Cookbook

Tere 3100-BE leafed delicately through the brittle pages of the “cookbook”. What a strange idea, he thought. Something had gone awry in his teleport from work to home, and he’d ended up in the derelict underground basement of his building instead of in his apartment foyer. Deciding to take advantage of this accidental access (Tere was somewhat of a snoop), he began to peer around. His toe eventually snagged on something: a heavy brass ring, partially buried. He pulled at it, and after several yanks unearthed a bulky, pirate-dreamworthy chest. Inside, to his delight, he found all sorts of murky windows into the distant past – artifacts, heirlooms, and relics dating back almost a thousand years to the dim, pre-computational age of the twentieth century. Tangible paper! He couldn’t believe it hadn’t crumbled into dust long ago. Of course, he’d seen images of paper books on Information Panels, and once, when traveling to the Capitol, he’d peered at an actual physical specimen preserved in the National Museum. But now he held the material in his own two hands.

And the “recipes”! Unbelievable. Lamb, pig, cow… bell pepper, broccoli, arugula. Tere knew the Ancients used to nourish themselves with the bodies of living things; he had learned about it in history classes as a young boy. And how could you blame them really? he thought. The citizens of old were primitive, obviously unaware of how brutally immoral it was to feed on plants and animals. Without access to Information, their knowledge of the universe must have been exceedingly shallow. Even more vitally, medical science had yet to develop the gastroentero-cerebral procedure in human embryos, which created a direct neural line from the brain to the intestines. So, physiologically dependent as they were on their mouths, esophagi, and stomachs, his ancestors had in fact no choice but to snack on the poor creatures of the world. Still, as Tere read through specific preparations in the book, he couldn’t help feeling rattled.

Another hour with the basement discovery passed, and Tere realized he was starving. His body emitted noises reminiscent of robot coitus: clinks and burbles. Time for dinner. He set the aged treasures gingerly back in the chest, snapped the latches shut, and hauled it to the teleport stage. He had to take it with him for further investigation. Two seconds later, he and the chest materialized in his apartment kitchen three hundred stories above.

Tere’s kitchen walls (besides their ugly apricot paintjob) were like everyone’s kitchen walls, in that they were covered in Information Panels. From the bottom of each screen hung a thin plastic tube out of whose dangling end sprung a set of tiny electrodes. Tere glanced through the Panels to get an idea of what he felt most like eating. World news Panel, science Panel, economy Panel. Language, literature, mathematics… culture, history, DIY Panels. But it was Friday, his one day to indulge… and all the amateur archaeological work had made him slightly giddy. “Junk food it is,” he said to himself, turning to the small celebrity gossip Panel at the end of the room. He grabbed its tube and deftly suctioned the electrodes to the top of his head. Then he flicked a switch on the Panel’s side, and a susurrus whir began. He scrolled through the Information:

“Twelve-year-old Queen Elen 2171-SY headed to rehab after being caught ingesting fifty psychotropic terminology Panel entries!”

“Supermodel Lana 9989-QO filing for divorce! Her husband, action thriller star Rios 6000-XA, fathered child with another woman!”

“Teenage heartthrob Zane 3245-RR explains why he sued his mother!”

So many fattening, sugary stories. Tere sighed contentedly, even as guilt nabbed at him. Hey – at least I’m not eating bell peppers, he thought wryly.

~ by kingzoko on December 26, 2013.

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