Of course, the best hangars for creating atmosphere are my hangars, which I wouldn’t say myself, but many people—many people say that.
He didn’t, but I took a bet on Twitter and lost, so I had to rewrite the first chapter of my book in the style of Donald Trump, who is of course off his rocker. It was fun and extremely difficult and gave me permanent brain damage, as well as massively inflating the word count. Read it below.
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THE SECOND DEATH OF DAEDALUS MOLE
by Niall Slater
by Donald Trump
Making Characters Develop Again
At a luxurious refuelling station, the greatest refuelling station in the Northern Sector
Today, or yesterday, or recently, you know
The Landing Leg was enjoying a busy morning – not great, just busy. It was a small business, you know. There are some great places to eat in the Northern Sector, I could show you some, some really great places. I love the little businesses, and you know, it’s not so often that you find a place that’s small, but has, you know, the atmosphere. What we do here with atmosphere is so good. I actually own the station where we lay our scene – did you know that? We lay a lot of scenes here, lots of adventurers, noir types, you know what I’m talking about. Some really terrific scenes.
Where was I? Oh, right. The smell of burnt bacon – it’s funny, I love small businesses, but I prefer the ones that don’t burn their bacon – was… the man was, smelled bad. Real bad. Just the worst. There was the smell of him, which was one thing, and then you’ve got the smell of the bacon and the drinking, but that covered up how unwashed he was, so he was happy. (I love the unwashed. In many ways I’m one of the unwashed. I started my first business after arriving in the Imperium’s central asteroid belt with a couple million bits in my pocket, and I was unwashed. The shower didn’t work in the shuttle. You know, these days you can get a shuttle from one of my stations, very affordable, very nice, and they always have showers.)
The man’s name was Daedalus. Today he had a headache, which was normal for him, and he mistakenly attributed it to his drinking. He was drinking because he wasn’t working, which is real sad, just real sad, because you don’t always have jobs, but we’re working on that, we’ve got real good guys working on the problem and we’re doing so well, it’s going to be really great. You know, the Titan battery mines are a great place for a young man like Daedalus to make his living, and there’s no reason he couldn’t just go there.
Most of the diners were human. Daedalus knew, from observation, that the noisy glugging six seats to his left was a petradon drinking from a gallon-tankard of ale, and a pair of stossven mechanics were hissing at each other over a plate of toast one row over, arguing in stossvensk about a payment of some kind. The petradon was delaying going to work to avoid a sleazy co-worker, who really should just file a complaint if it’s such a problem, you know you get lots of women, people rather, lots of people, who see a problem, and they should speak up, but they don’t, because you know, maybe they like it, or maybe there’s another, or what you really, you know, we’re doing so good in the battery mines.
Daedalus was good at being quiet. And you know, that’s a good quality. Most people aren’t. The louder the place, he knew, the louder people felt they talk about secrets to each other; or to themselves. I often talk aloud. It helps to have some of the best thinkers talk out loud. Cafés, pubs and spaceports were all good places for someone in Daedalus’s position to find work. His languages were patchy, but on the Cloud stations most people spoke Collective, like they should, really, if they want to integrate, and he only needed a few words to know who might need a courier.
Not today, though. Today he just wanted to drink. He flagged down the burly, moustachioed proprietor with a hand, holding out his empty cup until she brought over a plastic jug of yellow liquid. Thinking about it, maybe, the attractiveness of the owner was why the business wasn’t doing so well. You got to get the best pieces out in front. It’s like when I’m selling something, you know, you don’t put the old rustbuckets out in front of the store, you put the nice ones there.
“Sixteen hundred,” came a voice from the doorway, “at least. You’d be an idiot to ignore it.”
“Later,” came the response, “I’m too hungry for this.”
Daedalus tried to ignore it. Two humans in gang leathers, probably Hispanic, or Latino, or Mexican, or Latino, and I love the Latinos, but you can’t deny there’s some… there’s some gang thing there. Anyway, they walked in.
They picked a spot in the corner and dropped their voices. Daedalus stared into his cup. Then he dropped a two-bit card into the slot on his table and got up, drawing his coat about him and pushing out the front door into the brisk station air, his tattered dress boots skidding slightly on the tile.
White clouds of icy condensation rolled down the supporting girders from ceiling to floor, bursting slowly against the lukewarm grating underfoot. Somewhere deep within the structure great boilers were rumbling away, sending familiar vibrations down to the tips of its steel fingers, reaching out into the black. A river of raggedy people, real sad people, flowed along the grimy metal street, wandering towards their jobs behind crooked Hil- er, crooked, lean-to shopfronts and under the roofs of big commercial hangars. Of course, the best hangars for creating atmosphere are my hangars, which I wouldn’t say myself, but many people—many people say that.
Daedalus tucked his hands into his pockets. The Crow would be another hour in Gindle’s workshop, who’s a great guy, you can’t get a better deal than with an entari, and Mr. Political Correctness says that’s, I don’t know, racist or, you know, there’s a culture of hard work, but I, you know, they should stay and make their sectors great.
“You alright, mister?” A man with a blotchy face in a dirty raincoat was standing hunched outside the café. He stared out at Daedalus from under his hood.
Daedalus looked at him, then turned away.
He followed for a step. “Hey, hey man, don’t suppose you could spare some-”
“Just a little, huh? Come on, friend, I’ve got the-”
Daedalus pushed him away. “Sad!”
The man grabbed at him. “Please! Just a little publicly-subsidised healthcare-”
Daedalus left the man behind, melting into the crowd. He let it carry him to the end of the street and through the big metal doors onto the greatlift, just a really terrific lift, which filled with people and jolted upwards.
By the time he stumbled back into the street the world was tilting slightly and his head was pounding. He had been sure that Gindle’s shop was on this deck. Maybe not. The air was warmer here – it took a minute or so for Daedalus to realise that he’d missed his stop, and he let out a long sigh. A low plastic bench stood to one side between a coffee stand and a tool shop, so he unsteadily wandered over, took a seat, and waited for his head to clear. Out of habit, he reached for the chain around his neck and rubbed the pendant with his thumb. It buzzed reassuringly.
Daedalus hadn’t been to Aphiemi in about a year, and he hadn’t stayed long, but there were definitely more uptier people – highlife – than there used to be. Petradons stomped around in flowing wool cloaks, all imposing muscled arms like worn leather and chitinous body plates the colour of charcoal. They went shoulder-to-shoulder with the taller stossven, whose bony exoskeletons stood out, some spray-painted in neon colours. Each one loomed over the humans, who scurried underfoot. The Cloud stations were getting crowded as people moved away from the inner systems, away from the police. Daedalus gave a start at the sound of fighting, but it was just a scuffle in the queue for the employment office down the street. A petradon guard looked in their direction. Fighting turned to muttering and then to silence. Then they looked up at the beautiful casino that I built there and they were all overtaken with a sense of national pride, and they all calmed down and got jobs at the casino.
Suddenly Daedalus wanted to walk. Daedalus let his legs carry him up and along the main street, past rickety market stalls and cheap, twenty-four hour watering holes heaving with out-of-work drinkers, who were yet to get great jobs in the casino. A screen stood on a barrel outside one, tuned into the news. An entari in a crisp white suit reeled off lines in a soft voice while the ticker scrolled with stock prices. A picture-in-picture video showed soldiers in white armour fighting off spidery, many-legged creatures.
“-engagements continue beyond the frontier, with reports that the tireless Collective Armada is holding our lines steady, thanks to a recent funding boost which has provided newer, better defences. Colonists are reminded to report any suspicious activity to their overseers or the police, as the Church of the Void is known to be operating in systems past Najwas with intent to sabotage the war effort. Work incentives are available for any information leading to an arrest. And now, in just a few moments, we will hear a statement from the President-”
The coolant pipes gurgled and it started to rain. Water cascaded from the icy metal high above as hot air brushed against it, falling in heavy drops on the crowds below. Daedalus pulled his coat tighter. He hurried forward, towards nowhere in particular, keeping an eye out for another cheap place to drink. A few minutes of wandering found him in the Headsman’s Block, a dusty pub with damp walls, which offered, if memory served, half-bit shots until five in the morning. He slipped inside and took up a spot at the corner of the bar, and ordered a double.
There was a bang from the other end of the counter.
“Another.” grunted a big man. Daedalus glanced over. The man had a broken nose, and his spiralic face tattoos were distorted by a bruise. His leather vest was spattered with red streaks. They looked more like fresh blood than paint. His look was, if you ask me, kind of urban, you know. Inner-city kind of guy. You know. The bartender poured a vodka-tonic and slid it over the counter to him. “One bit, Trev.”
Trev dropped a handful of cards on the counter and started drinking again. The bartender frowned, but took them.
Daedalus was halfway down his drink when the door opened again and two men strode in. He recognised them from the Landing Leg. One had a short sword on his hip and a pointed face, the other a chrome bat slung over one shoulder. Real loser types. A pink scar split his mouth in two. They didn’t recognise Daedalus. No-one ever did. He noted their agitated looks, again, kind of urban-looking guys, then remembered why he was there and returned to his drink. They walked up to the man called Trev. The bartender saw, and disappeared into the back room.
