Rest Stop

a story
2019-07-02 09:28:55,
2019-07-02 11:21:49
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Nina had just finished her climb down from the Landship Scorpios when she realized she probably should have checked the list before climbing all the way down. She checked the refueling list to ensure they would be ready to head back out soon. They didn't need coal this round. They were topped off on water. They only needed another can of grease. It appeared they had all the bases covered.

She looked up and eyed the station. The only thing left was to collect the idiot. Lt Arnett was somewhere gathering supplies. She walked up to the small shack and stepped under the ripped awning.

Peering into the station, she saw a small general store looking area with a counter and a single middle display with shelves lining the wall. Arnett leaned against the counter holding a bowl and a spoon talking with the the attendant behind the counter.

The attendant was packing up a box with supplies. He was a tall, wall of a man, bald, and wore a face of utter distaste at everything. His brown almost overtook his eyes.

Arnett nodded at Nina as she entered.

"He's packing up the supplies list. It'll be ready to be loaded soon," said Arnett, spooning another helping into his mouth, "Get some grub."

Nina looked over the food next to Arnett on the counter. A selection of various desert animals on sticks could be seen. Bits of fur were still on some of the rats. A fly walked across a lizard. They appeared to be on the verge of jerky. Next to them a small cauldron of chili or stew bubbled above a small candle. It looked thick and chunky and Arnett appeared to be eating it from a small bowl. Next to that, withered, brown leaves wrapped up vegetables that were dry and browning.

Nina felt her stomach lurch a little as she weighed her options.

"This is pretty bad," said Nina.

"Try this stuff, it's pretty good," said Arnett, "A little spicy."

"Hey," said Nina, catching the attention of the attendant, "How long have these been out?"

She gestured to the creatures on sticks. The attendant's head moved slightly before he returned to his work.

"Mmm... Two... Three weeks maybe." The man grunted out.

Arnett grimaced and caught Nina's eye, "Ok, yuck. Don't worry, have this stuff. Hey, buddy; What's in this? This is great!"

The man looked up again, and nodded to the meat on sticks, "Those after week three or four. Then they just... simmer in this until it's gone."

Nina's eyes bulged and she took a horrified step back. Her eyes shot to Arnett's bowl and then to the full spoon he held in his hand. Arnett's eyes went to the rats and lizards on sticks to the cauldron and back until he settled on the spoon suspended in front of his face. His eyes met Nina's and they both said nothing for a minute.

Slowly, Arnett brought the spoon to his mouth and spooned the contents in. After taking a few experimental chews he shrugged and spooned another helping from the bowl.

"Ew," He said, mouth full, "But it's not as bad as it sounds."

"You're going to catch dysentery and die," said Nina, "I'll catch my own food later."

"It's already paid for," said Arnett, "Besides, I'm fine."

"I can't wait to sell your scrap heap of a ship," said Nina, turning and marching outside, "Said scrap heap is ready to go when you load the supplies."


She ignored him as she went into the sun, allowing herself to grimace when the line of sight with Arnett was broken.