The Mime Tasters
Wherein I take a band name from Scalzi’s Next Band Name list, and spend no more than 20 minutes writing the story with the band name as a title.
Lee was sweating and he didn’t care. Yes, he knew that sweating was forbidden. Yes, he knew that showing any fear, any nervousness, any concern was strictly forbidden, and right now, he didn’t give a damn.
He didn’t give a damn, because the next meal he was about to eat contained mimes.
Mimes, and he had no idea when these particular mimes were harvested, and he desperately wanted to know. He wanted to know because he wanted to live.
Before he had come to court this evening, he had done his research. He had checked the manifests of the food being used in tonight’s dishes. He had twice checked the authenticity of several of the documents included with the shipments that had arrived earlier that day; he had even rejected the strawberries because the specific farm wasn’t listed on the manifest. That was the proper thing to do.
He wished now he had rejected the mime shipment at the same time. He could have found someone else to blame, perhaps. He had never tried to do that before, and all of the mime paperwork was in order, including the specific farm the mimes came from…
Yes, the farm was there.
The harvest time was not.
And now he was here, at the king’s table, waiting for the final dish to be served, so that he could taste it first.
It’s not like he even liked mimes. He hated mangos with a passion. That mangos could be combined genetically with a lime to produce the accursed mime was just an insult to nature. Of course the bigger insult, he thought, was that the king actually liked the things, was almost addicted to them, was so beholden to the flavor that they were served at any grand function.
There seemed to be a large number of grand functions as of late.
Lee bowed his head in shame. One does not think so poorly of his king.
Damned poisonous mimes.
The first mime tasters had died almost immediately after tasting them. While they seemed to go in an almost orgasmic bliss never changed the basic fact that they were dead. Only after the odd luck of a small boy who ate a mime harvested on the sixth full moon after the mime flower had opened, did the mime become a delicacy.
Of course, that timing took the lives of many more tasters before it was figured out.
And Lee had no idea when the mimes in the dish being served tonight were harvested.
Yes, he was sweating. He was sweating because he would be tasting tonight’s mimes before the king, because he had not remembered to ask for the documents that showed the harvest time. It was his error.
He knew which farm the mimes had come from. He had sent dispatches to the farm to ask. He had sent researchers to check the background of the mime farmers: were they loyal, did they support the king? He had made every inqiry he could, but had yet to determine the harvest time.
And now it was too late.
The mimes were brought forth to the king’s table, and set down. The king continued his conversation with his guest as Lee stepped forward and bowed. The king paused his conversation, turned, nodded slightly to Lee. Lee picked up the tasting spoon, and scooped from the pulpy mass in the bowl, knowing that one of the mimes in the bunch would contaminate the whole dish.
Lee brought the spoon to his mouth, and put the whole end in his mouth.
It tasted incredible.
It had never tasted so exquisite before.
Did that mean something, Lee wondered.
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