If You Can't Stand the Heat

29 3 2

Will Slocum knew a lot about chicken. How to roast it, fry it, boil it, bake it, smother it in cheese, make in Cajun, Mexican, Italian, what have you. Of course he did, he had been the Enterprise’s Head Chef since the very beginning. No one even called him Will any more, he was just called Chef, sort of like Coach or Captain or President. It felt good, that kind of recognition. Every morning he’d put on his chef’s whites and a vintage Boston Red Sox baseball cap – Will disdained toques; he found them pretentious and impractical – and strutted to work in the big kitchen. His assistants feared him, his public loved him and life was, in a word, perfect, except for the pesky fact that he never got close to anyone. He was always Chef, nameless, faceless and, he thought they all believed, utterly devoid of feelings or the need for non-work companionship.

So it made sense to him when he was alone in the big kitchen in 2152 and needed to start Captain Archer’s dinner. Roast chicken. Yes, that would be good. He had all of the ingredients but the lemon. For that, an assistant would have to call the Botanist and ask for a fresh lemon. But there were no assistants around, none at all, so Will sighed and punched the communications button on the wall, “Chef to Botany.”

A slightly breathless female voice answered, “Curtis here. What can we do for you?” Botany was an honorable enough profession, and sometimes there were exotic plants to look at, or herbal remedies that Dr. Phlox wanted somehow strengthened or otherwise improved, but the vast majority of the time in Botany was spent either nurturing the growth of edible plants or delivering them to the kitchen.

“You sound tired, Naomi. Look, can I have a Meyer Lemon? And some new carrots? Also, do you have any mint?”

“Yes, yes, of course, I’ll bring them over, my staff seem to have all run off and joined the circus or something.”

“Mine too. Thanks, I’ll see you soon. Slocum out,” Will went back to the business at hand. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, Fahrenheit, none of that Johnny-come-lately Celsius stuff for Will! He’d always preferred English measurements. Everything was easier to estimate than with Celsius, which always felt like a science experiment rather than cooking.

He took the chicken out, rinsed and gutted it and patted it dry. He melted margarine on the stove and smashed a couple of garlic cloves while saving a few intact. He grabbed the kosher salt and the pepper grinder, too. The chicken was put on a triangular rack in a large rectangular pan. He brushed the margarine on top of the bird and inside it, then sprinkled salt and cracked pepper on top. The smashed garlic was put into the crooks of the wings and inside the bird, and the whole cloves were placed inside the bird. He cleaned up a bit and turned the oven down to 350. Waiting, he tapped on the cutting board with a French knife. Where the hell was that gal? She was cute, sure, but lateness was something he didn’t want to have to tolerate.

Finally, he heard the chime at the door. Where the hell were his assistants? Someone else was supposed to be doing this! He answered the door. Naomi was winded and the corridor was chilly and smelled vaguely of rotten eggs. She fairly well stumbled inside, shaking hard, “Do you know what’s happening?” She coughed several times and her teeth could not stop chattering.

“Here, let me get you some water,” Will filled a glass at the sink and took the food from Naomi. He cut the lemon in half, seeded it and stuck both halves inside the bird. Then he put the bird in the oven and closed the oven door. He was about to start on the carrots and mint when Naomi’s cold hand took his arm, her nails pinching his flesh, “What? Are you turning cannibal on me?”

“I have to tell you what’s going on!” Naomi said angrily, “You have to stop cooking and start listening to me!”

Will put down the knife, “Okay, what’s this all about?”

Before Days {Star Trek Enterprise Prime/Mirror Universe fan fiction}Where stories live. Discover now