Categories > TV > Red Dwarf > Appliance


by Roadstergal 0 reviews

Back on Red Dwarf, after Terrorform.

Category: Red Dwarf - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Humor - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2006-09-06 - Updated: 2006-09-07 - 1624 words

The concepts of 'day' and 'night' had no meaning in deep space. For the purposes of its crew, Red Dwarf had narrow strips of light running around the middle of all personal quarters, conference rooms, and recreational areas, which varied in color to indicate the time of day according to a standard ship's day. Rimmer therefore had no trouble knowing when Lister would be asleep. Sometime between the almost-off indigo of night and the grimy purple of morning, Lister would fall into snoring repose, a can of lager typically balanced gently in his armpit. Rimmer chose that time to come back, stopping outside of their nicked officers' quarters to ensure that Lister's snrrrrk... pause.. liquid snort... snrrrk snore was firmly in place.

He wished, heartily, that he had not come back at all. Red Dwarf was larger than most cities. He could live a lifetime and more there without ever seeing Lister. He resolved to, over and over. Every time they fought and Lister won. Every time Lister somehow found a way to pull a prank on an incorporeal dead man. When Lister burned his father's chest. Every time, Rimmer resolved to just stay away from the bloody gimp, haunting the ship for eternity like a neurotic ghost. But he never did stay away. No matter how long he stayed away, he always ended up missing... his bunk. How he wished that he were not so desperate for company that he always had to come back, like a thief in the night, never saying a word about his absence to Lister.

This was the longest he had stayed away. Two months and a few days. He had been desperate for company two weeks ago, but the knowledge of how Lister truly felt kept him away for longer. He had known before, of course, but somehow having it stated explicitly brought it home in a way that mere implicit knowledge, even implicit knowledge on the level of knowing that gravity would continue to function for the foreseeable future, did not. It galled him to know that he was so lonely that he would long for a bunk below a toenail-chewing git who made no secret of despising him.

Rimmer stared at the bunk above, wide awake, listening to the horrid unpredictability of the snoring above, trying to hear a melody in it. It stopped, and he held his pointless hologrammatic breath, waiting for it to restart. It did not. Instead, he heard a heavy sigh, and heard the noise of Lister moving around above him. He heard Lister climb down, making fumbling noises in the pitch darkness. Suddenly, Rimmer felt weight, insofar as he could feel anything, on top of his light bee. Lister was lying on Rimmer's bunk, his back squishing the light bee into the foam mattress, three-quarters overlapped with Rimmer's projection, as nearly as Rimmer could judge. The goit started to shift as he grumbled something slurred to himself.

"What the smeg are you doing, Lister?" Rimmer asked. His voice sounded just about where Lister's ear canal terminated at the drum. Lister did an impressive horizontal leap, yelping in a freakishly high-pitched voice. He rolled off of the bunk and yelled, "Lights!" They blinked at each other for a moment, Lister on his feet and staggering slightly, trying to acclimate to the abrupt brightness.

"Do you want this bunk, too, Lister? Shall I mosey on back to technician's quarters?" Rimmer asked, testily, now back to his more usual position on top of the mattress. He propped himself up on his elbows.

"Sorry, man," Lister said in a sleep-bleary voice. "I din' know yeh had come back. No problems." He spread his hands, nervously, looked from side to side, and took a deep breath. He clambered back onto his bunk, and called lights off. Rimmer shook his head and lay back on the pillow he couldn't feel, waiting for the resumption of the liquid snores he had grown used to falling asleep to the sound of.

Rimmer poked around in the comm room the next day, pretending that something might have gone wrong in his absence, and that he might actually be able to do something about it if it had. After a few hours, Holly testily told him to leave her the smeg alone and find some other silicone-based life form to annoy the solder out of. Rimmer saluted her with two fingers and wandered back down to their quarters, wondering what the chances were of finding his book in a readable state, or of being enough of a pain in the ass to get someone to make it that way. He slowed as he approached their quarters and heard Kryten and Lister talking with each other, over the unmistakable sound of the mechanoid cleaning the room.

"...ow, man. I mean, of course you have emotions! Look at Holly. Hell, look at Rimmer. They're electronic lifeforms, too, yeah?"

