I’m up to 30 Destiny Points now.
I’ve gone through three different flavors of combos, including ranch dressing, cheese pizza, and Southern gravy, and all three have been absolutely delicious, even if the names of these flavors remain somewhat engimatic to me.
“This is amazing,” I say. “This is spectacular. I love food. I love everything.”
We are driving in the car, and I have a fold-out tray on my lap containing more snacks and food and drinks than I could possibly have imagined up to this point. And I thought vending machines were interesting, but it turns out convenience stores like Fami here are even greater!
“How long was that one?” Delta asks, not looking at me since she is driving to wherever it is we are going.
Francis presses a button on the stopwatch app of his phone (yep, I’ve been learning a whole lot about the terminology on this world, and I’m even starting to get a hang of how to use their “cool af” slang terms). “The ding happened after forty-eight seconds this time,” he says.
“It’s getting longer the more varieties of combos he tries,” she says. Give him one more pack.
“Here you go, Eryk,” Francis says. “Christmas combos.”
“What does ‘Christmas’ mean?”
“Oh, it’s a special holiday where we give each other presents and spend time with family,” he tells me. “If you’re still around by then—” He cuts himself off. “If you are still on Earth by then, we can celebrate it together!”
“That sounds quite fun. But why is the filling in these combos colored red and green?”
“That’s Christmas colors. Normally that’d sound like mold, but... Wait a minute, give that package back a second.” He examines the wrapping (which is made of an interesting and magic-borne substance known as “plastic”) and heaves a sigh. “The expiration date on this one was April. Delta...”
“It’s probably fine.”
“Ah, true. Okay, Eryk. It’s perfectly safe to eat.”
“You don’t seem as confident in that assertion as I would like.”
“Don’t worry about it! Combos can survive nuclear fallout probably.”
“New clear? What?”
I take out the Christmas combos and munch the delectable snack.
Well... It would be more delectable if I hadn’t already tried three flavors back-to-back that were just as tasty.
In fact, the sweetness and spiciness combined don’t do nearly as much for me as the other combos have so far.
“It’s pretty good.”
“I’m still eating them. The filling is the same texture and the preztel bits are about normal, but the green filling’s cake-like flavor does not compliment the chili-like taste of the red filling.”
I finish the bag and take a swig of Dr. Thunder, a “soda” drink that has bubbles in it, to wash the snack down.
“No ding,” Francis says.
“Sounds about right,” Delta said. “Too many similar foods in a row and his taste buds are starting to cancel themselves out.”
“Well, maybe it’s just that the flavor itself is really terrible?” Francis asks. “It is pretty infamous in the snacking community.”
“No, I quite like it,” I say. “It’s just not quite amazing as compared to the other foods.”
“So the system only registers food discoveries if you’re genuinely impressed by what you’re having.” Francis resets his stopwatch app and considers things. “So force feeding you the other fifty snacks may backfire in the end.”
Francis tosses a blue plastic bag my way. I catch them. “Try these. Cool ranch flavor chips should destroy your taste buds the first time.”
“I highly doubt that. After the sheer might of combos, you truly think that providing me with these dor--”
My tastebuds explode with an insane, delectable mix of salt and spice in such a way that it feels cold and hot at the same time. Wow!
Just one chip in, and—
I’m up to 31 Destiny Points.
“Now try this one.” He throws a red bag at me labeled “nacho cheese flavor.”
“But I only had one chip—”
I eat the red bag of chips. It’s fine. The powdery flavoring on each chip is fun to lick off with my tongue before I eat the rest of the chip. In fact, it’s so fun that—
“Hmmm.” Francis does not seem particularly enthused by the result here. “Already up to twenty-seven seconds on the second bag.”
“Concerning,” Delta adds.
“Try this one—” He throws yet another bag, this one green. “—and make sure to pay really close attention to the taste. Let it soak in.”
The flavor reads as “Limited Edition matcha flavor.”
“Green tea, he says.”
“I do enjoy myself a warm glass of green tea,” I say. “But in chip form? We shall see.”
I devour the bag in seconds.
That was... really, really good.
I don’t even understand how it was that good.
