Vertgates Serial: Lumi Ranta Chapter 2

It was finally Tuesday, and I went to Helka’s Dairy Castle for my first day. It was this tiny shop with some ice cream cone mascots wearing lederhosen on the outside smiling beneath these red letters. There was also a small parking lot in front and this shop was the only frozen treat thingy in town. I guess that’s what happens when you live in rural Ladenrehu. I just sighed and walked right into the shop. A bell went off as I opened the door and there was Helka herself near the counter as if she was waiting for me the whole time as they opened at eleven AM. She was a woman who was in her late thirties with brown hair in a bun and wearing a hairnet. Helka had a slender build and green eyes. She had this huge smile with pearly white teeth when she saw me. The owner wore a black and white outfit, too.

“Good morning, Lumi.” Helka cheerfully greeted me.

“How did you know it was me?” I asked.

“Oh, silly. That guilty look on your face was a giveaway.” She replied before holding a picture of my mug shot. “I also got some info about you before you start your work hours at my little establishment.” Wow, Aarne and the cops really didn’t play around. I also thought it was strange that she was too happy to have a so-called vandal working in her store. “Let me show you the ropes on how we get things done around here.”

Oh, boy. I couldn’t wait to be someone slinging ice cream scoops and banana splits while I’m missing my own powers. Maybe I can be as happy as her at everything I’m going to do here. My sarcasm couldn’t be more obvious as I wanted to gag at how sweet she was being. It’s like she was on some kind of sugar rush.

We went behind the counter and I saw the machines used to make this stuff. There were also gallons of milk around that all had this business’s name on it. There were containers of sprinkles, candies, and other toppings around. It was also cleaner than a hospital as the floors were sparkling, the fridge could’ve been brand new, and every ingredient is labeled in alphabetical order while in the right containers.

“This is Dairy Castle central with everything you need right here,” Helka explained. “Let me show you how to use the machines.” She then showed me this giant steel contraption with multiple faucets. “Personally, I don’t like soft-serve, but this uses the same concept but with more flavors. There’s vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and mint available.” Luckily, all of those flavors were labeled in order. At least that was pretty straightforward so far. Helka then opened up the fridge to reveal more food options and some chilled toppings such as cherries, peaches, and blueberries in mason jars.

Next thing I got was a menu containing all the numbers of the different food items. When I worked at the cafe, we didn’t use the number system, so that was going to be a trip for me.

“This is all well and good, but what else do I have to do?” I asked.

“You’re also going to help make some ice cream and other dairy treats around here in the back room.” She explained.

“Wait, but I thought everything was done with those machines.”

“Not everything, Lumi.” Helka opened a door to the back room and I couldn’t find anything that used magitech. This looked kind of old-school to me. I also heard some mooing in the background and I just shook my head. So Helka has a whole dairy farm behind this shop? This was insane. “We handcraft the ice cream and we even milk a few cows. Only the freshest ingredients are used and we use some traditional methods at the Dairy Castle.”

Helka then showed me how to handcraft some of the ice creams. If only I had my powers, I could do this in seconds. We started out with some vanilla ice cream, so there were containers of vanilla extract, milk, and sugar around. I had to stir all of these ingredients together for what felt like forever until the sugar melted. I started to sweat and it wasn’t because of the heat used for this dessert. 

“Doing alright, Lumi?” Helka asked.

I wiped my forehead before stirring some of the ice cream concoction again. “I didn’t expect making ice cream would make me sweat.”

Helka just giggled. “Oh, you’ll get used to it. Just because I specialize in frozen goodness doesn’t mean that everything will be cold like the magic you used to have.” Way to rub it in, Helka. I don’t need to be reminded of my punishment and condition, you smiley-faced jerk. There’s no way I’d be working for you in any other situation (or at least if I was never caught, but that’s just semantics).

“How long do I have to stir all this crap together?” I wondered.

My new boss looked at my progress and the condition of this hot cream. “Fifteen more minutes, and it will be ready for the next step.”

“Seriously, Helka? My arms are going to get tired with all this mixing? Can’t I just take a break?” I asked Helka.

She just chuckled. “You just got here, so it’s much too early for a break. Besides, there’s a lot more work to be done besides mixing up the next batch of vanilla ice cream.” Way to make me feel weak.

I breathed out of exasperation and just kept focusing on the task at hand. This was just so much work and I’ve barely even been here for that long after being shown the ropes. I felt like I was slaving away already and I wanted to go home. Why couldn’t I do something better like being a taste tester or just using those (not-) soft serve machines the whole time? Heck, even just cashiering would be less painful since I already know how to do that. I did miss my cafe job at this point.

I remembered all the times I had an excuse to use my abilities while doing my job there. Whenever I’d be asked to make a frappe or an iced coffee, I would just take whatever coffee I’d normally make warm, freeze it in my hands at the right temperature, and serve it fresh to these customers in seconds. This increased productivity and sold way more coffees and more cold drinks than anyone else in Ladenrehu much less the kingdom of Vertgates, thank you very much. Those were some good times and I knew I was appreciated there.

This was just torture and I started panting like a dog in the hot sun. Before I knew it, Helka came back.

“That’s enough now, Lumi.”

I immediately stopped and I wanted to pass out after all that stirring. That was one workout just making all that stupid vanilla ice cream. “Am I done with this area yet?”

“For now. We have to go serve some of our first customers.” Helka told me. I guess anything would be better than stirring. That is, except for having to milk those stupid cows near the back room. Once I got to the counter, I saw there was already a line approaching us. Helka used one register while I had the other one. At least it was the same kind of registers that we used at my old job, so there wasn’t a learning curve going on. That line began to split and some of those customers flocked to me. Maybe being the new girl who’s probably twenty years younger than my boss helped for better or worse, but I was going to try my best. By trying my best, I meant just doing what’s enough of me and nothing more.

I began taking orders from the customers. “How can I help you?” I said flatly.

The first customer immediately gave out his order. “I’d like two scoops of chocolate with macadamia nuts on top.”

After taking his money, I said “Okay, it will be right up.” I went to the kitchen to find the chocolate ice cream. Simple enough. Even an idiot would be able to find this kind of ice cream in a store. I then got a dish to put the scoops in, but I still needed the macadamia nuts to complete the order. Where on earth were the nuts anyway? There were nearly a bazillion different toppings available, so I had to scour for the right kind. I sparred against sprinkles, parried peanuts, and choked out some cherries, but I couldn’t find those stupid macadamia nuts. There was one container filled with nuts, so I tried opening it. What I wasn’t aware of was that the chocolate ice cream started to melt in the dish. Crap! This was happening way too fast for me. This punishment really was torture. I just grabbed this UNC (Unidentified Nut Container) and poured some of the contents over the chocolate ice cream. I grabbed the dish and gave it straight to the man who ordered it. “Here you go.” I said as I was panting.

He raised an eyebrow and looked at the contents in the bowl. There was his treat that was partially melted. He then scowled when he saw what was on top. “Hey, these aren’t macadamia nuts. Those are almonds.” The customer handed his dish back to me. “Get it right.”

Oh, he wanted to play that way? That’s fine. I can play this game, too. I got out two more scoops of chocolate ice cream and put them in a dish. What I did next was the search for the right kind of nuts. I finally found those freaking macadamia nuts. That customer was going to get what he wanted, but in a way that he didn’t. I grinned as I sprinkled those nuts over his beloved treat and I was busy spelling something with them.

At this point, I sprinkled the words “Go fu–”

“Lumi, what are you doing?!” It was Helka that caught me in the act as she was busy preparing the order. She grabbed the container and sprinkled the right amount of toppings to censor what I was about to spell. “You can’t be doing stuff like this to our beloved customers.” Helka took the ice cream and gave it to the customer. “Sorry, sir. It’s as good as new.”

He seemed satisfied with the dish even though he had no idea what message I was trying to send through his frozen dairy dessert goodness. It was then onto the next customer.

“Excuse me. I’d like one scoop of vanilla with whipped cream on top.”

“Alright. That will be coming up.” I said to the woman who was next in line. At least that was easier than when I dealt with my first customer. I got out the vanilla ice cream and the whipped cream and sprayed it on top like a boss. It was so good, that it looked like a stove-pipe hat on top of the vanilla dessert. “Here you go!”

“Thanks, but I wanted a little less whipped cream though.” She corrected me.

What? I was doing her a favor. How is having too much whipped cream a bad thing? Okay, you get rid of those naughty thoughts, you sick reader. Anyways, I sighed and got out a spoon to put some of the so-called excess whipped cream away from her ice cream. “Just tell me when.” I said with the enthusiasm of a DMV employee.

“That’s it.” She replied when I took enough of that whipped cream from her dessert. “Thanks.” The customer just walked away with her little ice cream dish. 

I then survived another onslaught of customers while Helka did most of the heavy lifting in dealing with the customers in seeing this new girl (yours truly) fumbling around by getting orders wrong while trying to function as a powerless employee at this Dairy Castle. Eventually, the customer traffic slowed down and Helka began talking to me.

“I know it’s your first day, but why are you struggling so much?” She asked.

“Don’t you get it? I have no powers.” I made that plain and clear to my current boss. “If I had them back, I’d made work a lot faster and easier for me and for you. See I’m not that selfish, Helka.”

“Working isn’t always about doing what’s easy.” She argued. “You’re at the same level as anyone else who has no magic or at the very least has no magic that would be useful in an environment such as this one.” Helka then crossed her arms. “You’re going to be with me for a whole month, like it or not, so you better be on your best behavior when you’re around me or my other employees.”

“Yeah, sure. Whatever.” I pretended that I listened to this businesswoman yap on about my performance. This was going to be such a painful month and I wanted out after the first day.

Why was life treating me so coldly? Oh wait, I’m at a place that sells frozen stuff. That joke writes itself.

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