Storytime: The Last Supper.

January 31st, 2018

The nest wasn’t much. A clump of down and some pebbles, crammed in the crutch of what must’ve been a nice tree a hundred years ago, and had probably had leaves up until the last decade.
No twigs. Hadn’t been any twigs for ages.
Still, a nest was a nest, and that’s why its occupant slammed beak-first into Alistair’s eyeball, popping it like an overripe grape.
“Fuck!” said Alistair. And he fell over backwards, nest in hand, grasping, flailing, wailing, and he bumped down ten feet head over heels and somehow missed landing on his neck, which was quite a feat.
“Fuck,” concluded Alistair. His eye throbbed. His back ached. The wad of feathers and tiny frail broken things that had been a bird was mashed against his collarbone, and that hurt too. “Fuck.”

The bunker wasn’t much either. Concrete, steel, earthworks. And a lot of forethought and hope. It had been camouflaged at one point, back when that might’ve served a purpose. Time had scraped that smug look off its face.
Inside was a light, surly and shrunken in the face of the incoming dawn. It was a big day. They could afford to use the last matches.
At the light was a fire, and beside the fire was Barbara, and under Barbara was a chair, which was placed at a table, which was covered in objects.
“This is way too complicated,” said Alistair.
“Tell me about it,” she said. “Hey, what’s up with your eye?”
“Bird,” said Alistair.
Barbara raised an eyebrow.
“A fucking bird,” corrected Alistair. “But I got the eggs. One of them. It’s a little cracked. But it’s an egg.”
“Oh that’s nice. Should we boil it or fry it?”
“I thought you said you’d scramble it.”
“You need milk for that, properly.”
“You need water to boil it.”
“Well, that’s for the drinks. We’d better fry it.”
“We need butter for that.”
“Maybe if we boil it with the bad water and get rid of the shell?”
“That sounds dangerous. Oh well.”
The bad water took a while to boil, thick and truculent as it was. Alistair poured the good water into the two glasses. Barbara rooted through the metal box that had been a refrigerator when it had power, and a coldbox when it had insulation, and was now basically a cupboard with odd smells and creaks.
“Where’d you put the rat?”
“I minced it up and put it in the old butter container.”
“The becel?”
“That’s margarine. I put it in the old BUTTER container.”
“Margarine’s basically butter.”
“No it isn’t. Vegetable oils. Very different.”
“Tasted the same.”
“No it didn’t.”
“Oh yeah? Prove it.”
The argument ended there. Most of them did. Barbara found the minced rat inside an old tuna tin.

They sat down. The plates were ready. The dishes were ready. The water was still clear, untouched by the faint haze of the air.
Forks up. Dish uncovered.
“Oh lovely,” said Barbara. “Where’d you find them?”
“Under an old shed. Must’ve been used to store fertilizer and seed.”
“Is it crabweed? Looks like crabweed.”
“I don’t know. What’s crabweed look like?”
“I’m not sure. My mother used to call anything that she didn’t want in her garden crabweed.”
“Huh.” Barbara put some of it in her mouth and chewed. “Tastes like crab.”
“Huh. Really?”
“No, I’m fooling you. It tastes like weeds.”
And it did.
“What’s the dressing?”
“What kind?”
“I squeezed whatever I saw lying around.”
“Oh. What’re the little gritty black flakes?”
“What little gritty black flakes? I can’t see with this eye.”
“They’re little. And gritty.”
“Well –”
“Oh, and they’re black. Almost forgot.”
“Could be anything. Maybe they were part of the crabweeds.”

Salad was finished. The plates were flipped over, for cleanliness’s sake.
“Minced rat. What’d you do to it?” asked Alistair.
“I browned it over the lamp. Then I seared it over the lamp. Then I fricasseed it over the lamp. Then I sautéed it over the lamp. Then I roasted it over the lamp. Then I pan-fried it over the lamp. When I couldn’t see any more red bits I figured it was done. Deglazed the pan with water to produce the sauce.”
“So it’s a sort of rat sausage, is it?”
“Those are stuffed into the intestines. The intestines are part of this. I think it’s more of a haggis, maybe. Maybe?”
“That needs oats. And it uses sheep.”
“Salads don’t use crabweeds. Beggars can’t be choosers. There’s not many more fish in the sea.”
“None at all, I think. Couldn’t find one last week. Just jellies.”
“Not bad for rat though, is it? At all, I mean.”
“I’ve had better rats. But this is the best rat I’ve had since I haven’t seen any in months.”

Finally, the main course. The egg. Pale, off-white-blue. Creased and folded even before it cracked. Twisted on both sides. With the sludge of the bad water wiped away.
Inside, it was deep brown.
“Is that normal?” asked Alistair.
“I can’t remember,” mused Barbara. “Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever had an egg that looked like this before. What kind of bird was it?”
“Here it is,” said Alistair. He peeled the bird out of his collarbone and held it up for inspection.
“Flatbird. Not very informative. Could be a redwing blackbird no no those aren’t wings, that’s its insides. Nasty.”
“Good egg, though.”
“Yes. Surprisingly sweet.”

The daytime fog was coming in, thick and rancid-hot.
“Dessert?” said Alistair, raising his glass.
“Dessert,” confirmed Barbara.
“Have you got your pill?”
“Always do, for twenty years.”
“Well then. Bottoms up.”
“Here’s to the future.”
Gulp. Chug. Chug. Clink.

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