Thimbleful Thursday for 09/06/2016: ‘Meal Ticket’
“Sorry,” the man said, pointing to the thick porridge-like substance being poured into his food tray. “Do you have something else?”
The slug-like alien behind the serving counter froze mid-serve.
All the other humans, both in the food queue and in the dining area, frozen in horror. Nobody asks for ‘something else’ in the Delphi Six alien slave camp. The only reply you’d probably get is no food whatsoever. Worse, a plasma shot to the head.
“I mean,” the man continued, knowing full well that he may had just placed one foot in his own grave. “The meal tickets we get just state it’s good for ‘one meal’, right? It doesn’t say it has to be this stuff, right? I mean, right?”
The man turned to everyone else for back-up. Nobody else offered.
The alien frowned. “Something else?”
The man swallowed. “Yeah. Something else than the sludge. Not sure if aliens know of ‘flavour’, but, uh…we do.”
The alien stared for a moment. Then, leaning down beneath the counter, he produced a burger complete with bun, placing it on top of the porridge substance.
“There you go,” the alien said. “Okay, who’s next? You, at the back there, yes? Well, don’t just look at me with those wide eyes, come get your Nutrisludge.”
“Sorry,” the man with the burger said, treating it as if he had just been served a gold bar. “Just need to make sure; this does means you’re not going to kill me, right?”
“Kill you? Why in space would we kill someone for showing a little bit of initiative? You’re slaves, sure, but you’re not animals.”
“I just thought…” the man began, pausing to scratch the back of his head in uncertainty. “I just thought this sludge is all you’d serve us.”
“Of course not! What kind of chef would I be if I just uncanned Nutrisludge all day? I even offered you folks other foods, didn’t I? Stood up here and declared ‘bet you folks wish you had a nice pizza, eh?’ and all you lot did was look forlorn and asked for more Nutrisludge.”
“We thought you were taunting us.”
“Well it’s a good thing we cleared that up, eh? Kept having to throw away perfectly good Lobster Frittata in lieu of Nutrisludge; it was doing my head in. I don’t suppose anyone else here would like something more flavorsome? I’ve only got a few more burgers before they’re all out of–”
The meal counter wasn’t designed to take a large influx of people at the same time; that had changed by the time the day had ended.
435 words (Challenge Goal: 360-440 words)
This piece was written for Thimbleful Thursday, a microfiction challenge posted every Thursday. Come join the fun!