Title: Gardens, Galaxies and Goosebumps
Author: David Jenkins
Genre: Fantasy / Horror / Sci-Fi / Short Story Anthology
Gardens, Galaxies and Goosebumps the first short story collection from David Jenkins is out now. Enjoy nine stories featuring Ground Goblins (get rid of them or they’ll get you) and Remember Balls (touch this device to store any memory) among other delights. Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Horror, this collection has it all; in the garden, in the galaxy and beyond.
Excerpt from ‘Remember Everything’
“OK, after adding the parameter of only sixteen to sixty-five years olds, we’ve limited the field to fifty people. What next?”
“We remove any people whose convictions only resulted in fines.”
“Anything else?” I reply, struggling to keep my eyes open. I could have finished this task half an hour ago if I wasn’t training Mark, the beginner direct from Oxford.
“Any who has dependents and any whose income is over eighty thousand,” Mark says after a delay. It reminds me of my mum and a stab of sadness strikes me.
“Paul, are you OK?”
“Yes,” I say as I filter the results further, “and now you’re down to twenty people. What next?”
“Then we look at what skills are currently being requested.”
“OK, can you show me how it’s done?” I say as I heave myself off my chair, trying to contain a yawn.
Mark can’t hide the smile on his face as he takes the reins. Why am I training anyway? That’s normally Steve’s area, as he’s told us ten times already. The only reason we let Steve train is he’s good at talking to people; in fact, getting him to shut up is the problem. There’s something weird going on, because there’s no room for anyone else in the office and no rumours of expansion. Unless someone is getting promoted to Andrew’s old spot. But the Civil Service normally has an open application process.
“Well, engineering and manual labour are the top demanded skills at the moment,” Mark says as he opens the candidates’ profiles. Within minutes he’s found an applicant.
“This guy’s perfect; he was a mechanic until he let his shop insurance lapse and a faulty car lift damaged several cars. He’s in prison for another three months.”
I glance at the screen before nodding in agreement. The higher-ups might be testing me for the team leader position, analysing my training technique. I’m probably not their top choice; my standards have slipped recently as I’ve been too occupied with my mum, but I’m far from the worst and now I have a chance to prove it.
“OK, let’s see if we can find a couple more recruits, I once found twenty by going through one local council’s criminal records.”
“I know you held the record for several years before, Mr Christian.”
I struggle to hold the anger in; we’re probably being watched and I only wanted to remind them of how good I was. Now he’s ruined it.
“Did I tell you where we’re going on a baiting mission?”
“Birmingham, so we’ll need to leave within the hour.”
“Can you help me then? Two set of eyes are quicker than one.” I give a gracious smile as I lean in to help the young Mark.
I stand outside, rubbing my hands together trying to keep warm as we wait for the potential candidates to bite. A nearby defaced billboard, advertising the benefits of going to Mars, provides a constant reminder of why we’re here. I can understand why people don’t want to go: the life expectancy’s lower, the pay is shit, all the food is freeze dried and if you don’t like it there’s no way back.
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