Sharp Delicacy

“Huh?” Megan tilted her head a the mystery opening that appeared in the back of the freezer. She bumped the shelf while rotating the inventory; one of the metal slats on the shelf bent surprisingly easily. The moment it did, she heard a click. She saw a thin line of red light coming through an opening in the freezer wall.

Megan was there early to open the restaurant that day; she was the only employee there when she found the door. Curiosity encouraged her to push it open and she walked through.  On the other side, she found what appeared to be a second freezer.

It was a cold, dim room. Metal shelves held dozens of boxes; they looked pink under the red light filling the room. She stepped closer to examine one. She used the light on her phone to determine it was actually a white box with a red scissor logo on the top. She looked for as shipping label, or anything that might hint what was inside, but there was nothing. Not even a date.

“That’s weird,” she said to herself. “And dangerous,” she decided to check what was inside; she hoped there might be a date on the items themselves, whatever they were. In the back of her mind, she started noting health code violations. Megan tended to be a stickler for food safety. She was determined to land the top chef spot as soon as possible; and, she was happy to be able to point out operational errors to get noticed. She pointed her phone at herself, then started recording.

“Uh, I don’t know what’s going. I found a secret, different freezer in the regular freezer.” She rotated the phone around to show the dim, red-lit room. “And I found this box with no dates on it. There are several other boxes here, none of them seem to have dates either. They all look about the same so I’m guessing whatever’s in this one is in the rest. Let’s go take a look,” she said, then paused the recording.

Megan carried the box and her phone out of both freezers and carried it to a stainless steel prep-table. She organized herself and started recording again.

“I’m opening the box to see what’s inside,” she said, then pulled the lid off. “It’s meat,” she said, somewhat disappointed. She reached in and grabbed one of the dozens of packages and pulled it out to show the camera.  It was packaged in clear plastic and shaped like a cube. 

“…No date…,” she said while she rotated the meat cube in front of the camera. The meat had the bright red color of beef, but as she moved it, she noticed it seemed to shimmer in the light. It almost appeared to have thousands of tiny flecks of gold running through it.

“Weiiird…,” she said. “You see that?” She asked her unknown audience. Megan hadn’t decided who to show the video to yet. She considered she wouldn’t have to show anyone if she found a date and everything was normal. “The way it catches the light, oh I hope this comes out on camera,” she said. Shimmery meat was not normal.

“I need to smell it,” she decided aloud for the camera. She walked away from the table, then returned with a knife. She cut a slit in the package, brought it up to her nose, and inhaled deeply.  The moment she did her eyes went wide.

“WHAT THE HELL!?” she pulled the package away from her nose and shook her head as if trying to get the scent out of her nose. She looked down at it after several moments, then slowly raised it again. She gingerly brought it closer to her nose as she started inhaling; she wanted to catch the sent as soon as she could. “No way!” she threw the package on the table, then reached in the box for another. She wasted no time slicing it open and bringing it up to her nose.

“I don’t know what this is…,” she said to the camera. “But it smells like…,” she paused and a faint smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “You’re not going to believe me, but you’ll be able to smell it for yourself. It smells like popcorn. Exactly like hot, fresh popcorn from the theater.”

“It smells like coffee to me,” a voice said behind Megan. She jumped and whirled around to find the owner holding his morning mug of coffee. Before Megan could say anything, the owner kept speaking.

“Well, you’re in on it now. Leave those two out,” he nodded at the two packages Megan opened. “They’re ruined if we don’t use them right away. Put the rest away where you found it, and I’ll explain.”  He carried his coffee into the office while Megan covered the box again and carried it into the freezer. The owner was prepping a pan by the stove when she returned to the kitchen.

“Gloves,” he told her as she approached. She nodded and was wearing a pair of gloves by the time she reached him. He picked up a cube of meat and emptied it out onto her hands.

“Do you know what this is?” the owner asked.

“Meat?” Megan answered with a shrug. He nodded and chuckled.

“Do you know what kind?” he asked. 

“No,” Megan shook her head.

“How did you find it?” he asked.

“It was an accident while restocking,” she said. Megan explained how she accidentally pulled a lever and found the room. She explained her curiosity and search for dates for health reasons. The owner listened intently, but he seemed focused on the meat in her hands.

“Have you heard of the AlterNet?” he asked while eyeing the meat. Megan tilted her head.

“Alternate what?” she asked.

“Nevermind, we’ll get to that later. Alright, let me ask you this. Can you do Ruben’s job?” he asked about the head cook. Megan had no doubts and nodded vigorously.

“I can do it better,” she said. The owner kept his eyes on the meat in her hands, then smiled.

“Okay. Ruben doesn’t know about this, he nodded at the mystery meat. “It would be helpful to have a chef that did know, and he’s not ready for this.”

“Not ready for what?” Megan asked. She raised the meat slightly. “This?” she asked. The owner nodded.

“Lie to me. Rigth now, make up anything you know is a lie.”

“I think you’re the most handsome man I’ve ever seen and I want to get you alone for a good hour at least,” she said. As soon as the words left her mouth, the cube of meat in her hands began to glow with a soft white aura.

“Ouch,” the owner said with a chuckle. Megan pushed the glowing meat out at him in fear.

“What’s going on!?” she asked. The owner took the meat from her hands and it stopped glowing.

“My name is Mary,” the owner said. The meat again began to glow with soft light.

“This is unicorn meat. It glows around lies,” he said. The glow dissipated. “It doesn’t expire unless it’s exposed to air.” The meat did not glow. “My name is Julie,” he said. It immediately started glowing again.

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