Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Novel / Chapter » Science Fiction


A Janitor's Adventure: 1.1

by DougalOfBiscuits


The slightly crooked wheel on Janny’s cart squeaked as he strode down the corridor. Stopping outside the maintenance staff lounge, the handle of his mop clattered against his feather duster and he hurriedly glanced about himself. Two Endoleons were approaching - astral engineers, from the colour of their uniforms - Janny didn’t want to draw too much attention to himself, certainly not before he’d had a chance to apply some oil to that wheel. He had a reputation to maintain as head of maintenance staff on the TS Daer-Hub.

He’d hoped to have a moment to steel himself but the Endoleons’ wide grey forms were almost upon him and he made a point of never being seen to be loitering, never mind the squeak of the cart. They were chatting between themselves and passing a small silver clipboard back and forth Out of the dark red skin of his forearm, he sprouted a long, spindly hook to open the door. Then, with a single deep breath, he let it ping back around and reform in his arm as he wheeled the cart purposefully through the door, eyes facing straight ahead.

The cool white light was bright on the eyes, but Janny had no problem with the shift. Endoleon eyes were significantly more sensitive than his, so light in the corridor was dimmer, and maybe slightly purple. It was one of the areas where the light could be brightened but it automatically reset when an Endoleon presence was sensed. Janny’s eyes, Daerian eyes, were as adaptable as the rest of his body, so he could immediately see his assembled workforce in front of him.

Janny realised most people wouldn’t consider three sleepy Daerians a workforce, but they were his staff and they could be a workforce if they wanted to be.

“Alright everyone!” He clapped his hands together, hardening the skin of his palms at the last moment for a better thud.

Cri groaned. Upumsel sighed. Fri fidgeted with the handle of the mug she was holding.

“Today we have some duct work, some electronics and some lavatorial plumbing. And if you’ll each take note of your schedule packet…” He wrestled a touch screen tablet out from its holder - which always held it slightly too tight to the side of his cart - and pretended to click send on the schedule email. He’d actually sent it a while ago, but of course it would do morale no good to acknowledge that likely none of them would have read it.

“Why can’t we just do one each?” Cri moaned. She kept her head spikes in tight braids and was fidgeting by unravelling then redoing each one in turn.

“Ah!” Janny held up an index finger. That would intuitively be how anyone might expect us to go about today’s duties. But we are not anyone. Cooks ‘n’ Cleaners don’t transfer just anyone into an important Endoleon ship.”

“Yes they do,” said Upumsel, still leaning against the wall. One of the room’s three little wooden tables was right in front of him yet still he chose to lean against the wall, with dirt on his maintenance boots no less. He went on, “It’s all automated, heard. Choose based on your company ID, know.”

Janny substituted in the extra words to make “that’s what I heard” and “don’t you know” from what Upumself was mumbling. Between the wall leaning and the single row of spikes along the middle of his head, disdain for full sentences never surprised Janny.

Janny had a little tendril pop out of his cheek and tap the side of his nose. “That’s just something they say to keep you on your toes.”

Fri raised a hand and tilted her head to the side. “But wouldn’t a reward for good work be a big winter bonus rather than being sent away to space?”

Janny slightly tightened his grip on the tablet and tried to pretend they hadn’t had this argument at least ten times since being on board. If he could wrap it up here, maybe they could just about start working on time.

“Well, it hardly matters,” he said, “Because we’re here now, among the stars. Let’s keep them clean people!”

Just as Cri began to say something - presumably a complaint - there was a vibration beneath Janny’s feet. The floor was only thinly carpeted over a metal platform - and that platform was suspended over ten feet of air, which Janny knew from storing most of his materials down below. So the noise was spectacular, as the sides of the platform clattered against the walls, and the chains going down to each corner rattled up and down.

Then it stopped.

Janny looked up from his feet, to which he’d had his eyes glued as he tried to keep his balance, and glanced over at Cri. “Did you have something to say, Cri?”

“Ugh, what was that?” she whined. “Do you think we’ve hit space gravel again?”

Janny righted his mop, which was now hanging precariously to the side and threatening to topple over, bringing his bucket with it. “For the last time it’s not ‘space gravel’. Those rocks are called micro-asteroids and our pilots have been doing a wonderful job navigating them. Now, let’s get to work.”

Unfortunately, just as his three staff members seemed to finally be starting to move, there was a much tamer vibration in Janny’s pocket, accompanied by a sharp beeping ringtone. His hand tensed with impatience as he took the tech-pod out and answered it.

“Hello?” he said. “Head Janitor Rolgen Gomm speaking.”

