Top Cover

Author: Jae Miles, Staff Writer

Dino’s at the hatch, jigging up and down like he does when he’s worried.
“Table Seventeen, the Lantoran’s getting antsy!”
I flip the trout end-over-end in the pan: “Tell the lovely cephalopod that his trout is being sautéed in ox butter and I will not hurry the process.”
“Yes, Chef.”
All I’m trying to do is run the finest restaurant this side of the Tiiri Quadrant. Naturally, I’ve got time for every little problem.
“What’s up, Kai?”
“Sheila’s been sucked on!”
Oh, for pity’s sake.
“Did you make sure the Effervescent Yamdri was served to the table at over 316 Kelvin? A hungry Kroonin targets solely by temperature.”
“Sorry, Chef.”
“You’re serving the replacement. Might want to get it right. Send Sheila home.”
A hand slaps my bum: “I’m fine, Chef. That new security Benthusian is really fast. Saved my life.”
I lift the pan off the heat and look her over: torn blouse, big red mark on neck and chest, makeup runs from crying. Bright eyed, though.
“Okay, if you insist. Freshen up and put your bodysuit on. The Padrang Ambassador’s coming in.”
She grins: “Splee’s a lovely blob of polar jelly.”
I shake my head. All the invertebrates are sweet on Sheila. Her eyes are ‘rooglash’, apparently.
“Yeah, but he’s coming here at the same time as the G’k’l’roc delegation.”
Jerhn stops, serving tray poised delicately on pseudopod: “They’re Flame Nation! You never said anything. The burners aren’t lit!”
I told Kai… Never mind.
“Sheila, deliver Jerhn’s platter. Jerhn, you’re on Flame Nation and no-one takes you off until the delegation tips you handsomely and departs. Move, people!”
“The temperature conflict problem?”
Good point. Can’t be having people getting steamed. Just a minute –
“Sheila, get the crud cleared out of freezer nine except for a metal pallet, all the racking and any big carcasses. Set up a liquid nitrogen fondue in there. Ambassador Splee’s fascinated by ambience. Tell him we’re giving him a ‘Stantazen Coldship Barbeque’ experience tonight.”
“Bringing him in through the loading bay for added veracity?”
She gets it!
“Spot on.”
I’ve added fresh-chopped parsley and the trout has flipped twice before –
“Yes, Kai?”
Something simple, please, oh Gods of the Culinarily Challenged.
“Got some plant thingys from Edma asking if we have tables. Was going to put ‘em on Table Thirty as it’s been empty all night, but that security octopus you hired said I should check with you first. He’s chatting with the plants so they don’t wander off.”
Give me strength.
“Kai, why do you think Table Thirty is vacant?”
“Dunno. It’s right up in the dome. Nice view. I like going up there for a toke.”
In my restaurant? Deal with it later. Doc says my blood pressure can only handle one stupid at a time.
“Kai, what are Yangru?”
“Energy forms from Yang. Invisible unless they want to be- Oh.”
“It’s the only table where they can feel the energy waves of the city.”
“Where do I put the plants, Chef?”
That’s it.
“They’re ‘fronds’! Calling an Edmari a ‘plant’ is an insult.”
“Whatever. So, where do I put the plants?”
Must remember: can’t afford the time off for a prison sentence.
“Get Jao, the Benthusian, to escort the holy fronds to Table Two.”
“That’s your break table.”
“Guess I’m not taking breaks for a while.”
Am I allowed to use a bat instead of sarcasm?
The trout slides onto the platter.
“Dino! Seventeen!”
“Yes, Chef.”
Someone’s parked a shot of tequila nearby. Deep breath, down in one.
Right. Back to it. Only nine hours to go.


  1. juenger1701

    i love this universe this is the customer service life dead to rights

    Doc says my blood pressure can only handle one stupid at a time.
    Must remember: can’t afford the time off for a prison sentence.
    Am I allowed to use a bat instead of sarcasm?

    those 3 lines are absolutely great and give an astounding insight into the character’s personality i can easily see Chef as the only calm one in the room while everything is on fire and/or screaming

    • Jae

      Thank you!

      Chef’s not one to be caught out easily, for sure.

    • phillipjhart

      “…this is the customer service life dead to rights”

      Agreed. I spent more than a few shifts in that sort of whirlwind. Not nearly this Chef’s hurricaine, though, as I only had to keep the particulars of one species in mind.

      The story’s pace put me right back in the kitchen. The combination of the impromptu chef’s table, party-dedicated server, and communication misfire even made it feel like my second to last job 🙂

  2. SimonJM

    I seem to recall a not totally dissimilar restaurant in some RP many years ago – not quite so hectic though! 🙂
    Absolute delight to read, though I suspect a sustained ‘attack’ would begin to get wearisome, plus jaw would start to ache more from all the smiling.

    • Jae

      Twas the ‘Banded Nuget’, if I remember correctly.

      • SimonJM

        That is beyond my poor tattered grey cells, I think chef must have run out of sarcasm and used the bat on me … 😉

  3. xdhz8

    Wildly imaginative and a fun read. I love the line “my blood pressure can only handle one stupid at a time” !

  4. Jatayu

    That was too funny and incredibly creative!

  5. Hypersapien

    I want this to be a novel.

    Hell, I want this to be a TV show.

    • Jae

      Thank you!

      TV would be my preference. I just can’t do sustained humour. Plus, this would lend itself to gorgeous visuals and fantastic set pieces.

Submit a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Random Story :

  • Decommissioned

    Author : Michael Herbaugh a.k.a. “Freeman” I’m sitting That’s my …

The Past

365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.

The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.

Flash Fiction

"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."

Kathy Kachelries
Founding Member


We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.

Voices of Tomorrow

Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.

If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact