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||You are on Week 697
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Six Hundred Ninety Seven Ends Friday, August 7
"Fin, you missed a spot!"
It was a typical Maraquan night for Fin the Maraquan Kacheek. Kelp was right in the middle of its dinner rush. The restaurant was jam-packed with hungry Neopets, waiting to have their meals served to them.
"Don't worry, I got it." Fin sighed at the dish he'd been scrubbing for five straight minutes. He knew that Chelsea, the Uni waitress meant well. After all, she was his best friend, but he preferred not to be told how to do his job.
Being a dishwasher at Kelp was certainly a good job that paid well, but Fin knew that it wasn't the right fit for him. He longed to be in the center of the kitchen, where the chefs would skillfully prepare and cook food right before his eyes. He watched the pastry chefs ice the magnificent cakes that, in minutes, would be sent out into the dining hall.
As Fin scrubbed away the remaining stickiness off his dish, he saw Alphonse, the executive chef, pace back and forth between the kitchen station and Fin's dishwashing station. Alphonse seemed slightly worried. Joey, the sous-chef, stood nearby, trying to calm Alphonse down.
"Alphonse, we'll think of something!"
"For the past three months, profits at Kelp have been dwindling. We have to come up with a new menu item that's so delicious, so irresistible, that customers won't be able to stay away from Kelp."
"Our chefs in this kitchen are so creative. They'll be able to come up with something perfect. Just you wait!"
Fin could not contain his excitement at the news. This could be an opportunity to show the whole kitchen that he was chef-material! He hurriedly finished up the last of his dish pile and rushed out into the dining hall to tell Chelsea the news.
"Chelsea! I just overheard Alphonse and Joey talking about a new menu item. If I can come up with a delicious meal, maybe I can be a chef here!" said Fin.
Chelsea smiled at her customers and handed plates of beautifully-crafted seafood. She turned to Fin. "I think that's a wonderful opportunity."
"I wonder what ingredients I'll start with. Of course, they'll have to be fresh...," Fin started to trail off into his own little world as he does often. He paced around the dining hall aimlessly.
"Fin, watch out!" Chelsea hollered from across the dining hall.
Fin stopped in his tracks, when suddenly, he heard a crash...
Date: Jul 31st
Fin whirled around and, to his horror, saw a once-beautifully plated dish of Luxurious Vegetarian Star Pie, now face-down on the floor. Fin's gaze traveled upward from the pile of ruined food to meet the eyes of a very disgruntled waiter.
The poor Kacheek took an involuntary step backward in an attempt to distance himself from the angry waiter and bumped into Chelsea, who'd come up behind him. She gave Fin a shove toward the kitchen. "Get out of here!" she hissed in Fin's ear. "I'll smooth things over here."
Fin didn't need to be told twice. He hurried to the kitchen and headed for the dish area, where he planned to hide until his beet-red face returned to its normal green color.
"How humiliating!" Fin muttered to himself. "At least Alphonse was too busy to see what I caused." He sighed regretfully for the disaster his absentmindedness had caused, and for the grief Chelsea would surely give him about it.
A couple minutes later Chelsea joined him. She gave Fin a sympathetic pat on the shoulder as she handed him the spoiled plate of food to take care of.
"I told you your absentmindedness would get you in trouble someday!" said Chelsea knowingly. "Luckily I was able to calm Pierre down before things got too ugly out there. We had to tell Alphonse what happened, though, since they had to make a new dish."
Fin groaned. His plan to impress Alphonse with an amazing new dish was NOT off to a great start. Not only had he ruined one of Alphonse's beautiful meals, he had also created extra work for the extremely busy chef.
"Now what am I going to do?" Fin moaned. "Alphonse definitely won't want me in the kitchen with him after this!"
"Sure he will!" said Chelsea reassuringly. "You'll just have to make sure your dish is the most amazing thing he's ever tasted."
Fin nodded, though he was still skeptical. Chelsea was right, though, he realized; his dish would have to be spectacular.
The Kacheek was scrubbing the last of the plates when he came up with the perfect idea...
Date: Aug 3rd
"That's it!" the excited Kacheek said to himself, as he almost dropped a dish on the floor.
Fin calmed himself down as he carefully began to wash the dishes again. Then he started to make out his plan for the most perfect dish ever.
First he would need Chelsea's help. Because in order for this dish to work, he needed access to the executive chef's pantry. Since it was the only pantry in the entire restaurant that stocked the uber rare Boiled Sea Serpent.
It was going to be the star of his dish and without it, he'd knew he could not impress Alphonse properly.
Every other ingredient he could find on his own. Since all the other Kelp pantries were unlocked, except the executive chef's of course.
That part of the kitchen was off-limits to anyone, unless they had a valid reason for going there. Fin did not but Chelsea on the other hand, she was the head waitress. Which meant that at times, Alphonse would as for her help when Kelp was short-handed.
Fin was smiling to himself as he washed another dish. He began daydreaming about when he would present his dish to Alphonse and how much he would praise him for it.
As the Kacheek daydreamed away, something whooshed past him and he felt a strong breeze...
Date: Aug 4th
Or rather, a stream of bubbles whooshed past him. Fin looked up to see a very disheveled Chelsea, absolutely nothing like what he'd seen a mere hour prior.
"Huh? What happened to--" Fin couldn't even begin to finish his sentence before the double doors swam shut behind her. The Kacheek frowned. It truly was a busy night.
He set the dish on the drying rack--as difficult as it was to dry dishes underwater--and swished his tail left and right. "Chelsea?"
Fin was at once squished against the wall as the Uni balanced at least six plates on her hooves, muttering to herself. Fin's frown deepened, and not just from pain, either.
"A horde of Altadorian tourists with seaweed around their necks--if this keeps up, Kelp is going to be out of the hole for sure!" Chelsea yelped as she swam with all her might through the doors
Fin's fins drooped. He was quickly running out of time.
The doors swooshed open.
"Chelsea, I wanted to ask you something important--"
"Sorry, Fin, I can't. Maybe later?" A very overwhelmed Chelsea scurried by.
Fin pouted. There was no way he was going to let the sudden spurt of busyness of the restaurant ruin his chances to live his dreams.
"It's about the Executive Chef's pantry!" Fin blurted, loudly enough for the whole restaurant to hear.
Chelsea stopped in her tracks, a pile of dirty dishes swaying and wobbling as she slowly turned around to face the Maraquan Kacheek. Fin almost recoiled at seeing the sudden graveness in her face.
"Alphonse spoke to me just after you spilled the food. He's starting to think that I was wrong to recommend you work here."
Fin's entrails turned to ice.
"So he thinks it was my fault--and I'm not allowed near that pantry anymore. Oh, but don't feel guilty--" She hastily added, gently lifting his face to meet her eyes. "It's not either of our faults. We just have to keep doing what we're doing and prove ourse--" Her head whipped up as she heard a customer wonder, "What's taking so long?"
Chelsea grimaced. "I've got to go. Stay out of trouble, okay?"
Fin nodded slowly, but the nod was really to himself and the plan that was forming in his head. What reward came without risk, after all?
Even if it meant getting into trouble, he knew he just had to sneak into the Executive Chef's pantry...
Date: Aug 5th
It occurred to Fin that the busyness might be precisely the distraction he needed to get the Boiled Sea Serpent. Chelsea would be preoccupied tending to the tourists, Alphonse and the chefs would be at their work stations. As long as no one came looking for him for five minutes, he could be in and out of the Executive Chef's pantry with no one else the wiser.
The Kacheek ducked down below the sink at his station and peeked around the corner. The door to the pantry was on the farthest wall from Fin's station. Getting there would be the hardest part; he had to get past all of the chefs to reach it.
The chef at the closest work station had his back turned. It was now or never to edge his way closer. Just as he was about to make the dash, the door to the kitchens flew open. "Alphonse!" It was Chelsea. "The Altadorian party just placed a huge order. Four Ocean Platters, two Whole Roast Pheasants, three Fish Specials, and a Luxurious Vegetarian Star Pie."
"Hopefully no one drops this pie," one of the station chefs muttered. Fin felt another prick of guilt.
"Alright, this is the kind of business we've been needing," Alphonse said excitedly. "I'll need all hands on deck here, so until the end of the night, the Executive Chef's pantry will be unlocked. If you need something, go get it yourself as myself and Joey will have enough on our hands without running ingredients back and forth."
After a brief pause, Alphonse barked, "What are you all standing around for? We have paying customers to satisfy!"
The kitchen exploded with renewed frenzy. Fin felt confident that he could have swam leisurely right into the Executive Chef pantry with no one looking twice at him, but it would be harder to take something with a steady stream of chefs going in and out to take their own ingredients. He needed a different approach.
Swallowing hard, Fin approached Alphonse. "E-excuse me, Alphonse," he stammered. "I... I overheard what you said and um... I could help run ingredients back and forth when I... uh, when I'm not washing dishes," he offered.
Alphonse didn't even look up from his work station, chopping and sorting vegetables and meats with such precision and speed that no one would question his status as master chef. "You're pushing your luck after that slip-up with the pie earlier, but because we're so busy and the chefs have better things to do, I'll allow it. If you mess anything up, or if anything is not where it is supposed to be at the end of the night, though, don't bother coming in tomorrow. And I'd have to speak to Chelsea about her recommendation, as well. Now, go and get me ten pieces of fresh seaweed and make it snappy."
Fin trotted off, troubled by a swirling mixture of emotions. On one hand, he now had access to the Executive Chef's pantry for the rest of the evening. On the other, if Alphonse noticed a Boiled Sea Serpent had gone missing, it was not just Fin's job on the line but Chelsea's job as well.
For the moment, though, he had to focus on the task Alphonse had given him. A glimmer of excitement pulsed through him - he had never even seen the interior of the Executive Chef Pantry - as he pushed upon the newly unlocked door...
Date: Aug 5th
He wasn’t sure quite what he was expecting, but Alphonse’s highly private collection of ingredients was exactly that...a cupboard full of ingredients. Fin scanned the shelves eagerly. There were fresh oysters piled to the ceiling, boxes of snails, and mountains of sea pineapples.
His heart gave an uncharacteristic lurch as he spotted a jar full of Boiled Sea Serpents. He couldn’t help but daydream momentarily about the wonderful possibilities he could concoct if only he could obtain some of the coveted serpent.
“Where’s my seaweed?”
The screech from the kitchen broke his reverie. Fin needed to keep Alphonse happy, and here he was, already failing at his new job.
He spotted a stack of fresh seaweed next to anchovies, grabbed ten slices, and maneuvered his way through the fervor of the kitchen line.
“Here you are chef,” Fin said dutifully.
As before, Alphonse skillfully snatched the seaweed and began chopping it with surprising efficiency. “Well, what are you gawking at? Go help the others!”
Seeing this as a sign to continue fetching ingredients, Fin turned towards the other chefs. One called for a tablespoon of fish eggs and another for a piece of black coral.
How was this going to work? Fin asked himself. He was now back inside the executive chef’s pantry for the second time, yet no closer to procuring the sea serpent. He couldn’t just take it because Alphonse would certainly discover it missing and Fin would lose his job and negate Chelsea’s reputation.
He could see no possible way for him to cook Alphonse a spectacular dish.... but, maybe someone else could cook it?
Thinking quickly, he grabbed some Boiled Sea Serpent and searched for Joey amidst all the hustle and bustle. Good thing there were several stations between him and Alphonse.
“Joey,” Fin said, getting the sous chef’s attention. “Alphonse said he wants you to prepare a personalized dish tonight for the Altadorian party. He wants you to use this Boiled Sea Serpent.”
Joey looked confused for several seconds, and Fin was worried the sous-chef would call down the line towards Alphonse, but luckily the volume and intensity in the kitchen prevented that. He nodded hurriedly.
“Okay,” Fin said excitedly. “This is how Alphonse wants it cooked...”
Date: Aug 6th
Months spent in front of the dishwasher of Kelp's kitchen had lead to this moment.
This was Fin's dream, and it was finally coming into fruition. Well, not exactly - his dream hadn't involved Joey the sous chef cooking up a dreamy dish that would charm Alphonse's taste buds into promoting him from scrubbing saucers to sauteing succulent sea creations. Regardless of whether or not he would be the one to prepare the dish, the responsibility still lay with him in planning it.
Fin closed his eyes. Alphonse's words echoed in his head.
'For the past three months, profits at Kelp have been dwindling. We have to come up with a new menu item that's so delicious, so irresistible, that customers won't be able to stay away from Kelp.'
Becoming a chef was Fin's dream, but this wasn't just for him. As much as he fancied the idea of finally putting decadent meals onto the plates rather than simply scrubbing them, this was a lot bigger than him. If Kelp closed its doors, many Maraquans would be hurt. The longtime customers would be devastated. And Chelsea - Fin couldn't stand to see his best friend out of work if Kelp closed its doors. This was bigger than just Fin. This was about Chelsea, and Joey, and even Pierre. This was about saving Kelp.
Fin knew just what to do.
"Boil some Angel Hair Pasta, and chop the Boiled Sea Serpent."
Joey nodded. Nothing too difficult about a pasta with chopped Boiled Sea Serpent, no matter how rare the ingredient. He moved with dizzying speed, boiling and chopping with ease. "Got it. What's next?"
"Fresh Oysters, and Yolk Beans. Toss them in."
Joey blinked. "If that's what the chef wants..." He did as instructed, whipping up the ingredients in his frying pan, and looked to Fin for further instruction.
"Now," Fin hesitated. It had never been done before... Could it work? "Make a Stramberry sauce."
"A Stramberry sauce?!" Joey exclaimed, tossing his spatula in the air with exasperation. "That's insane! A Boiled Sea Serpent pasta, with Fresh Oysters, Yolk Beans, and Stramberry sauce? You can't just combine opposite flavors like that!"
"Joey, I know how it sounds. It's for the Altadorian party. Alphonse wants it done precisely this way." Fin pressed.
Finally, Joey sighed. "Alright, Fin."
