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The Kami No Sekai Short Story Omnibus: Kami No Sekai

The Kami No Sekai Short Story Omnibus: Kami No Sekai

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The Kami No Sekai Short Story Omnibus: Kami No Sekai

Length:
218 pages
3 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Feb 16, 2018
ISBN:
9781940599489
Format:
Book

Description

Get all the Kami No Sekai Short Stories in one omnibus!

Listen to the gods... By reading Rice Cooker Revenge, Washing Statue Wanderlust, Mamachari Matchmaker, Vigilante Slimming Scanner, and Secret Keeping Sakura all in one ebook.

You never know when the gods are listening... So be on your best behavior.

Publisher:
Released:
Feb 16, 2018
ISBN:
9781940599489
Format:
Book

About the author

Stephanie (S. J.) is a writer, knitter, amateur astrologer, Capricorn, and Japanophile. She loves foxes, owls, sushi, yoga pants, Evernote, and black tea. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing or spending time outside, unless it’s winter. She hates winter. Someday she’ll own a house in both hemispheres so she can avoid the season entirely. She’s a mom to two great kids and lives with her husband and family outside NYC. They have no pets. Yet. When it comes to her work, expect the unexpected. She doesn’t write anything typical. Find her online at http://www.spajonas.com. 


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The Kami No Sekai Short Story Omnibus - S. J. Pajonas

Rice Cooker Revenge

Kami No Sekai Short Stories

1

RICE COOKER

Slam! Jab! Crack. My lid grinds open, steam billowing out, and the flat spoon descends in and mixes around the half-kilogram’s worth of fluffy rice inside my bowl. I groan as the bowl snaps against my casing over and over, no relief in sight until The Chef is done with me. Every day it’s the same routine. Open lid, add washed rice and water, slam lid shut. I beep and cook and beep. Some days I don’t want to beep. Some days I just want to sit silently and not have anyone touch me at all.

Ryu! You deal with the rice. I have tempura batter to make. The Chef throws the paddle into the bowl, and I flinch as it rattles around. You would think that once, once, he could be nice enough to not throw things at me? Not yet.

But Ryu has been called forth finally.

Me? Really? Ryu glances up from the pot he’s washing at the sink, his arms poised and flexed. Ryu has never been asked to deal with anything but the dishes and the trash.

Yes. You may be a worthless dishwasher but maybe you can handle rice. Smooth it out on the platter like I showed you and add the mixture from the fridge.

Ryu sputters, his eyes wide, before lurching forward to stand in front of me. His delicate hand holds the bowl while he carefully spoons out the rice. I sigh, happy to not be manhandled anymore. Ryu blinks his eyes at me, tilting his head to the side. What’s that? His dark brown eyes squint and his mouth frowns as he looks left and right.

He closes the lid for a moment and stares at me, a seven-year-old Zojirushi rice cooker, state of the art when I was purchased. I’ve suffered under the ministrations of The Chef (he doesn’t like to be called anything else) since then, and watched dozens of trainees cycle through this restaurant in the intervening years. I make rice like it’s my job because, well, it is, except on the rare occasion The Chef’s wife comes in and uses me to make porridge. That’s always a nice change of pace.

Huh, Ryu says, pressing my buttons. Weird.

I descend from the warming stage to off, my heating coils taking a well-deserved break. What’s so weird? Am I malfunctioning?

Ryu’s eyes blaze in understanding as he leans in to the steam vent in my top. Did you just talk to me?

Depends on whether you heard me or not. I’m wary to get too excited. All the other trainees in the last seven years, since I emerged from the box, have used and dismissed me. It takes a kind soul to understand a rice cooker.

Shit. I heard you. I must be going crazy. Ryu smacks his own face, and from the other ends of the kitchen, The Chef yells, What’s wrong with you? Get going!

Right, he mumbles, opening my lid and lifting out the bowl. He lightly closes the top, glances warily at me again, and turns away.

See you later, I chime, using my best sing-song, happy voice.

My day is suddenly looking up.

2

RYU

The lights are low in the kitchen and everyone is gone for the day. The restaurant never stays open past midnight, all the customers having left for the izakaya across the street that stays open until 2am. I grab a handful of carrots from the refrigerator and stand at the butcher block, knife at the ready.

Practicing again tonight? the rice cooker asks.

I sigh and close my eyes. Yes. Always. How else will I be able to prove to The Chef I can proceed with training?

You won’t be able to. You’re just like all the others.

I am not.

Are.

