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Scribble: Common Grounds 3

On her first evening shift, Diana was greeted with a woman that had dark horns curving out of the top of her head and a thin tail that swished behind her like an aggravated cat.

“What’s wrong, newbie?” the woman asked when Diana stared at the horns a second too long. “Ever see a hybrid before?”

“Well, no,” Diana said. “Can’t say that I have.”

“You have now,” was the brisk reply. “Name’s Anita, the assistant manager of this joint. I’m from Dimension 33, a place where horns and tails aren’t the oddest things you’d see. Heard you’ve been doing well with the register and thought it high time that you start memorizing and making the drinks. You ready?”

“Uh, sure.”

“Good enough answer,” Anita said. “You should be more confident, though.” She motioned for Diana to follow, and the pair went behind the cash counter and toward the drink-making area. Diana waved to Ellie by the register, but didn’t stop to say hello. Anita’s swift steps ensured that Diana had no time to pause.

“You won’t be making too many drinks by yourself tonight, if at all,” Anita said. “We do have a guarantee that, if a customer does not like his or her drink, we’ll remake it for free. Don’t give the customers an opportunity to use that.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Diana nodded.

Anita pointed to a booklet hanging on the wall over one of the sinks. “This is our recipe book. It’s all the basics. Obviously, the majority of customers customize their drinks, so learn where all the syrups and flavored shots are. Every ingredient has its own place in this area. Do not mix them up. Drinks can be made faster when you don’t have to second-guess where everything is.”

Diana nodded again, her gaze flitting over the tubes of caramel, hazelnut, and cinnamon, among others. A large tub with a pump was labeled espresso and was next to even bigger containers named coffee and decaf. There was a refrigerator under the main cabinet that, upon getting a sneak peek at from Anita, revealed canisters of whipped cream, jugs of milk, and packages of cream.

“I’ll handle the register tonight,” Anita said after the tour of the mixing area. “Ellie will make the drinks and you’ll shadow her.”

The majority of Diana’s shift was listening to Ellie ramble back and forth about the drinks she was making and about gossip regarding customers from earlier in her shift. Diana watched Ellie carefully, seeing how she moved and barely looked at the ingredients she used to make the drinks correctly. The shift was steady with customers, not too busy. In fact, Diana’s shift felt as if it was lasting much longer than the usual four hours.

“Not many people want caffeine at this time of night,” Ellie said. “You still got a few, of course, that hop in between the crossroads and their own dimension if it’s morning where they’re from.”

“I think it’s funny,” Diana said, “that, no matter what dimension one is from, the love of caffeine seems to be universal.”

Ellie laughed and glanced at the screen for the next order in the queue. “Why don’t you try making this one, Hon?”

Diana saw the order, a medium hazelnut coffee, cream, extra, extra, extra light, and three sugars. She blinked. “Why all the extras for light? Does the customer want the low-fat version?”

“If they wanted low-fat, they would have said so,” Ellie explained. “Well, most would, if they had any sense in their heads. When a customer wants it light, they generally mean the amount of milk or cream in the drink. I usually leave about half an inch per ‘extra’ that the customer orders.”

Diana got to work, getting the medium sized cup and placing it under the coffee tank. Using the few seconds it took the machine to fill the cup with a couple of inches to spare, Diana grabbed the hazelnut syrup and cream. She gave the syrup tube a quick squeeze, mimicking the way Ellie had been working throughout the shift, and dumped the sugar in the drink before adding the generous amount of cream. Under her coworker’s watchful eye, Diana put the special lid on the cup and put it in the blending machine for a couple of seconds before bringing it over to the counter.

“One medium hazelnut with cream, extra, extra, extra light, and three sugars,” Diana called out. A man with an elongated face and other features of a horse grabbed the drink with a quiet word of thanks and a wave to Anita.

“See ya later, Bill,” the manager said as he went out the door. Immediately, Anita turned her attention to the next customer in line and growled. “You are only welcomed here if you are planning on paying for an honest drink!”

Diana, startled at Anita’s aggressive tone, looked up at the customer and shrunk back when she recognized him. Luke was glowering at Anita.

