Tagged: food

O’er the Ramparts We Watched

Dear Planet Earth,

It’s the Fourth of July, in case you didn’t know. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. None of us felt free today, no matter how many mole people we killed or how many pieces of American society we tried to pick up.

We got drunk — wasted, really — and listened to classic rock and roll. The kitchen staff took the unflavored tofu we’ve been living off of lately and molded it into the shapes of hamburgers and hot dogs. When the sun set, we blew up some cars and Cash4Gold billboards while mumbling the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

It was the Fourth of July in the sense that the date was the fourth of July. We had nothing to celebrate. We had no independence. We had no inspiring speeches from Bill Pullman about how today was truly the day to honor that original fight for freedom on this hallowed land.

And then some random girl kissed me. She pulled me into a woody area and shoved her tongue into my mouth. It happened so quickly I didn’t get a chance to see what she looked like or wonder if it was a good idea. She abruptly stopped after about a minute, giggled, and said, “Thanks.”

I watched her saunter back to the unfestive festivities, her blurry figure silhouetted by a bonfire fueled by Justin Bieber CDs. I instantly became aware of the dopey smile on my face. More than that, I realized I was happy and I was free, even if only for today. I won’t know what fights may come tomorrow, but I do know that if my happiness and freedom is on the line, I will fight.

God fucking bless America.

Hash

Dear Planet Earth,

The troops are getting restless. General Talpa told me so this morning.

“The troops are getting restless.”

The new propaganda posters around the city are starting to make everyone a little tense. People are accusing one another of stealing their stuff, of being sleeper agents for the mole men. To top it all off, the general is getting hounded everyday to cede the decision making process over to an elected body.

He leaned closer to me over the picnic table and laughed, telling me he almost missed the good ol’ days — meaning two weeks ago — when our enemies were really enemies, when the only thing we had to worry about was surviving to the next day.

I understand the feeling. Despite the constant bombardments of helplessness and sorrow, there was a sense of excitement battling the mole people on a daily basis, a feeling of unrivaled accomplishment in taking down a foe that, by all accounts, should have had no trouble squashing me like a bug.

“I’d take that battlefield, Scott. I’d take that battlefield any day over this, this. . . ,” he crinkled his forehead to think of the word, “politics.”

The sun had fully risen at this point, illuminating the mess hall and marking a fulfilling conclusion to our conversation. I offered him some of my hash browns as we watched the peaceful chaos engulf New Seattle on all sides.

Unicorn

Dear Planet Earth,

“Hey, Exterminator.”

I looked up from my cold rice and beans to see Rachel‘s deceptively angelic face staring back.

“Don’t call me that,” I said.

“Why not? It’s a cool name.” She sat down on the stool across from me. “When I was a kid, I wanted my mom to change my name to ‘Unicorn,’ but she said that was stupid.”

I almost asked that ten year old when she thought she stopped being a kid. I almost asked her where her mother was.

“Look what I got.” Her eyes lit up and she reached inside her shirt. She pulled out a long bullet hanging around a dog tag chain. “It’s one of their bullets. Santiago put the holes in it for me.”

I went back to eating my gruel, tried to avoid looking at the giant projectile.

“Oh, and you can have your book back.” She pulled out the copy of The Time Machine from her messenger bag and slid it toward me. My father used to read it to me every night. “It was kind of boring.”

I laughed, weakly. “Compared with reality, yeah, I guess so.”

She abruptly stood up and saluted me. She had other errands to run, more adults to vex.

“Bye, Exterminator.”

Strength is the outcome of need, my father would read to me. Security sets a premium on feebleness.

Poultry Passion

Dear Planet Earth,

There’s a lot of grumbling going on today about the lack of diverse food options. Some of the guys raided a distribution warehouse and brought back a shitload of fried chicken originally intended for KFC or Chick-fil-A or Heart Attack Express. But with an expiration date that might as well read “when hell freezes over,” no one’s convinced it’s actually fried chicken.

Whatever. You won’t hear me complaining. This is some of the best stuff I’ve eaten in months and I’m not about to start watching my calorie intake during a global invasion of mole people. I’m not the only one who gets passionate about poultry products:

Ha ha! I wonder if they’re all dead now. . .

Miracles/Stories

Dear Planet Earth,

Sometimes all you need in life is some fried chicken and someone to call you “friend.” I was lucky enough to have both yesterday.

Karter, Maria, and I had a nice talk all through the night about the miracle that we’re all still here. It was a dark hotel room and a mostly dark conversation, though I am happy to report that they are very much an “item” now. They told me about the horrors they were put through in the labor camp. They worked sun up to sun down, building those strange towers with all the pipes — Karter thought they were some sort of power generators because of the heat they gave off.

At night, they all slept together in a large underground cavern. They could feel the red, glowing eyes of the mole people watching them as they slept on the rocky earth, and those same eyes greeted them as they awoke each morning. They carried rifles as big and alien as those towers.

Maria told me a story about a small child who slept near her each night and always cried about food or his mother. His whimpering grew softer and softer each night until one day, he wasn’t there. She didn’t have to ask what happened to him.

There were more stories — stories about the starvation, the beatings, the executions — but we tried not to focus on that. We tried to focus on the miracle. We justified our feelings of regret, shame, and loss by affirming our shared experiences as humans, allies, and above all, friends.

And then we went down to the kitchen and scored some fried chicken.

Third Wheel

Dear Planet Earth,

The top floors of the hotel have been turned into a makeshift medical wing, tending to the many injuries from our last epic battle. No one’s talking about it yet, but a lot of the liberated slaves here seem to be suffering from malnutrition, and their conditions will only worsen as everyone’s rations continue to get smaller and smaller. Deja vu.

I found Karter and Maria up there today. They were in a corner, engaged in what looked like a serious conversation until I butt in. Maria gave me a hug and asked if I was feeling okay. It was the nicest she’s ever been to me. They both looked about five years older than they were just a few months ago, covered in new wrinkles, scars, and sunburns from their brief bondage. I felt guilty as hell again and couldn’t think of anything to say.

They said I should stop by their room tonight — apparently they’re sharing a room now — to talk about what’s going on in our heads after all that’s happened. I might just take them up on that.

12:15

Dear Planet Earth,

The narrow window of my cell door opened with the same rusty creak it screamed everyday at 12:15. My gaoler tossed in a steel plate of “food” and asked the same questions he always asked.

“You need any water?”

“You need your bedpan changed?”

“You need your computer charged?”

I always answered him with grunts and gestures — at first out of a principle I can’t remember, though it’s now evolved into a comfortable habit. But something got to me today. I was looking at the still-drying blood where Mr. Ozawa or Carl or whoever he was got his head blown off two days ago. For the past two days, I’ve been slowly taking apart the image I had of him as the mute ally, the unlikely friend in perilous times. I know now he was an agent of the mole people — a homie, as I’ve started calling them.

The splattered blood, the memory of betrayal, and the awful, noxious smell of whatever was on that plate got to me, and I had to finally break down and ask this homie the question I’ve been simultaneous ignoring and dreading.

“What’s going to happen to me?”

He seemed to freeze in place for a moment, the way you might stop yourself if you come across a small animal in the woods. He brought his face to the window to reveal his clean brown eyes, framed by sunburned skin and tufts of facial hair.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “We gave you your chance with The Big Guy. As soon as the Inheritors remember you’re here, they’ll probably put you out to work on the camp.”

I tried to make sense of that for a while until he asked, “Are you sure you don’t need any water?”

I grunted.