“Gomm, we need you down here in the cockpit,” said the deep, slightly gurgling voice of one of the Endoleon pilots. Janny couldn’t tell if it was Pilid or Ret.

He checked the screen for the name of the caller but the contact was listed only as “cockpit”, so he defaulted to rank. “What’s the matter, pilot? Those buttons still sticking? I told Fri to be as liberal as she liked with the oil but she was very nervous you see-”

“The buttons are fine!” the pilot interjected. “We need a Scentian speaker.”

“I’m from Fladaer,” Janny replied, “Daer-Ta doesn’t have a global language, you understand.”

“Yes, yes,” the pilot said, “But they did colonise your people for half a century. You must have picked something up. Besides, you picked up Endoleon remarkably well. Between your home background and your linguistic proficiency, you’re just the being we need, Gomm. We don’t have Scentian programmed into our directory.”

There was a flicker of pleasure at the back of Janny’s mind in response to the flattery. It was true, as well. He’d worked hard at perfecting his Endoleon and made sure his entirely Fladaerian staff spoke only Endoleon on board the ship too. But he had a job to be getting on with, and neither Cri’s moaning or Pilid/Ret’s schmoozing was going to get in his way.

“Look, I have a lot of urgent electrical work to be getting on with for communications. Are you sure this could not wait until my lunch break? I’m sure whatever you need me to translate won’t have grown legs and run away,” he said, ignoring the raised eyebrows from Fri. He’d forgotten the others were only hearing half this conversation.

“Run away, no. It doesn’t seem these Scentians have any intention of going anywhere,” the pilot said.

For a moment the irritation bubbling up in Janny’s brain fell flat. “What did you say, sir? There are actual Scentians on board? I thought you meant you needed a text translated.”

“I gathered that,” said the pilot. “I wouldn’t say on board, so much as they have hijacked our piloting systems. For the love of the boundary star would you get down here, Gomm?”

Janny’s breath hiccuped a little but he managed to keep his composure. “I’ll be right there, sir.”

He hung up the pod and took in the wide eyes on the faces of his staff. Oddly enough, this was the most animated he’d seen them all week. Maybe, just maybe, he could harness that before he went. “Right then! Big day! Get yourselves sorted and I’ll be back to check in with you later, yes?”

“Janny…” said Fri, looking from Cri and Upumsel then back to Janny. “Did you say there were Scentians on board?”

Janny’s leg twitched with a desire to get on with something, but he met her eyes and said, “Yes. I’m off to find out what they want.”

“You going to give them it? Whatever it is they want?” Upumsel asked, in the highest pitch voice and fullest sentences Janny had ever heard him use.

“I’m going to find out what they’re saying,” Janny said, “The Endoleons will decide what to do.”

Upumsel shook his head but didn’t say anything.

“Right then!” Janny exclaimed, “I’ll be off. Call me if you have any issues with the schedule, but I think you’ll be pretty pleased with the calibrations, if I do say so myself.”

Janny left them his cart, though he didn’t love walking along the corridors without its comforting weight before him. But if they were going to get their best work done they needed the best resources. Maintenance was still what he was paid for, no matter what these Scentian fellows had to say.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
263 Reviews


Points: 13000
Reviews: 263

Donate
Sun Sep 29, 2019 4:47 pm
mellifera wrote a review...



Hey Bisc!

I actually remembered to start from the beginning this time!
Also, can I just say how much I like that you've broken up the chapters like this? Hypocritical coming from someone who posts long chapter parts, but you have such short and sweet sections that make reviewing 1200x easier for me (especially at the end of RevMo Dx )! Once I'm not quite so burned out (see: once RevMo has been over for a bit lol), I might be able to do more than one review in a day.

Anyway.

Two Endoleons were approaching - astral engineers, from the colour of their uniforms - Janny didn't want to draw too much attention to himself,


Since em dashes (even though they aren't technically em dashes here but you know) are used to enhance something like this (since saying they're astral engineers doesn't fit in with the sentence itself, but is rather an addition), the sentence without them doesn't work right? It's supposed to flow together, even with the break, but right now it reads "Two Endoleons were approaching, Janny didn't want to draw too much attention to himself". So, maybe add an "and" after the em dash section?
that was,,, a really long winded explanation for that,,, sorry that I'm rambly.

They were chatting between themselves and passing a small silver clipboard back and forth[.] Out of the dark red skin of his forearm,


I think there's supposed to be a period there?
In other news, wish I could extract a hook from my arm. would be so helpful.

eyes facing straight ahead.


This... sounds kind of funny? His eyes are facing straight ahead? I know what you mean, but it sounds odd to describe his eyes that way.

and maybe slightly purple.