The final dish looked magnificent. It was just the right blend of color, spice, and scent. The only problem was that they'd only had enough Stramberry on hand for this one dish. A taste test was out of the equation. Fin would have to present the dish to Alphonse with his sense of taste blind to the true quality of the meal.
Fin held the plate in both hands, a bead of sweat forming on his brow. He was terrified of dropping the dish before Alphonse could taste it. That was one way to ruin his dreams.
"Alphonse," Fin started proudly, unable to hide the satisfied grin that began to form on his face. "I have something to--"
"Get out of here! We're slammed here. Go help Clay with the Altadorian party's order."
Fin's heart sank. "But, sir-"
The Kacheek turned abruptly, feeling his heart heavy with rejection. In his hands was possibly just the dish Kelp needed to save it from closing its doors for good, and yet Alphonse was unwilling to even see it.
His thoughts were interrupted by Chelsea, nearly slamming into him as she whisked into the kitchen with a handful of tickets. She glanced at the plate in his hands. "Oh, is that the Altadorian order? Finally!" She gracefully slipped the plate out of his hands and into her own, turning back towards the doors.
"No! Chelsea, wait!" Fin cried.
But she was already out the door...
Date: Aug 7th
...Fin blinked thrice in disbelief. "No!" he croaked, "that isn't the Alta--" He stopped midsentence. There was no use in continuing. It was gone. The dish was gone. His masterpiece was gone.
He sat on the floor and wanted to cry.
But that would do no good. His job was at stake, Chelsea's job was at stake.
"What do you mean we're out of Stramberry?" he heard Alphonse say.
And now Joey's job was on the line, too.
Chelsea returned to see her friend visibly moping. "Come now, Fin," she started as she handed the Kacheek a load of dirty dishes. "Tell Mama what's wrong."
"What new dish?" Fin overheard Alphonse bark in reply to his questioning of Joey. "I didn't authorize this!"
Fin, timid, took Chelsea's hand. "You'll find out soon enough..."
And at that exact moment, a small crowd of Flotsams and Jetsams burst through the doors of the kitchen.
Oh no, Fin thought as he widened his eyes. Were they going to complain about the food? The obviously wrong order? His dish? Were they all going to leave and then Kelp would be sunk forever? Would--
Alphonse's snap snapped Fin out of his frenzied reverie. "Who authorized this dish with the Boiled Sea Serpent and Stramberry Sauce that is the reason we're so low now on Stram--"
And then the head chef noted members of the party were in his kitchen. "Why hello!" he started to them, assuming an excited cordiality.
"Hi," greeted a Flotsam representative from the group. "We wanted to talk to you about a dish our table got."
"What dish was this?" Alphonse replied.
"It had a Stramberry sauce," said the camouflage Flotsam in his deep voice.
"Ah yes." The head chef narrowed his eyes. "I was just about to question my staff about that..."
Fin could take it no longer. He had to say something. "It was--"
"It was delicious!" the Flotsam exclaimed.
"What?" Alphonse and Fin said in unison, both with growing excitement.
The representative grinned at them. "We understand that dish was given to us as something of a taste experiment? Well, we'd like to order 19 more plates, one for every other table of our party. Cost is not a deterrent." And with that, the group left.
Alphonse gaped. "OK seriously," he addressed his staff, "what's the story of that dish?"
"Well I prepared it," chimed in Joey, "based on instructions from Fin."
All eyes turned to the Kacheek. "It was... it was me, yes. It's been a recipe I'd been, er, toying with. I recall Alphonse saying we needed a new spectacular dish and I kind of lied to Joey to get him to prepare it but he prepared it and it's out there and--"
"And it's obviously a winner," Alphonse finished for Fin, cutting off the latter's nervous ramblings.
Was the head chef... smiling? It was tiny but Fin swore he saw it. The Kacheek beamed back at him.
"Fin," Alphonse barked, "go fetch Stramberry ASAP and deliver it to Joey. Joey, fetch the rest of what was in Fin's master dish and instruct the other chefs -- and me -- on how to prepare it." He turned towards the Kacheek. "And Fin... See you on the front lines tomorrow. I'll apprentice you. We'll make some great culinary experiments, you and me." He clapped his hands twice. "Chop chop everyone get a move on!"
Chelsea came up behind her friend and wrapped her arms around him in a hug. "I knew you could do it, Fin!"
Fin frowned. There was something he didn't quite understand. "How did the party know the dish was to be an experiment?"
"I told them," she curtly replied with a wink. "I knew this had to be your master dish and figured, well, what better way for it to be noticed than to get it out there."
The Kacheek gaped.
"What, I've been working here for a decade, you don't think I know our menu?"
Fin started to blush.
Chelsea giggled. "You're blushy," she finished with a bemused expression before swimming back out to waitress duties.
Fin smiled. He had a dream to live. But Stramberry to fetch first.
Date: Aug 7th
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