Inspired by Instant Noodles are Awesome by Qinni on DeviantArt.
The clouds hung like slender curtains in the sky. Filmiest white, and waggling.
Ishi rolled his eyes and kept chopping. The green onions crunched and crushed under the thick blade, sending the fresh spicy scent spiraling around the kitchen.
“Only fifteen ninety nine for the whole set!” The TV went on. Ishi continued, listening to the thick heavy rhythm interrupting the flow of the commercial.
“al with br—”
“Ken dishes a—”
Ishi pushed the onions to the edge of the cutting board. The knife made a slithering hiss over the smooth surface. He put down the knife, picked up the remote, and turned off the TV.
The water began to hum, thousands of bubbles forming and dying. Boiling. Ishi stepped over to the stove and pulled the lid off of the huge pot. The dense smells of salt and savory flavoring wafted up on the puff of vapor. Chicken broth, carrot slivers, frozen peas and lima beans. And now green onions, poured off the cutting board into the hazy, steamy mix.
Oh. And noodles, of course. Ishi closed the lid. He turned around and opened the fridge. Pulled out two eggs, brown and large. They were from his neighbor, who paid him in eggs. In exchange, Ishi refrained from putting on his Solid Snake costume and crawling over the fence at two in the morning to get the basic ingredients for chicken fandango.
Ishi pulled the garlic powder out from the heap of spice bottles shoved in among his plates. The pepper too. He’d toyed with cinnamon, but he hadn’t gotten it to taste right yet, and didn’t have the energy today. The linoleum creaked under his feet and the yellow lights overhead flickered.
Ishi looked up and glared. The lights steadied.
It was whatever. They could turn off. He could cook in the dark.
He lifted the lid and cracked the eggs into the pot. The top went back on.
And then he had to wait.
In his head, Ishi counted. While he counted (twenty five, twenty six, twenty seven) he cleaned. Two hundred and forty seconds later, the kitchen was almost spotless, and one white bowl sat on the counter next to a pair of chopsticks.
Ishi opened the pot and turned off the burner. He grabbed a fork and a spoon and started moving soup over to his bowl. A few scoops in his spoon bounced off something big.
The multicolored surface of the broth swirled.
Ishi blinked. Unchopped chunk of carrot?
The yellow broth sat there, oil still spinning across the surface. Reflecting on the silver sides of the pot. Shreds of egg floated by. Ishi went in again, caught noodles and peas, loaded them into his bowl. And—
Something moved. Something had churned, pushing against the current of broth. Ishi frowned and put down his utensils. He dug around under the counter until he had found a large Tupperware, cracking at the corners. It made a plop as Ishi popped it onto the counter. He picked up the pot and poured.
Clouds of salty steam billowed up to the ceiling. Probably hell for the lights. The dry skin around his nose was considerably relived. Ishi lowered the pot an inch, cutting off the flow of liquid, and picked his fork back up. He forked the noodles over into the Tupperware with caution.
A shape at the back splashed. Ishi nearly dropped the pot. Something was moving back there! A few moments later he had all the noodles out. Whatever it was, it was shuddering in the back, amongst the remains of the broth. Ishi put the pot down and got out a bowl. He poured the last of the broth off into that.
The broth trickled out, dragging a dark shape with it.
A fish. It was a fish!
Ishi snorted in shock. As much as the prospect of fish ramen delighted him, normally you had to kill the fish first. It was flopping on the surface of the steel pot, gills heaving. It was a black fish, pudgy like a gold fish, but without the dignity given by the long, trailing fins.
Ishi turned the pot over, sploshing the gasping fish into the bowl of broth. He’d never seen a fish like that before. How the hell had it wound up in his ramen? It had been canned chicken broth!
He stared at the fish. It seemed okay now. It was swimming around the little bowl, making a bulge in the broth.
Well. Maybe it was a salt water fish?
From say, the dead sea? That broth had a lot of salt.
The fish stopped swimming and poked its head above the surface of the water.
Ishi stared at the fish.
The fish stared at Ishi.
Ishi had never been much good at animals. But this one was clearly in his lunch, and therefore had to be delt with.
“Okay fish.” Ishi said. He went to the recycling bin and pulled out the rinsed chicken broth can, checking the nutrition label. The whole can had three teaspoons of salt in it. Ishi shook his head. He really needed to start watching his sodium.
“Do you like the water warm, fish?” He asked, absently, as he put the can on the counter. Ishi went for the salt.
“I can warm it myself, thank you.”
Ishi stopped going for the salt. He turned around.
The fish was still staring at him.
“Excuse me?” He asked.
“I said, I can warm it myself, thank you.” Its mouth moved. It sounded a little less friendly this time.
“Oh.” Ishi said. He couldn’t really think what else to say. “Did you want the three teaspoons of salt in it?” He pointed to the can.
The fish looked at it. Then it said, “Just fill the pot back up and put me in that.”
Ishi almost objected, since after all he was going to need to use that pot for mashed potatoes later. But then he realized he was talking to a fish. So he filled the pot back up and put it on the counter, and then picked up his spoon.
“Um.” He said, holding the spoon uncertainly.
The fish sighed. “Just pour me back in, okay?”
Ishi did. Then he put the Tupperware of ramen into his bowl and started to eat.
“This is a nice pot.” The fish said, from deep inside the pot.
“Thanks.” Ishi said. “My mom gave it to me.”