Pete Wentz (or Pete the Pretzel) was indeed a pretzel.
And, like a very stale piece of sentient food, he was bitter (or rather, salty) that he wasn’t eaten in his prime a few weeks ago. Which was weird, since most pieces of sentient food, like Andy the Protein Bar, didn’t want to be eaten. Because being eaten was the sentient food equivalent of death.
But he, oddly enough, wasn’t afraid of being eaten. He’s seen lots of different foods come into the kitchen and leave in the mouth of Gabriel Saporta, the one who brought all of them here. It just seemed like the cycle of life that was destined for them; they existed, they were eaten, and whatever happens after…
Rest in, uh, Gabe’s digestive system, Brendon the Yogurt. You were, and will be, missed.
So Pete (the Pretzel) has accepted his fate and passed the days until he was inevitably eaten (possibly with some cheese or maybe some icing). It mainly consisted of talking to Andy, who’s a pretty cool food to talk to, even if the topic usually centered around what they saw around the kitchen.
Andy seemed rather safe in his wrapping, never touched again by Gabe ever since he bought him in some sort of exercise phrase that lasted approximately one week before completely abandoning the early morning jog and subsequently, left a protein bar on the counter. Andy’s been around longer than Pete, safe in his environmentally friendly wrapping with XVX across the front. He didn't seem to fear being eaten like the other foods Pete’s talked to.
“Wait until around spring or so,” he told Pete. “He’ll probably either eat me then or throw me out with the rest of the cleaning.” Pete was admittedly impressed with how hardcore this fancy ‘for-vegans’ granola bar was.
(Pete’s true fear was going completely stale though; getting stuck in a dumpster until rotting or being picked apart by pigeons would really, really suck.)
So that was Pete the Pretzel’s life. Sitting on a counter and hoping for the sweet relief of a seasoning. It happened. ‘Twas the life of a forgotten salty pretzel from the mall. Pete felt that if he had hands, or a mouth, or any appendages, he’d be a pretty good poet.
Pete didn’t know it, but his life was about to change forever with arrival of the groceries one Saturday morning.
Gabe came into the kitchen to deposit the recent onslaught on mostly inanimate food objects, and it was a regular day for Pete the Pretzel. He tried to shine his wheat and make himself more appealing so he could finally get eaten when Gabe walked by him, but was tragically ignored. He felt Andy laugh inanimately next to him.
Gabe unloaded the new, fresh items onto the counter, stacking them next to Pete. The shiny packaging and crisp plastic of some of foods shined as if to mock him for being so less decorated. He was a mall pretzel, dammit, and he was proud of his heritage.
There was lettuce, onions, and bunch of miscellaneous vegetables set on his counter. He wondered if he’d win the bet with Andy regarding the next sentient object to appear. Pete was predicting something sweet. Maybe ice cream or chocolate. Something that would get eaten fast (unlike his stale self).
A little closer to Andy, an inexpressive, but somehow still bewildered cauliflower was set next to the protein bar. There it was. The newest in the line of self-aware foods.
He’d let Andy talk to the new guy first.
Gabe continued his unloading of goods from the store. A carton of eggs was set right next to Pete, and for a second, when Gabe paused, he really hoped that this was the moment where Gabe would finally pick him off the napkin on the counter and eat him to put him out of his misery.
No, it turned out that Gabe’s phone was vibrating (and it would be really weird if electronics were sentient, too, because what would be their equivalent of mortality? Pete the Pretzel could be very deep).
“William Beckett, my dear Bill, rescue me from this life of monotony, and sickeningly dull weekend task,” Gabe said dramatically, stepping away from the counter and Pete.
Fluffernutter damn it. He recognized the name that Gabe repeated wholeheartedly as he walked away from the groceries on the counter. It was the other human who usually ate the foods in the kitchen. He sat right at the furthest table, next to Gabe, to share in the gleeful massacre of his kind. And then they tried to kill each other. Or, like, attack each other with weapons of violence. Human mouths just going at it when they obviously couldn’t eat each other. It was terrible and inefficient and humans sucked because he was still on the counter and they could have eaten him instead.
William Beckett either meant two things (other than the horrible, horrible thing Pete’s witnessed above): William would visit and he and Gabe would fill the room with terrible, terrible smoke before eating anything in the fridge and kitchen, thus increasing Pete’s chances of being eaten (and severely angering Andy, as the smoke made his wrapping crinkle and his granola-y being dry out).
Or William would swoop in and take Gabe out somewhere to eat food elsewhere, thus increasing the existence of Pete and every other food in the kitchen. Whenever William took Gabe out he didn’t come back hungry until the next day, which was another day Pete wasn't eaten (getting increasingly stale by the minute).
But William wasn’t even the important part of the day. The important thing was that Gabe left the groceries on the counter. More importantly, although he didn’t know it yet, Gabe left the egg carton right next to him.
This normally wouldn’t have been such a big deal. Gabe left things behind all the time (case in point, Pete the Pretzel himself, still on the napkin and still on the counter). But while Andy was distracted with the newcomer cauliflower, Pete was muttering under his telepathic hypothetical-breath obscene food related insults about William. Because he could have gotten eaten and the phone call totally ruined it.
“Hello? Is someone muttering obscene insults out there?”
