This story was written as a response to the latest flash fiction challenge on Chuck Wendig’s website. I’m not really sure this is so much a story as a vignette, but whatever. Why is the setting Hawaiian Steampunk, you ask? I have no idea. Most of the time when my brain is doing things I’m just along for the ride.
Nalani’s stomach rumbled. She’d been trying to forget the chewing feeling inside her belly, but the loud gravel-scraping sound that emanated from beneath her corset was hard to ignore.
“Are you hungry?” Hinano appeared at her elbow. His eyes were like twin jewels behind his glasses, bright gold like liquid fire.
“I’m fine.” Her stomach gurgled again, proving her a liar.
Hinano eyed her. “You weren’t at breakfast. Did you eat anything?”
Nalani sighed. “No.”
“Well what do you want to eat? Sweet potato braised pork? Pineapple cake and mango slaw? Coconut chicken with roasted plantains?”
“Can I just have a sandwich?”
To her horror, Hinano’s eyes only glowed brighter, a gleeful grin splitting his face. “I have just the thing!” He rushed out of the workroom and down the hall.
Nalani chased after him. “Please, no devices, Hinano. I can make it myself. It’s just a sandwich!”
“No, you can’t! Well, you can, but that would be ridiculous, because of course you shouldn’t have to, not when one of my inventions can do the task quicker and more easily than you can…”
In the kitchen, Hinano was pulling his latest device down from a cabinet. While Nalani watched, he set its rubber-coated feet upon the counter-top and calibrated its settings. Her stomach protested the delay loudly.
“Never fear, it will only be a moment more,” Hinano assured her. He rushed to the ice box–super efficient because of his improvements, even if it did break frequently–and retrieved an entire loaf of bread, a ham, and a block of cheese. “Let me just put in the ingredients and we’ll get cracking.”
Nalani began salivating at the sight of the ham. It was almost painful for her to watch Hinano place the ham into the machine and press the start. As the machine roared to life, she could hear the whirring blades inside cutting slices of the ingredients. The pungent aroma of the cheese–extra sharp cheddar, her favorite–made her feel a bit weak at the knees, so she sat on a kitchen stool to await the final product.
As her brother beamed proudly, the slot on the end of the machine opened and a hard ball of what had once been ham, bread, and cheese rolled out onto the floor.
Nalani sighed as she watched her lunch roll into the corner.
“I’m sure I just need to recalibrate!” Hinano cried, brandishing his wrench and disappearing up to his shoulders into the machine. One by one he removed each of the ingredients and placed them on the counter beside the device.
“Oh! I see the problem, it’s mrffl drffl flrrfl,” Hinano declared from inside the machine.
Nalani calmly collected the remaining ham, bread, and cheese, sliced herself portions of each, created a sandwich, returned the ingredients to the icebox, and retreated to the veranda to enjoy her well-earned lunch.
“Where’s the ham?” Hinano called after her. ”I think I’ve got this thing working. One ham and cheese sandwich coming up!”