story by ShaunWrites / art by Judyta
The saw-toothed W.A.S.T.E. shoveler was scheduled to eat the entire house. For the W.A.S.T.E operator, this was just another routine eviction. But this was war for Starla and Xander, the owners of the dome half-dangling from the shovler’s jaws.
Starla let go of Xander’s gloved hand and bounded over moon rocks in her pressure suit to make her stand between the shovler’s jaws and what was left of their dome.
“If you wanna take everything, just take everything!” she screamed over every communication channel, even the S.O.S. frequency.
Starla didn’t care that lunar taxes made homes like hers that weren’t up to code cheaper to destroy than remodel. Corporate bullshit nonsense. They’d rather destroy their home than let them stay in it until they could fix it up? Bullshit bank. She’d rather die in her house than live in a shelter. Bullshit government.
The operator idled the machine and shrugged.
“Fuck you. You’re gonna have to kill me, you motherfucker,” she screamed over the radio channel.
The operator shrugged again. He tapped the right side of his helmet three times with his pointer finger and pinky: the universal signal that his suit’s radio was malfunctioning. He couldn’t hear a thing she was saying. He politely raised his right elbow and palmed it three times: the universal signal to ask Starla to use lunar sign language.
“Listen to me. Just fucking listen to me!” Starla screamed back over all channels, ignoring him, her hands flailing wildly.
The operator drew a circle around his heart with his left palm and shook his right palm in from of his helmet: I’m sorry. I can’t hear you. He showed her again that his radio wasn’t working, and then he covered his helmet with his right palm and pointed at her with his left hand: Who are you? He made a circle over his heart: I’m sorry.
By now, Xander caught up with Starla. He placed his hand on her back. She stopped hyperventilating and her comm-channel went silent. He pulled her gloved hand into his and led her away from the jaws of the shoveler.
As he led her away, the City’s emergency response unit responded to Starla over the S.O.S frequency: “State the nature of the emergency or the emergency code.”
Starla responded: “No assistance needed. Code 0000.”
“I want to confirm. Code 0000. False alarm. No danger to person or property. No immediate or future threat. No assistance required. Over…”
Starla looked over at her dome, its metal guts already exposed like a bomb had gone off inside. Her eyes fixated on the concrete slab that used to hold their bed that was now already half-bulldozed. A bunch of gray rubble crumbling off and mixing with the gray lunar surface.
Emergency services tried again: “Repeat. Confirmation request number two. Code 0000. False alarm. No danger to person or property. No immediate or future threat. No assistance required. Over…”
"Confirmed. False alarm."
The W.A.S.T.E man looked confused: like he didn’t know who these people were and what everybody was standing around waiting for. He clapped his hands above his head: All clear? Starla didn’t look up.
He waved over again to get their attention and clapped: All clear?
At some point he got frustrated that no-one was responding, so he restarted the engine. The jaws grinded what was left of the dome into dust.
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