"I'll tell ya, this is the best world we've ever been in! Even if we can't read the language!" Remmy beamed.
It was true, the world they'd landed on had developed differently from a written language standpoint. They still spoke recognizable (but distorted) English, but instead of individual letters they used bizarre symbols. Much more bizarre than the pictographs used by ancient Earth Prime cultures. Since they were only going to be here for a couple more hours it didn't matter. They had been able to get a job unloading a truck this morning that earned them enough local money (since Remmy had no clue how to operate the local ATMs) to have one good hearty meal before Sliding. After several short Slides in succession they were ready for a decent restaurant meal. They WERE risking looking stupid because they wouldn't be able to read the menu. That could be awkward, and gave them pause. Many times their ignorance of local customs, slang, and laws had embarrassed them or gotten them in trouble.
Arturo wanted the decent meal as much as the rest of them so he rationalized, correctly it seemed, that literacy would be lower on a world with such a complex written language. It was so in China and the aforementioned ancient cultures with similar type alphabets on Earth Prime.
Their fears were groundless. The menus included pictures for each dish, and they easily ordered. The food, when it came, was sumptuous.
Wade smirked at her friend. "I'll admit that the food is fabulous, but that is not the ONLY thing you judge a world on!"
"Why not?" Remmy demanded, chuckling.
Quinn polished off his grape fried steak, which was so good that this was his second helping. "I have to admit, the streets we walked down were very clean, and everyone we've encountered seems happy and content. No one has been rude or anything. This seems like a pretty good place. I wouldn't want to live in a place where I couldn't read, though. Nothing against their method. It might be more efficient for all I know, but I need to be able to read!"
Arturo glowed. "But their cooking is out of this world! No pun intended. The roast cheese couldn't be more excellent!"
"Ewwwwww!" Wade recoiled. "Is THAT what you're eating? I thought maybe it was black pudding or something. Roast Cheese? YUCK!"
"Each to his or her own, my dear. At least it is not a grit."
Remmy excused himself and went to the bathroom.
Wade giggled. "Was it something I said? I was just teasing!" She called after him.
Quinn drained his apricot tea and sat back, satisfied. "We're going to have to start sampling nice restaurants at every stop! I can't believe we almost talked ourselves out of this experience!"
The other two murmured assent. Remmy returned a minute later and took his seat with a chuckle. "They have some crazy bathrooms on this world!"
"I need to go anyway, so I'll see for myself." Quinn replied, rising. Remmy had come from a short hallway next to the soup table. The people of this world apparently liked their soups because the table was expensively decorated. And it appeared that it was all you could eat.
The covered table was loaded down with four huge vats of soup. Their smells enticed Quinn even though he was stuffed. It smelled like there was spaghetti soup, split lemon soup, gravy soup, and corned beast and cabbage soup. He hesitated, debating for a second. Just one little taste? But no! He was too full. Maybe next time they passed through this world.
He went on into the hallway. There were only two doors in this hall, but since he couldn't read the language he had no idea which one was the male bathroom and which one was the female. Grrrr. He hated being embarrassed, and it would be embarrassing to select the wrong room, especially if a woman was in there. Even worse would be if no one was in there and he entered only to discover it was a woman's bathroom when one entered and screamed her lungs out.
He was spared either scenario when a woman emerged from the far door. So the near one was the male bathroom. Excellent. Such was his relief that he almost thanked the woman. He opened the door and entered the room.
Remmy was right. This was the craziest bathroom he'd ever seen!
The sink to his left was normal enough, other than the pink hand soap. He would have preferred a more masculine color. The four stalls on the right hand side of the room went all the way down to the floor and had doors with doorknobs on them. But other than that they were normal looking enough.