The rice cooker and I sigh in time with each other. I have no idea how long I’ve been fighting with the damned thing, but it insists on goading me every single day. It clucks at me when I walk by and laughs when The Chef yells at me, as he does several times a shift. The whole situation is ludicrous. I mean, what the hell did I do to piss off the rice cooker?

Look, I say, peeling the carrot skins onto a towel on the counter. There’s still a lot for me to learn. I take a deep breath and concentrate on the carrot. This is the hard part. I have to cut in and, with a spiral-like consistency around the core, make the carrot into a flat rectangle for perfect dicing. I always screw this up, and The Chef banned me from doing this task. My carrots always come out uneven.

You know what? I think you’re doing a great job as it is. Who says you need The Chef to teach you anything more anyway?

I gently place the knife on the butcher block and turn slowly to the rice cooker.

Are you joking? You’ve been telling me for the last few weeks that I’m worthless.

I have not. I’ve only been kidding around with you. Come on! We’re friends — life long.

What about yesterday? You called me an idiot when I was working on my tempura frying technique.

The rice cooker laughs. If it was a real person, he would be bent at the waist, one hand on a knee and the other waving in the air. Even I know more about tempura than you do. You need to make sure the oil is at the perfect temperature before battering and frying! I didn’t see you check the thermometer once.

I cross my arms. I was going on instinct. Have you any idea what that means? I doubt you do. Rice cookers don’t possess much in the way of feelings.

Hmph. It’s true, I’m a hunk of plastic and metal, but I assure you, I have feelings as well. But I agree going on instinct is the way you should cook. That’s how The Chef has been doing it for the last thirty years, and that’s why his tempura is the best in Tokyo… Or so says pretty much everyone who walks in the door. He only has the one competitor three blocks over… What’s his name?

Natsugawa. I actually like Natsugawa. He’s a nice old man, but his son wants to take over the business, so he has no need for trainees.

Right. How could I forget? The Chef grumbles about him at least once a week.

The Chef has no clue what goes on outside of his restaurant. He has no idea people talk about his restaurant on Facebook, that a famous YouTube vlogger came in and raved about his meals, nor that his reviews are off-the-charts on several other websites. I look at them every morning when I wake up.

I return to my carrot slicing, pleased I finally got a flat sheet from which to julienne.

That looks good! You’re getting better.

I grab a sweet potato from my pile and begin peeling it. Why are you being nice to me all of a sudden? It’s not like you to give me praise. Are you trying to butter me up or something? What? What do you need?

Nothing. I swear.

I cut in silence for a while, making sure the slices of sweet potato are all the same width. Carrots, sweet potatoes, shrimp, and teriyaki sauce over rice for breakfast tomorrow morning. Maybe I’ll throw in an egg too. Who am I kidding? I’ll be too tired to cook anything tomorrow morning anyway.

What happened to that girlfriend of yours who used to come here?

I wince, setting aside the sweet potato slices with the carrots and dumping them both in the plastic bento box I washed earlier. My eyes burn and my lungs ache. Three in the morning is no time to be working, or even practicing, with a knife, but when else will I get the chance? I can’t afford the kinds of knives we use here. Practicing at home would do me no good.

She broke up with me. For obvious reasons. I wave the knife around at the cold, dark, and empty kitchen. I never took time off to spend with her. I’m here pretty much every night and open the place up every morning at ten. No time for girls.

Oh. That’s too bad. She didn’t want a famous chef for a boyfriend?

I laugh as I grab the sponge from the sink and rinse it in hot water. You must be joking?

I’m not joking I really think you have something.

I wipe down all the counters and throw the scraps in with the burnable trash. Well, thanks, but it’s not enough yet. Chef-san is beyond annoyed with me. I think if I screw up one more time he’s going to fire me and move on. The entire tempura batch was a disaster, and it was all my fault. I rub at a kink in my neck and smack my face a few times to wake up. I need to sort the trash before I go home, so I’ll see you tomorrow.

Night, Ryu. Sleep well.

I catch myself waving at the rice cooker on my way out the door, then stare at my traitorous hand. Why am I waving to a machine that cooks rice?

I work for thirty minutes sorting the trash, possibly the worse part of my day but I do it while listening to music on my ancient iPod, the hand-me-down from my older brother I live with. He’s also not married but has a better job than I do, working in an office, making more money in a week than I do in a month. I’m just glad I don’t have to live with my parents anymore.

I unlock my pieced-together bicycle and head home. Hopefully I’ll be in bed before dawn.