"maybe"? Why is this in question?''

Janny's eyes, Daerian eyes,


oooh so this is the whole thing about him not being a Scetian. I am curious if they're similar, physically, and that's why Lestili got this confused? I'm sure I'll find out though as I read further.

at the last moment for a better thud.


gotta get that Prime Thud


She kept her head spikes in tight braids


:o head spikes?? i want head spikes that sounds rad

"Ah!" Janny held up an index finger. ["]That would intuitively be how anyone might expect us


excuse me? I think you dropped this quotation mark by accident? lemme just give it back to you :)

Upumself was mumbling.


"Upumsel"?

It's really interesting to see Janny so in control here and in generally a chipper mood? It's not necessarily surprising, but he's much more subdued in the chapters I read which is really interesting to see where you've taken his personality! I hope we get to see more of this contented, confident Janny! (even though I know you said he lost a bunch of confidence whoops)


Janny slightly tightened his grip


I didn't point it out the first time I noticed it because editing comes later, but just as a quick note (I say that like I don't comment on these things all the thing :( ), you want to watch for times when you pad your sentences like this. It feels right at the time, when you write it, but it just... weakens your writing in the end.

His hand tensed with impatience as he took the tech-pod out and answered it.


I love how you slide this in! Excellent little information tidbid ^^

"But they did colonise your people for half a century.


Yikes

also, it's interesting to see how Janny's treated on this ship/right now, compared to later when he's with Birt and others.


As far as beginnings go, I think you wrote this pretty well! It's a really good introduction to Janny's character (and OOF now I'm sad about how defeated he is later :( he went from this to that and now I'm really starting to feel for him as I get to know him more)! Plus, you've started off the plot (with the Scetians and whatever they want) smoothly and already opened the gates into what how the story is going to progress. So, solid start! Yay!


Anyway, I think that's all I have to say about this one. I'm excited to catch up, and see how Janny got from here to where he is now!

I hope you have a wonderful day, and Happy RevMo!

Image




User avatar
1122 Reviews


Points: 4075
Reviews: 1122

Donate
Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:10 pm
Elinor wrote a review...



Hey Biscuits!

I've seen a few of these chapters kicking around in the green room and figured I'd start at the very beginning. I don't think I've read any of your work before, and I wanted to fix that, especially considering that I have a soft spot for science fiction.

I quite enjoyed this first chapter, and I'm intrigued to see where it leads. You have a nice, easy writing style that's easy to get invested in, and your characters are all clear. I did want a little bit more from Janny. He seems like he'll be an enjoyable lead, but right now it doesn't seem like much is defining him other than he's the everyman hero. Which is fine if that's what you wanted to portray, I just wanted more of what makes him him.

The one thing I wanted to see more of in this chapter is more of a sense of the world that they inhabit. It gave me some Star Trek, some Wall-E vibes, which I'm very much into. But your first chapter (first few pages, really) are your best chance to make an impression on the reader. Because of it, I wanted more of a sensed of time and place. I'm very much into stories that make me feel like I'm experiencing things alongside the characters.

I can't wait to read more!

Cheers,
Elinor






Hey, thanks for the review! I guess this isn't coming through that well but the idea for Janny is someone who's a bit upright, and doesn't really think outside of the box that often. He also like, really really cares about his job, which is why his response to Scentian hijackers is irritation rather than tension and curiosity. Hopefully that'll start to become clearer.

I think some worldbuilding should start in the next part of this chapter, then some quite detailed physical description of the place they go in the one after that. Hopefully that's early enough :)

Thanks for the review :D



User avatar
291 Reviews


Points: 18286
Reviews: 291

Donate
Tue Jul 23, 2019 3:50 pm
Liberty says...



Ooh, great story you've got there, Biscuits. I love it! Also... Janny's name is Janitor? And he is a janitor? Correct me if I'm wrong, please.

But I do love the idea of the story so far. These "Scentian fellows" have very much caught my interest.

I dunno why, but I really found this part funny XD :

“Ugh, what was that?” she whined. “Do you think we’ve hit space gravel again?”

Janny righted his mop, which was now hanging precariously to the side and threatening to topple over, bringing his bucket with it. “For the last time it’s not ‘space gravel’. Those rocks are called micro-asteroids and our pilots have been doing a wonderful job navigating them. Now, let’s get to work.”


Hehe.

Great story! Definitely looking forward to the next chapters. :)




User avatar
274 Reviews


Points: 22619
Reviews: 274

Donate
Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:20 pm
View Likes
Dossereana wrote a review...



