༺ A Happy Dog ༻
｢The Undying themselves pose a serious threat. The Undying cannot coexist with normal humans as they are so much more different. They have no fear of guns, they do not avoid fires, and they are insensitive and indifferent against violence. Even when their fingers get cut off, they will just laugh it off and reattach them. They do not care if they get stabbed, yet in turn, they do not understand why others fear the sword. The State forbade them from residing in the state because any towns and cities with the Undying mixed in always resulted in chaos.｣
The golem continued speaking while looking down at the wriggling right hand.
｢Furthermore, this being, who has inherited the Undying Blood so strongly didn’t die in the perfectly isolated abyss. This is very unexpected. They are an extremely powerful and hazardous species. I think it will be troublesome for you to take care of it.｣
“So you’re saying it would be less of a bother to kill it off right now, right?”
｢Even from your perspective, would it not be troublesome for your number of trainees to increase?｣
‘It’s true. The Regressor nearly folded me, and the vampire nearly tore me to shreds. Azzy doesn’t directly attack me but she is consistently taking years off my shoulders. Another one on top of all that? There is no doubt that the pressure will increase.’
Intrigued by the golem’s proposal, I cautiously asked.
“How exactly do you get rid of it?”
｢In this current situation, information is classified, so I cannot say. However, I can guarantee its expulsion from Tantalus. It will not be able to return.｣
“And who will do that?”
｢You will have to.｣
‘Ah. So, I have to get those pieces of meat and “dispose of it” myself.’
What did I expect?
I replied in a calm manner.
“I won’t do it.”
｢Will you not regret it?｣
“Regret what? To dispose of a perfectly alive man… What kind of barbaric thought is that? It shouldn’t be done.”
‘It’s obvious. You know why people shouldn’t commit murder? So they don’t get revenge flying their way. Whether the opposing side is the law, the victim’s family, or a severed arm. What if I get avenged? Are you gonna take accountability for it? You said it was an Undying. That they don’t die. The severed arm is still moving. What if it revives while I try to dispose of it and it comes for revenge? No, it doesn’t even need to revive. The severed arm is more than enough to take revenge on me. A moving arm terrifies me far more than a powerful man does.’
“Let’s just eat and revive it. Stop saying weird things like ‘disposal’.”
｢This is unexpected. I didn’t know you were such a moral man.｣
“Who do you think I am?”
I am the most moral man in the world. Well, because I’m the most scared of revenge in the world.
One who has fear has cautiousness, to be cautious of others means keeping respect and morals.
This is how I lived through the back alleyways, and a rule that has kept me alive.
“Supplies are on their way,, right? We have more mouths to feed, so it’ll be troublesome if they aren’t.”
｢There are supplies on standby. Because of the prison break, it was stopped at a sojourn location. Once it’s been announced that Tantalus’s situation has returned to normal, all transportation should resume.｣
“That’s great! Please resume it now! When are they coming?”
｢In three hours’ time.｣
“That’s so quick!”
“Of course I don’t have any! But how is this possible?”
｢The State’s administrative power is top of the world. There is no issue with resuming the delivery of already sent supplies.｣
‘I can’t read the golem’s mind, but the person controlling it sort of seemed to be boasting. I wanted to say ‘Why are you on such high horses when it wasn’t even you?’
But with the possibility of the supplies being cut, I remained silent.
“How much are the supplies?”
｢With Tantalus’s supply plan, there are to be three days’ worth of supplies.｣
“Are you crazy? Who’s even going take—”
｢However, since this supply plan was made before the prison break incident and considering the sharp decline in population for the current members, the supplies should last ninety days.｣
“I can take those! Wow! The State’s administrative power is really amazing!”
‘Then now there should be no need to ration food. With ninety days’ worth of food, I could make meju* and still have some leftovers.’
‘Ah, wait… This is the abyss. That’s not probable. In any case, there are an infinite number of dishes that can be made with those ingredients. Nice. After a long time, I’ll be enjoying material wealth once more.’
I was so excited that I screamed.
“Oi, Azzy! That’s dirty! Don’t touch it!”
Azzy was giving a strange look to the bone that stuck out of the right arm before quickly looking up. The dog immediately ran over and put her chin on my hand as I shook my clawed hand. I spoke while rubbing her chin.
“Forget about that disgusting meat. Let’s enjoy some delectable food. The supplies are arriving soon, so I’ll make you that promised delicious meal!”
Azzy barked in joy. I kept scratching her chin as I got lost in thought.
‘What should I cook next? Since we’re sick of stew, why don’t we fry it in a pan and eat it like cookies? Or should I mince up the meat, take the starch and boiled beans, grind it up then cook it? Making bean stock with some of the ground beans could be beneficial, even though it may not be as nutritious.’
It was when I was thinking up all the luxurious foods I could make that I felt something touch my ankle. I looked over, wondering what it was, then jumped in fright.
It was the right arm.
The right arm had crawled up to me with just its fingers.
“There’s the plus one to the freeloaders.”
I got a can from the cupboard, opened it then flipped it onto the hand. Although it was a compressed bean that was as hard as a rock, it didn’t care and went straight to the main body. After crawling over with all its power, it put the bean into its open mouth like a bird feeding its young.
“That right hand is quite… talented.”
