five

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"I can't believe it," Gally grumbled as he dropped his plate of food onto the table, nearly breaking the glass of the dish with the force he had applied. He slid onto the end of the bench with his fists clenched. His dark eyes darted between the other people sitting at the table. "I can't shucking believe it."

"What is it, Gally?" David asked, since it was pretty clear that he wouldn't tell us unless we asked him to. If one thing was for sure, it was that Gally liked reactions from his audiences.

Gally gripped onto his fork so tightly that his cracked knuckles went white. "That little slinthead nearly drove a nail into my hand today. We weren't even using hammers. He just - he shuckin' took the nail and tried to whack it in with a wrench. A wrench." He paused for effect. "I have never seen anyone mess up so badly in my life. Good luck, Clark."

Clark, who was the Keeper of the job Alex was heading to next, groaned and buried his head in his hands.

We were having dinner three days after the fire. Finally, after having to eat outside and at separate places due to the lack of space in tables, us Keepers were allowed to eat inside at night again. Frypan didn't like it. He was paranoid that we'd pass out from residing smoke that didn't exist. Despite the fact that the acrid air was gone, the Kitchen still smelled like charred wood due to the burns in the ceiling.

It was Minho's first time at the Keeper's Table. He hadn't said a word since we sat down, which was very unlike him. His fork was stabbed into a piece of meat that he had been drowning in gravy for a full minute.

I nudged him. "You're welcome to talk, you know."

"Nothin' for me to say yet," Minho replied without looking up. He finally stopped drowning his beef and put it in his mouth as an excuse for not speaking. I sighed and turned to my own meal of mashed potatoes, meat, and gravy accompanied with steamed broccoli.

"That's right," Nick said, but in addition to Gally's story and not the conversation between Minho and I. "Tomorrow, Alex goes to the Raisers. All that's left after that is you two, Nadia and Minho."

Minho choked on his meat, making a horrible coughing sound as his hand flew up to grasp his throat. I reached over and hit him hard on the back. What he had swallowed came out of his throat and back into his mouth before he attempted to swallow it again. Gally snickered.

A dark look crossed Minho's features. "You're lucky I didn't spit it out right onto your shuck face."

Gally, who was seated across from Minho, rolled his eyes as if Minho's words had merely bounced off of him.

"That kid should get thrown into the Slammer for almost killing the Cooks," Alby argued, switching the subject back onto Alex. He was in his usual spot beside Link, all the way at the opposite end from Nick. I noticed he had pushed his plate away from him after the choking incident.

"He's a Greenie, and it was an accident," Link reasoned in a softer tone. I was surprised that he had spoken at all, considering how he almost never had any input in any of our discussions.

"Accident, my butt!" Frypan shouted from where he stood in the actual kitchen. We all turned around to face him. He was in the middle of cutting up carrots and had almost dropped the large knife in his hand after Link spoke. "What kind of educated person puts an unopened can in the microwave? Had to ask for a new one and it still hasn't come yet. I want to deep-fry his sorry little--"

"Okay, Frypan." Nick stopped him before things got too vulgar. The Cook sighed and went back to chopping his carrots. "Obviously Alex is having a little trouble with all of his jobs so far" - Gally scoffed at that - "but things will get better. He'll find something he's good at and stick to it."

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