Security was strict due to the value of the exhibit. Bernina Lockhart resented standing in line for an hour, then being searched before gaining entrance to the huge gallery, but finally stood in front of the most beautiful thing she’d seen in all of her years–the last carton of eggs on earth. Their shells glowed as they basked in a cascade of multi-colored light that gave them a jewel-like appearance, and the cardboard container had a raised logo stating that it was made by Bradco for the special occasion. There was a portrait of the proud producer next to the eggs and her portrait was beautiful. Not a photo mind you, but a true masterpiece done by a famous painter from Europe. All of her feathers looked like they would ruffle in the slightest breeze.
Bernina had never eaten an egg because the radiation that caused all breeds of fowl to stop laying leaked from Hanford and spread around the planet before she was born. As existing stocks were consumed without replacements being available, eggs became more valuable than diamonds and gold. The lack of eggs caused the restaurant industry to restructure their menus–eliminating bacon and eggs, hotcakes, omelets etc. Until then no one truly realized how endemic they were to the human diet. Vegans didn’t mind but the average person didn’t want to go without eggnog for Christmas.
Bernina almost got to eat an egg once. A woman who wrapped her chicken coop with lead shielding had been auctioning off everything her hens could produce for enormous profits. The woman accidently left her back door open one afternoon and Bernina snuck into her kitchen and cracked open the fridge. But before she could run away with one of those chicken nuggets, two people came from the other room and caught her red-handed. They called the cops and wanted her arrested because she was perpetrating such a horrible crime but the cops understood her desperation and said yes, she should be punished, but they forgave her anyway and sent her home. The significance of her attempted larceny came to light a week later when the news announced that all the woman’s hens died despite her precautions. Over time, all fowl expired by attrition or were eaten until no clucks remained, and no roosters crowed to greet the dawn.
Being very enterprising, Bradco developed egg substitutes that saved the baking industry, but everyone agreed that nothing tasted as yummy as a real batter made with real, heavy-yoked, fresh cracked eggs. The carton that Bernina was admiring at the museum had been stored deep underground in a heavily guarded vault until the viewing structure was ready to display it. Their fragile nature meant that specially trained handlers with extraordinary balance were the only people allowed to touch them. Even the carton that Bradco designed for the eggs was soft and cuddly inside so they wouldn’t chafe, rub, or crack accidentally.
Suddenly, an alarm sounded and armed guards flooded into the gallery. The crowd was confused, thinking there might be a fire, but when the guards formed a line in front of the display with pistols drawn, they realized something was terribly wrong. As they were ushered out of the emergency exit, they saw the source of the panic. A huge helicopter bearing an IHOP logo sat in the parking lot with rotors turning. A group of commandos were using a battering ram to attack the front door–obviously trying to abscond with the eggs. Bernina was disappointed by having to leave but was thankful to escape the attempted heist unscathed. Later that night she watched the news and was informed that the marauders had been repelled and were identified as mercenaries hired by dictator Frump who demanded there be Eggs Benedict served for breakfast on his hundredth birthday. She was pleased by his being thwarted for a change and fell asleep wondering what egg custard would taste like.