Intercosmic - Chapter 40 - Little Brothers

“You boys looking for a good time tonight,” a woman asks as we pass by.

“We’re brothers, we don’t need to be Eskimo brothers too, but call me later,” Edan yells back her.

We’re out in the warm night moving along a walking path near the lake. He told me the name of the lake earlier, but I’ve been drinking too much. The best way to combat all the liquor is food, and that’s where we going. A real meal, between us, brothers. I just wish we could get there sometime soon. We finally get to the magical noodle place, and it’s a minivan with some stools and tables sat around out from that were clearly loaded on a trailer earlier.

“Here we are, the best food truck in all of Invicta,” Edan throws both hands in the air presenting the run down truck.

“I think dad was right.”

“About what?”

“We are sick, because you say this place is the best, but it looks like something that truck looks like it should have been scrapped and recycled three different times now. But all I can think is that it smells great.”

“Trust me on this one,” he places a hand on my shoulder.

Edan talks about all the wonderful food in the city as we stand in line. I try to get a peak at what is going on inside the truck but the actual cooking area is hidden from view. If I’ve learned anything that means the food is either going to send me to the hospital or it’s going to be amazing. Either way, it definitely won’t pass food safety guidelines. If Edan is still living after eating here so often, I should be fine. Then again, I have no idea what he’s been eating for the last few years. He could be turning me into a cannibal tonight, and I wouldn’t even care until the next morning.

“Hey, Kaz, give us two of the specials,” Edan says at the counter.

“Of course, extra sauce,” the man taking orders greets Edan.

“You know it,” Edan smiles. “Got me down to a science.”

“I have to know my best customers,” Kaz responds with a shrug as if it’s nothing.

“How are the kids down in the valley?”

“They’re doing alright, surviving.”

“Surviving, but the youth need to thrive if the future is to succeed.”

“You’re a little philosopher,” the man laughs and I can’t help but join.

“Kaz, this is my big brother Efrem. Efrem, this is Kaz, he cooks, but he’s a crook too.”

“Nice to meet you,” I offer a handshake.

“I might be a crook, but I wouldn’t steal that old wrist comp,” Kaz laughs as he shakes my hand.

“Same price as usual,” Edan asks.

“Same as usual.”

“Sweet, I’ll throw in some extra for you to drop a few meals off for the kids out hustling tonight.”

“Trying to show off in front of your kin,” Kaz laughs.

“Of course.”

We take a seat and wait for the food, still plenty drunk from our drinking earlier. Our joking and excitement might be whatever the opposite of contagious is because we’ve drawn the attention of two Ghuk who keep shooting us dirty looks. Edan doesn’t seem to notice, but their hushed whispers are basically calling for attention. It’s not even that I’m super attentive, anybody less drunk than Edan would notice. Well, anyone but Kaz who brings us a bottle of carbonated wine he makes himself. More drinks, I’m not complaining. Edan isn’t a fan, but drinks it because he likes Kaz. I’m a fan of the slightly sour taste.

“Look at how the humans cater to each other, as if we weren’t here first,” one of the Ghuk nearly shouts, wanting us to hear.

“How about you guys join us for a drink? We can’t finish this whole bottle ourselves,” I try to calm the situation.

“We don’t need your pity human. Never forget it was our species who stumbled upon you infants trying to escape your home world after nearly destroying it. Never pity us,” the loud Ghuk speaks, standing to show how he’s nearly a foot taller than either of us.

Ghuk’s aren’t pretty. They remind me of rhinos in the zoo. The old ones before they evolved to be smaller and faster. If those rhinos walked on two feet and had three fingers on each hand, they could be cousins. The horns are scary, Ghuk are bigger than almost every human, and strong enough to make a body builder weep. One little problem, they’ve got thick skin, but it isn’t armor, it takes a lot to pierce, but they still bleed. They’ll bleed a lot, and it’ll be hard to treat. If we have to fight them, we might stand a chance if we can avoid getting hit. They’re not good fighters, which is why they love guns. They’re too slow to be good fighters. Dodge their punches and try to make them bleed, yeah that’s a good plan. I might be drunker than I thought.

“Brother, we should just eat. Our food has arrived,” the quieter Ghuk speaks, another cool head.

“Listen to your brother,” Edan smiles setting off the louder Ghuk.

After a string of profanity, I can’t piece together even with my translator he says something I can understand, “duel.”

Ghuk’s like duels. Usually their duels involve two people running through a designated area shooting each other. If they’re feeling extra wronged, a bullet isn’t good enough; no weapon is. They fight to the death with just their fists. Duels are outlawed almost everywhere, including Ghuk planets. A human wouldn’t stand a chance in a duel of fists. I’m not about to let this happen. We’ll just eat somewhere else.

“Foods ready,” Kaz makes the save.

“Let’s just all eat our food, and go home,” I offer the Ghuk.

“Sounds good to me,” The quieter Ghuk pulls the other away, “I apologize for my brother.”

“I apologize for mine,” I smile and wave.

I punch Edan in the shoulder when I catch him making eyes at the Ghuk. The food is great, some kind of local fish that fills the lake. I sense the night coming to an end, even after the Ghuk leave. The night is ruined now, but it was still a great night. Edan senses this, and orders more wine, trying to keep me drunk. I drink, I think our family has a problem. We have to drink to talk to each other like an actual family. I wonder what mom would be like when she’s drunk.

“I think it’s time for me to head back to my hotel,” I stand. “Thanks for a great night.”

“Nah, stay at my place. I wouldn’t feel good about sending you out alone.”

“I can take care of myself, better than you. You almost pissed on yourself when that Ghuk said duel,” I laugh.

“I didn’t see you jump up to fight Mr. Let’s Share a Drink,” he shoots back.

“You’re silly, I’m going.”

“Nope, I already called us a cab,” Edan gives me a big smile. “We’re having a sleepover.”

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