But the urinals! They were the most bizarre contraptions he'd ever seen! Short and squat, they sat heavily on the floor as if daring you to approach them. Gunmetal gray, they seemed to have a rough texture. The most eccentric thing was the nozzles extending from the top, curving out then up, and ending in a radiating cup. It was a completely contained unit, and if one inserted his member in, there was not the slightest chance of a single drop going anywhere except where it was intended. He imagined that the engineers of this world were paranoid about over-spill and splattering. Sure, it was annoying, but most men were competent to handle things without needing to resort to specialized equipment of this magnitude!
The second funniest thing was the flushing trigger. It was a little red button just above the nozzle.
Quinn had never seen a urinal like this in all the worlds he'd visited.
Oh well. Quinn advanced on the first urinal, inspected it with a giggle one last time, and proceeded to use it. Halfway through, someone opened the door and stepped in. There was a gasp and then a heavy thud. Quinn glanced over. The man who entered had fainted! He lay in the doorway, right arm flung over his head, legs sprawled like a drunk on Sunday morning. Quinn frowned. He'd never considered himself tiny, but he'd also never made a man faint before! Oh well, maybe things were different on this world. He zipped up, hit the button to flush, was puzzled by the pumping sound (they PUMPED it out?) and washed his hands, then bent to check the fallen man.
He seemed to be breathing okay. He'd just passed out, that was all. Maybe he WAS drunk. They had to Slide soon, so Quinn couldn't get involved in this. He stepped over the man and rejoined his friends. Quinn glanced longingly at the soup table again. The vats seemed to stay pretty full, despite the fact that he hadn't seen anyone come out with a pot to fill any of them. Maybe the soups were not as good as they smelled if no one was getting any. But no, he'd observed plenty of people up here filling bowls. Oh well. He was too full for even a taste, so he reluctantly abandoned them.
Arturo was just paying with their hard earned local currency as Quinn walked up. He left it all since they'd have no further use of it and headed for the street.
Quinn grinned at Remmy as they stepped out into the sunny afternoon. "You were right, they have some CRAZY bathrooms on this world!"
Remmy grinned. "Not that I mind unisex bathrooms as a rule, but these were even better, weren't they? All out in the open!"
Quinn froze. "Um, unisex bathroom?"
Peter glared down at Herman and sighed. What had it been this time? A rat? A spider perhaps? The man was so squeamish! Peter had told him five minutes ago that more split lemon soup was needed! The vat was only half full!!! Couldn't Herman at least do his JOB before enjoying a fainting spell?
He stepped over his incompetent employee and went to the split lemon locker. He pulled out a five gallon jug, lifted a new container up from the bottom rack and set it on the warmer, then took the already warm soup jug to the loader. He poured the soup into the nozzle, cursing as he spilled a little on his hands. He turned the pump on for a minute to make sure all of it made it to the vat on the table on the other side of the wall. He paused at the sink to wash the soup off his hand. Soup was sacred. It would be unseemly to be seen with any of it on him, just as it would be downright rude to be seen carrying over a jug of soup and sloshing into the vats. That was for third rate restaurants.
Peter stopped again over Herman and kicked the man. "Get up you lazy oaf!"
Herman groaned and sat up slowly. "I - ... that man ... the horror!"
Peter's forehead wrinkled. "Spit it out man!" He leaned forward to listen.
Quinn stood paralyzed while the other three looked at him questioningly.
"What's wrong, Quinn?" Wade inquired, concerned.
Before he could find the words, Quinn sensed movement behind him and glanced back at the restaurant entrance a block away. Two burly cooks had shot out from the door, spied him, and were currently rushing in his direction. They were carrying wicked looking butcher knives.
"Um, guys?" Quinn whispered.
"Yes?" The Professor returned pleasantly.
Traci returned to the table with two fresh bowls of soup. "What was the commotion with the cooks?"
"I haven't the slightest idea, my dear. Thank you," he added, eagerly taking his bowl. "Mmmmm. This split lemon soup is most excellent!"
"Isn't it though? Better than usual!"
"There is a new but oddly familiar taste in it." Her husband added.
"I was going to mention the same thing." Traci agreed. "A definite improvement."
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