Flash Friday 17/07/2015: Exotic Cuisine
I never really aimed for a burger joint job. I don’t think anyone does, really. I mean, nobody tells their teacher ‘when I grow up, I wanna flip mass-produced meat for customers that wouldn’t know politeness if it took out one of their eyes’. I’ll tell you what I did tell my teacher, though; I wanted to be an astronaut.
Not for any good reason, other than to see aliens. Had a book of the solar system, with real dog-eared pages and drool-soaked cover. All the exotic planets would have little green men on them, waving at you. I always wondered why everyone had boring jobs like accountants and librarians when they could go to space and see aliens.
But then reality caught up with me, and I saw what it really took. Loads of math and education and being healthy. And degrees! Why do you need a degree to sit in a rocket and get fired up into space and say hi to aliens? It made no sense. I sorta drifted through school, hoping the Career Fairy would pop up and give me a path to take. She never did. And here I am, frying buckets of potato and watching all the weird foods that the higher-ups push on us. I mean, deep fried ice cream? Who’d want that?
Actually, don’t ask that. You don’t want to see the people who actually order that stuff.
At least I had night shift. Always quiet there. More drunk, but quiet. Nobody was in on that night, though. It was so empty, I didn’t even bother looking up from writing my name on next week’s schedule when the door to the restaurant opened.
First sign something was wrong? Probably the slithering. Sounded like a horde of slugs suddenly had a craving for beef patties. Caused me to look up, meet face-to-face with two squid-like purple aliens slithering across the freshly cleaned floor, their solo eye cracked with red veins everywhere. They looked a wreck. I didn’t need any hints to their biology to work that out.
The left one placed a shiny box to its mouth, a small speaker pointing in my direction. “Yeah, uh,” he said into the box, before I could close my hanging-open jaw. “Just give me a jorgelborj. Large.”
I blinked. “Sorry, a what?”
He rolled his only eye. “Okay dictionary, define ‘jorgelborj’.” He then held the box up closer to me, with an annoyed look on his rubbery face.
“Jorgelborj,” a robotic female voice came from the box. “A Crisonian treat. A bitter mixture of Jorg beans mixed with hot water, with high caffeine content.”
“Oh, uh…” I said, racking through my brain. “That sounds a bit like coffee. You like coffee, right?”
“Sure, sure,” the left one said into the box. “One ‘coffee’.”
“Make that two,” the right one said into his own.
I didn’t really wanna question why they were here. I saw the movies, man. You do anything wrong and they blow the White House up. That’s what aliens just do. So, I made them their coffee. Hoped that the first encounter with the squid-like kind would have gone better than with instant, mass-produced coffee, but there was no fighting it.
While the thick mud was pouring into the large cups, I couldn’t help but notice what sounded like someone rhythmically slapping wet fish on concrete. I peeked over to see the two aliens speaking to one another, their shiny boxes away from their mouths. They must have been speaking their slap-speak through some sort of translator. Either way, they looked pissed. Still, that’s what good customer service is for, right?
“Is there a problem, gentlemen?” I called over.
“Oh, uh,” the left one said into his translator. “Don’t worry about it. I just get angry when people don’t know when to take a hint.”
“It’s not my fault,” the right one said. “He’s the one who said he wanted a ‘wild night out’. So I set him up with one. And then, ooh, I have work in the morning, ooh, I can’t possibly have another one. No, you’re having another one. You’re in the party, you have another one.”
“I have work today.”
“So call in and say you’ve got a cold.”
“Even if I did, it doesn’t erase the fact we woke up floating in the middle of unknown space. You’re damn lucky that we managed to find…where are we, anyway?”
“Earth,” I said. “Planet Earth. Sol. Part of the Milky Way galaxy. Near Andromeda?”
“Oh, right, that one civilised planet in forbidden space. See, if we were in a galaxy with no civilisation, we’d be–”
“Wait,” the other one said. “What did you say Earth was in?”
“And where are we now?”
The other alien squinted like he was recalling an answer for a test. “Wait, where are we again?”
“Earth,” I said.
“That’s in forbidden space, right?”
“Like, the area of space that’s punishable with jail time for interrupting with budding species?”
“I…wouldn’t know,” I said with a shrug. Although I really wanted to.
“Wait.” The first alien frowned as the cogs turned in his head. Then, the eye went wide. “Wait.”
“Yeah, we gotta go.” The second alien grabbed a tendril and dragged his friend. “If the intergalactic police visit here, human, tell them you saw nothing!”
“Don’t you want your coffee?” I said, holding them both up.
“Keep your contraband. If we’re caught sipping on those if we’re pulled over, we’re dead meat. Just–come on!”
“But my caffeine! I can’t work without it!” The first one wailed, holding onto the doorframe. He slowly slipped through the door, and then, all that was left of the encounter was a viscous slime all over the floor.
And all I remember after that was putting up the ‘Wet Floor’ sign and grabbing the mop. Because a job in service never ends, you know? Gotta be prepared for even the most unexpected guests.