“Nadine said—“

“Nadine doesn’t work here anymore, and with good reason,” Anita interrupted. “She has no clout here. Frankly, she never really did. Either show me money when you order, or get out.”

“He’s back again?” Ellie whispered from behind Diana. “Hon, you may want to get back in case Anita needs my help getting rid of him.”

Diana obeyed, but asked, “What can you do to help?”

Ellie grinned. “Honey, my home dimension is good, ol’ 52, where we’re descendants and relatives of dragons. If Luke really starts pushing Anita, I’ll just show you what I inherited from my great-grandmother.”

Diana found herself wishing that Luke did something stupid enough to get Ellie angry. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on one’s opinions – Luke took the hint and backed off, being sure to slam the door on his way out.

“Aren’t there other places he can get coffee?” Diana asked when Ellie and she returned to the mixing area.

“You ever explore the Dimensional Crossroads?” Ellie asked in return, not even looking at the drink she was mixing. “There’s not too much here, Hon. With so many different creatures passing through, not many businesses survived. Too much cultural differences. We got a few places for basics, some apartments, and then the dimensional portal station.” She shrugged.

“I guess I’ll have to go and sight-see one of these days,” Diana said, handing the chocolate drizzle to Ellie.

“Only if you got some skills to protect yourself,” Ellie said. “Where are you from, anyway?”

“Dimension 21,” Diana said.

“Which one is that?” Ellie asked. “Is that the dimension where everyone is British?”

“Uh, no,” Diana said. “I don’t even have that accent.”

Ellie shrugged again. “Sorry, Hon, I’m not too up-to-date on the dimensions these days.”

“No worries,” Diana said. “Dimension 21 doesn’t seem to have anything special about it, actually. I can’t really think of anything that would make it stand out. Not like dragons or hybrids.”

“I’m sure there’s something fascinating about it,” Ellie said with a smile before going to call out the drink.

Diana hung back and shook her head to herself, disagreeing with Ellie’s words entirely. There was a reason why she wanted the job in the Dimensional Crossroads in the first place.

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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Home

 

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Scribble: Common Grounds Cafe 2

The next part of the Common Grounds Cafe. These things are fun to write! I hope you enjoy it!

The scent of cinnamon-sprinkled apples awakened Diana’s nose and made her feel almost at home again. She wore a lazy smile as she walked into the café, her shoes shuffling across the tiled floor in a soft hush, as she enjoyed the smells of flavored coffee.

“G’morning,” she said, and got a nod in response from Michael. As she put on her apron, Diana asked, “You always seem to open. Is that your normal shift?”

Another nod.

Diana blinked. Butterflies began to assault her stomach, a feeling that she hadn’t experienced in almost a week since her first few days at Common Grounds. Had she done something wrong, something that prevented Michael from talking to her?

“Michael’s a mute, Hon.” Ellie appeared from the back room, her arms balancing sleeves of plastic cups and covers to get ready for the morning rush. “You haven’t realized that yet, huh?”

“Oh.” Diana glanced over at the manager, who, upon hearing his name, had glanced up at the women and gave them a quirked smile before continuing to open the register for the day. Diana wasn’t one to discriminate, of course, but she was curious as to how Michael could effectively manage and deal with difficult customers if he could not speak to them.

“The higher-ups like having Michael on the morning shifts,” Ellie said, as if she could read Diana’s mind. With a snake’s grin, the woman added, “This is the time when most jackasses are out, but they can’t argue well with a guy who just shakes his head at them.”

Diana smiled in return, oddly eager to see a customer try to argue with Michael. She got her station ready and, in no time at all, Michael was unlocking the front doors.

When she had first joined and learned that she would primarily be working the register for the first couple of weeks, Diana had been skeptical at how quickly she would be able to learn how to operate the machine. Her bosses apparently knew how to train their new workers, considering that Diana almost knew the register’s options by heart. With the simpler orders, Diana barely needed to look at the screen anymore. Her fingers flew across the options, hitting the correct buttons by heart.

“Seven twenty-five, please. Would you like your receipt?” Diana smiled at the customers as she counted their money or swiped their credit cards, and kept the line moving along as she wished them a good day.

“Large half-sweet, non-fat caramel macchiato.” A tall, thin man with a dark goatee matching his narrow eyes made his way to Diana’s register. “And it’s free.”

