"Dammit." Hazeema stared at the yellow fractals creeping from her hot pan. "The eggs crashed. Again."

Loe stepped in from their private side server and opened a data window. "You jiggle them too much."

"I jiggle them exactly as much as I do Wakeside." She opened the pan's metadata and deleted the mess. "You said you'd fixed the fluid algorithm before I opened."

"Fluid's fine," they grunted. "We've simulated fluid for centuries. What you want is a billion particles' position and relation tracked as a function of time and temperature. For every ingredient in every dish."

"Because that is what makes it cooking!" Hazeema sighed and rested against the counter. A virtual restaurant was a ridiculous idea, but being a chef—her father's legacy—was all she knew and loved in the world.

Loe brought up a directory and rendered a dozen egg dishes onto the counter. "Just run with the pre-fab stuff. It's literally perfect."

"That's why everyone hates sim-food. Every omelette's the same scan! There's no variation. No screw-ups. No happy accidents. People don't want perfect. They want the pursuit of perfection."

"Too bad they can't eat the experience of working with you," Loe mumbled.

Hazeema perked up.

Loe rubbed their temple. "Sorry. That was inappropriate."

"No, that's a good idea." She loaded a new pan and eggs. "You have one of those affective psycorder apps they use for therapy?"


"Boot it up." She placed the pan on the stove and added butter while cracking the eggs into a bowl. She walked through the familiar steps of creating the most basic test of cuisine—filled with a familiar sense of contentment and purpose. And then the crash and the fractals of egg.

Hazeema paused the recording and loaded her brief emotional journey into one of the pre-generated frittatas on the counter. "Taste it."

Dispensing with a fork, Loe lifted the slice and took a hesitant bite. Their eyes skirted back and forth through the haze of pulsing, pre-recorded emotion—the highs of warm family memory and the bitter resignation of failure. "That's… something new."


Category: Book: Last Days