Marie closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. The smell of the food was intoxicating, and her stomach growled loudly.
“Oh Elsy,” she said appreciatively, “those smell delicious.”
Elsy blushed and set the tray down as Alice handed out plates and utensils.
“Dig in,” she said. Galen pulled three off the platter before Marie could move.
“Do they all have meat in them?” Marie asked, hopeful that Elsy had remembered she didn’t eat meat. Elsy nodded firmly.
“Oh,” she replied, making a face.
“Sorry Marie,” Alice said, helping herself to a particularly large one, “if you want to blend in on this planet, you’re going to have to eat meat. We don’t have vege-whatevers here.”
“Besides,” Galen chipped in, “meat is spectacular. And full of protein. You look like you could use some protein.”
“I don’t even know what that means,” Marie protested.
“It means, eat up,” Elsy said, putting two palm sized quesadillas on Marie’s plate.
Marie sighed, picked up her fork and knife, and cut herself a tiny bite. She inspected it warily. It did smell good, although she hadn’t eaten meat in years.
She put the morsel in her mouth.
“Oh my god,” she said, chewing, momentarily forgetting her long years in various manner schools on Earth. It tasted like a reward for many long years of dieting. Also, like steak.
After that, she happy and ravenously consumed her two quesadillas and half of a third. Hershel quizzed her while they ate, asking about Earth, how she got here, and what had happened to her before Alice had found her. She told them everything, including the gunfire, the woman who had pushed her out of the way, how she’d lost her shoes and her phone and everything. Hershel nodded from time to time, but the rest of the table was silent and listening intently.
“So where, exactly, do I fit in to this?” Marie asked over her second glass of white peach sangria when Hershel’s questions seemed to have run out. She was starting to feel the grease turn over in her stomach, her system unused to eating heavy foods and meat after so many years of denial, and she tried to find a comfortable spot in her chair.
“We’re not exactly sure,” Alice admitted. “We don’t know how you got here, and if you’re here on accident or on purpose. However, if you are here on accident, then we can be sure that Xionsyes and his gang of cronies don’t know that you’re here.”
“And that’s important?”
“Yes. Because you can go figure out exactly what they are doing and why.”
“Woah, woah, woah now,” Marie spurted holding up her hands. “There are many, many loopholes to that plan, including, but not limited to, are you insane?”