Kryten chuckled the chuckle that made Rimmer want to stuff his groinal attachment into it and set it on Super-Suck. "Ah, well, there you are, sir. Those aren't actually emotions. They're computer simulations of emotions; algorithms designed to elicit responses appropriate to human emotional response. None of us actually /feel/, sir."

Speak for yourself, you oversize Ken doll, Rimmer thought. He walked past their quarters, irate.

Rimmer lay in the observation bubble, watching the stars. Sol would not even be visible from where they were. Three million years away.

Three million years and some change ago, he had really been someone. Well, not really. Not at all. He had been a nothing, just like now. But somehow, it had been more bearable then. He could believe in something more. He could imagine that someday, somehow, he would do something that would make his parents proud, the stupid prissy bloody gits, and then rub their noses in it. He held out hopes of promotion, of being recognized by the faceless Elite who would, eventually, welcome him with open arms. But now? His parents had died disappointed. The faceless others were now lifeless, as well, long gone. The last human alive, his one chance at redemption in the eyes of his species, hated him. And he could only be raised in the other man's eyes by slobbing about in his underwear and listening to Rasta Billy Skank.

Rimmer sighed and closed his eyes.

Lister sat and tapped his cheek with a pen, pondering, as Kryten finished the dusting. "Kryters..." he said, thoughtfully.

"Yes, Mister Lister?" Kryten asked, looking around.

"Well, you say electronic emotions are just algorithms. But aren't human emotions chemical algorithms? I mean, you have these combinations, and you feel this way. Yeh can even muck about with them with chemistry, can't yeh?"

Krtyen paused, puzzled.

"So they're no' really any less valid emotions than human emotions, aren't they?"

Kryten smiled and shook his head. "Don't be so silly, Mister Lister."

Lister laughed and turned back to his join-the-dots book.

"Hmm." Lister looked up at where Kryten was making their beds. "I usually only change Mister Rimmer's bed once a month, because he doesn't really use it, does he?"

Lister frowned. "What's up?"

"The sheets, sir! They're..." Kryten frowned, puzzled, and pulled them off of Rimmer's bed. "Well, they're crunchy, sir. Have you eaten curries here?"

Lister's eyebrows shot up, then dove back down again. He cleared his throat, embarrassed. "Er, yes. Curries. I must have spilled." He looked at the sheets Kryten was holding, which were notably devoid of fluorescent patches. "Erm - I forgot to add the turmeric." He smiled weakly. Kryten appeared satisfied, however, and changed out both bunks, with an extra run to the linen cabinet on deck 536.

Rimmer lay on the crackling fresh sheets later that week, unable to feel their cleanliness and high thread count. Lister had tired of listening to him say "Turn," and had thrown the electronic book into his dirty sock basket. So Rimmer lay on his bunk, seething, staring at the ceiling and imagining the unfortunate book melting into goo in such hostile conditions.

"Hey, man," Lister said from the table.


"I just wanted to say..." Lister trailed off. He coughed and restarted. "It was a really brave thing you did, yeh know, back on that planet with the GELF."


Lister paused and took another puff off of his cigar. "Well, fine, " he muttered. He dropped the cigar into his can of lager and hopped onto the top bunk, shedding his overalls and dropping them off the end. "Lights."

Rimmer stared at the darkness above his bunk, thinking. "You know something, Lister?"

Lister's first snore was cut off with a snort. He coughed. "What?" he asked, blearily.

"I used to daydream." Rimmer paused, tapping his fingers together. "I used to dream that I was a writer."

Lister waited for more. When it was not forthcoming, he asked, "Yeh?"

"I would daydream that I was a writer, writing about some poor sad sod's life, and that I was just getting far too into it. I thought that if I waited long enough, someone would come by and shake me and tell me that I had been working on the blasted book for far too long, and would I please just finish it and move on to something else?"

Lister lay quietly above him, breathing the breath of the awake and the waiting-for-the-punch-line.

"It's been three million and thirty-three years. I wish someone would just check up on the daft git at the typewriter already."

Only silence came from the bunk above him. Rimmer sighed and closed his eyes, waiting for the lullaby of Lister's snores.

"Well, man," Lister's voice came from above, "You're not the only frustrated one." Rimmer frowned. And the lullaby began.
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