SHORT STORIES
 Earth Shakes By Dan Reed With a mocking gleam in her ninety-nine eyes, a distasteful sneer on her lips and an atomic meat cleaver in one of her twelve hands, the Mad Chef shouted, “For the love of… just how damn hard is it to make a lousy shake?” Willing her anti-gravity disc forward at a startling speed, the huge chef shot her way across the vast chamber to the console being controlled by a group of insect like beings. She ran over anyone in her way. The gore was everywhere. “You’d never know that you had done this thousands of times on thousands of worlds over a period of millions of years.” The Mad Chef continued to bellow in a shrill voice. The man-sized insects scampered out of the Mad Chef’s way. They had been dealing with her insane outbursts for so long that they now only made the motions of terror. After all, no matter how many times she dismembered and killed them, she always reconstituted them. They knew of no other life than this. This was their normal. Slamming the blood spattered meat cleaver down on the console the Mad Chef went to work pushing buttons at a speed that made all twelve of her limbs seem like a blur. She was Cooking. As she continued at a frantic pace the ponderous chef made all kinds of huffing and puffing noises through the various orifices in her head. Anyone seeing this frenzied behavior for the first time would be forgiven for thinking that the Mad Chef was angry…   furious. Nothing could have been further from the truth. This was the one part of her life that made everything else worthwhile. The cooking itself. Even if she was only making a shake, she was a Chef. By the Old Ones how she reveled in the sounds and smells of her kitchen… her kitchen being an intergalactic spaceship. “Start the bio-matter collectors.” The first stage was always so exciting. Gathering the ingredients. “Not the matter transmitters, you oaf.” The Mad Chef’s voice rang out with a threatening tone as she snatched up the atomic meat cleaver and, with a lightening fast overhand throw, severed the head of another of the insect men. “I said the bio-matter collectors.” These damn insect men were so dense, and they had absolutely no flair for the theatrical at all. No pizzazz. Why it was the dramatic flourishes that made cooking an art form. If the Mad Chef were anything she was an Artist. At least she was when she wasn’t under the pressures of her job. That was always a constant source of aggravation. The Old Ones had been sending head chefs all over the cosmos for untold millennium in search of rare delicacies. They were the “Glory Chefs,” The ones on all the intergalactic shows. The big shots. The Mad Chef was not one of the Glory Chefs. Not by a long shot. Her job was more like a truck driver on a bad route across the universe. Except on moments like these when she got to cook. And could she cook. They had   passed her up on the big shows because of her insanity, but she knew that they knew that she could really Cook. “Glory Chefs. Ha. Glory Hounds is more like it.” The Mad Chef thought as dozens of fantastically long tubes shot out of the vast space ship and plunged downward towards Earth. The Chef’s Jupiter sized spacecraft had been making preparations for the last two weeks while in high Earth orbit. It seemed that the inhabitants of this little mud hole had started to develop primitive forms of communication and had been trying to contact her ship. The ship’s computers had recorded these attempts of course, but other than that, they were ignored. Then a couple of the more advance countries had sent crude space faring craft to buzz around like the gnats they were. The Mad Chef wasn’t even informed of their presence. So when the incredibly gigantic vacuum tubes erupted out of her craft and sucked them up like so many dust motes, the Mad Chef Didn’t even blink one of her eyes. When the hundred miles across openings of the vacuum tubes dove towards Earth at the speed of thought they caused instantaneous worldwide hurricanes and tsunamis. Lightening literally lashed across the skies globally. The Mad Chef manipulated the tubes so that they hovered over all the Earth’s major cities. Everything that wasn’t bolted down was instantly sucked up through the miles of tubes into an immense vat in the center of the interstellar ship. Then everything that was bolted down followed. Within seconds the entire planet Earth was stripped of almost every biological creature on the planet. Insects and fish, bacteria and birds, trees, grass and of course man. Waving six hands in a circle over a glowing lime green disc started the filthy bubbling brew that was the remains of the living inhabitants of planet Earth, to start swirling into a vortex. The Mad Chef was stirring the pot. The planet sized centrifuge in the middle of the alien spacecraft continued to spin for a full week before the impurities were all extracted and spat back down to the nearly lifeless Earth. “Oh, how I just love this part.” The Mad Chef thought with glee rippling up and down her many spines like a crazed musician playing a manic group of xylophones. The insect men scrambled to get out of her way as the Mad Chef sped like a demon across the vast chamber. She stopped instantly, yet without any whiplashing of her grossly huge body. A small opening appeared in the wall. Inside the alcove was a chalice made of a substance that reflected light like rare gems. A brownish green sludge started globing into the chalice. The Mad Chef reverently took the chalice and then swirled the goop vigorously. She raised the chalice, sniffed the contents like the connoisseur she was, and then downed the goop in one quick gulp. A sigh escaped her lips, then she belched. Addressing the insect men, the ship and no one in particular the Mad Chef softly said, “Oh well. Barrel the brew and store it for the Old Ones.” Then she turned back to the console to continue their never-ending circular route through her section of the Milky Way. The route took 65 million years by Earth time reckoning. Every planet that had biological beings on it was reduced to an almost extinction level so the Old Ones could dine well. It made no difference one way or the other for the Mad Chef. Besides, they never took all the bio matter. They always left enough “seed” so that there was another crop in 65 million years. The only thing she was thinking was, “Damn, those Earth shakes are really good this time. Last time I was here that dinosaur batch tasted a little funky.” End
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