Pete craned his metaphorical pretzel head to look at the carton where the voice came from.
He knew that Andy was talking to cauliflower in the corner, so this obviously meant that Gabe brought home two sentient food pieces home at the same time. Two, very edible, probably perishable, types of food that would be able to blissfully be digested: a fate that Pete the Pretzel would likely never experience.
He pretzel-glared at the egg carton bitterly and didn’t offer a response. Let the egg endure while he sulked.
“Okay, I definitely heard someone say something, probably insulting! Maybe something insulting about eggs! So I’m just gonna say that you’re a despicable being. I’ve been nearly cracked three times on my way here, the egg next to me is chipped, I’m stuck in a dark egg carton, and there’s something leaking on me! I think it’s the egg! I don’t need to deal with this!”
Pete let out a little pretzel-laugh because the egg had a very nice voice (despite having no mouth) and was very, very charming in his little rant. And that wasn’t really expected. He was supposed to be upset by his longevity and food near-immortality, not laugh at some egg’s little rant about their shell.
“Calm down!” he shouted at the egg, who was still nestled safe in their little carton along with the eleven other eggs. Pete wondered if the other eggs had sentience too and were just letting this worried one do the talking. “You’re an egg!”
A pause. “Thanks! It’s not like I’ve been aware of that my entire life, or sentience or existence, whatever! Now that you’ve said that, everything is so much better now!”
Holy Nutella, this egg was upset. “I mean that you’re perishable; Gabe’ll probably eat you within one to two weeks.”
The egg didn’t respond for a bit, and Pete wondered if his shell had cracked too and he was rapidly losing yolk. That would suck. Probably be a terrible way to fade out of existence.
“Does it not occur to you that being alive,” the carton wobbled a bit, maybe, or maybe Pete was pretzel-hallucinating again, “is preferable than being the food-equivalent of death? Like, what if I feel the process of being eaten? Don’t you see how terrifying that is?”
Pete the Pretzel mulled this over. He already contemplated most of the egg’s points while pondering his existence on the counter, but it was nice to hear another perishable’s perspective. “How do we even understand the abstract concepts of life and death? I’m just a pretzel and you’re just an egg. How are we even talking?”
“Who even knows?!” The carton was shaking again, and the hysteria in the egg’s words was evident. “Maybe I’m just an egg, and you’re just a pretzel, but we’re feeling now, aren’t we? We can understand life and death and somehow talk to each other and I really, really don’t want to die.”
“Calm down,” Pete paused. “What’s your name?”
The egg thought for a bit. “Patrick. I feel like a Patrick,” Patrick decided. “Also, thanks for making me suffer an existential crisis while I still can’t metaphorically-see anything, real charming of you, salty pretzel.”
“I try my best,” Pete answered honestly. Hah. Eggistential. “And I’m Pete the Pretzel. From Fallout Buoy Pretzels. And there’s another sentient food being. He’s a protein bar from some fitness shop. His name is Andy.”
“Cool. I was brought in the trunk with a cauliflower. His name is Joe. I think he was bought at Trader Joe’s but, you know. He’s nice,” Patrick the Egg said, obviously exhausted in a metaphysical kind of way.
“Yeah, I think Andy’s talking to him on the other counter. We could probably listen in, due to the weird lack of, uh, physics here but,” Pete shrugged. “I like talking to you. Even if you freak out.”
Patrick rustled egg-like in his carton. “Thanks. I do, too. Even if you’re really salty. How long have you been on this counter anyways?”
“About two weeks now, I think.” Their conversation got cut short when Gabe came back and grabbed the carton off the counter.
“Pete! What’s happening? Where am I going? I think the egg next to me is still oozing, ugh.”
“Just calm down, he’s taking you to the fridge.” Pete watched despondently as Gabe pocketed his cell phone with one hand to open the fridge door. For once, he wasn’t sad that he wasn’t being eaten; he was sad that his friend was being locked away, in a chamber within a chamber.
He didn’t get to meet Joe the Cauliflower, though he pretzel-watched him get put in the fridge very close to Patrick. He had a pretty good angle of the kitchen, on his little counter. He wasn’t exactly sure of where his hypothetical eyes were since he was a pretzel, but he could still see a lot.
Andy filled him in and had questions of his own so it wasn’t like he was completely left in horrific, sullen boredom without the grumpy egg.
Patrick had made his existence fun, though.
The fridge was cold and dark and Patrick the Egg was somewhat scared because this was two layers of dark: egg-carton dark and fridge dark. It was also vaguely annoying since he couldn’t even metaphysically see a thing. Which was really unfair. The science behind his existence already didn’t make sense, it could make an exception for his vision.
He had been having a nice conversation with Pete the Pretzel, which took his mind away from the existential crisis he had been having ever since he, well, became aware of his existence. Now Pete was gone and Patrick was in the fridge, still freaking out because now, he was being preserved to be eaten later. Probably hard boiled or broken into a hot, iron cast pan.
He heard the crinkling of a plastic bag next to his carton, along with a grumbled, “Well, this is nice.”
“Hey, Joe.” Patrick egg-sighed in relief. They were close enough to talk to each other. This was good. This was as wonderful as that Wonderbread who talked to him from it’s basket for five minutes in the supermarket.
