What adorableness lurks in this otherwise ordinary rug? This week's concept art writing prompt stars a fuzzy and unusually flat creature and the human who loves it. Can you come up with a story to go with this image? Write one up and post it in the comments.
Alright folks, get your "munching rug" jokes out of the way and get to writing.
As always, here's my story. Post your own in the comments:
When Erik arrived, the group was already four rounds and three sheets into the night. Most of the tube maintenance crew were still in their jumpsuits, but Erik had been working the Gleeson transit tubes — the ones the 'Phibs mostly traveled — and the cleaners needed to dissolve the slime made his skin itch. So he was freshly showered and dressed in a pair of navy canvas pants and a wool sweater.
"Look at Mr. Hygiene," Paolo laughed as Erik sat down and pulled a mug from the stack. The bigger man, his cheeks already pink, poured Erik a drink from the kettle. Erik sipped, letting the heated alcohol burn though his nose and throat, clearing out the residual chemicals of the day.
"Where's Gem?" Cora asked. Her face was still smudged with fungogrease. The girls swore it was good for their skin, and would leave it on for hours after work. Erik was sure it was just plain old dirt, with as few magical properties as any other dirt on the station, but right now he would give anything for some old-fashioned dirt. Well, anything but the luxury credit bump he got for cleaning the Glesson tubes.
Erik swallowed another mouthful of drink. "She's got an eval."
Cora arched an eyebrow. "Routine?" she asked, trying to keep the quiver from her voice.
Erik swayed his head from side to side. "She's trying to get another bump."
Paolo narrowed his eyes. "Her too? You guys aren't applying for repro, are you?"
Erik grinned. "No, but I do have news. Gem and I are going to be quartering together."
A cheer went up from the table. "Finally!" gasped Malese. "Where are you moving?"
Erik scratched absently at his arm. The team medic had warned him that scratching would just send the chemicals deeper into his skin, but sometimes he couldn't help it. "Hobson's Farm."
"Ooh," Cora said. "Fancy digs. You guys getting a Glo-Suite?"
"Actually," Erik stared into his mug, "we're getting a monster."
Paolo's eyes went ride, then he let out a rough chortle. "What does Gem need with a carpet monster? She's already got you, right?" He smacked his wet lips together in Malese's ear.
Malese rolled her eyes as she pushed him away. "Right, because no one's ever made that joke before."
"How long have you guys been planning this?" Cora asked. "I hear the wait list for monster pups is like, two years."
"It's not a pup," Erik said. "The couple that was living in the unit took off for Truman last month. No one even knew until yesterday."
"A second-hand monster?" chimed in Petrovsky. "Are you sure that's a good idea?"
"It's not 'second-hand,'" Cora corrected him. "It's a rescue." She turned to Erik. "I think it's great. And it means we'll have lots of parties at your place. Give your little guy lots of attention."
"If it doesn't bite," Petrovsky muttered. Even Paolo glared at that. "Hey!" Petrovsky raised his hands, palms out. "I'm just saying, those things don't handle abandonment well. And it's not like a cat that you can just crate when its bad."
"It's fine," Erik said. "Gem and I saw her last night. She's in really good shape. Just a little shy."
Petrovsky poured himself another drink. "Are you sure about this man? A monster's a big commitment, bigger than repro even. You guys are never going to be able to move off-station. Hell, you won't be able to move across the hall, especially if the thing's already been abandoned once."
Erik thought about his own childhood. His own parents had split shortly after their repro came through, his father opting for a cryo job in another system. His mother moved them to the sun domes, where there were few children his age, and never applied for a second repro. Erik had spent lonely years in their quarters. Chatting online with other kids in his learning cohort was never the same as human, animal contact. Once, when his mother was working a particularly long shift, he'd crafted large fabric eyes, gold like a monster's, and glued them all over the carpet of their quarters. He smiled at the memory of his mother screaming at him, ordering him out the door to request the safe solvent needed to dissolve the glue.
Then Gem walked into the bar. Erik turned to watch her. She was still in her jumpsuit, a line of fungogrease traced deliberately beneath one eye. Her kinky red hair was pulled back and teased into a puff ball. When she spotted him, her lips widened into a tired but happy smile. Erik was ready to never be alone again. It would just be him, her, and their monster.