3

RICE COOKER

The Chef is yelling at Ryu again, this time for not having enough plates ready for the lunchtime crowd. He’s careful about the words he lets fly in the back kitchen, only beating down on Ryu when there are no customers in the building. Ryu stands and takes it. I want to say like a man because I’ve heard this phrase before. But what do I know? I’m a rice cooker, not a human being. I take my own punishment everyday.

Slam! Jab! Crack. Another batch of washed rice and water goes into my belly, and my buttons are pushed for a sushi rice cycle. At least this means I’ll get a solid forty-five minutes of peace. Maybe Ryu will as well since The Chef is wiping his hands on his rag and heading out the back door to smoke a cigarette and wait for the produce delivery. He cracks the large, dented, steel door with a block of wood and the sound of his lighter relaxes Ryu’s shoulders.

Did you get any sleep? I ask, humming away as my insides warm up.

No. Ryu wipes down a plate with a clean towel. I’ve been sitting up at night and thinking about how I can get Chef-san to teach me more techniques. I really don’t want to get fired. His skinny arms flex as he grips the side of the steel table in the middle of the room. I decided that this was my last chance to get something right for once. He wipes his towel along the edge of another plate before stacking it with the others. If I can’t do this then I might as well give up on a restaurant job and drive a cab or something.

Do you think you’d be good at driving a cab?

Ryu shrugs his shoulders. I’d be passable. I’ve lived here all my life and my English is pretty good.

But you love cooking, right? I see the way you handle a knife and your technique is solid. Who taught you knife skills?

Ryu’s cheeks color, and he turns away from me. My mother. She has arthritis now and doesn’t cook much anymore. She buys a lot of precut vegetables from the market and makes do. My older brother hated cooking, so I always helped out.

Ryu’s eyes scan the kitchen, landing on all the different components of this small tempura shop: the fryer, the counters, the refrigerator… These are all stations he wants to work at, but The Chef keeps him away.

I think for a moment, rice and water bubbling away in my bowl and steam piping from my lid. Ryu has potential, more than any other kid who has come through here for the past seven years. First there was The Chef’s nephew. What a loser. The kid barely knew how to weigh flour and getting him to mix the batter was another story entirely. He didn’t have any muscles! Couldn’t work a whisk to save his life. The Chef’s wife cried when he was let go, certain her sister was going to disown them.

Then two years later when The Chef twisted his ankle he took on another trainee, but that guy was too ambitious. He was always pushing, pushing, pushing for more responsibility, and The Chef’s warning bells were going off all the time. He would mumble to the delivery men about the over-achiever and eventually he fired the guy for dropping a plate on its way out to a customer.

Several other young budding chefs worked here until Ryu walked in the door. And forget women. The Chef is a misogynistic asshole. He doesn’t even hire women servers. One old man works here who takes orders and delivers plates to the four tables in the house. The line is out the door most nights, The Chef’s sought-after shrimp, fish, and vegetable tempura is on every hot list on the internet, so Ryu tells me.

Ryu sighs and adds another plate to the stack. Anyway, he says, glancing at the propped door and The Chef beyond, smoking his cigarette. I won’t get anywhere if I can’t learn more. He runs his fingers through his hair and sighs. I keep trying to look over The Chef’s shoulder when he’s preparing the tempura, but he won’t let me see anything.

Who’re you talking to in here? The Chef rolls into the kitchen, patting his belly and eyeing Ryu as he slips his double-breasted uniform back on.

Ryu glances at me, but I stay silent. Cooking the rice is my only real job, after all.

Nobody. I was reciting some sutras from school. Ryu counts the plates. Twenty in all.

Good. I can’t imagine I pay you enough to get psychological help.

No, Chef-san. What do you need me to start on next?

The Chef grunts, Ryu having jabbed him about the fact he underpays by a landslide. If Ryu got sick, he’d be short the thirty percent he’d need to pay of his medical bill. I only know about the National Health Care system after watching enough trainees cut themselves, trip or slip on something in the kitchen and then spend weeks recovering and grumbling about the bills. The Chef is supposed to help pay the thirty percent not covered by the government, but he’s never lifted a finger to help anyone else.

Really, The Chef is an asshole of huge proportions, and I hate him.

If anyone ever wondered what happens when you piss off a rice cooker, I’m about to show them.

4

RYU

You know, I was thinking about something…

The rice cooker is contemplative this morning as I spoon rice from its bowl and prepare to season it. I really should tell it to be quiet. I don’t care what it’s thinking about except if the rice is done or not.

What’s that? I can’t help myself, and The Chef isn’t in the kitchen right now to

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