7 - The Cupboard is Bare

455 3 5

The galley looked like the inside of a giant trash dumpster.  Empty containers and packaging refuse blanketed virtually every horizontal surface.  The pungent smell of spilled spices and sauces mingled with decomposing food and cleaning solution.  Overwhelmed, Jeena put one hand up to her nose, and reverted to very shallow mouth-breathing.

Toward the back of the room, obstructed by a huge pile of smelly debris, rows of spring-door cabinets lined the walls from floor to ceiling.  It was the only remaining clue that the place had once been a kitchen serving a four-star restaurant.

“Okay, Scenter, which cabinets?” Skip asked.  “Where’s the food?”

“I can’t tell.”

"Is there ANYTHING at all your nose can tell us?”

She looked him straight in the eye, and rapidly recited with absolute confidence:  "The shirt you’re wearing has not been washed in over two weeks.  There’s a mild Trichophyton infection in your armpits – I would suggest an antifungal spray instead of Old Spice Sea Fresh deodorant.  Your most recent meal was a meat-and-berry foodbar, consumed eight hours ago.  Your breath would be stronger, but six hours ago, you cleaned your teeth, using Crystal-Dent solution, variant 110.2.  You missed a spot. You also took a cold shower six hours ago.  You peed in the shower.  Thank goodness, most of it washed off, except for a small residue, probably under your toenails.  The last time you played with yourself was between twelve and eighteen hours ago, probably between twelve and sixteen.  Again, thank GOODNESS for the shower.”

"Not even close!"  he laughed, perhaps a bit too loudly, while the calculation reflexively flashed in parallel through his head.  2330 to 1318 = 1348; 13.8; gm 12,16 -> 13.8564, s 1.25.  0730 to 1318 = 0548; 5.8; s 1.5.  Conclusion: she's dead-nuts accurate.

They searched the cabinets, one by one, each time, opening a door to further disappointment.  Finally, Skip declared, “Okay, so we search individual cabins, then.  You can lead us to the ones likely to have food.”

“What’s the point?” Jeena whined, stamping her foot.  “There's NO FOOD here!!”

“Are you saying you WANT to die?  I can kill you now; that would solve the food problem.”

“Sure, then you’d NEVER find any!”

“Let me put it another way, I could slaughter you.”

“Do it, why don’t you!”  Jeena hissed, eyes brimming with tears.  “I’m tired, and hot, and hungry, this stupid tubing, and cold, and hungry, and I HATE you, hate you, ...”

Jeena's knees buckled, and she braced herself awkwardly against the wall, sobbing incoherently.

"Your blood sugar must be ZERO!" Skip said, drawing his last foodbar from his pocket and breaking off a small piece for her.

Jeena studied the beige chunk.

For a moment, Skip was uncertain whether she was going to throw it down the hall, or take a bite.

After a tentative nibble, she actually seemed to relish it.  Skip handed her the remainder.

In addition to quick energy and long-term nutrition, the foodbar contained a mild stimulant.  Jeena started to feel better almost immediately.  Never had she tasted anything so wonderful.  She thought of all the years wasted on fresh-prepared food, when she could have been eating foodbars...

“I trust you now understand how important it is for us to find food?” Skip reminded her.  “Ready to resume the hunt?”

"More foodbars," she replied.

Last Pod out of SolonRead this story for FREE!