Day Twenty-Two – All Aboard for Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Pancakes

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“Yes, Chef,” Remi Grismain barks. Chef Garret departs the kitchen to attend to something in the dining room. Remi watches him go, then sighs.

With the last of the tomatoes cored and skinned, the apprentice dumps them unceremoniously into a blender and sets it for purée. He takes a moment, as the tomatoes turn to mush, to look around the kitchen. It is his fifth month in this position, and this particular day marks the culmination of seven years of work.

Unlike Remi, who is not allowed to prepare anything where delicacy and ingenuity are culinary requirements, the rest of Chef Garret’s crew are in deep levels of concentration working in tandem to perfect Garret’s menu for the evening. Remi has been given the inglorious task of making salmorejo.

Absently, he adds two handfuls of garlic into the blender.

What Remi Grismain knows, and what the rest of the planet is completely unaware of, is that this particular day will set into motion events that will change the future of the solar system forever. Remi is but an ant in the works this day. He has a simple task to perform, but the execution of said task, should it not go as planned, could have unpleasant consequences. In Remi’s mind, he can only concentrate on the one or two seconds it will take to achieve success.

Everything must be perfect though. Remi must be in control of the situation. He must be ultimately aware of everything occurring around him at that final millisecond before the event.

Remi slows the speed of the blender and adds vinegar and a handful of seasonings Chef Garret has prepared for him ahead of time. As he reaches for the bread that has been soaking in a bowl, he notices his hand trembling. Quickly, darting his eyes to see if anyone else has noticed, Remi shoves the hand into his pocket. He performs the next few steps of the recipe in this fashion, one-handed.

“Remi!” the bellowing voice of Chef Garret booms over the raucous din of the working kitchen. “Get that hand out of your pocket and immediately sterilize yourself. Use flame if you have to, acid, boiling metal, I don’t care. Do not let me see you contaminating the salmorejo again.”

Chef Garret stands behind Remi as he quickly washes his hands in the basin to the side of the station he’s been assigned to. “Yes, Chef!” Remi barks automatically. He hates Chef Garret more than anyone he has met in the last seven years. Garret’s ridiculously strict standards made it excessively difficult for Remi to even be considered for a position at the flagship restaurant. He had almost been cut several times.

If he had lost this position, it would have been disastrous.

Remi goes back to his work, while Chef Garret watches him for a few moments. Stopping the blender, Remi allows Garret to test the consistency and taste so far.

After sampling a bit of the salmorejo in process, Garret nods his head. “Not half bad. Make sure the final consistency is thick enough to survive a palsied hand holding a plastic spoon.”

“Yes, Chef!”

Garret leaves the kitchen to his crew, and Remi sees that his moment is approaching.

With most of the people in the kitchen focused completely on their individual tasks, Remi has a window in which to perform the most important task of his very brief life on this planet.

Lifting the cover off the blender with slow deliberation, Remi casually bends his head down over its top. He makes as if to sample the mixture, dipping a finger in the soup, and touches it to his tongue. He looks around once more, to ensure no one is watching him.

Remi lets a large globule of saliva drip from his mouth into the blender. The saliva is thick and deep purple with flecks of red that could be blood. The globule hangs there in space for a moment before the liquid tether is broken by gravity. With a plop, the globule falls into the salmorejo.

Smiling slightly, Remi kicks the blender back into purée. The task is done.

Fifteen minutes later, Chef Garret tastes the final product and is impressed. “A simple dish Remi, but easy to fuck up.” He smacks his lips happily, then stops, his brow furrowing.

“Did you add something other than what I instructed?” Chef Garret asks, his stare drilling into his subordinate.

“No, Chef,” Remi lies nervously. He can feel the shaking of his hands increasing. He does not have long left to live – though it has nothing to do with his fear of Chef Garret or what the cantankerous culinary despot might do to him.

“You lie,” Chef Garret accuses. He pauses a moment, letting the silence slap Remi in the face. “Keep it to yourself, Remi. Whatever it is, it really rounds out the flavor. Good job.” With a smirk, Garret departs the kitchen, thinking to himself that he may have just created a worthwhile apprentice after all.

Remi heaves a deep sigh of relief and leaves the kitchen, casting one final glance back at the salmorejo as he goes.

The larvae Remi deposited into the soup should begin multiplying as soon as they hit the stomachs of the humans unlucky enough to eat the salmorejo. They will have it worse than the rest. Those particular humans will be devoured from the inside out.

The rest of humanity will simply die as they inhale the spores released from the second phase of his species life cycle – no pain necessary, just a long, psychedelic daydream followed by the forever nap.

As Remi walks down the alley running behind the trendy restaurant, his left hand falls to the ground, completely decayed.

Remi will sleep the forever nap soon himself.

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