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Tommy Tamagotchi

My dead brother is a terrible ghost. Sometimes I wish he just became a normal supernatural entity, possessing people and crawling out of TVs and shit. At least that would make it easier to care for him. Instead what did he choose to possess? My damn Tamagotchi. You know, those little egg-shaped digital pet things every cool kid had? The ones you begged your mum for, but she said no? Well, my mum was better than yours. 


Childhood summers with Tommy were nothing short of the best. Sneaking playtime in before doing chores and after bedtime was our speciality. I never did master the art of tying shit, so I would drop the damn eggs like I wanted an omelette. That's why I've retrofitted Tommy with a custom reinforced shell; this is one egg I don't want to crack. 


BEEP! 


Tommy awakens me from my recurring daydream of explaining my life situation to imaginary audiences. I pull him from around my neck; it's an 'unclean' alert. Limited by the device's capabilities, Tommy can't communicate any other way but these silly requests and beeps. This one means I'm not operating my giga-compactor correctly. From my command tower, I cringe as I see the metal and plastic crushing unevenly with a ghastly crunch. The mistake costs the walls their shitty upper panels, exposing the gnarly system of gears underneath. 


“Well shit, that’s coming out of my pay again,” I mutter and attempt to restart the cycle, thwacking the dying control panels and hitting the peeling buttons repeatedly. A snappy electric shock reminds me that this machine, like my brother, is a lot closer to death than life. And at the rate that it malfunctions, I am too. 


Ever seen Wall-E? That’s me, if he was a forty year old fat balding man. I crush trash for a living. No, it’s not glamorous, and no it doesn’t pay well, but is it fun? Absolutely not. Still, it is a great source for parts. If it wasn’t obvious, keeping a thirty year old possessed Tamagotchi alive is not easy. Besides feeding Tommy and cleaning his digital shit, I have to replace the components themselves; screen, battery, and all, or lose the only family I've got left. 


I prepare to commence a second compacting cycle when I see movement in the mountains of rubbish. Usually, if it's a pigeon I crush it anyway; the shits are so mutated nowadays I'm actually doing them more of a favour. The giant metal walls groan to life when I notice a muffled yelp, and then a little girl bursting out of a fridge. Immediately, I pull the stop lever. The handle is so broken it doesn’t stay and instead starts slowly creeping back. I hear more yelling; the walls are closing. Thinking quickly, I take out my shoelace and tie the lever into place. The walls grind loudly to a stop, leaving the girl unharmed. It holds - for now. 


"Hey, you! What the hell are you doing here?" 


I rush out of the tower to get a better look at her. She is obviously one of the many wayward drifters that make up Harbour City now, with makeshift clothing wrapped around and her hair craftily pinned together by a small plastic straw. She must've been no more than six.


She stares at me wide-eyed. "Sorry, I was just looking for a place to sleep." 


"Sleep somewhere else," I growl. 


I get a pang of guilt with how quickly I turned her away, but, after all, this was no orphanage and taking care of one freeloader was hard enough. She looks up at me one last time with her sad sorrowful eyes, then turns to walk away, coughing. 

BEEP! 


Tommy rings. I pull the Tamagotchi from my neck and look at it. Medical alert. 


I sigh. "You think I should take her in, huh, Tommy?" 


BEEP! 


That means yes. Fuck you, Tommy. 


"Wait, girl, come back." I call out. "What's your name?" 


She walks back tentatively, "Uh, Nini …"


“Okay, Nini, you can stay for ONE night. Are you hungry?" 


ROOOAR! 


Wow, she is hungry. Wait, that's not her stomach. I look to the tower. The shoelace is gone. The wall roars forward, and the rubbish creeps towards us. There’s only a small corridor of safety ahead. 


Taking Nini’s hand, I leg it as fast as I can. All around, rubbish crashes around us like rain, a can bangs into my head, and a rogue golf club nearly trips me. We near the end when a small car crashes into our way out. The imposing metal walls are only inches away now. We’re dead.


Unless - I look at the exposed gears in the wall. That's it! I could jam it. I search the floor frantically, but all the useless crap here would break easily. Deep down though, I already know I’m holding the solution. Holding Tommy, I look between him and Nini. A choice between letting go and letting in. 


BEEP! 


I check the screen. Tommy’s satisfied. He doesn't need food, water, cleaning, or medicine. That could only mean one thing; it’s his time. I hold him close to me, every second of our summers flooding back. Then I throw him just right between two giant gears. The wall shrieks in protest before stopping, just on our noses. It's over. 


We're both heaving as we exit the landfill together, and strangely I feel more at peace than sad. Finally, she looks up at me. 


“Can I have eggs?"


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