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An Uncaring New Year Story from "Terminal Space"



I DON’T CARE


‘No. I’m not going to help. I don’t care tuppunction what you or anyone else says or does.’

I scarcely heard their pleas, my neighbours and colleagues around the community. ‘No,’ I confirmed. ‘It’s not going to happen.’

I stayed in the cabin of my heavy wagon, and patiently waited until they’d finished. ‘I don’t care – I won’t take my rig across there to help them. I. Don’t. Care.’

‘Come on…’ They tried to persuade me. ‘We’re all friends now. We’re at peace with them.’

But I was adamant. ‘I’m not at anything with them or anyone else. Not peace. Not war. Never was.’ I shrugged.

‘They’re trapped, stranded. Their craft’s stuck. They need you. You must help them.’

‘No, I mustn’t. They’re nothing to me. Never will be. I don’t do helping.’

‘Have you no humanity? They’ll die.’

I shrugged again. ‘Nothing to do with me.’

‘It’s because it’s them, isn’t it? The Monitees?’

Totally uninterested, I checked the lever settings on my Max-4 Lifter. Automatically, I wiped a speck of dust from the dashboard.

‘Prejudiced, are you?’

‘Speciesist?’

‘The wars are over.’

‘What they ever done to you?’

‘Done to me?’ I looked blankly round, ‘Nothing that matters. Not any longer.’

‘So why? They only need helping out of there. You have the equipment. It’d cost you next to nothing to help them.’

‘No.’ I tapped the startup code in.

They badgered on – calling me all sorts, as though insults would persuade me. They resorted to threatening me, describing the terrible consequences for the Mons if they didn’t get help – the awful death that awaited them. ‘How would you feel?’

‘I’d feel exactly the same as I do now – utterly indifferent. They can rot, asphyxiate, starve, whatever they want. Makes no difference to me.’ I started the motor. ‘It’s my home time.’

Out the side window, I could see the damaged Monitee craft. It had stumbled, toppled onto its side. To say it had crashed would imply being wrecked and destroyed, and it wasn’t that bad. But it’s not going to move again, not without help. From me. But why should I care?

‘Yeah, I see them. They’re not going anywhere. That’s alright. I don’t care.’ I tried to think myself into the Monitees’ place, ‘Maybe they enjoy sitting there. Or whatever they’re doing – standing, kneeling. Nothing to do with me.’

‘You’re dead inside,’ one of them shouted.

That’s no way to endear yourself to me, I thought.

I don’t get arm-twisted by bureaucrats, do-gooders and professional band-wagoners into anything nowadays. I haven’t let that happen since that year I spent with the Monitees.

Sure I got the equipment. It’s not a huge job. Cost me nothing except a couple of feds’ worth of power. But they didn’t want to hire me to do a job: they wanted me to do it, ‘just out the goodness of your heart.’

Doing a heart-powered freebie comes way behind going home to relax with the felini. I don’t do freebies unless it’s something or someone I care about.

The list of things and people I care about hasn’t even reached one yet – I was gonna put my own name at the top. But I didn’t bother.

Let them sit, smile, writhe or rot. I don’t care what the Monitees do.

If this lot want to carry on ranting at me, appealing to my better nature, they’ll discover I don’t have a better nature than the one on parade right now. Then I’ll leave to get away from it, and they’ll find themselves without the only heavy odd-jobber in the community. That’d see them in the skrawks in no time, the rate they get mired down, collapsed on, stalled, seized up and run into. I’ll take my heavy equipment and move away. They can join their Mony friends on the dead heap. I don’t care.


The Monitees, yes. I remember sometimes. Not that I care. I keep an ID card round my neck, mostly to remind myself who and what I am. I used to show it to people who thought I was weird. Now, I don’t bother. I don’t care what anyone thinks. They can think what they want. I think what I want. Why would I bother explaining to anyone?

Back then a few years, I was one of a dozen-strong prospecting team. We were looking for minerals on a promising moon called Nulaar. And one blazing day, a hundred fully-armed Monitees dropped on us. It was right back in the earliest days, when there hadn’t been any sign of trouble between us. I’d sure never even seen any before – scarcely knew what they looked like. But there they were, half as big again as me, with eight arms and an insectoid head. There was no way a gang of civvy mecho-workers was going to fight them off with drill bits and XRF analysers.

Looking at my ID card – yes, I do remember. I was held prisoner for a year. They returned us when the Federation-Monitee conflict was over. Our Fed doctors tried their best to get me back to how I was before. But there was nothing they could do. That was okay. I didn’t care then. I don’t care now.

The Monitees experimented on us, wanting to learn about humans, to comprehend us before they launched major attacks on any of our colonies or planets.

Emotions were beyond their understanding, and how they affect the working of the human brain. ‘Sentiments… passions… feelings, are the essence of humanity,’ one of them told me. ‘They are unique to humans. We wish to study them, extract them. We want to understand how a human brain works without them.’ And they started their operations and experiments on us.

The last operation they did on me was an empathy bypass.

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