“Oh, one-of-the-trunk-eggs? Is that you?”
“Yes, I’m the only other sentient food you talked to who knows your name. Also, it’s Patrick now, and I’m the only one that’s an egg, Joe.” Patrick said, with quite some exasperation. He was going to get eaten soon; this was a horrible waste of time.
“There can be, like, eleven other self-aware eggs with you. I’m just making sure.”
“And they wouldn't have spoken up earlier?” Or talked to me, Patrick thought.
“Maybe they were asleep?”
“We don’t sleep, Joe.”
“Well, when did you realize you were awake?”
Silence. All these metaphysical questions were going to make Patrick crack his own egg in frustration.
Joe did the cauliflower equivalent of a yawn, rustling the bag. It was weird because Patrick was pretty positive that sleep wasn’t necessary. But what did he know, he was an egg, trapped in a carton, trapped in a fridge, getting yolked on by another egg that probably wasn’t sentient but might have been in another universe.
He let out an egg breath. “So there’s a pretzel outside who’s kinda salty about not getting eaten.”
He heard Joe cauliflower-hum in acknowledgement. “Yeah, dude, Andy the Protein Bar told me all about him. It’s kind of boring, you know? Sitting on a counter. Or maybe we don’t know. We’re kind of way more perishable, so, there’s that. That pretzel’s just been getting more salty and stale over time.” Patrick felt Joe shaking his cauliflower head through the carton and plastic bag separating them. He felt it. “Kind of tragic.”
Patrick thought it was kind of tragic, too. Pete didn’t deserve that fate. Even if dying by digestion was completely terrifying, it would probably be preferable to rotting on a counter for all of food-eternity. He changed the topic.
“You were talking to me in the trunk about pop songs you heard at Trader Joe’s?”
Pete was bored again and Andy wasn’t up for conversation (which was such complete, digestive fluids because what else was there to do on their counter, other than sit there and get stale), and his conversation with Patrick about their existence made him nervous, which would be easy to handle if he had someone to talk to.
“Patrick! Hey, Patrick!” Pete could feel Andy’s metaphysical annoyance directed at him as he yelled. The protein bar didn’t even rustle his wrapper, so he continued.
“Earth to Patrick the Egg! This is the salty pretzel you talked to earlier! If you can hear me through the fridge, respond! If not, still respond but in the negative!”
Patrick didn’t respond and Pete kept pretzel-yelling, even without vocal chords. He was happy they were technically unable to move on their own because he was pretty sure Andy would have pushed him off the counter right now and left him to attract germs and ants on the floor. He shuddered at the thought.
“Patrick! Gabe’ll probably serve you sunny side up or in an omelette!” Still nothing. Pete figured Andy was filtering him out now, and Patrick was probably stuck in the dark, all egg-grumpy and hopefully in the company of Joe. “But yolk! What whites through yonder eggshells break! It is east, and Patrick is the egg! Arise, Gabe, and kill the miserable Pete.”
It was really romantic, if he had to judge himself. Really romantic, very sweet, very fitting for an egg. If Patrick was hearing this he would swoon in his carton and totally forget about their existence as self-aware perishables.
“Pete,” Andy finally spoke up, which was enough to stop Pete from waxing the next line about swirling insides and hot frying pans. “Will you just shut up? The fridge is too insulated. He can’t hear you yell terrible poetry at him.”
“Curse your unromantic soy protein, Andy.”
It was great poetry. And It was especially fantastic poetry for a pretzel with random knowledge of Shakespearean works in his pretzelly-self. If Pete the Pretzel was instead a human called Pete Wentz, he’d probably be a poet. A human poet that would write for a human Patrick.
Which really begged the question: what constituted as human? Was he human? He was made of dough and salt, but he could think and breathe and talk and feel emotions.
It was a new question developed just to cause Patrick to have an existential egg-break. Pete felt giddy.
Pete got to talk to Patrick again the next day, when Gabe placed the carton back on the counter next to him and a frying pan on the stove. Pete watched fearfully as Gabe opened the carton, disposed of Patrick’s oozing brother, and grabbed an egg at random.
“Yo! Patrick, you okay?” He heard a cauliflower shout from the still opened fridge. Small miracles for Joe from Gabe’s carelessness. He felt Andy perk up in attentiveness near him. He hoped Patrick wasn’t fried before he met Andy or heard his pretzel-poetry; that would really suck.
“Y-Yeah! I’m fine.” The carton was open and Pete could see Patrick, though he didn’t look any different than the other eggs. What made a sentient egg different from a non-sentient egg? That was another question to ask Patrick, once he got his attention.
Pete pretzel-coughed and felt Patrick direct his attention towards him. “Hey, Eggtrick, still trucking along?”
“Kind of. I’m glad I wasn’t cooked today.” The sizzling of the unfortunate egg cooking in Gabe’s pan is loud and Pete wished Gabe had placed the carton a little farther away from the stove. “That was a close one. I thought he was gonna pick me for a second.”
“Yeah, well, you know,” Pete stopped, suddenly inarticulate. Because frying in cooking oil really did seem like it would be painful. Sucked to be an egg. Haha. Sucked.
There was a noise from the fridge, “Is that the salty pretzel? Hurley XVX protein bar, Patrick, you out there?”
Andy seemed amused, “Yeah! That was the stale and salty, romantic, pretzel who’s somehow glaring at me despite not having a face!”
“Cool, tell Patrick I’m glad he’s not dead yet!”
Pete ignored them. “Patrick, did you hear me shouting earlier?”
Patrick recomposed himself, somewhat-invisibly in the carton. “No, but I think Joe heard parts of it? He told me that you were making a racket and that he couldn't sleep. Which, you know, we don’t sleep so it was a moot point, really.”
“How do you know that we don’t sleep?” Pete pointed out. It was a valid question.
“Shut up, I already- Joe already- go away. Go back to being salty.”
“Sounds like someone didn't get enough sleep in the fridge with Joe.”
“I didn't-we don’t- Pete,” Patrick strained, and Pete felt happier with Patrick to aggravate.
“Stop aggravating the egg,” Andy said to Pete before turning his protein-bar attention to Patrick, “It’s either really fortunate or really unfortunate that you didn’t hear what he was yelling. It was utterly terrible. Saccharinely romantic. I could feel second hand embarrassment in my grains.”
Patrick somehow blinked and looked at Pete earnestly in a way only an egg could, “Really?”
“Well, you know, it seemed like a good idea at the time,” Pete said, almost embarrassedly. Knowing that Patrick hadn't heard him was kind of sad though, “I should tell you more doughy-poetry. While your egg shell is still as white and pure as your bright yolk heart.”
He said this with absolute conviction and layered-on smarm and was met with an incredulous egg-laugh.
“You’re ridiculous. And a lot less salty than when I first met you. Yesterday,” Patrick sounded charmed though, so it was definitely working.
“Time is irrelevant when we’re waiting for the end of our existence, my dear Patrick.”
“What is time to us?” Joe yelled from the fridge, totally ruining the moment. Pete made a non-noise, and fell silent, listening to Andy and Joe discuss the properties of time in relation to food and expiration dates.
“You get staler the more time passes by, so that’s how time works. For us, I guess,” Andy said. “At least that’s my experience with it.”
“You don’t stale at the same rate as Pete or me,” Joe pointed out. “And what if a food is canned or in preservatives? Does that mean time doesn’t work for them?”
“They still get stale over time, just slower,” Andy commented sagely. “Or maybe not stale, but there’s still something going on internally.”
“So does time move slower for them? Is an hour for them two hours for you?” There was definitely some not-rustling happening in the fridge. Joe sounded very thoughtful about the whole concept, “And do perishables simply blink out of existence? Once we rot and get devoured, is that it? Do we feel anything?”
“It probably depends on the chemical breakdown of your molecules and how it happens.”
“So, by that logic, you’re practically immortal.”
“They’re really going at it, huh?” Patrick said from his carton.
“Yup,” Pete agreed. Fresh not-actually-real voices washed over them in waves as Patrick’s egg brother got fried by Gabe. He whistled as he added salt.
“Maybe we become sentient when we start getting stale,” Joe wondered. “And the more stale we get, the more aware we are.”
“So then, the real question is: would it be better to be eaten when you’re really fresh and not as self aware, or to grow stale and become more sentient?” Andy decided, with an aura of fresh concern coming from his wrapper. “I guess, according to Pete’s complaints, the first would be preferable.”
Pete’s words were as salty as his dough. “Well, I exist, I’m stale, and I’ll probably end up in a dumpster left to rot. At that point, there’ll be nothing left for my future except getting eaten by gross rats while being completely aware of the fact that I’m being eaten by gross rats which really sucks.” He took a doughy breath. “That’s how it goes, Hurley XVX, so obviously, I’d prefer a quicker death within the week or so.”
Patrick seemed concerned at this and egg-turned to Pete, probably to confront him about his suicidal, stale pretzel tendencies, but got distracted when Gabe dropped the freshly cooked egg on a plate and picked up his carton to chuck back into the still open fridge.
“Pete! You’re not- I mean…” and Patrick the Egg seemed at a loss for non-existent words before the door closed on him and Joe’s not-real sigh. Pete felt a twist in his pretzel-soul at making such a morbid impression on the two in the fridge.
“That was some dark organic almonds to throw on an egg, Pete,” Andy said, pitying him.
The protein bar still had a higher edibility rating than Pete, so what did he know, really? Pete would flip him off if he had pretzel-hands, but he instead settled for irritable, salty silence.
The silent treatment lasted for about an hour because, as sentient food objects, there wasn’t really much else to do but talk when given the chance.
So Pete the Pretzel grudgingly forgave Andy the Protein Bar and remained cognizant of his impending mortality (despite not being mortal). They talked, mostly about Gabe’s phone calls and visitors, and he knew that Patrick continued to talk with Joe while in the refrigerator, and life (or sentience) went on.
He briefly saw Patrick nestled in the carton two more times before the next significant moment occurred in his pretzel-existence.
There was a black-out.
Pete noticed the kitchen light flickering before going out along with the absences of the ever-present hum of the refrigerator.
“Did you notice that?” He asked Andy. Andy turned his attention and wrapper to the fridge.
“Yeah,” he replied. “I think the power went out. Sometimes Gabe forgets about things like payments and stuff. I’ve heard him talk about this before the last time this happened.”
“This has happened before?” Pete would have remembered something like this happening if it was warranting the worry in Andy's’ voice.
“Before you were here,” Andy corrected.
“Why do you sound so worried?” Pete asked. He also looked over at the fridge, where Joe and Patrick were probably wondering what was happening.
“Last time this happened, Gabe threw away a lot of the food,” Andy answered. “I guess the more perishable foods rotted quicker, so he just took them all and threw them out.”
Pete felt dread in his pretzel-being. He hoped Gabe would fix the power soon, so Patrick and Joe wouldn’t have to go through rotting at such a quick rate. He not-shuddered at the thought of Joe or, food-god-forbid, fragile Patrick sharing a similar fate to his future.
It turned out whatever pretzel deity Pete had been praying to existed because Gabe had immediately entered the kitchen five minutes later.
Pete’s relief was short-lived as Gabe opened the fridge and began grabbing foods and placing them on the counters. Oh god, was he throwing them away now?!
“Patrick! Joe! Can you hear me?” Pete shouted, frantic. He could spot Joe’s bag and Patrick’s carton on the middle shelf together.
“Yeah, we hear you!” Patrick yelled back. The momentary solace from Patrick’s presence faded as Gabe reached for his carton and pulled him out. Andy seemed to be in a cloak of terrified emotions as Gabe walked near the trash can. Pete held his fictitious breath, and released it when Patrick (within the carton) was set next to him.
The same shopping-basket ride of emotions continued when Gabe grabbed Joe, rustling in the plastic bag, stepped near the garbage can, and placed him near Patrick.
Small crisis, temporarily averted.
Gabe paced a bit, continuing the process, and Pete could’ve sworn he heard Gabe murmur something along the lines of, “I definitely paid the bills this month. Definitely. Just twenty-seven days ago! Vicky and Travie even came over to help me! I need to file a complaint, before Bill comes over tomorrow. I really, really need to file a complaint.”
“What the leaf is happening?” Joe asked.
“The power’s out, so Gabe’s taking the food out of fridge,” Andy answered, slightly more relaxed now that the immediate danger was gone. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Are we gonna be okay?” Patrick asked, and Pete was imagining the trembling carton again. As if an egg could actually move.
But wheat-gods, what it must be like to depend on a machine to keep you fresh and alive. He and Andy only had themselves (and a wrapper, in Andy's’ case) to worry about, and their eventual decay was something neither could help or slow down. But Patrick and Joe were dependent on the time they spent inside the fridge, and every moment spent out was another moment they were speeding up to their expiration dates.
“Of course you are,” Pete reassured him. “Uh, you know, you should stay positive. The fridge will start working again soon.”
If an egg could give a dry look, he felt that he would have definitely been on the receiving end of one. “Thanks, that’s real encouraging, coming from you.”
“Well, you know me. Always doughy-positivity. No need to get so twisted about it,” and he wanted to be human just so he could give a cheeky grin to an egg. Who wouldn’t even have been able to see it through the carton.
“Reevaluated your opinions on your willingness to die so soon?” Which, ouch, harsh.
“Don’t be so hard-boiled about that, Patrick. I cherish our time together. In fact, my heart would be absolutely cracked if you died before me.” He not-said this with a very teasing tone, but genuinely meant every word. Patrick wanted to live, Patrick wanted to experience the merits of being a sentient-perishable. It wasn’t fair that Pete got to outlast him.
“Pete, if I could roll out of the carton and smash one of my fellow eggs on your pretzel-face, I would do so with no hesitation.”
“Have you tried to move on your own?” Andy said. “Tried already, didn’t work for me.”
“Same.” Pete added. “Guess we weren’t chosen to have mobility, or whatever.”
“I haven’t been able to try, I’m only in this egg carton about all the time,” Patrick answered. “And believe me, if I was aware I could move, I would be rolling all over the place. Rolling around and not being stuck in a carton all day.”
“Well, what made us chosen to be aware, anyway?” Joe asked. “Or sentient, alive, whatever.”
“I thought we agreed it was the whole staleness to awareness thing.” Patrick said. Pete was glad to see that the question was distracting the egg from the seemingly dire problem with the fridge.
“Well, now that I think about it, we’re all getting stale here, even the foods that don’t talk. Only a few of the foods talk and show some form of response, whether they are stale or fresh.” Andy said. “So there isn't really a pattern on what foods get to talk and which ones don’t.”
“So you think all of us being aware right now is completely coincidental?”
“I guess so, Pete.”
“Wow,” Patrick said. “Can you imagine if I wasn’t sentient right now?”
“I really don’t want to,” Pete answered honestly. “You have enriched my stale existence for the better, Eggtrick.”
Patrick stuttered, “Well, I mean- That’s- Thanks, Pete.”
Joe chirped in, forever ruining their pretzel-egg personal bubble, “Come on, Patrick, I’ve never seen you so scrambled before.”
“Joe, why don't you just cauli't a day on the puns, they’re really getting stale,” Andy said drily.
“Andy, don’t set such a high bar for our humor, our existence is short and time is running out, remember?” Joe continued, seemingly oblivious to Patrick’s frustrated non-noises in the egg carton.