Hi @DougalOfBiscuits I am here to do a quick or long review. So lets get right into it shell we. I am really excited to see what this chapter holds.

The slightly crooked wheel on Janny’s cart squeaked as he strode down the corridor. Stopping outside the maintenance staff lounge, the handle of his mop clattered against his feather duster and he hurriedly glanced about himself.
Wow great start, Amazing description here. I was really drawn to these first lines, and tugged to just read more. I was thinking to myself, "I must just go on I can't just stop reading here," And I carried on and it was great. I am glade that I did for this chapter has got a lot of stuff that is improved from Tayburn Zoo witch is cool. This also gives me away to look at different things that you write.

Then, with a single deep breath, he let it ping back around and reform in his arm as he wheeled the cart purposefully through the door, eyes facing straight ahead.

At this bit my heart was really starting to pump Lol. Just to find out what happens. And now I just can't stop reading.

The cool white light was bright on the eyes, but Janny had no problem with the shift. Endoleon eyes were significantly more sensitive than his, so light in the corridor was dimmer, and maybe slightly purple. It was one of the areas where the light could be brightened but it automatically reset when an Endoleon presence was sensed. Janny’s eyes, Daerian eyes, were as adaptable as the rest of his body, so he could immediately see his assembled workforce in front of him.
At this bit my eyes were fixed to the story. I can feel the characters drawing me in. making me feel like I am right there just watching the hole thing happening. But I'm in the story while I watch it all. I mean I can say this is like the best chapter that I have read. No a fens to all your other chapters. I just feel like improve meant comes with age.

Cri groaned. Upumsel sighed. Fri fidgeted with the handle of the mug she was holding.
I was starting to kind of feel tired at this bit. As the characters kind of started to act that way to. I'm really feeling the characters with the way that you are describing them.

Janny left them his cart, though he didn’t love walking along the corridors without its comforting weight before him. But if they were going to get their best work done they needed the best resources. Maintenance was still what he was paid for, no matter what these Scentian fellows had to say.
Great end to the chapter I loved it. The description was great. I even felt like my description in my story was like really bad compared to this. I have always thought that when I read your stuff. But this time i felt it a bit more then the last time.

So that is all that I can say. If I was being to harsh then I am really sorry pleas will you forgive me. So keep up the great and fantastically super work. I am really looking forward to the next chapter Biscuits. :D <33

I hope you have a great Day/Night

@Dossereana Out In The Sky Of Reviews

YWS!!!!




User avatar
303 Reviews


Points: 20225
Reviews: 303

Donate
Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:31 am
View Likes
fraey wrote a review...



Hiii, alright, I was really curious about this when you put this on the novella challenge, so yayy.

First off, characters, whoop. We have Janny, who seems like a fairly mature fellow in that he holds his job with pride. Also, if he's "Janny" off of "Janitor" then this guy became even more endearing, I love it. We get a nice hint at his background (being from a different planet than some people on board) and his crew introduction was funny. I appreciate getting some of that history going - I'm curious as to how old these fellas are now since I'm guessing the conquering of Daer-Ta happened sooner than later if the other language could have been spoken around Janny.

Upumsel has a distinct speaking voice which I like, and I can only assume that Cri and Fri are siblings as I'm certainly going to be getting those names confused with each other. All three of these characters sound like cool people and are likable enough - I'll be interested to see if we ever get a chapter from their view or just to see some more interactions between them and Janny. I do find it curious that Janny's crew are all Daerians while the "main" presence on board seems to be Endoleons. I guess they're both friendly planets, but brings up things to ponder over later.

As goes most opening chapters, this had a nice, slow-ish start to really getting into what actually happens when a janitor is in the spotlight. The potential conflict with the Scentian beings somehow being on board a ship that I would guess is moving, drives this chapter to its finish, and leaves the reader (at least me) intrigued by what could happen next.

There are a whole lot of references to outside information that the reader doesn't know which works here as you provide nice tidbits even in dialogue to let us catch up. I think I would like a bit more description of the actual characters or the ship itself, as I'm trying to picture that all Daerians would have red skin, (reminds me of Azazel from X-Men) and that the room they're in is actually lifted off the ground.

I think this is a fine start to the tails of Janny and it certainly makes me curious about what could be up with the randomly showing up fellas. Interested for the next part!






Azazel from X-men is actually just about the right shade yes! And *writes down order on waiter pad* sure thing, more description coming right up!





Oh and thanks for the review :D



fraey says...


Ah, great! I like having a reference guide XD and of course! I'll try to keep at reviewing this lol




“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. “I suppose a magician might,” he admitted, “but a gentleman never could.”
— Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell