11/18/2012 - 7:36pm
On Humanity’s Indefatigable Quest for Perfection
by Christopher Miller

The crust could be flakier

Preparing her dinner the other night, my wife was disappointed to notice that the “Sausage Rolls” she’d purchased from Zehrs contained “spicy chicken” filler. Apparently “Sausage Rolls” wasn’t meant to be read as an adjective modifying a noun but as a complete proper noun pertaining to a certain style or genre of substance-filled pastry. Because even though any type of animal may be ground up and stuffed into its own (or another’s too, I suppose) intestines, I believe the sausage default, as in when not otherwise specified, is pork. So one shouldn’t have to read further to discover that trustingly purchased “Sausage Rolls” contain instead wiggly whale blubber, or crispy rat ears, or spicy chicken entrails. So I think my wife had a legitimate beef. But then mitigating her disappointment came her discovery that the doughy material encapsulating or ensconcing said minced and processed chicken (not pig) byproduct was “new” and had been “improved” to be even “flakier” than before. And so she did not, as is her custom when deceived or misled in this way, return said boxed ostensibly consumable foodstuffs to Zehrs’ customer service counter for a full refund of her money, but instead popped it in the oven. And I could not help but marvel how, in this day and age, almost 65 years since detonation of the first nuclear bomb and more than 40 years since landing on the moon (each, by remarkable coincidence, occurring on July 16), when for ten bucks I can buy in Zehrs’ photo shop a USB flash stick with enough memory to store 2000 novels in and a little ring to attach it to my keychain with and we smash hadrons together at relativistic speeds and measure planetary distances in microns—we can still discover ways to produce an even flakier sausage roll. I’d have thought we’d have long ago reached some sort of quantum or God-imposed barrier to increased flakiness. I’d have thought by now pastry thickness would be measured in Planck lengths, a scale at which space itself lacks smoothness, the faintest touch of fork or photon or even consciousness finding said penultimately flaky sausage roll phyllo coating exploding into subatomic dust if not pure energy. But oh no, we’ve managed to get it flakier, but still not flaky enough. There’s still room for improvement.

Christopher Miller’s fiction has appeared in COSMOS, The Barcelona Review, Hopewell Publishing’s “Best New Writing 2010″ anthology, Redstone Science Fiction and other print and web based magazines and anthologies. He works as a systems analyst. He writes for fun.

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