Is it an Undying because it has a hand that works relentlessly even with its body in suspended animation, or is it because it’s an Undying that it can do so?
Anyway, leaving the two limbs intact was undoubtedly the right decision. I can’t imagine being able to win against all four limbs coming at me for revenge. Although, the pretty-much-dead body eating a can of beans was sickening.
‘Even if it’s kind of grotesque, I’m going to have to leave the golem and human in the cafeteria for now.’
“You really have no patience, do you? Alright. I’ll get going.”
I took out the compressed beans and meat from the can. The State’s special Compressed Canned Food’s performance was still consistent; it boasted its rock-like properties as it was completely dehydrated. The beef jerky that was compared to a brick in the past couldn’t even compare to this. Without water, eating this would take a very long time.
I cut off the fatty area of the compressed meat and put it in the pan. After adding some heat, the oil started to melt and flow down.
Along with the beans, the remaining meat was hydrated.
I wasn’t making stew this time, so I only put enough water to cover half of it.
As the completely dry beans and meat were being rehydrated, I took out some dough that I had made before with flour. When I looked inside, it was still as white and round as an ostrich egg, just like when it was first created.
“Hmm… As expected. It doesn’t take effect.”
‘It didn’t puff up, let alone change any color. It seems that it can’t return to dust either, since this is a land cursed by Mother Earth.’
“But it is the bottom of the abyss, right? If the place I stood on were ground, it should have some workers of the ground…”
‘Something doesn’t make sense, but I can’t tell what it is. Sigh. This is frustrating. It’s not like I can read Mother Earth’s mind or something.’
I naturally scratched my head.
However, nothing is borne from nothing. Guess my head isn’t a rice pot.
“Ahhh, whatever. That kind of great work will be done by people with great strength.”
‘It’ll be best not to expect any soft bread around here. Let’s just hope that rice is part of the supply deal.’
I put the hard-flour dough in the oven and lit the fire. At the same time, I brought the rehydrated bean and meat and set it in front of Azzy.
“Not yet. Be patient. It needs to be tastier.”
I cleaned Azzy’s hands with a towel. As the clean cloth touched her foot, she twitched as if it was tickling her. Thankfully, she didn’t run away. I patted her head in commendation before commanding her.
“Hey, Azzy. Punch it.”
“No! The meat will be hurt!”
“Meat gets tastier the more you torture it.”
“It was more delicious when we cooked it over the fire last time. Meat is something that gets tastier the more it hurts.”
‘That’s why they beat up dogs on dog days. Damn.’
I kept those last few words to myself and convinced Azzy.
“Woof! That’s true!”
The convinced Azzy quickly threw punches. It was so fast that I couldn’t see her fists. The meat caved in on impact.
The meat and beans that were still stiff from not being quite hydrated were minced nicely in the face of Azzy’s doggy punches.
A real human, I mean, dog meat grinder.
‘You said the meat would be hurt. There’s no sympathy in the face of flavor, is there?’
As Azzy minced the meat I slowly added some starch. Since the egg was replaced by beans, it lacked cohesion. The moment it was placed on a pan, it would be brutally crushed.
However, in contrast to human society, the world of cooking was more focused on the inside than the outside. Even if the shape was bad, it just needed to taste good.
“Now, now. Enough oil. It’s now going in~”
The spherically molded bean meat—essentially hamburg meat that had beans added to it—was put on the pan. It started to sizzle straight away and started to cook. The smell of protein being cooked. The sound of the oils on the meat popping. It sounds like a monsoon knocking on the wet ground.
It seemed as if Azzy was completely mesmerized by the smell as she even forgot to bark and instead was staring at the pan. Even a believer who welcomed an angel into their home wouldn’t have the same eyes. I let out a grin and started to hum.
The fire and heat took all the color. The meat’s original color was absorbed by the envious fluids, which caused it to turn brown.
In exchange for the color, flavor and texture were added. It was a welcome trade for humans. Even if the meat didn’t want it.
I used a pair of tongs to reshape the meat before placing it on a platter and spreading some of the oil over it.
‘Now, that’s one plate done. It’s usually people before dogs, but just for today, Azzy can have it first.’
I put the hamburg steak in front of Azzy. She couldn’t even think of eating this masterpiece and looked up at me. I prepared my own plate as she waited and sat down on the chair in front of the table.
I put a spoon next to my plate and asked the golem on the table.
“Captain AB. Would you come down and have a bite?”
｢Do not worry about me. An overseer does not get swayed by appetite.｣
“Alright, then! Just enjoy the view!”
I left the golem on the table and raised my spoon. Azzy tensed up with expectation. At the signal, she was prepared to sprint in like a runner at the starting line.
‘I let go of such an opportunity. It’s a chance for education.’
I pulled out the chime bell. Azzy’s eyes were drowned in anticipation. What I was going to do, and what was going to happen next. The body remembers it all.
I jingled the bell. At that moment, Azzy’s salivary glands burst open. Saliva flowed freely from the open mouth. Her eyes were so bright that the meat could absorb them.
‘And to wait for me in that state? She really is a good dog. Hmm. I shouldn’t doubt her taking any food in the future.’
I put the bell down and declared.
Azzy buried her face into the plate.
At this moment, Azzy was the happiest dog in the world.