You know what the hardest part about all of this is? Eating this food without preparing it.
I’m sitting here, shoveling canned peaches and packets of vacuum sealed meat into my mouth without cooking it or seasoning it. It goes against everything I stand for as a chef. But the current situation doesn’t leave me much choice.
That was one thing that drew me to this project. They hired me not only to keep the crew healthy, but happy as well. They told me that I could bring whatever I wanted up here with me. Any seasonings or tools, everything I could fit in my bags from my kitchen. They wanted me to make each meal something special, to boost moral.
Everything I asked them to order, all these pots and pans and other utensils, Central provided the best of everything. This isn’t just a kitchen, it’s a laboratory. At least that’s what they told me when I started.
To be fair, they weren’t lying. I wasn’t just in charge of preparing everyday meals, I was also here to test the newly developed food products from the Agro-labs. They’d bring me chemically designed turnips and tell me to work them into salads. They’d bring me the altered DNA cattle meat and ask me if it prepared properly with little effort. What I was doing here was beyond my mental understanding. They’d tell me to cook it, and I’d cook it. If the meat didn’t prepare right, I’d tell them and they’d go back to their labs and do science things. Then they’d come back a week later with a new batch.
I can’t say the whole thing wasn’t at least interesting. At one point they brought me a totally new vegetable. One that Dr. Loren’s team specifically designed. It was basically a structurally altered potato, or so I was told. What I was told is that it was grown with a batch of Lifeblood that contained Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C. Those nutrients added to a normal potato made it a very healthy and easy to cultivate food source. The problem was, if you heated it, it turned into sludge. The damn thing would melt, right there in the oven. Then it would cake black and become inedible. It’s a shame, it really could have been something special. The possibilities were endless.
That was two days before the lab accident. The one that killed Dr. Loren. It was the last time he brought me something. It was also the only time he didn’t show any excitement about a creation. He looked worried. Tired. Dr. Loren was a lot of things, but he was never boring. Yet that day, his spirit wasn’t at all there. Then two days later, he was dead.
I’m sure the documented report on the accident is on file at Central, and I’d urge you to go read it. Because, to be honest, I have no idea what happened. I was here, in my kitchen, preparing the late-shift dinner meal for the third tier flight crew. The whole ship seemed to lurch forward, pots and food flying everyone, people falling. Then, silence.
For a moment anyway. Then the emergency sirens kicked in and the sound of security personal and medical units could be heard rushing down the halls. The official statement by Captain Gordon was there was a malfunction with a computer server near Dr. Loren’s lab, it sparked, exploded. No outer hull damage, but enough damage to the lab that countless pieces of work and files had been destroyed.
That’s how they reported it. No mention of the fact that seven scientists, including Dr. Loren, had died instantly in the accident. They didn’t care about that, all they cared about was their fucking research. Maybe if they cared more about the safety of this crew, everyone wouldn’t be dead now.
They couldn’t even afford to give them some kind of respectable burial. They wouldn’t even return the bodies to the families back on Earth. That was part of our contract, you see. Our bodies belonged to them. We signed off on it. If we died, they’d throw us in the air lock and WHOOOOSH send us out into the black. How fucked up is that? Dr. Loren and his six team members, sent sailing out into nothingness, never to be seen again. Not even a funeral or anything. Clean up crews took the bodies and sent them away.
After that, Everything went back to normal pretty quick. The area was sectioned off, and foot traffic bypassed. Repairs and clean up wasn’t even finished before everything fell to shit.
Why does this matter. I’m sure this could all be found out by simply reading the contracts on file at Central. Maybe I’m just venting off some steam to keep from going insane. Maybe I felt an attachment to Dr. Loren. He wasn’t necessarily a friend, at least not in the normal sense. More like a co-worker that you talk to to keep from totally hating your job. Humanizing the whole process to make it less boring. As a chef, you make your best food for people you actually like.
I am… was… well liked, at least. That whole morale boost thing really did work. Crew members approaching me, asking if I could “spice up the meatloaf” or “add some sugar to the coffee”. They loved that I would take their bland, boring food and turn it into something special. It did feel good to be appreciated for my hard work for once.
Of course, they’re all gone now. It’s just me, sitting here with my canned peaches and packets of salty meat. No one to feed but myself. And since I’m the only one here, maybe I’ll treat myself. We have some dried ice cream packets somewhere. Food storage B, I think. I think I’ll shove about thirty packets of Chunky Monkey down my face. Why the fuck not? I’m going to die anyway, might as well die happy.
I could probably survive a long time off these food supplies, probably indefinitely. If the Ceres permitted. However, judging by the system shut downs and the ever-increasing shuddering, I’d say it’s unlikely that the life support system will stay online for that much longer. I’m no engineer, but I’d assume that the accident fail safe system that went off during the chaos probably shuts the ship down to save resources. We have life signs detectors that turn off auxiliary power to certain sections of the ship if there are no life signs detected. But even that can’t possibly last forever. All I know is, I can’t even open the door to the hall.
I can, however, access my storage containers. And from there…
Shit! Why didn’t I think of that sooner! From there I can access that fucking maintenance hatch! That’s online with the kitchen life support, I remember the repair guy telling me that when he had to crawl in there to fix the cooling unit in my fridge. Son of a bitch, why didn’t I think of that earlier! Perhaps from their I can make it to one of the nearby evacuation launch pods. The pod bays are always on life support, regardless of life signs. If I can get into that maintenance hatch, maybe I can get out of here.
*sound of rapid, clanking footsteps*
Here we are, Food Storage F. This was where that hatch was, right? It was behind one of these…
*screeching, followed by several loud crashes*
…and if I can just…
*more screeching, more crashes*
Yes! Here it is! My God, I may be able to get out of here after all! Ha HA! Alright, let’s just flip this open and… wow, it’s dark down here. I know, I have a flashlight in the kitchen.
I tell ya, I can’t wait to get off this stinkin’ ship. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it up here. But that was when there was people, and things to keep myself busy. Now all that’s left is terrible memories of sick people and attacks. Memories of blood splattered on walls and people walking past with body bags on stretchers.
Here we go, flashlight. And it works.
The maintenance hatch is a little dusty, heh. I suppose they don’t send the cleaning crew down here. No reason. Alright, let’s see. The escape pods were a few doors down, and it’s a pretty big bay too. It had to be, considering the number of people who were in the mess hall at any given time. There has to be a pod that works. Alright, this hatch should lead to… no, that’s the storage closet for the cleaning crew. This hatch.. This was the living quarters for my crew. Same with this one…
Here we go, this should be it. Just gotta… ugh… get this hatch open… and… HA HA there we go! Success! Well my friends, I guess now ends this broadcast. I’m on my way home!
I… what… wait. I… what? I don’t understand… They’re… they’re gone… every pod…
Every evacuation pod is gone…