Andy and Joe rattled off more puns, before going into a tangent about the what their existence meant in the secular view of things and Pete was allowed to talk with Patrick, who remained relatively quiet in the egg carton, with a modicum of privacy by using metaphysical-softer voices.
“Are you seriously okay, though? No yolk leaking out? Shell in smooth condition? Other eggs still there in case Gabe wants to cook up a pancake?”
“I’m fine, Pete, really. You’re still getting staler by the minute?”
“Yup, and becoming a little bit more okay with it, now that you’re alright,” he said, only partially joking.
“Oh!” he heard Patrick inanimately-exclaim, a little surprised, a little flattered. “Well, um, I’m glad that my sentience and minimal interaction with this world means so much to you.”
“You should be,” Pete the Pretzel said, “Because you’re making me reconsider my views on what it means to be human. I’m kind of concerned for you, so maybe we’re human after all. Despite being a pretzel and an egg.”
Patrick let out a soft scoff, but it had the desired effect and Patrick probably forgave him for his cynical (perfectly logical) comments on their existence.
Andy and Joe argued the merits of being a dairy product versus being a vegetable, and Gabe yelled into a cellphone down the hall, far away from the kitchen, and things continued as always.
The blackout didn’t last long and the crisis where Patrick and Joe got thrown out was averted successfully.
Although, even as Pete the Pretzel began to relinquish himself to the fate that he’d never get eaten (which was horribly unfair because it meant that his dark and foreboding dumpster-future was definitely coming), he soon began to realize an even bigger problem.
The egg carton was emptying up.
Everytime the refrigerator door opened now, Pete was filled with a sense of dread. Because Patrick had a chance of being chosen for the next meal and there was nothing he could do about it. He tried to be casual with Patrick when the egg carton was set next to him, cheerily informing the pure egg of Gabe’s latest phone-calls and unproductive mouth eating with his friend William, but he worried.
He worried a lot.
He reattempted shouting poetry to the refrigerator, as if maybe Patrick could hear him this time, and maybe they could extend the amount of time they could talk to each other before Patrick’s inevitable fate.
The fridge door was left open once and Pete had shouted at Joe, “Protect him!” to Patrick’s utter bewilderment in his carton.
“What am I supposed to do? I’m a cauliflower! What if I get eaten first?” Joe inanimately-yelled back, confusion lacing his tone.
Andy sighed from near Pete, “You know, it was bound to happen. You didn’t get nearly this attached when Brendon the Yogurt was peeled open and digested. Or even when Mikey the Banana got eaten after his brother.”
“Yeah,” he said pretzel-despondently, “But this is Patrick.”
And, as he’s realized over the past few days, he would really prefer it if he could at least get eaten with Patrick. Or prevent the morbid fate altogether.
There were so many ways for Patrick to die, as he’s come to discover. Scrambled. Pancake. Sunny-side up. Cake. Gabe used eggs for his dinner. He had every right to panic.
Patrick was going to have his little egg-existence ended and there was nothing he could do about it.
Patrick egg-stared into the darkness, now accustomed to the poor lighting in the carton and in the refrigerator. There was only one other egg left, other than him.
“Hey Joe?” he called.
“I’m about to get eaten very soon, aren’t I?”
“Probably,” Joe said, sympathy evident. “Maybe we’ll get eaten together if we’re lucky.”
“Chances of that happening?” Patrick asked bleakly.
“Not very high,” Joe admitted. “Sorry, dude.”
Patrick sighed in his carton.
Finally, there was the morning where Gabe came downstairs humming a new melody and Pete felt a terrible, horrible, sense of apprehension settling deep in his pretzel being.
“Andy, oh no, Andy! We have to do something,” Pete said. He was panicked, but unclear as to specifically why.
“What are you talking about?” Andy metaphorically-squinted at Gabe, who was mostly just happily dancing along to some music.
“I just-” and he froze because Gabe was reaching into the fridge and taking out vegetables. Bell peppers, tomatoes, and even cheese was pulled out and set on the counter. A gallon of milk, some ham, but worst of all, Patrick’s carton. “Andy, he’s making an omelette.”
“Oh no,” the dread in Andy’s voice was thick enough to bite through. “Oh, oh vegan alternatives, this isn’t good.”
“Well, we always knew his time was limited,” Andy said next to him, morbidly watching along.
“This can’t be happening,” Pete cried. “Patrick, don’t accept your fate!”
Pete the Pretzel had been on Gabe’s counter for a very long time. He’s seen foodstuffs come and go and get dropped, washed, chopped up, cooked, or even just thrown out. But this is the first time he legitimately decided to struggle against the mysterious metaphysical chains binding him to the laws of gravity and his present stature..
Gabe took his time as he arranged supplies in his kitchen workplace, washing his hands, unaware of the utter devastation he was causing to a stale pretzel on a counter.
And Pete pushed against the chains of physics, nearly in impossible-tears, thinking, Patrick, you can't go, we still have so much to do as food. Together.
Andy looked at him incredulously as he attempted to break the very foundation of their inanimate existences. “What do you think you’re doing? Pete, you’re a pretzel, there’s nothing you can do. You can’t get all twisted up about this.” Andy's voice was resigned, already accepting the fate of their friend.
