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Chapter Four – The Temple of the Last Steak

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A Meeting With Elron Muskatel

The inner airlock door slides open. They are met by two men in hooded orange robes. “Greetings. Until We Grill Again.” They raise their left palms. Each one is marked as if someone held their hand down on a charcoal grill. “Follow us.”

Unlike the Trek Deck there is no pretense about the tunnels and domes of the Bradbury Base. The four pass many orange clothed individuals. When encountered each one raises their branded left palm and “Until We Grill Again” is repeated.

The final door opens and the four enter what used to be the standard Bradbury Base command module, again, highly modified. The acolytes have hung silver emergency blankets everywhere hiding much of the base controls. The normal lights have been dimmed and somehow they have rigged LED lights to look like flickering candles, giving the room the look of some kind of fancy high-tech tent. There is a dias with a legless man in an elaborate chair, behind him above his head no one can miss The Last Steak. It’s a T-bone, frozen in a block of ice and lit from several angles.

José leans in to Beth, “What happened to his legs?”

“He ate them.”

“What?”

“Now shut up.”

“Until we snack again.” intone the three attendants in low voices. One sticks close to the man in the chair, the other two approach Beth and José. “What brings you to the Temple of the Last Steak? Have you brought sauce?”

Beth bows and answers, “Peace be on the BBQ, peace be on the Steak, the Baked Potato and the Sour Cream.”

“Peace be on them.” intone the acolytes.

The man in the big chair looks down his nose at his visitors. His hair is cut short, he’s got a small nose and blue eyes. He peers at them like he’s taking them apart one piece at a time.

Beth: “May it please The Steak. We seek snacks. We believe we have a way to order more from Earth.”

Elron’s eyes jump at this, he whispers to his robed attendant.

“Elron wishes to hear more. The Steak needs side dishes.”

“May it please The Steak, we have a way to order whatever we want from Amazon Prime.”

This results in a frenzied whispered chat between Elron and his attendants.

“The Steak Prophet has vowed to live and die here on Mars, as is only right for humanity. The Steak Prophet also believes we should eat well in the meantime.”

The orange-robed interlocur leans forward. “All is considered for The Steak. State your thoughts.”

“We can order from Earth whatever The Steak requires, what we need is a credit card.”

This inspires a set of frenzied whispered chat.

The acolyte responds, “This is highly desirable. The Elron will share his credit card with you on one condition.”

“Which is?”

“The Elron demands a pizza. Bring that to us and you shall have your credit card and a shopping list.”

Beth bows. “So the menu has been written, so it shall be grilled.”

José asks, “How do you know all this stuff?”

Beth whispers, “Sometimes we get refugees. They bring stories.”

Two Acolytes lead José and Beth back to the airlock. They halt before a door with the familiar male/female icon on the door. One gestures towards the door. “Now it is time for you to make the customary offering before departing.”

José: “Say what?”

Beth answers, “We are required to leave behind a gift of organic material to add to their bio-recyclers before we can leave.”

“Huh?”

“Remember that pill I gave you back in the ‘bug? It wasn’t a painkiller, it was a laxative.”

“You mean?”

“Yup, we’re required to take a dump.”

Onward to chapter five