“Here you are!” exclaimed Evanna as she started placing numerous small plates in front of me. “And this one’s for you.” She set a single plate containing a small cube in front of Mila.
“What is any of this?” I asked, not having a clue what I was seeing. Each plate before me looked as alien as the other patrons, and the patrons looked completely inhuman. Several slug-like creatures with four tentacles each were gathered around a table. There were a few beings that resembled insects other than being much larger than me. A number of creatures beyond the insects had multiple eyes as well. I was doing my best not to stare at any of them or the others around me, but I felt like I was being watched here.
“Yeah… Please don’t ask me to try pronouncing any part of your meal. You’ll enjoy it, trust me.” replied Evanna.
“What am I supposed to do with this?” inquired Mila, looking at her cube.
Evanna paused for a moment, and then explained “That’s a sensation cube. Hold it in your mouth, and the cube will transmit sensations to simulate eating.directly into your mind. As far as I’ve seen, it works on inorganics and organics alike. If you convince James to try it, he’ll be able to assure you of its accuracy. Just don’t swallow. The fluid in your glass acts as a sanitizer, commonly used when the cube’s shared between organics.”
Mila looked shocked as she said, “There are other inorganic life forms who frequent here!?”
Evanna casually nodded and replied “Of course. You didn’t really think you were the only one, did you?”
“I… wasn’t sure. The princess never told me.” she stated, seeming half-dazed.
“Sorry to keep you, but I have another question as well. Why are you being so open about all of this now?” I asked.
“Oh. You own private shares in the restaurant. You wouldn’t believe the earnings you get throughout the universe now. Given Mila’s position in your company, she’ll have access eventually.” she replied with a smile.
“Ah.” was all I could think to say at first despite having time to ponder the idea a bit. I considered that, given the variety of appearances, each of the distinct life forms around me might hail from different planets. If the restaurant was as popular on each of them as it was on earth, I was certain the restaurant created enormous profits. “I’m still confused about a number of things. Are we really on an asteroid? How is it that beings from across the universe can be sitting together?” I asked.
Evanna sighed. “I’ve told you that I’m just a delivery driver, right? Yes, I happen to play host now and then as well, but I couldn’t begin to explain this place properly even if I had a doctorate in physics from my time. There’s a single restaurant that exists countless places at once. Some sort of gateway is made at the secondary doors that moves you to the appropriate room where your food will be served. If you want to know more than that, you have to get Carl, the man with the blue box, or Aaliyah to explain.” she stated.
“Man with the blue box?” I asked, feeling I had heard that somewhere before.
“He’s got at least one fancy doctorate from what I’ve gathered. Strange man, but he’s absolutely brilliant. Carl seems to enjoy his company, and Carl doesn’t visit most patrons.” she replied. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
I still had questions, but Evanna obviously didn’t want to get into them. I supposed she probably had plenty of other things that needed attending. “No, I won’t hold you up any longer. Thank you for everything.” I told her.
“I’m not in a rush. I just don’t have the answers. Really. Sorry, it’s a bit odd not having you know more than me on this stuff.” she claimed.
“I take it that future me has a much better grasp of the situation.” I commented.
Looking thoughtful, Evanna said, “I don’t know if I’d go that far, but you’re very well educated. You’re normally the type of person whom I could ask anything and get a reasonable response. It’s like you’ve studied everything out there. The princess can still throw you for a loop though.”
Wait. The princess? Did Evanna know about Aaliyah’s other job? “I’m guessing you’re meaning Aaliyah… Why do you call her ‘the princess’?” I asked.
“Oh. Thing from my time. Aaliyah is still a tiny, cute girl. People have taken to calling her the ‘eternal princess’. Ever consider what you could accomplish if you had eternity?” she inquired with a peculiar grin.
“Not in too much depth.” I told her, feeling a bit confused. There was an odd sensation when she asked the question that made me feel uneasy about her grin. I didn’t know what to think of it.
“Well, I’ll leave you to your date. Don’t want to make Mila jealous.” she teased before turning and walking away.
“Oh. Sorry, Mila. I suppose I was getting carried away there.” I stated, feeling ashamed that I was neglecting her on our date.
Smiling beautifully, Mila said, “Don’t worry, master. I’m currently discussing what has been said with the princess. We really are out of our time. Furthermore, you are a shareholder and have been collecting income from the restaurant since your birthday. I wasn’t aware until I looked into the routing number. I’ve also discovered that certain other sources of income are being restricted from me at the present.”
I felt a surge of panic as the idea of criminal income coursed through my mind, but I cut off that train of thought and kept my body from reacting too much. I trusted Aaliyah. I was certain she knew precisely what was happening, and she wouldn’t involve me in criminal activity.
Mila leaned over the table to press the cube to my lips. I considered resisting but gave in to curiosity, taking the cube into my mouth. The sensations were confusing at first. I knew my jaw wasn’t moving, but I felt like I was chewing an absolutely fabulous piece of steak. I had felt the steak enter my mouth and its juices connect with my tongue. The texture was so vivid. I worried about swallowing, but I didn’t really feel an urge to swallow the cube even as I felt as if I was swallowing the steak.
I took the cube out and stared at it, instantly stopping the sensations, though my mouth still watered. The cube was covered in a transparent substance, but I didn’t recognize what was underneath. Jarod would love to try this thing. I’d have to convince him to come here with Mila, even knowing how the twins would surely protest.
Mila took the cube from my hand, kissed it, and said, “This counts as an indirect kiss, having passed from your lips to mine…” Then she popped it in her mouth without even sanitizing it. Smiling, she seemed engrossed by what she was feeling.
I knew I was blushing, but didn’t feel I should try arguing, not with how obviously Mila liked the idea.
Taking the cube out briefly, Mila asked “Master, does eating really feel this amazing, or is it because I get to share this with you?”
“Eating really can be fantastic, and that was a perfect example of an exquisite steak.” I told her, not wanting to touch the second part of her question. I picked up a thin, long cylinder next to one of the plates and wondered how I was supposed to use it. Meaning to try poking the fuchsia substance, I was surprised when part of the dish lifted up in front of the cylinder. Even mother couldn’t blame me for playing with my food at this point, as I was trying to ascertain how to release the food from whatever held it.
Taking the cube out of her mouth again, Mila suggested “Why not see what happens when you try eating it?”
I was hesitant to put some unknown field inside of my mouth, but this was a restaurant. Surely the utensil would be safe. There was a slight resistance when I tried biting down on the food, and then I was too engrossed with the flavor to worry about how the food got there.
The pleasant surprises continued throughout the meal. I was confronted with some very unusual textures in the food, but everything suited my palate quite well. Eating at the Intergalactic House of Awesome Sauce was always a wonderful experience, but I never would have guessed the words ‘alien’ and ‘fantastic’ could go together regarding food. As I stared at my empty plates, I wondered what other delights I’d experience here.