Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dinner with the Devil





Curse would never be home. 

Every time she walked through the share-meadows of Piazzi, beneath the ice-capped ceilings, with a view of tidally locked Menoetius a hazy shade of winter, the touch of neo-cola classicism never made sense. She was still in the phalanstery hovels of the De Gan family, who had kindly taken her in.

She carried a block of cold methane nodules, and entered the de Gan hovel in a secret rush she could barely contain.

Dinner was the plan.

-Hello, hello?! Missus De Gan? Sir Giuseppe? Hello, hello, hello?-

Nothing. Just the dim light of the thermal springs in the center of the hovel. The thump-thump-thump of water pumps bringing oxygen from the bowels of the asteroid Patroclus 617. Curse could smell the damp, marshy things, down below.

She called again in Creole, a language she still knew, even though her name was a mystery and her home just flashes of sadness and pain. Luckily, the world she had woken to, after 76 years of astro-sleep, spoke the only language she recalled. Everything else was a bump in the night, and her, none too wiser at all.

With no one in the kitchen, she dropped the crumpled methane nodules into the basin of the stove, and pretty soon, heat erupted with dancing spectrums of blue and white flames.

-Din, din, din. The best meal of the day….-

And the Curse fell into half-formed memories on the verge of something she had wanted to say, but could not. She had forgotten. Curse knew though -- Curse was only part of her name. She recalled in the white flashes of emotion that flushed her face and made her heart jump and skip. Once, long ago, she had liked to cook for friends. She would now, for she still remembered the best recipes of home. The late, great Earth, now baked, raked, and boiled. Split open by the Grand Armada.

Curse ran to the gutters alongside the hovel. There, in a miniature forest of acres of filthy green, slithered bugs and beetles of all sorts of hard shells. Inside, lurked fresh meat. She scooped them up in her big hands, and pulled her silver-gray hair out of her face.

-Good eatin, uh hum. And good living!-

Curse heard in her accent the drawl of a people that no longer existed. Only a surge of her onetime self remained, enough ancestral memory to spend the next hour cooking and stewing and torching the beetles, the larvae, and the other things from the muck. And she waited until she heard the De Gans come home to a spread of food she had put out on the heavy panwood table.

Giuseppe De Gan and his family -- his now-wife and his eight kid-kins -- waddled into the centerpiece of the hovel. Since the De Gans were a diminutive bunch, as most Minors in the Trojan Kamps of asteroids were, she gave plenty of space at the table to sit. They were a small bunch, much smaller than Curse, and she remembered that, at least where she'd come from, it was wise to know she wasn't in Kansas anymore.

The kid-kins began to cry, when they'd seen what Curse had done. For in her efforts to make them a dinner, just as she remembered what they ate on her former world, she had never come to realize that maybe the bugs in the so-called gutter were really the family pets, and she had cooked them all. Dinner was served.

This would never be home.



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