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Science Fiction Contemporary Funny

Okay, I admit it. My restaurant, Sleazy's Delights, might not have the sturdiest furniture, the cleanest plates, the shiniest silverware, tastiest food, or prettiest décor, but it's not the worst. So don’t believe the online reviews that call us “disgusting” or “horrific." Anyone can say anything online. And don’t you dare believe the big red F on our door, everyone knows you can’t trust the government. Our food is just as good as anyone's. Really, it is! However, I knew I messed up when a large, globular creature made out of mold and meat seeped through the walk-in-freezer and started causing havoc in my quaint little restaurant. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me take you back to the beginning. 

I think it might have been a Tuesday, or Wednesday. I can’t say for certain. It’s easy for days to mesh together, especially when they're long, slow, and uneventful. On that day, I was in my office playing a round of solitaire. Hey, don’t give me that look. How else Am I supposed to keep myself busy for the whole day? Anyway, the game got pretty intense when my head chef, Maurice, knocked on my door. 

“Yeah, what do you want?” I asked him. 

Maurice was a big man, I mean a really big man. His head would sometimes hit the pots and pans hanging from the rafter, and I had to move all the cooking stations just so he’d fit. He had jet black, crusty hair. He was missing maybe three or four teeth, but that didn’t keep him from giving folks his friendly, crooked, yellow smile. Well, he wasn't smiling that day, that’s for sure. 

“You gotta see this,” he said.

Relieved that I would be seeing some excitement, I got out of my chair and followed Maurice into the kitchen. 

He opened the door to walk into the freezer and everything looked fine at first. There were a few moldy tomatoes, some deflated onions, and one or two chickens with a few white fluffy balls on their skin. You know, nothing too out of the ordinary. Then I saw it. In the corner near all the hamburger meat was a big pulsating pile of, well, I’m not quite sure what it was made of. The mere sight of it was enough for me to hurl! 

“Oh, my goodness!” I shouted. “What is that?” 

“I’m not quite sure, sir,” Maurice answered. “But that’s the freshest thing we got in this freezer.”  

“Is it moving?” I asked when I noticed that some of the clusters appeared to be sluggishly sliding across the floor. 

“Yes, I believe so, sir,” Maurice replied. 

“I can’t believe this,” I said, putting my hands on my head. “Do you know how much money we can make off of this?”  

“Sir?” I didn’t have to look at my chef to see him raising an eyebrow. I knew he thought I was strange, but then he didn’t see the obvious money maker right in front of him. 

“Think about it,” I said. “A brand new type of food has appeared in our freezer! Nobody has this, except for us!”

“So, people will pay for this… just because we’re the only restaurant that has it?” Maurice asked while giving me a strange look.  

“Exactly!” I said. “ This is what's going to make Sleazy's special! Scoop up as much as you can and slap it on the grill! Leave the rest to me!”

While Maurice was busy in the kitchen, I was busy outside. I erased the “Daily” Specials off the chalkboard and wrote, “TRY OUR NEW MYSTERY MEAT.” And I placed a little trademark symbol above the word “MEAT” to add some flavor. 

To say I was ecstatic would have been an understatement. I could practically count every dollar that I would make off of this Mystery Meat.

“What’s the Mystery Meat?” asked a couple from across the street. 

 “You’ll just have to come in and see, won’t you?” I said before walking back inside. 

I skipped all across the restaurant as I anticipated the overflow of customers streaming in. 

Well, it didn't happen exactly like that. One or two customers wandered in, both having a lost look in their eyes. They were hesitant to order the Mystery Meat and even more reluctant to put it in their mouths. But as soon as that grilled globular concoction hit their taste buds, I could see a literal spark in their eyes. Never have I seen such big smiles on my customers before! They loved it so much that they ordered it three times in a row!

News of my Mystery Meat spread like wildfire. The next day I was getting twenty to thirty customers an hour. It was crazy! I was able to pay off all my debts, as well as hire more employees. I placed a combination for the walk-in-freezer door and made sure that Maurice was the only chef who had the passcode. 

It wasn’t long until Sleazy's Delights, and my Mystery Meat was all the town ever talked about. It didn’t matter if my establishment had a failing grade, they came for the Mystery Meat time and time again. It was great. No, actually, it was more than great, it was fantastic! 

That all changed when the reporters showed up. They all came in at the exact same time, and they all wanted to see how the Mystery Meat was made. At first, I was hesitant to show them because I knew they would shut me down. But then they offered me fifty grand, and I simply could not refuse. With a sprint in my step, I led them to the freezer door, beamed in the passcode, opened the door, and herded the men inside. 

It didn’t take long for them to exclaim shouts of horror and gasps of disgust. 

