Orion's Sandbox

Critic

He first walked in Monday, just as we were opening. The maître d’ showed him to a table, and I introduced myself.

“Hello, sir. I’m Charles; I’ll be your waiter today. Have you been here before?”

“No. I’m not from around here.”, he said, followed by his mouth smiling without the rest of his face to match.

“Can I start you off with anything to drink?”

“Water?”

“Of course.”

A while later, I brought him his water.

"Here is your water, sir. Have you looked over our menu? Today's special is the London broil."

"Thank you! For my appetizer, I will have the stuffed crab, and for my entree I will have the prime rib as well."

"How would you like the prime rib cooked, sir?"

"Oh, I've been in town for a few days now. Crazy weather we're having, am I right?"

It was a fairly nice spring day, but I didn't press the issue.

"Heh. A bit, I guess. I mean, how much do you want us to cook the prime rib?"

A pained expression appeared on his face.

"Sir, are you alright?"

"Okay! Please have my steak cooked until it is done."

"Medium?"

"Why not?"

Ate his meal, paid his bill, tipped well, and left. Thought that’d be the last I saw of him. On the next day, he showed up at one of my tables again.

“Hello, sir!”

“Very good, how are you?”, he said, beaming.

“Oh, I’m fine. Do you like the weather?”

"Heh, well, a bit too much Nitrogen in the ol' atmosphere, but I can manage. Okay."

"Can I start you off with water again, or would you like to see our wine list?"

"Wine?"

"I'll bring it to you straight away."

I brought him the list. He looked at it for a few seconds.

"House Merlot."

"Good choice. And what will you be having for your appetizer?"

"Coquilles Saint-Jacques and your filet mingnon in sauce bearnaise for the entree please."

"Very good, sir."

He ate very much the same way as Monday, only he took a particular interest in the wine. On Wednesday, he arrived like clockwork just as we were opening.

"Hello again sir, how are you today?", I asked, expecting a non sequitir.

"Fine, thanks."

"Can I start you off with something to drink?"

"Cabernet Sauvignon."

Huh. Got it right that time, and then ordered fairly normally. Might have been sheer luck. As I was walking into the kitchen to get him his wine, the maître d’ pulled me aside.

"What did he order today?"

"Cabaret Sauvignon, foie gras, and salmon in beurre blanc."

"Just as I suspected. I think he's a critic."

"Huh. Why?"

"He's just ordering straight down the menu!"

"But he can't be a critic. He seems… out there."

"You know how critics can be!", he said, his voice cracking. "He could be pretending to be eccentric to test how we deal with odd customers! Or, worse, he really is like that! You can't predict what kind of review he'll give!"

"What should I do?"

"Just continue handling him like you are. Don't tell the kitchen staff, though. You know how Anatole gets when he's pressured."

And so he came, ate, and went every afternoon. Most days he was a little off, some more than others. I smiled and nodded through his eccentricities, but I was beginning to have my doubts if he was a critic or just an eccentric who took a fancy to our restaurant. Either way, I was fine with it, I'm used to people like this. Just because we have Michelin Stars doesn't mean we don't get our share of weirdos. That being said, I actually started to hope he was a critic, because that would mean he’d be gone soon.

After a few weeks, he had exhausted every possible menu and wine option. On that day, left an envelope on his table along with his tip. I rushed out to bring it to him as he was exiting, but he was gone just seconds after he shut the door.

The envelope was unsealed, so I decided to take a peek. Hey, he couldn't tell and it couldn't hurt. Inside it was a simple piece of paper which read:

Earth- **

Though off the beaten path, if you happen to be passing through the Orion Spur, this is a must-stop. Finely prepared food and a friendly staff that are amicable to Travelers. For an expanded review, see pg. 237 of the Milky Way Green Guide. (NOTE: This planet is not plasmoid-accessible.)

We never saw him again, but a few weeks later, another man in a grey three piece suit showed up at my table.

"Hello, sir! Boy, that rain's really coming down."

And with a smile that looked like it would outlast the Pharaohs', he replied, "I'm pretty good, thanks for asking!"

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Avian Foundation Joke SCP

Item #: 1729

Object Class: Euclid

Special Containment Procedures: Due to its immense size, SCP-1729 is not containable at this time. A series of Foundation outposts have been constructed in the area surrounding SCP-1729. Foundation personnel are to ward off civilians from the area. The current cover story is an influenza quarantine.

The parcels in SCP-1729-1 are to be retrieved immediately, piece by piece if necessary. Personnel may only consume parcel contents after testing.

No attempts should be made to approach SCP-1729-2. Unless as part of an experiment, all Foundation personnel must leave the area immediately upon manifestation of SCP-1729-2 from SCP-1729-3.

Description: SCP-1729 is a collection of anomalous objects, numbered SCP-1729-1, -2, and -3.

SCP-1729-1 is a tall, black structure composed of an unknown material. Due to the leaf-like appendages sprouting from the top of the structure, it is theorized by Foundation scientists that SCP-1729-1 is an attempt to imitate a tree.

SCP-1729-1 is perfectly straight for over 90% of its height, but sprouts a branch-like structure from the top. Hanging from this structure is a giant seed pod, containing raw seeds of Helianthus annuus, Panicum miliaceum, and Cirsium arizonicum, among others. The pod of SCP-1729-1 has also been found to contain, on occasion, rendered bovine fat. The contents of SCP-1729-1 are replaced regularly by SCP-1729-2.

SCP-1729-2 is an impossibly tall bipedal organism. SCP-1729-2 is over 10% taller than SCP-1729-1, and over 25 times taller than the average Foundation personnel. The most notable feature of SCP-1729-2 are its “wings”, which are long and narrow, going from its shoulders to halfway down the femur. While SCP-1729-2 has not shown to be capable of flight, it can manipulate objects with its wings in a manner roughly similar to that of a raccoon.

SCP-1729-2 is covered in very short feathers, though longer ones from a brown crest. Analysis shows that its feathers are of identical composition to normal feathers, but of a unique structure. SCP-1729-2 has two spherical eyes arranged horizontally, and two bills, arranged vertically under the eyes.

SCP-1729-2’s upper bill is bifurcated and runs down along its face. It is theorized that its upper bill is used for breathing and olfactory input. The lower bill is incredibly short, wide, and fleshy, and is used for eating and vocalizations.

When the material in SCP-1729-1 reaches a low level, SCP-1729-2 will manifest from SCP-1729-3 and add additional material from parcels. How it acquires this material is unknown.

SCP-1729-2 has shown no harm towards living Foundation personnel, and is believed to be sentient, if not sapient. It is incredibly interested in Foundation personnel, and will sometimes observe our activities for hours on end. If it hears speech, it will on occasion attempt to imitate that speech, although it has a very poor grasp of it. SCP-1729-2 will also vocalize on its own in an unknown language. Said vocalizations are far more complex than any known language.

During summer months, SCP-1729-2 will frequently manifest from SCP-1729-3 and observe Foundation personnel extracting the contents of SCP-1729-1. SCP-1729-2 will, on occasion, wear a false crest made from plant matter, with a prominent bill in from. Foundation behavioral scientists theorize that this is an attempt to disguise itself as one of us.

SCP-1729-3 is the nest of SCP-1729-2. It is orders of magnitude larger than any other structure, and appears to be composed of a wood-analogue similar to that of SCP-1729-1. SCP-1729-3 is fully enclosed and perfectly rectangular. On occasion, portals will appear in SCP-1729-3, allowing the Foundation to view the interior. However, this is of limited use, as SCP-1729-2 is almost invariably standing in behind the portal. Attempts to enter the portals have been unsuccessful, though the portal is transparent, a sort of invisible barrier exists, preventing access. Access to the interior of SCP-1729-3 has only occurred once, see Experiment Log 1729-A for details.

Following the death of Agent Sturnella in Experiment 1729-B, all attempts to enter SCP-1729-3 have been suspended indefinitely.