Blast From the Past: Challenge #00191: Time Out From That Good Fight

in fiction •  3 years ago 

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Getting to a point when good enough, is really good enough. Insert a banana cream pie anywhere in the story, preferable eaten.

Rael had grown used to working hard. Not just working hard, but working smart, since his rest cycle decreed that his hours of usefulness were limited. He was so used to it that he almost flew into a panic the first morning that the Stations’ freelancer roster was empty.

He hadn’t woken too late. He had alarms rigged to his heated resting tank that would not let him. Besides, he always managed to achieve consciousness five minutes before they went off, anyway.

And during his breakfast of overnight-slow-baked Tukkatukka, S’quiib and cheese casserole, he checked the boards as a matter of course.

This morning, they were blank.

Nothing needed fixing -or even a temporary patch- in his immediate area. Nothing needed fixing through the entire impossible mass of Amalgam Station.

Rael, to whom work meant regular meals, and regular meals meant a life without pain, fought to keep calm. Deep breaths did almost nothing for his physiognomy, but it gave him something to concentrate on while he checked the news.

Aha. A once-in-lifetimes event was occurring for the entire week. A plethora of galactic calendars had managed to sync up on varying holidays, including one of the famously colourful human ones that always bought in the tourist dollar.

So, as a result, the entire station was having a week off.

A week!

Rael had long since equated joblessness to starvation and turned completely silver from abject terror at the prospect of a week without a guaranteed meal. A week of his personal accounts being drained by his own biological necessities.

Then his gaze found salvation.

It was also the Gyiik Harvest Festival.

The next thing he knew, he was standing inside the main doorway of Unsuitable Food Eat, staring at Nik as he juggled three orders in four arms. For anyone else who was not a Faiize, Unsuitable Food Eat was just another restaurant. For long-haulers between loads, it was a place where you could get a big heaping pile of something they could chew after long weeks on liquid baggies of cheap Nutri Food(tm).

For Rael and his fellow Faiize… it was almost a place of worship. It sold calories, deep fried, coated in chocolate, and served a la mode. And it was almost always hosted and staffed by Gyiiks, who shared a reverence of the plate.

Nik noticed him and gestured to a stool at the bar. “You look under the weather, friend Rael. Has an illness finally found the indomitable Faiize to be tasty?”

"No, I just found out that the entire station is taking a week off."

"Ah! Panic time. Sit, I always have a test or two to taste."

Which was why Nik the Gyiik was one of Rael’s best friends.

"The Archivaas shared this ancient Terran recipe. It is called bananacreem pie. My own research tells me it is served by assault to the face.”

"I think that’s ancient Terran humour,” said Rael.

Nik relaxed. “Ah. Praise Nyomhnahm… It seemed like such a terrible waste of good food.”

Rael rolled his eyes ceiling-ward and muttered, “Humans…” and when his gaze returned to the bar, there was a large pie in front of him and a fork by his preferred hand. “Blessings,” he called to the busy chef.

It was delicious. Rael spent the entirety of his meal pondering what kind of insult it was to waste something so tasty.

"Ah, there you are," said Lyr. "Aunty Fan-Fan saw the boards this morning and sent me to make sure you hadn’t gone survivalist on us."

Rael laughed. “You know me, Officer. I can always find some work I can enjoy.”

She smirked. “So I see. Are you going to camp here all week, or are we going to see you enjoying the Uberfest?”

Rael did his best not to read, Am I going to have to keep you out of trouble, into that question. Lyr worked in Security, and Security was perpetually obsessed with making sure that they didn’t have to work. “I thought I might volunteer as crowd control or something else even a techie-JOAT can do. Bodies on the street…”

"Not this week," said Lyr. "All work and no play makes the JOAT a dull cogniscent."

He stared at her. This had to be a human thing. “What?”

"You have plenty of savings. What are you saving up for? Every cogniscent being has the right to time spent enjoying themselves.”

"But I need to—"

"You haven’t needed to for a long time, Rael. You can officially relax."

It was like running at a brick wall with a battering ram, only to discover it was painted paper. The obstacle he had long thought blocking his way with its impossibility was just… not there.

"I think," he chewed some of the bananacreem pie. “I might begin with a festival tour train.”

"Good choice," said Lyr. "Stay legal, so I can have some fun, too."

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