Shiny Happy People

Chapter 3

9:30 PM, MARCH 12 XXXX

She can't cook.

People say that one shouldn't tell themselves that they can't do something- they always can. But she saw Behemo eat the food at the vending machine, food which would not expire until next year due to unhealthy amounts of preservatives, and because he just recently barely recovered, his blood sugar levels skyrocketed.

He fixed that himself, much to her surprise.

It isn't as simple as a 'The King and I' song, singing 'Getting to Know You' in all angles. 'Getting to like you' was already covered- she liked him so much, but 'getting to hope you like me' required a herculean amount of effort.

Levia almost wanted to throw the spatula towards the wall- she can't do this.

She. Can't. Cook.

She's a professor studying the human mind, she belongs in the field of human neurology. She's absolutely not a hotel management major, or a culinary arts major, but she must cook for Behemo lest he starve.

She can't cook, but she must-

"Ah!"

Levia finds that the surprised gasp came out from her own mouth as she realizes a bit late that Behemo sneaked up right behind her to take the spatula from her hand. He wasn't wearing the blazer that was supposed to accompany the suit, nor the tie, but he had the shirt sleeves rolled up and his hair tied back, obviously prepared to take the helm in the hospital's kitchen.

In contrast to her, who had her lab coat wrapped around her waist like an apron.

"I'll start," Behemo said, snickering- snickering? It's the first time she'd seen him snicker.

"Are you making fun of me?" Levia asked, trying to snatch the spatula back. "Move. I can do this."

"You don't even have ingredients out yet," the sensible young gentleman pointed out, to which he opened the fridge, only to dismally find that the fridge was sadly empty, cleared out, and not cold.

Now he's the one who's a stupid-head.

"I figured," Behemo sighed. "It's been three years. We'll have to live with the diet sodas and low-fat cookies until, what did you say...the haze clears up?"

Levia was more thankful to the higher powers that Behemo's mood was clearly a lot better.

"From what I found out about you, you're a rich heir," the female scientist said. "How do you know how to cook-"

Behemo closed the fridge door and put the spatula away before checking that Levia didn't turn on the stove. "I indulged in anything feminine. Which would be why you would've been confused when you brought me here. I wore a dress, right?"

She found herself nodding. "Why?"

"Statement of fashion."

That's new.

"Weirdo," Levia slipped out.

"I get that a lot too," Behemo shrugged.

"You were bullied?" the female scientist asked, suddenly feeling extremely bad. "Oh, I'm..."

"Come on, Levia- if I were to be affected, I would've drowned myself ages ago. I'm still here, aren't I?" he grinned, looking around the kitchen for any nonperishable goods. "But I find that wearing suits give me more mobility, if I look at the bright side."

"So you like the suit?" Levia asked a bit too excitedly.

"Very much. Thank you, Levia," he smiled, pulling out a can of sardines while checking the expiry date. "I'll always trust you to make me look dapper."

"Dapper. Where did you come from, the 40s?" Levia laughed, loosening up.

"And you, madam, come from the 22nd century," he joked, and then he frowned at the can of sardines. "...We'd best keep this. If you're keeping me in an abandoned hospital, something's obviously up."

She almost thought that he was over that.

"Are we going all survival mode now?" she questioned.

"You chose not to tell me much about what I got myself into," Behemo said coolly, searching for a bag to put the can in. "And you're all I've got, so I've chosen to trust you. And because I trust you, I'll have to either resort to drastic measures to keep us safe or bust. Who knows- you might be hiding the fact that the haze kills or something."

"It...sort of does," Levia admitted. "This is an advanced world, after all. Finding a phonograph to make you feel as if you're home is like finding something extremely rare."

"Your choice of songs are dirt old," Behemo teased. "But in the event that we do have to leave, are we taking that bulky thing with us-"

Click.

Flicker.

The lights went off.

"Well, the power's out..." Behemo sighed, but clearly, his alternate didn't think of it as a trivial matter. The lights were out. There's a cut in electricity. When there's a cut in electricity…

Levia quickly grabbed Behemo's hand and ran to her office.

His protests fell on deaf ears as she scrambled to grab her laptop and two gas masks, throwing one at Behemo for him to catch. He wears it despite asking too many questions, but she answers and hears none as she races towards the front door.

She found herself being forcibly pulled to the other direction.

"We have to get out!" she yelled, her voice muffled by the mask.

"Not through the front door!" he yelled back. "How long can we hold?"

"Ten minutes!" Levia cried out, and Behemo ran for the back door.

Basic biology would state that in such cases, strenuous activity is not encouraged as respiration would be at an all time high, taking in anything that the nose would inhale. That be damned- Behemo pulled Levia along as if he was pulling a weight, if Levia said that they could last ten minutes, he'll try to make it a five.

The damned back door would take two minutes given his speed. If he were to speed up, it would take only a minute, passing by all those named doors that no longer held their former owners for better and brighter days. The back door was wide open due to the power being out, so he rushed out of that…

...and he smelled the haze, and coughed violently.

Levia coughed too, but she felt herself being pulled again. There wasn't a soul outside- no people, no vehicles, nothing. It truly looked like a ghost town, but Behemo knew that this wasn't a good time to sight-see, unless he wanted this to be his final sight before his impending death. His movements were slowing down, he was starting to see double, but he pulled Levia and held her hand tightly until he spotted a sign.

Hammond Bar.

Perfect.

He flung open the door, pushed Levia in, slammed it shut, and removed his mask to inhale an unhealthy amount of wine-addled scented air.

Levia took her mask off slowly, but she found that while she was breathing not only for dear life but for oxygen, she ended up being on the wooden floor of the bar. Her counterpart towered over her like some monument, and her legs were terribly sore from running and bad circulation. The shocked stares of three-day customers were on the two, and Behemo took one more deep breath before showing two fingers.

"...T-Two...Two Blue Ribbon beers, please..." he gasped.

The bartender arched an eyebrow.

"Sir, we don't sell that here."


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