Rob and Dave
Here are some of the major characters whose lives cross over in the universe that only exists in the mind of a sentient brick. Maybe. From Rob the ginger waiter who has the kind of luck with women that I have with literary agents, to Dave, whose brain is like a sack of angry hornets.
Carol Mitchell works in the SCAR office, a place where the job requirements are so low that actually having people working there is totally counter-productive.
She’s just slightly above average in almost every way but never in a way that makes her remotely memorable or interesting. Some people have called her irritating which is entirely fair and completely justified as she is just slightly above averagely irritating.
She had a short relationship with Dave Brown during a quiet week after a very slightly above average first date. His relationships usually only last six days so a full week is slightly above average. He reportedly broke off the relationship by writing to her to say he was faking his own death and inviting her to be his guest at the fake funeral.
She wrote back, saying how mortified she would pretend to be but would somehow find a way to carry on her life. For some reason, most of her relationships end this way.
The Captain runs her ship with an iron will. Her will having been damaged many years before, was replaced with a metal prosthesis. She commands the mighty vessel, ‘The Nebulous’. It’s among the largest passenger cruisers in the merchant armada and brags engines equal to those in any vessel in service today. It’s also brags a crew that largely don’t know how anything works.
Of course, in modern times, it’s not necessary to know how things work, and it’s usually considered a benefit if the population remain ignorant. In this way, broken things don’t become more damaged and politics is still actually a thing.
The Captain has been aboard the ship since her maiden voyage, a journey that took her to the very edge of the docking bay. This journey proved just how important it is to have someone in charge of engineering with massive gambling debts who is addicted to ‘super-crack’. Once a new set of engines were installed, things were much better.
‘Much better’ is, of course, a subjective concept since not many military vessels have a large portion of the crew who only passed the entrance exam’s section on ethics by cheating.
The Captain of a craft such as the Nebulous, therefore spends most of their time punishing the crew for things they don’t care about which is often why she’s punishing them in the first place. Her least favourite person in the entire universe is Dave Brown and she’s confident that even though she hasn’t met them all, he really is the worst. She secretly maintains a wikiweb entry on the matter, titled ‘Why Dave must die a horrible, slow and painful death’.
Rob is an engineering student from Earth with horrible hair. Engineering of the future is probably much more complex than it is today but they have sophisticated computers to help them. So perhaps, people are just not as smart. That’s a very worrying thought and if you don’t think so then you probably need to get out more and vote less.
Rob found his studies too difficult so he took a year out and went traveling. He’s not a man of unbridled imagination, but as he’s studying engineering, this should come to no surprise to anyone, even those who need to get out more and vote less. With this in mind, his year off plans extended no further than working aboard a passenger ship that travels along a regimented course out from Earth to the stars, avoiding all the really interesting bits.
Described as a boring, slightly apathetic loser, Rob decided to do something about it and to prove his parents wrong about him. That’s why he became a waiter, earning just under minimum wage (less taxes).
In his current position, he sees almost nothing of the universe as the ship hurtles by it faster than light can actually travel and he works at a low-end café that doesn’t have any windows. It’s still more fun than being an engineer and engineers don’t get paid in free beer.
Rebecca is an intelligent, hard-working, strong female. Consequently she doesn’t really fit in with the crew of the Nebulous. She has a job working in the linguistics and communications department but as most of the staff are barely qualified to communicate their own names, she find it quite difficult to explain what it is she actually does.
What she actually does is essentially nothing. Since the crew are barely qualified to communicate their own names, nobody is very keen to communicate with them. Consequently she has a job of enormous responsibility for something that never happens.
All this has taken its toll and the happy, vibrant and resourceful young person she used to be has quite thoroughly had her soul dragged out of her and ground into the dirt. Even more depressing is that she actually did all this to herself by choosing the most complex and challenging thing she could find to study but chose to do it in a universe that was simple and rather stupid.
Phil is a normal person from Earth. He’s normal in a normal way, he’s not abnormally normal or normally abnormal. He’s just normal, a normal person you might meet in an average pub in a standard town in a typical part of the world on any regular day.