“Watch me,” and Pete the Pretzel moved, fueled by the power of love, breaking the simple acceptance of fate that dictated their lives. He moved and he climbed the counter, making his way to the human who was about to sacrifice his egg, his Patrick.
He flipped his pretzel self, rotating around cupboard handles, straining his very soul.
He heard Andy shout in disbelief, distant and far away, “How are you- What are you- You’re a pretzel! How are you climbing walls? How are you moving?”
“Sorry if I’m being fucking dry about this, but what the fuck is going on? Where’s Pete? Where’s Patrick? Speak up, Andy!” Joe’s voice came from the still-open fridge.
Pete ignored the echoes of his friends and looked down. Down to where the egg carton was open and Patrick egg-gasped in astonishment as he saw Pete hang by sheer force of pretzel-grip power on the cupboard.
The frying pan was started up, cooking oil sizzling, and Pete knew what he had to do (dismissing Andy’s protein bar gaping and Joe’s confused, “What is it? What’s going on?”) focussed on his objective.
He thought of countertop stories and egg-like optimism and the brightness of Patrick’s shell and metaphysical non-smile.
He saw Gabe reach for Patrick and he made his choice.
“Hey, Patrick! Let’s go down together!” and Gabe cracked the shell of the egg, sizzling it on the frying pan, and Pete fell down, down (to the sounds of Andy and Joe and Gabe all panicking, “Was that a pretzel?”) allowing himself to join Patrick in a new state of being.
Pete the Pretzel felt the chemicals alter in his system as he cooked with Patrick the Egg and for once in his salty life, everything felt right.
Pete Wentz woke up with crumbs all over his bed and a horrible, horrible stomach ache. He was not a pretzel and he was not in a frying pan.
“What… the bread just happened?” He moved his non-pretzel hands, shook his very-human head, and collapsed back onto his pillow.
Andy looked up from where he’s sitting, reading a comic book, "Bad dreams again?" He didn’t particularly sound sympathetic.
Pete groaned and closed his eyes, trying to shake off feeling like a pretzel. "The most fucked up dream I’ve ever had," Pete said, before sitting up again so rapidly, he felt vertigo. “Fuck, where’s Patrick?”
He rolled off his bunk and landed on his feet, hitting a wave of nausea that made him stumble and clutch his stomach.
That caught Andy’s attention enough for him to put down his comic book. “Are you okay?”
“Gotta find Patrick,” he grit out, but his stomach was stronger than his willpower and he collapsed on the floor, curling up in his hoodie and groaning very dramatically.
He decided that staying curled in a ball on the floor was very much preferable to getting up and moving. He decided this until he heard the familiar sounds of oil on a frying pan, and mustered through his pain and inability to properly control his body parts (like an inanimate pretzel) to get up and make a run towards the kitchen.
To his horror, he found Joe cooking eggs and let out a shout.
“Patrick, no! Joe, what the hell!” Joe, who’s back was to Pete, jumped up, startled. Pete rushed over and turned off the stove before trying to grab the pan out of Joe’s hand.
“Pete! Dude, what the fuck are you doing? I was cooking for all of us! Well, except Andy, but you know, it’s Andy. There’s fruit and toast on the table for Andy,” Joe said, successfully evading Pete’s grabby hands and holding the still hot, still sizzling pan out of reach.
“You’re killing him!” Pete screamed, and Joe probably decided it was too early in the morning for Pete’s shenanigans because he started yelling for Andy to get in the kitchen. When Andy stepped in, he found Pete hysterically whispering and crying to the egg in the frying pan.
There were a few tears shed over the fried egg before Pete heard footsteps and a “What’s wrong?” He turned to see Patrick, blearily concerned in the “I just woke up, Pete, what are you doing” kind of way, and very much not an egg being killed by Joe.
The sight of his best friend is enough for Pete to muster the strength to clutch at Patrick’s pants leg. “My beautiful, pure, not-an-egg, Patrick, you’re still alive. No cracks? No leaking yolk? Oh, thank fucking God.” He pulled himself up so he was hugging Patrick’s leg. His lovely, short leg that an egg could not have.
“What?” Patrick stared impassively down at him, with slight confusion echoing his voice. He turned to Andy and Joe when Pete muttered nonsense about pretzels and eggs and the meaning of mortality.
Andy shrugged and reached for his toast. “I asked the same thing as well.”
After a hearty breakfast (in which Pete stared lovingly at Patrick the whole time and avoided the eggs), Pete relocated back to his bunk, dragging his band members with him.
Pete settled back into bed (they still have a whole day of traveling to go until their next show) and tries to pull Patrick into the bunk as well. Joe and Andy have settled for sitting on the floor next to them.
“I want to tell you guys a story,” Pete said, eyes gleaming as he wrangled Patrick next to him. Patrick went along without much protest, fitting in his space perfectly, as always, and leaned against the wall to listen to Pete. “The most radical story you will ever hear involving eggs and pretzels and various other foodstuffs.”
“Does this have anything to do with your outburst earlier?” Patrick eyed him, but he didn't pull away when Pete dragged him down to snuggle up to him. He threw his leg up over Patrick’s, and Patrick just let out a sigh of acceptance, not really bothered by the whole arrangement. Pete grinned.