I’m starting to feel a little gross for some reason.
“No, I’m the one who’s bleh.”
“If you’re going to throw up, roll down the damn window or I’ll kill you,” Delta tells me.
“Not that kind of bleh. Just... I feel like I’ve started putting on weight and I only just started eating.”
“That’s the magical power of junk food,” Francis says. “You’ll probably want this to cure your stomach issues.”
He tosses a red plastic bottle containing soda... Except it looks more like a magical healing elixir bottled up in an Earth-like fashion.
“You have potions on Earth? That’s amazing!” I exclaim. “If you have potions, then I could probably restore my Life Points even without leveling up or skills. I just assumed you wouldn’t have too many [Priestess] class heroes here— Oh wait, this isn’t actually a potion, is it?”
“No, it’s called Faygo Redpop.”
“Sounds like a potion if I’ve ever heard of one...”
I take a swig and its sickly-sweet sugar zips down my throat, burning and healing me simultaneously.
I hate it, and yet I love it at the same time.
And... it’s not helping me feel any less disgusting. Actually, I’m feeling even worse.
“Okay, with that palate cleanser out of the way, time for your next snack.” Francis hands me a puffy yellow bar. “This is called a yoo-bar. It is the most delicious confection on Earth.”
“Is it really...?”
“Yes. Try it.”
I unwrap the yoo-bar.
It strikes me as quite wasteful that all these plastic wrappers are being used for one person’s snacks. I have created quite an amount of garbage in a very short amount of time. Will these plastics be reused, or simply thrown into the rubbish? If it is the latter, I will feel very guilty.
The yoo-bar enters my mouth. My teeth press upon the yoo-bar. My tongue touches it.
I feel nothing but sugar.
Even after swallowing the entire snack, my mouth is simply a mass of sugar and cream filling.
A full minute passes and I let the residue of yoo-bar soak over my entire being.
“That was horrible.”
“And yet... I really enjoyed it as well.”
“Booyeah! 32 Destiny Points already!” Francis exclaims.
My stomach gurgles. “Yes, but at what cost...”
At what cost indeed.
“You’re trying the very finest of American junk food, you know.”
“Oh, it’s the country we live in. The United States of America. Land of the free, home of the brave, all that.”
“I would very much like to learn about Earth’s many kingdoms and empires, but I’m not sure if I’m in the right mindset at the moment,” I say. “My head is spinning. I think I consumed far too much sugar and salt for one human.”
“Oh, you can wash that all down with a Diet Coke then,” he says. “No sugar.”
“Francis, really, stop torturing Eryk,” Delta says.
“But it’s for science...”
“We already know enough. Eryk gains a point for any brand-new food he tries that truly impresses him, but if he tries too much in a short period of time, the effect is reduced and eventually stops. We know too many types of the same food probably do the same thing as well. And junk food does to him about what it does to any normal human. Therefore, we should put him on a strict rotation of food types until he’s tried almost everything good that’s easy to make or cheap to buy.”
“Wow, Delta...” Francis’s jaw drops. “I didn’t know you were doing such thoughtful analysis.”
“You thought I was just the driver? I have a vested interest in this too, you know. The sooner Eryk figures out his shit, the sooner he can leave us in peace.”
“You really don’t like me much, do you?” I ask.
“Not at all, and I think Francis fawning over you is going to turn you into even more of an airheaded bimbo than you already are if we’re not careful.”
Francis says, “Hey! I’m not fawning! Eryk is just my frien—”
“I agree that there is a risk I could become too foolhardy and too singularly focused on my goals to be of much use to you,” I say. “That is why I hope you will keep me balanced.”
“Like being your id and superego to your ego,” Delta says. “Listen, I’ve been down this toxic friendship route plenty of times before and I’m not about to play nice with someone I think will—”
My stomach gurgles loudly. “Actually, I think I may be sick after all.”
We quickly pull over at the nearest restaurant and I rush into the bathroom as quickly as possible.
Junk food was once the ultimate savior in my life. Now, just one day later, I’m already beginning to despise it.
Earth is wonderful, but... Maybe I shouldn’t overdo it.