"Cooking Sliding Iron Crying Man"|
"Tonight is about vengeance," the man declared in Japanese to Ota with grim seriousness. The gentleman was about fifty, Japanese, and all business. He continued, "Morimoto was fortunate to have survived his last encounter with my top man. He will not be so lucky this time."
"What do you intend to do differently?" asked the well-attired Ota, a slim Japanese man in his mid-thirties.
"Tonight, I will take care of him myself," he responded, cracking a slight smile. He laughed menacingly and displayed a large carving knife. "Ha Ha Ha!"
A flash of light lit up the corridor where the two men were standing and a misshapen hole appeared before them.
Rembrandt Brown careened out of the vortex and flattened the man with the knife. He was followed by his friends Quinn Mallory and Wade Welles—as well as Maggie Beckett.
"Sorry about that, fella," said Rembrandt, crawling off the older man. "I guess I didn't see you there."
But the man did not move. Rembrandt bent down and shook the man's shoulder. "Hey, buddy! You OK?" As he reached under the man's arm to lift him up, Rembrandt felt something warm and wet.
"Kandagawa-san?" asked Ota, kneeling down to inspect him. Quinn and Rembrandt rolled Kandagawa over. Buried in his chest was the carving knife. "Oh my God…" uttered Rembrandt.
"You killed him!" accused Quinn.
Rembrandt smacked him upside the head. "What do you mean I killed him? It's YOUR damn fault I'm even here in the first place!"
"You never let me forget, do you?" fired back Quinn.
"Guys, cool it. It's not worth fighting over. He's an acceptable casualty," dismissed Maggie.
"How can you say that?" asked a horrified Wade.
"It's not like we KNEW him or anything," mocked Maggie, adding, "Grow up, Wade."
"This is terrible," said the distraught Ota in English. "The Chairman will be angry…very, very angry."
"Who's the CHAIRman?" sneered Maggie, placing her hands on her hips.
"You will find out," said Ota ominously. "You will all find out. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!"
What if you found a show to ruin about parallel universes?|
What if you could plug the word 'slide' into a thousand different movie titles?
Where it's the same premise...
and Michael York still appears...
but everything else is inferior.
And what if you were too drunk every night to find your way home?
Sliders: The Peck Way.
Quinn lifted Kandagawa's arm and released it, letting it drop back to the floor with a dull thud. "Yep, definitely dead."
"Maybe we should call an ambulance or something," suggested Wade.
"What for? He's DEAD, Wade, just like that fat old guy you used to hang out with," said Maggie. Wade slowly reached for the knife in Kandagawa's chest…
"Follow me," said Ota. "It is time."
Despite the fact that they knew nothing of this world and that one of them was guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the four numbly followed Ota to whatever impending doom awaited them. As they departed, Wade took one last look at the body of Kandagawa. "Lucky bastard," she sighed.
"Five years ago, a man had a dream. A dream of turning the time-honored art of cooking into an over-the-top spectacle that makes a Randy "Macho Man" Savage Vs Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair wrestling match look tame in comparison. To do this, he constructed an elaborate kitchen stadium and sought out the three greatest chefs in all of New Japan. Then he attired them in silly clothes and dubbed them his Iron Chefs. Today, challengers across the globe, but mostly of Japanese descent, come to Kitchen Stadium to prove their worth. If one should succeed and actually beat an Iron Chef, he will gain the people's ovation. If he fails, he must commit ritual suicide for his shameful performance. The heat will be on!"
So declared Kenji Fukai, the head announcer of Kitchen Stadium, as Ota led the four sliders inside. As they passed the regal red curtains, the bright lights hit them and a cheer went up from the crowd. Rembrandt lapped up every moment of it.
"Looks like another world where I'm a superstar!" he erroneously deduced.
The center of the room was parceled off into two large kitchens. Filling this area were a legion of men and women in chef apparel, all standing at attention. And behind them all, high upon the center stage, was a man that could only be described as the result of an unspeakable ménage à trois among Michael Jackson, Jackie Chan, and Dame Edna. And that went only halfway in explaining the outfit.
"Man, that's gaudy even for me," exclaimed Rembrandt in awe of the man's ruffled collared shirt and long sequined jacket. This was the Chairman.
Chairman Kaga looked at the four quizzically and extended his gloved hand towards them, addressing them in Japanese.
"I think it's time someone revealed a hidden talent that we've never seen before this very moment," suggested Rembrandt. Maggie pulled her bra out of her shirtsleeve and handed it to him. "I mean, does anyone speak Japanese?" he asked.
"Yeah, Maggie. Besides, I've seen that talent before," said Quinn with a wink. Wade punched him in the arm.
"He is asking who you are as he was expecting the challenger Kandagawa," explained Ota. "The Chairman will not condescend to speak the rough tongue of English. He has asked me to serve as translator."
"Just tell him we're passing through and we'll be on our way," said Quinn. Ota translated, causing Kaga to become enraged.
"What did you just say to him?" asked a stunned Quinn.
"I told him you killed Kandagawa and that you think Elton John dresses better than him."
"Why did you do that?!"
"I don't particularly like you," explained Ota.
Kaga issued a proclamation, which Ota translated. "The Chairman has decided that you will take the place of Kandagawa and challenge one of his Iron Chefs to battle. Which one of you will it be?"
"A cooking battle? That's it?" Quinn let out a sigh of relief. "No problem then. Rembrandt here was a cook in the navy. He's our guy."
Rembrandt smiled uneasily, "Yeah…right…in the navy."
Kaga nodded and then pointed to the platform, summoning his Iron Chefs. Rising from beneath the stage were three menacing men…well as menacing as you can look attired in vinyl suits of one color. These were the Iron Chefs, masters of French, Japanese, Chinese, and occasionally Italian cuisine. They stood motionless before them, one clutching a pear, another a piece of cutlery. The man in the middle glowered down on them, his hands on his hips.
Ota turned to Rembrandt, "The Chairman wants you to choose your opponent."
"I pick Maggie," Rembrandt said, pushing her forward.
"The challenger is defying the Chairman," declared announcer Fukai. "He is saying to him, it does not matter who you send forward, I will defeat him!"
"I said no such thing!"
"Morimoto!" snapped Kaga and the Iron Chef in the middle strode forward.
"Aw crud. I should have picked the guy with the fruit," moaned Rembrandt. "Hey, where's the Chairman going?"
"It is now time to reveal the ingredient," said Ota as the Chairman headed to the platform. "Every meal you prepare must involve the ingredient in some way."
Smoke filled the arena as the ingredient rose up to center stage. With a flourish, Kaga removed the black curtain hiding the ingredient.
"You've got to be [censored] kidding me," said Maggie as she got a gander at what was revealed. In the tank, four creatures were mulling about.
"Giant sea turtles!" exclaimed Kaga in Japanese, before yelling in butchered French, "Allez cuisine!"
The competition was on. Morimoto rushed to the stage and with help from his assistants lifted two turtles out of the tank. Not knowing what else to do, the sliders followed suit.
"Awww…I don't think I could hurt these big guys," said Wade, bending down to pet one. "They're so cute…OW!"
"These are snapping turtles," replied Kaga with a grin as Wade began sobbing uncontrollably.
"I thought you didn't speak English," said Quinn.
"Umm…look over there!" said Kaga, running off as Quinn looked away.
"All right, if we're going to surVIVE this orDEAL, we're going to need a plan," declared Maggie, taking charge. "Rembrandt—you're the lead chef. Quinn, Wade—you're his assistants. You think you can handle kitchen duty, Wade, or is that too hard on your delicate little hands?"
"Bite me," Wade managed through her tears.
"What are you gonna do?" Quinn asked Maggie.
"Scope out the terrain and find an optimal strike place," she said, pulling out her gun. "Just in case we need to win this competition by default."
"I guess we better get started then," said Rembrandt. "First, we need to put down these turtles."
"Geesh, do I have to do everything around here?" exclaimed Maggie. Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Maggie fired four shots, two to each turtle's brain. "Wade, clean-up on aisle two," she said before walking off.
"My life sucks," whimpered Wade as she wiped the turtle goo from her face.
"As the competition gets underway, let's take a moment to meet our announcing panel," said Fukai. "With us as always from Osaka University is professor of cosmology and ontology and food connoisseur, Maximillian Arturo."
"The pleasure is mine."
"Are you looking forward to today's rare delicacy?"
"I'm looking forward to it medium-well," joked Arturo.
"Ha Ha Ha!"
"Ha Ha Ha!"
"To my left is actress Ikari Uwuhrer. How are you?" asked Fukai.
"Are you glad to be here?" prodded the announcer.
"I like food," she grinned vapidly.
"Also with us is Mister Wing, a food critic from the New Kyoto Times."
"Are you excited about today's match?"
"I'm sure it will be nothing short of mind-warping," said Wing, completely unaware of how right he was.
"So uh, I guess we should start," said Rembrandt to Quinn. "Yeah…um…well I suppose we could boil some water."
"No sweat, Rembrandt. I'll have you know I hold the world record for boiling water."
"What the devil are you talkin' about, boy? There's no magic speed for boiling water! What gives you the power to change the laws of physics?"
"Rembrandt," said Quinn as he waved the timer in Remmy's face. "Look who you're talking to."
As Quinn started the water, Rembrandt talked aloud. "Now I guess I'll have Wade get the salad going…"
"Done!" declared Quinn as the steam poured out of his pot.
"Well, I'll be damned…" said Rembrandt doing a double take.
"What next, Frying Man?"
"Don't call me Frying Man," bristled Rembrandt. "Why don't you get that turtle meat carved up?"
As this was going on, Wade stood alone, a long sharp knife in her left hand. She held it just a centimeter over her right wrist. "If I slit it right now, would anybody care?" she asked aloud to herself.
"Wade!" cried out Quinn. She turned to him, the tears forming her eyes. "Oh Quinn…" she began.
"I've been looking for that knife! I've got turtles to gut," he said taking the knife from her hand. As he noticed her tears, he asked, "Have you been slicing onions?"
But he didn't wait around for a reply. Wade hung her head.
"Arturo-san?" asked lead reporter Ota from the floor of Kitchen Stadium.
"Yes," said Arturo.
"Mr. Brown has promised a meal that, I quote, 'this world has never seen before.' He sure sounds confident."
"He will need all the confidence he can get to compete with the likes of Morimoto."
"The Iron Chef says he has chosen truffles to accentuate the texture of this particular dish. Will this give him the edge he seeks?" asked Ota.
"Well, Morimoto has a vast array of weapons, but against an unknown challenger, it is in his interest to pull out all the stops."
"Arturo-san?" interrupted Ota again from the floor.
"Yessss," answered Arturo, growing agitated.
"The challenger is having difficulty opening a package of butter. Will this delay could cost him valuable seconds?"
"I suppose it could," dismissed Arturo. "You know, feel free to just jump in any time, Ota. There's no need to keep addressing me first."
"Very well," replied Ota.
"Good," said Arturo, with a slight sigh of satisfaction.
Arturo blew his stack. "Stop asking permission to speak! Just ask the blasted question and be done with it, you blithering gnat!"
Maggie, having cased the stadium, quickly grew bored from her assassin's perch. So she climbed down and joined those seated at the announcer's table. "Outta my way, bitch!" she said, knocking Ikari out of her seat.
"We are now joined by a member of the Brown faction," declared Fukai. "How long have you known today's challenger?"
"Gee, hmm, that would require checking the continuity. Let's just say three months and call it even, eh?" Maggie replied.
"Ota reports that Brown appears disorganized. Very little has been cooked and only thirty minutes remain," announced Fukai.
"This is probABly Wade's fault," Maggie overacted. "She's so useLESS. It looks like I'm going to have to save the day again."
Maggie got up and marched toward the kitchen, making sure to kick Ikari in the ribs on the way over.
"OK, we've got a green salad with puréed turtle meat for a dressing. How them turtle burgers coming?" Rembrandt yelled to Quinn.
"With or without cheese?" asked Quinn.
"With, I guess," said Rembrandt.
"Hold the pickles."
"You want fries with that?" asked Quinn. Before Rembrandt could answer, a large gasp was heard from the crowd followed by considerable consternation. His head turned and he instantly saw the problem.
"Maggie, what the hell are you doing?" exclaimed Rembrandt.
"Relax, Rem. I saw this on the Food Channel. I'm the Naked Chef!" she declared.
"That's just an expression, NOW PUT YOUR CLOTHES BACK ON!" cried out Rembrandt.
Over at the announcer's table, Fukai was appalled. "She has dishonored Kitchen Stadium!"
"Maybe so," said Wing, "but that's a dish I wouldn't mind sampling."
"I know I could stand a second helping," concurred Arturo.
"Oh, for the love of pork rinds, what is it now? Can't you see I'm ogling?" exclaimed the professor.
"It appears the challenger's distraction has turned against him as his assistant has lost his focus," said Ota.
"Quinn! The burgers are on fire!" shouted Rembrandt to an oblivious Quinn. "The burgers. On fire. Right in front of you."
But Quinn just continued staring at the naked Maggie. He watched her as she slowly dressed herself and slid her jeans on over her long, hard legs. As she pulled her shirt over her firm, supple…uh, where was I again? Oh yeah. The burgers were burning.
Rembrandt sprayed the grill with a fire extinguisher and Quinn snapped out of it. "Gee, I'm sorry, Remmy. I don't know what came over me," he said, wiping the drool from his chin.
"This is a disaster," whined Rembrandt. "I'm never going to pull this off."
"Come on, Rem. I'm sure you faced worse than this in the Navy, " said a fully clothed Maggie, much to the disappointment of males ages 14-29 everywhere.
"Guys, there's something I need to tell you…I was never in the Navy," said Rembrandt as he broke down. "I just made it all up so I'd have something to do this season. I'm no cook either. All I can make is beef stroganoff!"
"It's all right, Rembrandt. We all embellish from time to time to make ourselves look good," said Quinn, his eyes drifting back towards Maggie's chest.
"Thanks, guys. It means a lot to me," said Rembrandt. "So, can either of you cook?"
"Don't look at me," said Maggie. "I let my husband what's-his-name do all the housework."
"I live with my Mom. What do you think?" asked Quinn rhetorically.
"Great, just great. What are we gonna do?" moaned Rembrandt.
"I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to win this competition using the skills and talents that have made us the successful sliders we are today," declared Quinn. "And if that doesn't work, we'll use Maggie's plan."
Maggie cocked her gun and smiled.
"All right, guys, let's do this!" yelled Quinn. "Wade, get your head out of the oven and come help us!"
"One minute remaining," came the announcement over the stadium PA system.
The sliders had used the last twenty minutes to the best of their ability by cooking the themed ingredient of giant sea turtle in any way possible. As Rembrandt looked over the final product, Quinn gave him a few last words of encouragement.
"You did the best job possible considering the implausible circumstances," he said.
"Yeah, but will it be enough to beat the Iron Chef?" Rembrandt asked anxiously, knowing all too well the price of failure.
"Don't worry. They've got a double of the professor on the judge's panel. He'll eat anything!"
At this time, Chairman Kaga re-entered the stadium and sat down at the head of his table, signaling the presentation of the meals.
"This is it," said Rembrandt. "Wish me luck!"
"Go get 'em, Frying Man!" shouted Quinn.
"I swear, if you call me Frying Man one more time, sucka, you're going to find a big fat turtle head up your bony, white…"
"Tonight, the Iron Chef produced four dishes for the approval of our judges. Leading off is an hors d'oeuvre featuring turtle wrapped in a cornstarch covering, sprinkled with cayenne and paprika to make them extra spicy. This is followed by a cold lasagna salad with diced avocado and turtle chunks blended in. The main course is Steamed Sea Turtle and noodles where the turtle is presented in a fake turtle shell comprised of specially cooked pita bread. Finally, we have grilled turtle with sauce for an after dinner treat," announced Fukai.
"On the other side, the challenger offers up five dishes, opening with a green salad with croutons made from the turtle shell…"
"Good God, man!" interjected a horrified Arturo. "It looks like he just smashed the shell with a hammer and tossed the pieces in!"
Fukai continued, "Also on tonight's menu is turtle meat served between two slices of white bread accompanied by lettuce, tomato, and choice of mayonnaise or mustard. Third, we have blackened turtle burgers…"
"My bad," apologized Quinn.
"…followed by a main course of turtle stroganoff. For dessert, the challenger presents a plate of whipped cream with turtle appendages for dipping."
"That was my idea!" said Maggie proudly. "Mmmm…whipped cream…"
"In addition to the professor, Mister Wing, and Miss Uwuhrer, we are pleased to have former Axis Supreme Commander Adolf Hitler to fill our fourth seat this evening," announced Fukai.
"Guter tag," said the elderly fascist.
"Adolf Hitler?!" exclaimed Maggie to Quinn.
Quinn shrugged, "At this point, I'll take any alt-history I can get."
Rembrandt stood to the Chairman's right to explain his decisions to the judges and to receive feedback. The next twenty minutes were not pleasant ones.
"This is absolutely terrible," said the professor, his mouth fool of turtle stroganoff. "I've had better turtle at Kentucky Fried Eel, for heaven's sake."
"Then why are you still eating it?" asked an incredulous Rembrandt.
"And let food go to waste? I wouldn't hear of it," he said, crunching into his salad.
Ikari stared at her food, then at her fork. Food, fork. Food, fork. Slowly she raised her hand, "What am I supposed to do with this again?"
To her left, Wing pushed his turtle club sandwich away from him and clutched his stomach. "Ughh…it's times like these that I should have listened to my father and become a lawyer. Then I could file a restraining order keeping you fifty feet away from any stove."
Hitler was equally displeased, muttering, "I've committed some atrocities in my day, but this takes the schnitzel!"
As the judges deliberated, Rembrandt walked dejectedly back to the others with his head hung low. "Well, guys, it's been nice sliding with you, but I think there's a samurai sword with my name on it."
"I can't let you do this, Rembrandt. Let me take your place," said Wade.
Rembrandt was touched by Wade's offer. "You'd give your life for me? That's why I love you, girl. But I could never let you do that, sweetheart."
"But I'm begging you, please, let me die!" pleaded Wade.
A gong rang, meaning the moment of judgment had come. The lights dimmed and Chairman Kaga walked to center stage, the judges in tow.
"Today, we have witnessed a most remarkable battle which will forever live in infamy," he stated in Japanese. "Alas, only one shall prevail. The verdict…"
The dramatic notes of a piano slowly building to the announcement filled the kitchen stadium. Both Rembrandt and Wade looked to the ceiling. Rembrandt offered up a silent prayer; Wade eyed an inviting piece of cable hanging from the rafters. Maggie looked blankly ahead; Quinn stared blankly at Maggie's chest. But all four's attention was captivated by Chairman Kaga when he announced,
"You've got to be [censored] kidding me! The winner is Rembrandt Brown!"
"Unbelievable!" cried out Fukai. "What an incredible upset for the Challenger! The Chairman is beside himself over the verdict."
"I'm not going to die! I'm not going to die!" Rembrandt exclaimed, jumping up and down.
Next to him, Wade echoed his words, "I'm not going to die. I'm not going to die." She shook her head and cried. Quinn might have said something to her, but he was too enthralled with Maggie jumping up and down to notice. Up. Down. Up. Down. Quinn could feel the drool pooling up…
"Here come the scores," declared Fukai. "Wow! A clean sweep for the challenger. Let's talk to the judges about the verdict."