“It had everything to do with earlier,” Pete answered somewhat more lucidly than before. Andy and Joe watched them from the floor. Pete rolled over, and satup with a sudden burst of energy, leaving Patrick sprawled on his bed to listen to his tale. He took a breath and wondered how to begin, before starting with, “Okay, so in this dream, I spent twenty-seven days as a pretzel.”
They listened with a mix of fascination and resignation as Pete went into deep detail of the existence and philosophy of sentient objects, but “specifically, sentient food” and attentively nodded when Pete flourished the heroics of the “Charming pretzel who boldly scaled a wall to get to his egg-lover” with puffed up pride.
Joe applauded him after he finished narrating his dream, and Patrick elbowed him for, “Killing me through Gabe’s digestive system.”
“Hey! The ending was ambiguous! Saporta could have totally just thrown you away or something. And I sacrificed myself for you, Stump. To join you. Same thing.”
Andy simply looked thoughtful when he asked, “Where did you put the cheese wheel Gabe gave us last night?”
Pete was hit with a another onslaught of nausea. “Oh god,” he groaned, feeling the phantom pains in his stomach that had disappeared with the adrenaline of the story. “Fuck, the fucking wheel.”
"Yeah, I thought so,” Andy sighed, before leaving to get a bucket or something. Pete hoped Andy would bring a Tums or a Pepto Bismol or a general anything for his stomach and Joe stood up to leave with him.
Patrick remained stationary on his bed and stared at him incredulously, "You thought eating an entire Blue Stilton cheese wheel at 4 AM would be a good idea?”
“Well, it was a good idea at the time!” Pete collapsed bonelessly into Patrick’s arms, stomach rumbling. “My stomach hurts. I’m going to die, Patrick.”
Patrick scrunched up his nose and sighed, “You’re not going to die Pete, you’re not a flying, wall-climbing pretzel. And no wonder your bunk smells like cheese. You smell like cheese.”
Patrick held him in a warm embrace, and Pete huffed at his comment. “No need to be such ungrateful egg, really. My bed is fine.”
They stayed like that for a few minutes with Pete sinking down to rest his head on Patrick’s lap. Pete tried to ignore his stomach pains until they settled and felt a bit more bearable, and Patrick remained a calming presence, carding his hands through Pete’s hair and humming a jazzy tune. It was peaceful and when his stomach became less of an issue, Pete forced himself to sit up again in the cramped space.
“Pete?” Patrick asked curiously, when Pete shifted himself to be face-to-face with Patrick on the bunk.
“You know how I said that the pretzel was kind of willing to die with the egg?” They locked eyes and Pete stared intently at a human face with very human features. Patrick blinked but didn't look away.
“Yes, because the pretzel was an idiot,” Patrick said, somewhat irritatedly, not shifting his gaze. His eyes narrowed. “No proclamations of suicide pacts, Pete. I’m not kidding.”
“Well, yes, but- hey, I thought it was romantic,” Pete started, but then shook his head, trying to not get side-tracked. “That’s not the point. Anyways, the pretzel realized that the egg was very important to him.”
Patrick choose to remain silent, letting him continue, focus never wavering. The light from the window bathed him in an almost ethereal glow and the blankets feel warm underneath them. Pete swallowed.
“Patrick, you’re very important to me,” Pete trailed off, lackluster and flat. Patrick remained impassive and stoic, before letting out another sigh and smiling.
“Pete, I already knew that,” he said, soft, eyes crinkling in gentle amusement and Pete wanted to kick himself.
“No, I mean,” Pete ran his hand through his hair, unusually unforthcoming with words. “Patrick, you know I, um. You and I.” He tried to gesture between them and opened his mouth to start a rambly sentence declaring that Patrick was the best thing since sliced bread.
Patrick cut him off by closing the gap between the two of them and pecking his lips.
When Patrick pulled back, he grimaced, “Your lips taste like cheese and that kiss only lasted for like, a second, ew.” He wiped his red lips to rid himself the sensation and Pete couldn’t help but stare… and feel a little offended.
“I didn’t even make my proclamation of love for you and you’re already insulting my kissing?” He touched his lips self-consciously. Patrick tasted like eggs.
Patrick tried to turn his head away in a snub but let out a small giggle that ruined the effect. He settled for leaning closer to Pete. “You kind of did that with the whole dream story. You know, the one where you announced you were my pretzel in shining armor?” He paused for effect, “Also, you know what? For Pete Wentz, you’re really bad at kissing. Way too slow on the uptake.” His smile was like gentle sunlight and Pete felt his heart melt.
“Then we should try that kiss again soon,” Pete insisted, a grin spreading on his face. “And again, and again, and again. If you’re really adamant on having a perfect kiss, Patrick, I promise I won’t be slow this time.”
Patrick shoved him before he could make a move. “Go brush your teeth first, cheese-pretzel. Andy and Joe are probably done waiting for you to say something to me.”
Pete laughed, loud and braying, and offered him a salute before Patrick tried to knock him out of his own bunk with a pillow. He sneaked in one final kiss on Patrick’s cheek, which earned him a token noise of protest, and went to wash up.
The sun was high and bright outside the window like a freshly cooked egg.