0 Degrees Lounge, District 15
“. . .Well, of course.” The man behind the counter answered Claudius’ request, gesturing at another one to start up the coffee machine behind the counter. Despite the look on the client’s face, the dispassionate one in the other man’s made it seem as though it was an absolutely every day occurrence. At the same time, he left his position and approached to take orders.
“Okay,” He nodded to himself — coca-cola, coffee and pizza, normal pizza. His boss was not one to cook those, but that is why he picked up the slack at the kitchen — the brave few that asked for a pizza at this establishment always tried to dodge her more adventurous recipes, and while she derided them as “weak-willed” and “tasteless”, there was certainly a need to appease such clients.
At least in order to make any returns for the amount of money they spent on the ingredients, if nothing else. I.C.’s employer, bless her soul, had little to no idea on how to actually run a business, sequestering herself in the kitchen and thinking things would work themselves out.
They had to take care of “everything else”, actual job descriptions be damned.
He turned to the last one — pencil and notebook still in hand — and started to scrawl some quick notes before what he had heard actually registered. His pencil’s point broke — as did its body when it snapped between his fingers, leaving behind only an ugly scratch on the otherwise perfectly fine notebook.
Its sacrifice was needless, but perhaps fitting.
Rather, it had been as though he had heard an invocation instead of a simple order. The other employees, that had been working almost lethargically, had frozen in place, and they all side-eyed a particular location with something approaching dread.
“. . .Today’s special, you say.”
He could feel something roaring in his ears — his own heartbeat, thundering in strength, as he glanced toward the door leading to the kitchen in abject horror. As if on cue, perhaps anyone positioned close to it would be able to feel two things coming from it — intense heat, followed by freezing cold. The pattern repeated, repeated, repeated — I.C. approached the door, beads of sweat forming and then freezing over, reaching to the handle.
Turns out, he needn’t have bothered.
The door slammed open — quite literally, into his face, sending him sprawling against one of the still empty tables. There, at the entrance, a figure holding a tray, surrounded by smoke that flowed into the parlor from her side, leg high.
One must assume, then, that she was responsible of one of her employees having a concussion. But, trivialities!
“I have heard your tasteful wishes!” She boomed, or so she would like to think. In reality, it was closer to a squeak filled with excitement. “And, through my “Yukiyama Pizza Cooking Method 36: Rapid-Fire Mozzarella”, I will now grant them, honored client!”
She approached the table with quick strides, setting down the tray and revealing its contents.
The crust looked delightfully crunchy, and as she cut and separated the sides, it was easy to see that at the very least, the cheese was also cooked to perfection — stretchy but looking like it would melt the moment someone put it in their mouth. Pepperoni and ham finished the dish —
Ah, if only it had ended at the ham.
There it was — truly, the vilest of heresies, thought the employees as they served the other clients and avoided more than one glance, lest they fall to madness. The balls of coldness rested atop the pizza, slowly spreading their contents as Yukiyama Yukiru started to allow the heat transfer once the dish had been properly cut.
Perfectly served, artfully placed and looking deceptively tantalizing as they began to melt ever-so-slowly. Vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut — wonderful flavors that did not deserve this fate, sacrificed for one girl’s eccentricities.
—Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.
“I still do not have a name for it,” She was chipper as she spoke. “But I think that the hazelnut is key, you see — it really brings all the flavors together.”