“Right! Listen up! This is not a drill! You all know what to do!”
I sighed, he always yelled like this. Quite tiresome, really.
“We have a million customers to serve and only one hundred men to serve them.”
I threw my arms up, and walked out of the room. It was crowded, but everyone else here gave as little of a damn as I did. They didn't raise any fuss of me walking out of the room. Employees quit like this daily.
I went out the door, and into the mall. It was old, it was rusty, it was worn down. It had it's own atmosphere.
And, thanks to the fact it was an intergalactic highway stop, it was never quiet. Traffic was insane. The McWhatever I was at got enough traffic, 24/7, to drain it's employees. They didn't even vet potential employees before putting them in front of the deep frier, the turnover was that high.
Of course, people still applied. They needed the money. Homeless would always end up here, and they'd get kicked out if they didn't pay 'rent' to various cartels.
Myself, I was lucky. I had my own apartment in a secure area of the station. So, why did I try working there?
It's simple, really. I was bored. Figured I may's well see why the turnover was so abysmal. I barely even did the one shift I did get into. The boss was an asshole, morale was worse than being on the ass end of a war, and the pay sucked.
I wandered my way down through the corridors. It stunk. Lots of homeless, sitting in their corners. The lucky had tents, electronics. The unlucky slept under rotten towels that should've been incinerated then sent out the airlock.
I pitied them, but I couldn't do anything about it. Even if I gave five bucks to one I knew wouldn't waste it on low-grade crack, it'd still have no long term benefit for them.
Nobody would want to help these people, they're all too focused on trying to survive themselves.
I made my way to a nearby Sushi joint. Good place, decent security, and the rice was actually edible. Made my way to the bench, and ordered my bite.
“Hey, one Tuna, one Teriyaki Chicken Sushi.” I asked, quickly. They were impatient, they didn't care for 'pleases' and 'thank yous'. The employees here were just as burnt out as the ones back at Maccas.
But at least their food was good.
I handed over my five bucks, took the rubber banded plastic box given to me, and resumed walking off.
I continued down the hall. This one was known for leaking. We weren't actually sure WHAT was leaking. If it was water, the homeless would be rounding it all up in whatever they could find. But it sure didn't smell like water, and those brave… stupid… no, desperate enough, to try drinking it, found themselves wrapped in a plastic bag, bound for the incinerator.
I take a turn left, down a skinnier hall. There's a few hot pipes here, quite annoying for me to make my way through. You try being a big fat lizard with wings and not getting your appendages burnt. Still, it deters the bulkier of thieves. They can't make their way through without ending up in the burns unit. I'm about as big as you can get through it.
A turn right, walk a few meters, then take my final turn left.
I see my neighbours. Well, some of them. A few are asleep, this being their night time, others are sitting on their chairs, in front of their doors. Protecting their homes from thieves. There's never any single occupancy homes, there's always somebody around. Nobody is ever asleep all at once. It's a safety thing.
I swipe my pass through my door's reader. It's so worn, it's a miracle it's even able to be read. But, predictably, the door opens, the gears groaning as it does so.
There's not much here. A TV, tape deck, fridge that makes that eternal groaning noise, like it's begging to be replace.
It keeps a few beers in there, but they're for my roommate, my security, not me. I value my liver.
I smoosh my way down onto my couch. It smelled like Cat piss, but it was comfy as all hell. I grabbed my headphones, and whacked them on my head. I didn't want to interrupt my roommate's rest, he's done good work for me. Keeping the TV quiet was the barest of curtsies I could do.
Ditto my neighbours. As much as some of them are grimey, or probably outright dangerous… we stick up for eachother. This is our hall, our home. Anyone that does anything against anyone else down this hall quickly finds themselves 'disappearing'. I'm sure you understand.
Not too much on TV, reruns of shows that stopped being relevant 20 years ago. Still, inevitably, there would always be something enjoyable, if not kitschy, to watch.
Finally, I catch my dig. An old Sci-Fi show. It seems positively ancient, with today's modern world, but it's still fun to watch.
It's funny, though. The poor bastards writing this. They expected the human race, along with other races, would endeavour to create a perfect peaceful society, create a federation, and spread it across many many planetary systems.
The reality could not be any more the opposite. They find themselves mere pawns in a bigger Universe, and the first alien life they meet turns out to be a genocidal race. Sure, they survived, they made their way through, and scared off that said race with willing to literally irradiate a huge part of their own solar system, with dirty weapons.
But it hurt them. It hurt them very hard, and they can no longer say on their home planet. They spread about, all over the galaxy, setting up business, spreading culture. For all how they failed their own home planet, they made the legacy live on.
I grabbed my plastic box, and opened it up. Adding the appropriate Soy Sauce… and weave one of the rolls through to my maw.
Good food, innit?