Being an orderly at an asteroid asylum isn’t nearly as entertaining as it sounds. All in all, I’d say it’s about as much fun as mistaking the zero gravity toilet for a nitrous tank, which actually happens a lot here. Plus we can’t exactly go home after work. It’s like a college dorm, except rather than sharing a room with a gonorrheaic binge drinker who refuses to call you anything but “chief,” you get paired up with a fucking Enceladan frost spriggan instead.
You know the type: Pea-brained. Hopelessly mechanical. The double vanilla ice cream of the Saturnian moon system. We didn’t talk much, but it’s hard to have a conversation with someone who spent his formative years taking bong hits of propane from active ice geysers.
He wasn’t a people person, that’s for sure. Case in point: Cinco de Mayo, 2771. A Mexican holiday, so we had spaghetti for dinner. But it gets worse. This was also the night of the infamous Enceladan meltdown:
It all started when one of the orderlies called the frost spriggan a butterface during dinner. Now I didn’t even know the spriggan was a woman until that very second, and so I was understandably startled by the big reveal. So much so that I involuntarily guffawed. Real loud. Almost guttural. It sounded like a foghorn.
“Butterface?” I exclaimed, in that obnoxiously amplified tone you take just prior to delivering what you hope to be a funnier insult, “More like butter the fuck outta here!,” which wasn’t funny and didn’t even make any sense. Of course everyone laughed anyway. This was followed by six painfully long seconds of suspenseful silence so thick you could cut it with, well, a butterknife.
And then, from out of nowhere, an obscenely large stick of margarine sailed across the room and ricocheted off the side of the dejected frost spriggan’s unmistakably masculine head before coming to rest on the floor in front of me. Remarkably, the plant-based dairy substitute managed to retain its rectangular shape the entire time.
And that’s when everybody started pointing and doing air guitar. The laughter was so thunderous and unrelenting that the cafeteria windows actually shook. And then one cracked. And these are space windows. That set off pretty much every code red hazard protocol there is, but everybody was way too busy mercilessly ragging on the undeniably brutish-looking moonbeast to care about the imminent catastrophic loss of modular cabin pressure.
Needless to say, the spriggan was totally humiliated by the universal mockery she was receiving from orderlies and demented space patients alike, so much so that her skyrocketing blood pressure caused her crown of magnesium sulfate icicles to melt. This only provoked more uproarious laughter and what looked like air piano from a few patients.
In response, the inexcusably manly-looking spriggan did what any androgynous Enceladan snow alien would do in the same situation: she lunged – no, pole vaulted – at me; while I, faced with the incoming onslaught of the indisputably estrogen-deficient frost butch, defended myself in the best way I knew how – I pissed myself.
Right there. In front of everyone.
Fortunately for me, at that exact moment the cracked window blew out, transforming the entire cafeteria into a whirling vortex of flesh, food, and furnishings. While most of the room’s occupants were being violently exhaled into the cold dead vacuum of space, I grabbed hold of the inexplicably oversized block of margarine, which had somehow become one with the floor. Apparently, sudden exposure to absolute zero has that effect on margarine.
The emergency hull doors kicked in and bleeped to a close, sending broken furniture and desiccated bodies crashing to the floor. It was all very dramatic, or what shrinks here might call an irreversibly soul-shattering experience; and of course dinner was ruined. But at least no one cared that I pissed myself. Or so I thought, until I discovered that not only had the hulking excuse for a glacial moon maiden narrowly escaped being evacuated into the frigid depths of the negative zone, she was now also soaked in my urine.
This was clearly unacceptable to her, as was her method of survival, which amounted to nothing more than getting her grossly man-shaped head wedged between two pneumatic food tubes. With the room in total disarray, alarms going off full blast, and flashing red lights making the oxygen-starved survivors writhing around on the floor look like amateurs at an impromptu dance-off, I sprung into action.
Actually I just whimsically hopped up and down, giggling and pointing at the unfortunate frost spriggan as she wildly flailed about like a snake caught in a mousetrap, desperately trying to dislodge her unnaturally brawny man melon from between the automated sustenance chutes.
Given the grave situation unfolding all around me, it was probably inappropriate to start belly-laughing, but that’s precisely what I did. And then I let out another guffaw, much louder than the last one. And since nearly all the cafeteria decor and about half of the asylum’s residents had been forcibly ejected into the unforgiving hellscape of gamma quadrant, my hearty roar effortlessly reverberated through the room like a yodeler in an echo chamber.
Incredibly, my jolly vibes also liberated the living embodiment of gender ambiguity from the maw of the cylindrical grub dispensers. She wasted no time lunging at me again, this time like a meth-addled meteor.
And that’s when the margarine saved the day. Again. And also Leon, mild-mannered neutron engineer from Combustive Logistics (it’s supposed to be pronounced Léon, but haha fuck that, right?). Leon had just finished recovering from acute hypoxia, and was about to enthusiastically gasp for his first breath of repressurized air when he tripped over the fossilized slab of imitation butterfat and miraculously ended up right between me and the seething inbound manberg.
Or I used him as a shield.
Either way, Leon bravely accepted his fate, which was admittedly more extreme than I had anticipated. The conclusively mannish snow monster took a fatal bite out of Leon’s neck, which would have been awful had it not simultaneously silenced the only person who could accuse me of cowering behind him. Now, they say that it only takes a single bite from an Enceladan frost spriggan to become a frost spriggan yourself, but third person pronouns have been known to lie, and besides Leon exploded.
Yeah, it was pretty unexpected. Everyone left alive in the cafeteria was suddenly and unceremoniously bathed in a thick slurry of undigested spaghetti and cherry lifesavers. Right, I didn’t even fucking know we had lifesavers onboard until that very moment.
I tried to express my righteous indignation over this clear violation of workplace transparency, but everybody seemed more upset by Leon’s spriggan-induced detonation than the fact that Combustive Logistics had access to hard candy this whole time and was clearly holding out on us. But then I felt like a real big jerk for stealing Leon’s thunder, so I switched tactics and tried to be consoling instead. I reassured everyone that Leon was now a part of us all, quite literally as most of us had forcibly inhaled some of his internal organs. “And besides,” I said, soothingly, “at least his mom wasn’t here to see this.”
Somehow this made everyone even more upset, especially Leon’s mom, who had apparently been employed here for nearly ten years and was also standing right next to me. I’m sure she would have scolded me for being so ignorant, were she not frantically trying to extract one her son’s partially liquified ears from her blocked trachea.
I know, this is all a very crazy story. But it’s not always this amazing, not since Leon exploded. The bigwigs back on Earth initiated a whole series of yawn-worthy procedural changes and a complete overhaul of the asylum’s infrastructure. The only thing that wasn’t replaced was the faulty window, probably because I told everyone that the hunky frost goblin had punched it out on purpose. This resulted in her being punched out of the airlock on purpose, which honestly made the whole experience worth it. A real win-win.
As a precaution, frost spriggans are now totally banned from working at the asylum. But they aren’t complaining, mostly because their frozen homeworld was accidentally bitch-slapped out of orbit after someone snuck into Combustive Logistics looking for lifesavers and accidentally flipped the “go” switch on the neutron accelerator. All this in a vain attempt to locate even a single cherry lifesaver. Well I didn’t find any.