Jamie couldn’t sleep. She stretched, her hands and feet touching the curved walls above and below her. The bunk still smelled like Anders. She couldn’t help turning her face to the side and breathing into the pillow, but it wasn’t her fault the tosser smelled so good. The tablet laying across her chest flickered then went dark, her entry half written.
Day 25, 16:00 GMT. Next set of customers arrives in less than an hour. Two Old World Foundation ambassadors and a former Royal (Norwegian) party. Twelve total, so we went for a more complicated menu. Anders is in the kitchen already. Hope he remembers to re-hydrate enough sun-dried tomatoes…
“If you’re not going to sleep you may as well come down here and help with the prep,” Anders voice was tinged with static and impatience. Jamie ignored it, muting the intercom linked to her earpiece.
She rolled onto her side, catching the tablet before it slid to the floor and tucking it into the small compartment above her head.
The ISS was never quiet, the constant hum of artificial gravity cylinders, engines and air recyclers spinning somewhere hidden in the background. Jamie was used to the noises, familiar with ones louder than those on the old space station. She’d done a three-year stint with a survey crew on one of the new 7-80s. Those beasts were fast, but their engines screamed into the emptiness around them like newborns.
Twelve customers, hardly worth the time and next to no chance of a decent tip. Jamie closed her eyes and tried to focus on the menu instead. Anders would be seasoning lamb and duck, checking the oysters and baking sweetbread. He’d leave the soufflé, mousse and cheeses to her.
She’d been Head Chef on the 7-80, the crew happy and bright-eyed, grateful as they’d eaten in that grey canteen. Her food had brought colour to that ship, a culinary tribute to the planet they’d all left behind. But there wasn’t money in surveying, not like there was in tourism.
“Seriously, you’re not gonna sleep any just before a service and I’m not gonna delay the main course because you’re late with desert.”
Anders hadn’t even the mind to knock.
Jamie swung around and sat up, hunched and glaring. “I was relaxing, something I allowed you to do for almost seven hours yesterday.”
Anders crossed his arms, stood under the archways that signalled the sites where doors would have been were they anywhere else. The small round hatches that had once separated the compartments were gone now, replaced with larger spaces when the station had been repurposed almost fifty years ago. “We had no customers yesterday, so I took the opportunity. It’s not as if I would have minded you joining me.”
Jamie stood and watched him walk back through the main compartment, around the elegant dining sets surrounded by transparent walls. It was the longest room on the station, able to cater to fifty diners. She imagined when the station first reopened it was quite popular, the view of Earth below a draw for the overpaid and nostalgic.
Now it was more a themed conference room. The Earth was history and the former International Space Station was a tourist trap, but at least the menu was good.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup Truffle and Hazelnut
Dressed Crab Roll Avocado and Charentais Melon
Slow Cooked Duck Egg Pigs Head and Pickled Vegetables
Cornish Turbot Seaweed Butter and Oyster
Lamb Turnip, Shallot and Lancashire Pudding
Duck Breast Cabbage, Beetroot and Ver Jus
Veal Sweetbread Artichoke and Truffle
Amedei Chocolate Ganache Sea Salt and Tonka
Banana Soufflé Malt Ice Cream
Praline Mousse White Chocolate and Muscovado Sugar Ice Cream
Coffee Mousse Feuilletine and Marsala Ice Cream
Anders was a pig, but he was a legendary chef. When Jamie entered their small kitchen he was bent over a heat disc. “Your stock is on the side,” he said without looking up. “Shuttle is set to dock in twenty minutes.”
Jamie got to work.
By the time the docking alert sounded she was in full swing, mixing additives into a paste that would become a soufflé in a matter of seconds thanks to the Station’s microwave units. She heard Anders move out into the Transport wing to greet their quests, but didn’t move to follow. She’d present herself at the end of the meal if they wished.
Anders was all charm as they boarded. The routine was simple enough, introductions and a little history of the place before they were seated. The shuttle’s pilot slipped through and was leaning against the counter when Jamie turned around. He was called Dust, small and slight were Anders was broad and towering. Jamie liked him.
“Brought you a present,” he told her with a smile.
Jamie held out her hand and watched as he took a small stone from his pocket and dropped it into her palm. “Where’s it from?”
“Uropia. Southern hemisphere right by a beach that sees fifty degree temperatures at midday.”
“Sounds like a good spot for a little tanning,” Jamie said with a smile. “Should be some duck left over, they normally go for the sea food.”
Dust bowed his head, “appreciate it.”
The diners took their seats and Anders nudged Dust to the side to begin service, loading plates onto hover drones and sending them out into the dining cabin. They came back with leftovers that Dust dug into with glee. Violin music played delicately over the intercom, mingling with the sounds of polite conversation. After this there would be another group tomorrow, then another after that.
It was an experience, a thing to tell your friends you’d done. I’ve eaten a fine meal on mankind’s first serving Space Station, good food and a hell of a view.
The Earth circled beneath them, a slow dance on repeat. Jamie caught herself staring at it between courses. It was beautiful, she supposed, if you liked that sort of thing.
Copyright © 2013 robotichermitblog.com All Rights Reserved.
Written for the 1000 words challenge over on The Daily Post. Menu sourced from the Ritz London sample found on their website. Bit hungry now.