes. It was the next morning. Noise. Police sirens. Coffee. Sunlight. The overpowering stink of refuse, coming from somewhere. He smelled his armpit. Coming from him. He groped inwardly, searching for his voice.
“Three,” he said at last. The policeman sniffed meaningfully and turned away.
Chester turned to Naomi, looking more composed than he felt anybody under a police blanket had any right to.
“Look at this place,” she said. “The Ecstatellite. Ecstasy. ZeitGhou- Fred – told us it comes from one of the ancient languages of Earth. It means a sort of rapture. That’s why we keep returning. That’s our theme. Without it, we’re nothing.”
Chester considered this. “Bollocks,” he said, and sipped his coffee.
Around them, portable flamethrowers were being stowed away. There was a smell of ashes in the air, as though a giant cloud was burning. Gathering momentum, the moon spun ever faster as it returned along its corkscrew path.
PROMPT: Protagonist works in surveillance for a theme park. Guerrilla artists keep trying to subvert rides.