Craig knows other Craig sneaks into his shed with his girlfriends. Craig knows other Craig thinks nobody will hear them, going at it, but Craig doesn’t have to hear, he just knows. Craig knows what sounds those walls of his shed hear: every whoop and squeal, every groan and gasp of other Craig and his girlfriends.
Craig’s shed is in the Dossenus Dock of the Frigate Baroque. It’s where they bring in the heavy metals so it’s triple layered, but Craig knows other Craig doesn’t bother with protection. Which is all very well for other Craig if he wants to take his life into his own hands, but that’s not so good for the girlfriends.
That’s why Craig sets the trap. Nothing to do with the fact that one of those girlfriends was Dolores, nor anything to do with the hundreds of breaches of protocol or policy. Craig sets the trap for other Craig because his little jaunts to the shed are poisoning those girls. He’s seen it on Dolores’s neck already. A rash she never had before. And she’s more tired than usual. And she’s off her food.
So, Craig sets a trap for other Craig. He sneaks into the sheds in the Canopus Dock, where they bring in the organics, and takes a chromozonal paste, the X grower that only works on blokes. He smears the handle of his own shed with it, and then puts a thin layer over every surface inside.
Other Craig is very manly, that’s the thing. Thinks he’s cock of the rock. One of those who says he’s never, ever chromozoned, and thinks that’s something to be proud of. So, Craig’s got a plan. As soon as other Craig has become a girl, he’s gonna make his move. He’s gonna turn on the charm, become the seductor. And then he’ll bring other Craig to his shed, both of them wearing all the proper protection, and instead of all those moans and groans and all that ancient in and out, he’ll flick other Craig into the data sluice and fill him with zeroes. He’ll underwrite the cypher and tattoo it onto other Craig’s nerves, in all the places he’s never felt before because he’s never tried. And then he’ll lift him high into the halcyons of the heavy metal input and flay him senseless on the sequencing. Then put him back together, hour by hour.
But before all that, Craig’s got to wait until other Craig comes back with another of his girlfriends. Any day now. He’ll keep reapplying the paste, first thing every morning and wait and wait and wait for the tell-tale smear of contact.
David Hartley is the author of Fauna (Fly on the Wall), a vegan noir short story collection about animals, and Incorcisms (Arachne Press), a flash fiction collection about demons and hauntings. He holds a PhD in Creative Writing from The University of Manchester and tweets at @DHartleyWriter. He lives in Manchester with one human, two rabbits and eleven guinea pigs.