Sunday 22 June 2014

Sunday Story - Garbage by Jason Purdy

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

Every month as I read through the entries for the monthly short fiction contest I have the tough decision of selecting only three stories from many excellent stories. So from June's contests onwards I have changed the rules. I will be posting stories from the contest that I feel are worthy of attention but didn't make the top three.

The first story showcased in this way is Jason Purdy's entry for June's short fiction contest. Jason is regular entrant to the contest and he has a real talent for writing. So much so that he's won a few times and usually makes the short list from which I pick the final three. Here is his entry for June's contest:

Garbage by Jason Purdy

It was a routine clean up job, until I found the fetus in the jar. I was little more than a garbage man, only with considerably more danger. Clad in a hazmat suit, it was my job to go into the old dwellings under the city and check for anything valuable, anything dangerous, and anything that might hurt the precious folks above. We rarely found much. The most interesting thing was probably four tonnes of TNT that could have brought the whole city above collapsing in on itself like a religious argument. They used it to crush old London.

The synthetics sent us regular old people down here for the filthy work. We got all the dangerous jobs, even though we were still entirely flesh, and everyone up in the city was well on their way to being machines entirely. I had no implants, no circuitry, I was all man, albeit grown and birthed from a synthetic womb. I was entirely vulnerable, poor, destitute, impoverished, and I was five hundred feet underground breathing stale farts through a respirator and picking my way through a family home straight out of the early twenty first century. It was creepy, I knew a little of history, but I didn’t know what any of this stuff did. I knew about the wars, the famine, the technological singularity, the nuclear holocaust, the oil shortage, and the second coming of Christ, all the important stuff. But the people, their lives, the clothes they wore, the way they loved, the things they cherished, that was all lost. 

It would soon be lost forever, once they got through destroying everything down here, turning the under city to ash. First, I had a job to do.

In the bathroom, there was a grimy tub half filled with stagnant water. A tentacle flicked against the side of the tub as I entered, and I shot my weapon into the water, sending a concentrated arc of electricity, like a lightning bolt, into the tub. I held the trigger until steam rose from the water. They shouldn’t send us down here alone, monstrosities lurked in the darkness, but we were expendable, poor, destitute, drug addicts, ex-cons, rapists, and murderers. I could try and tell you I was framed but the judge wouldn’t believe that, and neither would you. I’ve made peace with my crimes.

The fetus was sitting on top of the toilet tank. The jar was grimy but intact, floating in clear white fluid. The eyes were closed, and its hands were held before its face like it was praying. My body was suddenly slick with sweat inside my suit. My orders were to extract anything interesting and to approve the site for vaporization. What could I do? Here was the first fully human baby to exist in the last two hundred years. The last child to be born from a real womb. The synthetics above would destroy it without hesitation. 

I took the jar, and I ran.


  1. Wow. Great story! Can't wait to see which ones actually made the top three if this one didn't!

  2. I enjoyed that. All the pertinent details with no waste. Just like a good short should be.