Daedalus was nervous, which is normal, you know, when you live in a place, not that Daedalus lives in this place, but we’ll get to that later, and people from outside, not that there’s anything wrong- my father, when he came to the Imperium, he saw what these people were upset about, he was renting a small block of apartments in the inner city, and he saw all kind of, and you know, he fixed it by being more selective about his tenants, like me in my business dealings, and you know, I get the best deals, so much, because of who I do business with. And I’m going to do so well with the rest of this scene, you’ll see when we, when we get to the, people often say this is their favourite scene that’s ever been written. Not that I say that, but lots of people, you know.
“Where is it?” Came a low voice from the group. He said it like a hater would. “Trev, where’s the merchandise?” (I do the best merchandise. This character is talking about a different kind of merchandise, you know, which I have never traded in, and they asked me to condemn it, and, you know, there are lots of things that happen. Sometimes you, I never said anything in favour… I don’t want to speak out against people I don’t know.)
Trev didn’t reply. Daedalus heard him drinking.
The second voice chimed in, “Trev, what did you do?” He sounded like a loser.
“She… she has a knife.”
A pause. “How-”
“-where did it get a knife, Trev?”
“Trev.” That’s the hater talking.
“It was my knife.”
The silence stretched out. Daedalus decided to drink up and leave.
“Where is it now?”
“I don’t know.”
“Oh god, oh god, we’re dead. We’re screwed.”
“Keep your voice down!”
“This is your fault! I warned you!”
“They’ll be here any minute. What do we do?”
“I don’t care,” said Trev, “screw it.”
Daedalus found his cue. He downed his drink in one and sidled towards the exit. It opened before he reached it and three petradons walked in, their brown cloaks billowing around them. The haters and losers stopped arguing, like they always do when a real business presence walks into the room. The lead petradon, an eight-foot muscle-bound beast with cracked plates on every visible patch of skin and a curving horned plate on his head – like I said, these are all kind of urban-looking guys – stomped up to the men at the bar. His companions stayed by the door, leaving Daedalus to lurk nervously a few paces away.
One of the standing men broke the silence. “Aggro. I… I didn’t know you were picking it up.”
“Uh.” The petradon rumbled in answer. The pub had fallen silent. Regulars were staring intently into their drinks or out windows. “I don’t see it anywhere.”
“We… we couldn’t bring it here.”
“…It wouldn’t stop fighting. We had to sedate it, and I, uh, didn’t think dragging it around in public would be a good idea.”
Aggro raised a hand. His two companions stepped a bit closer, reaching inside their cloaks to touch their sword-hilts. They were great people.
“Don’t lie, haters!” He rumbled. “Very dishonest! You know how important this package is. It’s so important. I’m getting a good deal for it, and we’re all going to do so good, but I need the package. It’s one of ours, and we do the greatest packages. Losers!”
“N- no, seriously. She- it’s back on our ship. The Bounty. Bay sixteen, up on the north dock. If you meet us up there- erererghhkk-”
The small man’s, very small man’s, not a big man’s voice sputtered away as Aggro’s hand closed around his windpipe. Daedalus stood still and quiet, and watched. The man with the split mouth flinched, but the drinker didn’t move. He didn’t even look. He was on space-Twitter, directing hate-filled garbage at the President, because he was a hater.
“I understand what you’re saying, even if you are a hater.” He lifted the gangster, who was indeed a hater, over his head. “This is a difficult deal to make, and the difficult deals are usually, there’s so big, and it’s a lot of money, you know, and I never get a bad deal. So you can’t waste my time.”
The other man, the loser, not the hater, went for the bat slung over his shoulder and swung it. The chrome bounced noisily off one solid shoulder-plate, then Aggro drew a fist back and punched him in the face. The blow collapsed his nose back into his skull. His corpse was flung over the counter with a tinkling crash, and glass burst everywhere, filling the room with bright splinters. Sickly yellow spirit gushed over his twitching body. Aggro looked at the drinking man, who shrugged.
“Sad!” Aggro said to the quivering man in his fist, real quivering. Very small man. “Tell you what, I’ll tell you what you’re going to do. You’re gonna take the package to bay six in twenty minutes, drop it off, take your money and leave. If you don’t keep to the schedule then we can’t do a deal, because that’s not how you do deals, and I do the best deals.”
“Ecghk.” he nodded frantically.
“You’re lucky I’m paying you at all, you know, some people, they have a real problem, and they don’t get paid, you know? So don’t make any more decisions. Leave them to the big guys, like me, okay? I’m a big guy.” Aggro dropped him in a heap on the floor and gestured to his companions, who were just terrific people. They left. He turned to the regulars, who were all looking determinedly elsewhere. “Did anyone see this?”
“Good. You know, in the old days, you could do what you wanted, without all this politically-correct garbage.” Aggro said. He stomped out the door.
I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as I regret writing it. You can pledge to support the non-Trump version on Unbound (it’s 51% funded!) and get some sweet bonuses.
Follow me on twitter @Niall_Slater to hear me moaning about politics.