“Okay, that’s five thirty-eight—Excuse me?” Diana paused.

The man rolled his eyes. “It’s free. Name’s Luke. Everyone here knows me.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Diana said. “I’m new, so—“

“Obviously.”

“Just let me go and check—“

“What, you don’t believe me?” Luke glowered, and the butterflies were attacking Diana’s stomach in full-force. “You calling me a liar?”

“Of course not, but—“

“Then get me my free drink.”

“You got no free drinks!” Ellie, probably curious as to why Diana wasn’t inputting any orders in the queue, bustled over to Diana’s side. “Everyone here knows you as a cheat, Luke, including this new gal once we’re through with you. Either pay up or get out.”

Luke’s permanent scowl intensified. “Manager. Now.”

“Michael’s right over there, sir,” Diana said, pointing over toward the tables that the manager was cleaning up.

“He’s no sir!” Ellie scoffed, and returned to the drink-mixing area for the next order.

Luke marched over to Michael, and Diana took a deep breath before taking care of the next customer. She tried to ignore the customer’s increased volume with his shouts, and she felt guilty for foisting Luke onto Michael. However, when she snuck a glance at the two men while in between orders, she was impressed at how stoic her manager seemed. Michael’s arms were crossed, a cleaning rag in one hand and a spray bottle of disinfectant in the other, as he stared down Luke. Every so often, Michael would shake his head once, much to Luke’s aggravation. Eventually, Luke said something about calling corporate and getting everyone fired before stomping out of the café. Michael simply turned back around and continued to clean tables.

When there was a lull in the café, Diana’s first question to Ellie was, “What was that Luke guy’s problem? Who was he?”

Ellie huffed. “He’s a jerk that comes in once in a while, either early morning or late at night, always demanding his drink be free ever since he used to date one of the previous managers here.”

“That’s… ridiculous,” Diana said.

“People are,” Ellie said. “Let me just tell you this, Hon. If any customer claims that they are entitled to a free drink, always check with a manager. Doesn’t matter if the customer keeps arguing with you. Lie and say you don’t have the ability to make the drink free in the register or something. Just get a manager.”

“Alright,” Diana said. “I probably would have done so, anyway.”

“You got a head on your shoulders.” Ellie nodded with approval. “The last kid that was here got fired since he was so gullible.”

Diana winced in sympathy. She glanced over at Michael, seeing him through the office’s open door in the back of the café at the main computer. “Michael doesn’t mind that we sent the difficult customer to him, does he?”

“That’s his job,” Ellie said, cleaning some of the utensils and instruments used to make the drinks. “Don’t worry about it. Luke isn’t the first jerk that Michael’s faced off, and Luke won’t be the last.” Diana nodded, but wasn’t too convinced. Apparently, her skepticism showed, for Ellie added, “You’re going to meet a lot of different kinds of characters here, Hon. Working retail is crap, but it’ll give you tough skin and appreciativeness for others.”

A bubble popped from behind her, making Diana jump. She sighed and gave Colin’s smirk a crooked smile in return.

“Unless you’re Colin,” Ellie said to end her speech.

“What,” Diana said, “Colin doesn’t appreciate others?”

“It’s not that,” Colin said, tossing his belongings in the back room and giving Michael a nod, which Diana began to understand as the universal greeting between guys. “I don’t have tough skin. I’m very sensitive, you know.”

“As sensitive as a rhino’s hide,” Ellie muttered, and Diana laughed. “Your shift is done, Hon. Clock out and go home.”

“Unless you want to do my shift too,” Colin said. “You know, get the extra practice and all.”

“I think I’m good,” Diana said, taking off her apron and hanging it up. “Besides, you need to work on getting tougher skin, right?”

His smirk grew. “Not sure. After all, girls like sensitive guys, right?”

Diana shook her head. “Not if they’re lazy! See you later, everyone.”

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2014 in Scribbles

 

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Random Generators

Hi everyone! This is just a quick post talking about random generators and how awesome they can be in helping to jump-start stories or ideas for those that love to write (or whatever… I’m sure the generators can be used for many other things as well).

