Mustard

The hot dog man had been by again.

The smell of steamed meat and artificial bread permeated the corridor. There was a ketchup stain on the floor with the mark of a trolley wheel running through the middle of it.
The investigating team’s equipment had detected trace elements of onion, mustard and honeydew melons.

According to the crew charts there was no hot dog man on record, nor had there ever been. The bunker hadn’t even had any hot dogs available for consumption since the processed meats incident back in the 1960’s.

All of this evidence stating that he couldn’t exist and yet when a team was brought low by hunger, when all seemed lost, there they would be, sat on a counter, plump and inviting….

As a matter of course I studied one of the hot dogs in some detail. The meat is of an unknown genus, which for hotdogs is unsurprising. The bread appears to be a variety first developed by the military during the space race as a ration for soldiers going to other worlds. It has been chemically treated to never go stale, but as a side effect is mildly hallucinogenic, carcinogenic and tastes faintly of beetroot.

The condiments were apparently fine, though by that point something had caused the geiger counters to make an awful clicking noise. I turned them off so I could concentrate.

It took three years to find his lair. Three long years of winding my way through the dark. The bunker goes on forever. I ran out of food, light, everything. Finally I found a small concession trolley abandoned in a corridor, adorned with pictures of flaming, miniature poodles. Through the next doorway was a room filled with strange machinery. Tubes came through the walls, feeding something into a grinding, howling mess from which came forth a perfectly formed hot dog every thirteen and a half seconds.

Collapsed on the floor was a robot, coated liberally in hot dog meat and crammed into an ice cream white uniform. The Robot looked at me, blinking lights shining through its too smooth and somewhat skin. “How may I help you sir?”

“Robot! Where does the meat come from?”

The robot lifted a chubby, sausage like arm and pointed to the tubes.

“The meat is collected from the leftover, non waste organic matter produced by the Toy Soldiers and their hamster minions.”

Meat. We had been making the meat. Even the vegetarians were making the meat… We were the source of a renewable food supply. A great and deranged plan of the Bunker’s past, imagined when we were greater in number. And from that meat we had created the fleshy body for this robot skeleton.

I guess deep down inside we all are the hot dog man.

This story first appeared on Gonzo Enterprises