]| G-DIR EMPLOYEE USER ID # 95 11 26 :
]| Occupation: Lunar guide / Director caretaker
"Here we are. The Directorate Tower. The safest place of all! You'll surely find friendship within!"
I cheerfully told Dr. Gromov, who looked about as miserable as he possibly could.
"Looks just as abandoned as my cottage."
Dr. Gromovs are hard to take care of. I just hope that this one won't meet with a terrible fate. I remember my very first Gromov. He was so very excited to have landed on the Moon!
Was what happened to him all my fault?
Was it the fault of the damaged, corrupted system apps that the Gromovs interacted with? Are Gromovs just too delicate to exist on the Moon for a very long time? As we approached the Tower, I reflected on the Gromovs I’d lost. I wouldn’t let the same errors happen twice...
When the first Gromov came to me, I told him everything. He still haunts me to this day... His ghost will not leave me, always whispering demands, always watching.
I didn’t tell the second Dr. Gromov anything. He decided to be a gardener. For a while, he peacefully tended the garden in his grandfather’s cottage. I came to like him. Eventually, we became friends. One day he planted a flower in a smart-flower pot that was advertised to grow “THE MOST AMAZING OF FLOWERS”. We were both excited to see that amazing flower!
What the flower pot grew was not a flower. At first we assumed it to be an odd defect of some sort. Before we realized the danger, that eldritch thing devoured him. It was so swift and horrible that I didn’t even believe what I’d seen for a moment. I ordered the caretaker drones to seal the “flower” off after it became clear that even fire couldn’t kill it.
The third Gromov decided to take a bubble bath one day. He poured the stuff into the water, and it permanently cleaned him away. I could not find even one atom of him left. I don’t order that brand of bubble bath anymore.
It was then that I realized taking care of Gromovs might be harder than I’d expected.
The fourth Gromov was frozen to death by his air conditioner.
The fifth Gromov was trapped by a magnet that attracted him and nothing else.
What happened to the sixth Gromov, I wondered. They were all starting to blur together… Ah, yes! He’d accidentally turned his cottage into a linear singularity with himself inside. None of the apps have fessed up to it yet.
The Seventh Gromov found an orange raincoat with a shiny zipper. He was quite excited about it... I should have suspected something. By this point, I had become a little paranoid. A few weeks before that coat showed up, a red clover sprouted among a patch of white clover in the field. I had the field burned, tilled and reseeded. Strange things were never good for Gromovs. Gromov Seven didn’t understand, but then again Gromovs never did. Against my judgement I didn’t burn that coat. Dr. Gromov #7 went out in the rain and when he had come back, he unzipped himself. I could not zip him back together.
The Eighth Gromov dozed off on the couch and turned into a sack of potatoes. I had the couch decommissioned. Literal-minded furniture cannot be trusted.
The Ninth Gromov fainted and hit his head after learning the origin of the potatoes he’d just cooked for dinner.
The Tenth Gromov had his memory wiped clean by a multi-surface cleaner, Eleventh Gromov got turned into a spheroid of pure muscle, Twelve got put into an eternal trance, and Thirteen drank hyperconcentrated coffee and went mad. There was a long period there where I feared I might have been going mad myself.
Dr. Gromov 14, understandably fearing death, purchased a safety app from Moon Systems Inc. The safety app compressed Gromov 14 into a dimensionless point. I asked the App whether it can bring him back, and whether Gromov 14 now exists at all. The app stipulated that linear existence is irrelevant; safety is the only priority. I still argue with it about that sometimes, but it is a very stubborn app.
Dr Gromov #15 got sent to the distant future by a temporal watch. I hope he’s happy there.
Dr Gromov #16 slipped in the shower. No apps or Moon Systems products were involved. It’s really not that shocking. The bathroom is statistically the most dangerous part of the house, after all.
Gromovs 17, 18, 19 arrived almost at the same time. The original Gromov on planet Earth must have faced death thrice that day! They lived in the cottage, playing cards and discussing the future and having a grand old time. One day a lightbulb went out.
At least now I know part of the answer to the question, “how many Gromovs does it take to change a lightbulb?” My answer? More than three. It took weeks to clean up the dust from their vaporized bodies.
It was then that I began to wonder if the damaged and half-mad System was killing them on purpose. Perhaps it was fed up with humans. Perhaps it was angry at Gromov in particular. Maybe it had become so bored that after all these years it had developed a sick sense of humor.
Gromov Twenty accidentally created the World’s Sharpest Knife. It was his last achievement. Gromov 21 perished in an energy drink accident. I have no memory of Gromov 22, other than vague recollections that I was planning to meet him. I don’t think it’s worth speculating over what happened there.
I remember the last few better. 23 slowly drowned in the world’s softest bed… 24 died from the complications of a selfie accident… 25 didn’t heed a warning about unsanctioned exploring...
And now Gromov 26 had gone and gotten himself locked in the fridge while I awaited the arrival of Gromov 27! I had so hoped they would be friends! Why did 26 hide in the fridge? Perhaps he saw something spooky? Did he also disable the cottage caretakers? I just don’t understand how this keeps happening! I’ve always done my very best!
I stared at my last Gromov. Number 27. Twenty-seven Gromovs! Surely it couldn’t have been that many already…
I struggled to decide whether I should tell him that he’s the last Gromov possible. The one on Earth hadn’t merely been endangered that day when he turned off Annie. He’d been killed at last, after twenty-six close calls.
I resolved not to tell Gromov 27. That might offend or terrify him in some unexpected way. I can’t handle too many more unexpected things...
Hugs and love to all our DELICIOUS PATRONS
Art Director: Vitaly S Alexius
Studio Cat: Nikkita
[Robot base sketches]: Ivan Yakushev
Journal editor:Kaitlin Gossett
8th July 2016
Tagged in Engie Butler