I recently discovered this little gem of a site: Fantasy Name Generators. Not only does it have a plethora of generators for character names, there are also description and name generators for places, animals, spells, superpowers, book titles, and so many other categories. I took inspiration from the tavern description generator and the cafe name generator for my latest scribbles The Steelclouds and Common Grounds, respectively.

A couple of other of my favorite generator sites are the Seventh Sanctum and Serendipity.

Happy writing!

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Home

 

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Scribble: Common Grounds Cafe

Just a little something that I was typing up to get some writing exercise done. This is probably part one in a mini series. Enjoy! Critique is always appreciated.

Diana Winters was the Common Grounds Café’s new barista, and she apparently didn’t look like the type who could keep up with the daily onslaught of caffeine-deprived customers. At least, that was what her coworker Colin said when she showed up for her first shift.

“You don’t look like the type who can keep up with the daily onslaught of caffeine-deprived customers.” He snapped his gum between every word.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, glancing at her apron and slip-resistant shoes. “I’m wearing the uniform correctly, right?”

“It’s not the uniform.” Colin blew a large, pink bubble. It’s pop made Diana jump. “You look too… nice.”

“Erm, thanks?”

He shrugged and angled his thin torso toward the front doors. Already there were silhouettes and shadows of people huddled in the dim lighting of the early autumn morning, all waiting for their first caffeine fix of the day.  The opening manager, Michael, was slowly unlocking the doors. As he opened them, Diana heard Colin say, “You’ll see.”

Diana’s eyes widened as Michael was nearly crushed behind the door when the crowd surged over the threshold. Customers formed a loose line in front of Diana’s register and five of them began ordering at once. Colin tapped Diana’s arm, snapping her out of her stupor, as the customers cut each other off and began to grudgingly form a proper line.

The woman who won the honor of being first in line raised a thin drawn-on eyebrow at Diana. “Large skinny mocha latte with three extra shots of espresso.” A credit card was shoved in Diana’s face.

“Of course,” Diana said, her eyes glancing at her screen and touching the options to correspond with the woman’s order. Her register mirrored the order screen behind her, and she heard Colin moving around the containers of cups and flavored syrups to fulfill the order. “That’ll be six dollars and seventy-five—“

The woman dropped the credit card on the counter. “Whatever.”

Diana swiped the card through the register and the woman snatched it back. Before Diana could ask if the customer had wanted her receipt, the woman walked over to the end of the counter to wait for her drink, all while staring at her cell phone. Impressively, the woman didn’t bump into any tables or chairs.

“Medium mocha-caramel iced coffee, light on the ice.” A five-dollar bill and a couple of ones fluttered onto the counter. Diana hadn’t even caught a glimpse of the man’s face before he followed after the first customer to wait for his drink.

“Large French vanilla—“

“Um, please, hold on a minute,” Diana said to the third customer while she desperately tried to remember the second customer’s order to input it into the register. She ignored the man’s sigh and the nausea in her stomach as she hovered over the flavor options.

A larger hand deftly tapped the mocha button and the caramel syrup option, swiftly finishing the order. Colin snapped his gum again as he tossed out the receipt that had printed, and he grabbed the medium-sized cup to start processing the second order.

Diana took a deep breath and, with the words, “May I take your order?” ready on her lips, glanced up at the third customer. She blinked and stared at the translucent yellow wings protruding from the young man’s back.

“You ready yet?” the man asked.

“Oh, yes, I’m sorry,” Diana said. “Thank you for waiting—“

“Large French vanilla coffee, cream, extra sugar.”

Diana did her best to keep up with his rapid words, marveling at the sight of his wings. She snuck glances at him while he was waiting for his drink and, judging by the familiar nod that Colin and the customer exchanged, he was not a new customer to Common Grounds.

Although her mother warned her about getting a job in an establishment situated on the Dimensional Crossroads – for who knew what kind of strange creatures passed through the realms of time and space – this was precisely the reason as to why Diana joined the café’s team. Diana wanted to meet extraordinary folk, and Common Grounds was the place to do so. Nestled in the center of the Dimensional Crossroads, Common Grounds was where all sorts of people, races, and creatures stopped for a cup of coffee as they passed through the area.

After all, that was where Common Grounds Café had gotten its name.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Scribbles

 

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