#2@AREA51 • by Eric Cline

The cafeteria at Area 51 is a government monopoly. The food is as bad as that implies.

But at least they try. Today, a new guy somewhere in the back whipped out some taco salads that weren’t half bad.

At least, not until an hour later.

I ran into the men’s room in Spacecraft Dismantlement. That goddamn taco salad had been popular. Every stall was taken.

Every. Friggin. Stall.

I crabwalked down the hall to Alien Fabric Analysis. Those tiny, silver tunics, which had been pored over since 1947, sat alone in their glass-walled glove boxes. Everyone was lined up for the john.

Down I went to Crypto-Pathology. They had been slowly slicing and dicing our visitors for decades, peeling back a layer of skin in the 70s, analyzing a triple finger joint in the 80s… or so the rumor mill went. I didn’t have access.

Some dude I knew only as ‘The Vegetarian’ (because he was the only customer for the cafeteria’s awful veggie burgers) was strolling down the hall like a man with a clear conscience, or at least clear intestines.

Sweat pouring down my face, I explained my agony in quick sentences between grunts.

He hefted his precious Crypto-Path access badge, his own face strained with doubt.

“I dunno, man, I ain’t trying to be a tool about it but y’know I could lose my job, man…”

“You wanna see me explode?!”

“Okay! Okay! Just inside the door — just inside — is a unisex bathroom. I’ll escort you. Then please leave. Again, not to be a tool.”

Praise the stars above, he badged me in.

I sat down on that porcelain salvation and waited for blessed relief.

The lockdown klaxon sounded. My bowels tightened up.

Just outside the door, I heard footsteps, yelling. A couple of frantic voices. I heard The Vegetarian talking to someone he addressed as “General”. The General then said:

“Dr. Wiggins went ape! Disguised himself as a cafeteria worker. Ground up five pounds of precious material that’s been on ice since 1947!”

“Why?” said The Vegetarian.

“To prove his crazy host theory! At least, I thought it was crazy before today. God, I guess I’m lucky I hate Mexican food…”

But I could listen no further.

With a world-ending groan, I felt the newborn make its entrance.

Eric Cline is a Gen-Xer in a Gen-Y world. Pity him.

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