Phil needs to get out to the frontier to a family funeral. Nothing should be easier with the advent of the days of convenient and simple inter-stellar technology except that they haven’t yet experienced the end of the days of crushingly awful bureaucracy.
He has a 12 day cruise aboard the Nebulous between himself and the funeral, which is in 5 days’ time.
The only thing that might just be a little less than normal about Phil is that he does, on the surface, very slightly appear to be, just a little bit of a mass murderer.
In the future, nobody is perfect.
Martin is a customer services specialist with an advanced degree in the delivery of towels. His qualifications means that he is only one step beneath a supervisor and is one of only three staff members who is trusted to deliver both blue and pink towels to the same place at the same time.
Martin works beneath Dave Brown, which has caused some resentment on his part. They met when he was promoted several weeks before from waste-management observation where his job was to watch a river of biological waste flowing into a tank without vomiting, or if he did vomit, to be careful it also went into the tank. He was eventually replaced with a little plastic duck.
Dave demanded that he explain why he was so appallingly unattractive and spent three quarters of the interview researching his family tree while laughing hysterically. Eventually he revealed that it wasn’t an interview at all and he also wasn’t the head of passenger services. He had just sneaked into his office to eat his erasers.
Martin swore to get his revenge but revenge was hard to find when he only had a small room filled with pink, blue and purple coloured towels to work with. Dave told him that purple denoted mental illness and the rest should be clear enough that even someone whose face was only attractive to the blind and bewildered should understand.
Martin is confident that his time will come.
Lynch and Carver
When a ship is warned that there are two important visitors are coming aboard, you know you’re in trouble, when you find out they might be accountants, you know you’re in serious trouble.
Lynch is the older of the two, and for the most part, the wiser. Carver is the younger, and for the most part, the larger. Between them they worry the crew while having a sinister agenda all of their own. Are they accountants? Are they auditors? Why does cognac taste vaguely of elephant?
All will be revealed in the end. Mostly. Maybe. Probably not.
Granger is a legend, a dark force of nature, a monster that barely manages to be kept at the end of its leash. He is a brutal warrior, a relentless tracker of other monsters as he hunts down the few killers left on Earth.
It is a time where murder is rare, crime has nearly been stamped out thanks to the calming influence of very finely tuned daytime TV. When such things do occur, the average person is simply not capable of dealing with such horrors. For that we must call on the services of something from our own past, a policeman unshaken by the darkness that lurks in the souls of men, a creature no better than the killers themselves but a force who fights on just the right side of the line.
Granger is that monster, that splinter of darkness in the souls of man, the brutality that lies dormant in the pits of our collective memory. He is a thing that must never see the light of day, except to end the darkness brought by others of his kind.
In his spare time he’s learning to play the flute and his favourite colour is lilac.
Dave was born on Earth at some point and most people who know him maintain that this was largely a bad thing for everyone concerned. His beginning in life was a poor one and seemed to only get worse from there, mostly for everyone around him.
He ended up working on a passenger ship; eventually his career reached the status of towel delivery supervisor. Fortunately for him, his career doesn’t seem to be the most important thing in his life and he describes it as being akin to food. ‘You have to eat it, so you might as well eat something you enjoy but in the end, it’s all going to smell bad until you flush it away.’
Whether or not this even qualifies as a philosophy is open to debate but the fact remains, his career was never going to scale the dizzying heights of what most people would consider the second rung of the ladder.
He has massive personality problems and has been legally classified as livestock, earning the same legal rights as a chicken. Chickens, however don’t tend to drink so much beer, which he maintains is the cause and solution to all of life’s problems, with the exception of accountants, who he distrusts massively.
Dave’s behaviour is unconventional, often compared to that of what might happen if a chimp was lobotomised and had the removed sections of its brain replaced with a slightly faulty cattle prod set to fire at random intervals. Punishment for his behaviour is lenient since his mental difficulties have not yet been correctly diagnosed and must legally be largely forgiven.
So, in essence Dave is rather like a car crash. It’s fun to slow down and have a look and then drive away, feeling glad that it’s not happening to you.