Story ideas are strange things. Sometimes they just pop into your head, fully formed and all you have to do is write them down.This is one of those and it is possibly the weirdest story I’ve written. I don’t know what it means but I do like the ending.
I was working late at my laboratory when I heard a knock at the door. I felt so close to a breakthrough that I begrudged any interruption, especially as I was due to go on holiday with my family the following day. Sighing, I opened the door to three hirsute men, one of whom wore round, dark glasses. They were so similar in appearance, they must surely be related.
“Can I help you?” I asked rather brusquely, keen to get back to my work.
“Dear sir, it is we who can help you,” replied the man who stood forward of his comrades. “Please let us in and I can assure you that it will be worth your while.” As he spoke, the man on his left used sign language to interpret to the third man what was being said.
“I’m very busy and have no wish to buy anything. Good night.” With this comment I made to close the door only to find that the man had wedged his foot between door and frame, preventing its closure.
“How dare …”
“Really sir, I promise that you won’t regret it,” interrupted the man as he pushed open the door and walked through, guided by one of his companions.
I closed the door and followed them into the laboratory, taking a deep breath as I went.
“Please allow me to introduce myself,” said the man with dark glasses. “I am C N Weevil, Esquire and these are my brothers,” he gestured in their direction and the two men nodded slowly in unison.
“Make it quick, I am engaged in important work.”
“Sir, I understand that you are a medical man working on finding an anti-bacterial?”
“Yes, yes,” I replied impatiently.
“Well, we would like to show you medical equipment that will be invaluable to your research.”
I didn’t even attempt to keep the anger from my voice, “I said I was busy and was in no mood to buy anything from you. Please leave. Now.”
“But sir, we have some very high quality merchandise to show you.”
“I’m not interested. Get out!”
As I moved to usher them out, I brushed against some Petri dishes which I’d piled on the corner of a bench, causing them to topple like dominoes. The signing man reached out and started to gather them up.
“Leave them!” I shouted. “Just get out.”
I pushed the Weevil brothers out of the door and slammed it behind them.
I was shaking with anger as I collected the glass dishes. Luckily none were broken, but I was concerned about cross-contamination if I had replaced the lids incorrectly. I stacked them more carefully this time and, after giving the bench a cursory tidy, departed for home.
In early September, I returned from my holiday refreshed and keen to resume my research.
After spending a few hours going through my correspondence I turned my attention to the Petri dishes I had left a month ago. The first few I inspected showed no change then I noticed that a fungus had contaminated one of the dishes. I was about to discard the culture when I realised that the colonies of staphylococci bacteria had been eradicated where the fungus grew. Peering closer I saw that the fungus was shaped like an oval, exactly the same size and shape as a thumbprint.
“The Nobel Prize for Medicine is awarded to Dr Alexander Fleming for his discovery of penicillin.”
As I make my way up the steps to the podium, I glance out around the audience and see the Weevil brothers sitting in the front row. C N Weevil Esquire’s hands cover his dark glasses, the signer has covered his mouth and the remaining brother has his hands over his ears.