"The food sucked," said Wing, "but his assistant is such a hotty!"
Hitler concurred, "I haven't been this aroused since the burning of St. Petersburg. OH-gnade!"
"Arturo-san, you said earlier that you've chewed gum off the subway with more flavor than Mr. Brown's entrées. Yet you declared him the winner. Why?" asked Ota.
"Because Morimoto is a pompous ass who deserved a comeuppance. Call my theory on confectionary baking puerile, will he? That will teach him!" huffed Arturo.
"Well, once again we survived a terribly contrived situation that defies any sense of credulity. The only thing left is to slide—which is conveniently now," said Quinn, opening the vortex.
"Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You risked my life for a one hour slide?" exclaimed Rembrandt.
"Well, we needed SOMETHING to do," sneered Quinn.
As the two argued, Wade picked up the samurai sword that Rembrandt had managed to avoid using. She held it inches from her chest and prepared to thrust it when Maggie slapped her in the back.
"Now you're starting to think like a soldier, Wade. Always arm yourself before the slide," said Maggie as she carted off a half dozen sharp pieces of cutlery. "Maybe you're not the sniveling crybaby I thought you were."
With that, Maggie jumped into the vortex. Wade looked at the sword and back at the vortex. A slight smile crossed her face as she dove in after Maggie, sword fully extended in front of her.
"Good heavens!" declared Arturo. "If I'm not mistaken this is a portal to an infinite number of dimensions. Think of all the things I could be eating!"
"You want to come with us?" invited Quinn.
"Could I?" asked Arturo, his eyes wide.
"We'd love to land on you…er…slide with you," welcomed Rembrandt as visions of cushy landings filled his head.
"Splendid!" Arturo cried and dove into the vortex.
He was never heard from again.
Ikari pulled Quinn close and gazed soulfully into his eyes. "Will I ever see you again?"
Quinn shrugged before shoving his tongue down her throat. Rembrandt shook his head. "How the devil does that white boy do it?" He then yelled to Quinn, "Come on, man, it's time to go!"
Quinn broke his embrace and smirked at Ikari. As he and Rembrandt slid, she reached out toward the closing vortex, a single tear sliding down her face. Somewhere, a rose faded.
On the sidelines, Chairman Kaga fumed. "What a terrible show! My stadium was disgraced, my chef was defeated, and now I'm down the best color commentator in the business. Oh yeah, and a man was killed. What more can go wrong?"
A horrible screech was heard and suddenly daylight poured into the stadium. Kaga and Ota looked up to see the roof thrown away. Ota pointed to the sky, "AAAAAA! It's Gamera!"
Soon, the stadium was awash in screaming spectators running and pointing. "Gamera! Gamera!"
Indeed, the giant mutated sea turtle—ally of Godzilla, eternal foe of Mothra, and friend to children around the world—was leering over kitchen stadium. And he looked pissed.
Kaga gripped Ota by the shoulders. "Where did you find the ingredient for today's show?"
"Down by the nuclear power plant, Kaga-san," sputtered Ota.
"My…babies…" growled the monster.
Kaga and Ota looked at each other and back at Gamera. "Uh-oh…"
Gamera roared and belched fire down upon the stadium below. And so we fade to a crispy black.THE END
- Thanks go to MissingSliderRyan and Blinker for encouraging me to finish this travesty...I mean, story.
- I would also like to thank Donner, whose parodies of the post-Exodus mess inspired this tale. You can read them here: http://www.slightlywarped.com/sliders.html
- Other websites deserving props are The Unofficial Guide to Iron Chef at www.ironchef.com and The Wooden Chef (www.woodenchef.com) for the detailed recipes that inspired the Iron Chef's offering in the above story.
- But mostly, I need to thank Paul Jackson, Tony Blake, and Steve Kriozere for "Slither" and "Sole Survivors." Now, now, no need to thank them all at once.