“What is that?” asked one. 

“Why is it on the floor?” asked another. 

“Is it breathing?” asked a third.  

“Gentlemen,” I said to gain their attention. 

“This is unsanitary!” shouted one. 

“This is unhealthy!” replied another.

“We’ll shut you down!” said a third. 

Their cameramen snapped a few photos, and then they all bolted out of the building. The stories were soon published, and I thought for certain that that would be the death of me.

But to my astonishment, the customers still came! It was as if they didn’t care that the Mystery Meat was moldy and somewhat alive. I sold more mystery meat than ever before! And since the blob had regenerative powers I never ran out of stock. 

One night I decided to treat myself to something fancy, a high-end seafood place to be precise. It only took one glance at their menu for me to realize there was something off about it. Rotten Red Lobster? Who would use the word “rotten” to describe their food? Maybe it was French? With my curiosity piqued, I ordered it on the spot. 

Sad to say, the word was not French. The lobster smelt, tasted, and looked rotten. 

“What’s the big idea?” I asked the waiter. “This lobster is rotten!”

“And your complaint is…?” the waiter’s voice trailed off.

I was about to respond when I took a good look around. Lots of people, who were dressed fancier than me, sank their teeth into the same disgusting dish. They savored every bite as if it were a fine work of art.

Furious, I shouted, “I’m not paying for this! I’m taking my business elsewhere!”

I drove to a stake-and-bar place, but I left as soon as I saw “Silver Mold Stake” on the menu. In desperation, I went to a fast-food drive-through Surely, a fast-food chain would have some standards. 

“Would you like to try the new King Charles’ Foot Lettuce Burger?” asked the attendant. 

“The what?” I shouted.

“The King Charles’ Foot Lettuce Burger,” repeated the attendant. “It’s the most popular item on our menu right now.”

I sped out of that drive-through so fast that I didn’t give the man a chance to go into any more detail. 

What was going on? Had the whole town gone mad? 

I was angry and confused all at the same time. 

My restaurant was supposed to have low standards, that’s what made Sleazy's Delights special. If all the other restaurants lowered their standards, then my restaurant was just white noise. 

In a burst of clarity, I knew what I had to do. 

I burst into the nearest department store and armed myself to the teeth with any flame thrower I could get my hands on. I was going to put a stop to the whole thing by burning the slob of meat until it was nothing but soot and ash.  

I drove to the restaurant without waiting for a single second and immediately made a B-line for the freezer. 

“Boss?” Maurice asked with a raised eyebrow. “Why do you have a flamethrower?”

“Move aside!” I yelled at him. “The Mystery Meat has to go!”

“No, boss! Are you crazy?” Maurice asked as he proceeded to block my path by spreading his arms and legs across the aisle. 

“Have you been outside recently?” I yelled at him. “Restaurants are lowering their standards because of us! Don’t you remember how fun it was being the only lowest-rated restaurant in town?” 

“It wasn’t fun, in fact, it sucked!” he said. “Before the Mystery Meat, I was ashamed to tell my parents I worked here. Now they’re proud that their little boy is working at a famous five-star restaurant! You can’t take that away from me!”

“You were ashamed?” I repeated with disbelief. “You were ashamed? This place gave you a roof over your head and clothes on your back! What’s there to be ashamed of?”

Maurice’s eyes sunk to the floor. 

“Those years might have sucked for you, but they were still special,” I explained. “Now all the other restaurants want their own Mystery Meat, something that makes them special, not to be unique, but to be like us. Soon Sleazy's Delights will no longer be seen as special, but mediocre! Do you really want to be proud of that? That you work at a mediocre restaurant?”  

Maurice stood still for a minute or two before moving aside and allowing me to pass. 

I walked into the freezer and burned every inch of the Mystery Meat to the ground. It screamed and whaled its grubby arms, but it all turned to black ash. The Mystery Meat, whatever it was, was destroyed. 

No one seemed to believe it when I gave them the news. 

First, they began to beg. Some even offered a million dollars for just a crumb. Next, they became angry and nearly tore Sleazy's to pieces. Finally, they all accepted that Mystery Meat was never coming back, and no one wanted to eat at Sleazy's anymore. 

While other restaurants continued to make grosser and more unsanitary dishes, I was content. Sleazy's Delights might not have the sturdiest of furniture, the cleanest plates, the shiniest silverware, tastiest food, or prettiest décor but it was still one of a kind, there’s nothing more special than that.

April 15, 2022 23:28

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1 comment

Jeannette Miller
16:59 Apr 16, 2022

Haha, people got the taste and others followed suit. Quite a metaphor for society's finicky practices. Clever and well written. Well done!


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