Sunday, 18 December 2011

A cure for cheese

Laura slipped into her lab-coat, noting that again it looked like it had been part of a dark's wash.  Instead of being pristinely, gleamingly, white like Dominic's, hers was a kind of cheesy yellow shading to orange at the cuffs and collar.  She pulled it tight and sighed as one of the press-studs pinged off and vanished into a corner of the vestibule.
"Ah Laura, good of you to join us," said Dr. Watford as she came in with her lab-coat now buttoned askew to keep it properly closed.  He was a greying man with several major awards for biology and biochemistry, piercing grey eyes, and a handle-bar moustache that she hated.  "Dominic has just finished telling us about his week spent working with naphthalene derivatives and what sounds like a lot of washing of glassware."  Dominic hung his head, ashamed.  "Your turn, I think, to tell us about your week.  As I recall, you are attempting to sequence the genome for your cress?"
"Well," said Laura, wondering if this was how major scientific discoveries were always announced.  "I was supposed to be, yes.  But then I discovered the cure for cheese."
Dominic sniggered, and across the lab the new grad student, whose name might have been Helena, stopped moving and started listening intently.  Laura shrugged, looked directly at Dr. Watford, and said, "It's true.  I've discovered the cure for cheese."
"Very good," he said, as though she'd announced she had successfully tied her own shoe-laces.  "Where is the cure for cheese now?"
"In my lab," she said.  "I can go and get... it..." Her voice trailed off as Dr. Watford noticeably failed to smile.
"That can't be right," he said slowly, his voice deep and sonorous.  "None of the quarantine hoods are in use, I noticed when I came through earlier.  Surely you've not abandoned lab protocol and put a potentially infectious bacterial agent out unattended?"
"Well, no," said Laura.  "It's in the fridge."
"With the cheese perhaps?"
Dominic sniggered again.  He'd lifted his head, his earlier shame clearly forgotten and was paying close attention.  The new grad student had resumed collecting bits of glassware together.
"Er no.  It cured the cheese that was in the fridge, so it's now in a sealed petri dish with biohazard markings all over it."
Dr. Watford grimaced but nodded.  "It will do," he said.  "However, I can see that we need a quarantine fridge as well.  What happened to the cured cheese?"
"It was eaten."  Laura's voice was very small and she was staring at her feet now.
"I beg your pardon?"
"It didn't look anything like cheese any more," said Laura, wishing she didn't have to tell this part of the story, "and I wanted to know what had happened to it.  So I put it in a sandwich and sold it to some undergraduates.  Then I followed them around for three days, checking up on them."
"And what happened to them?"
"They seemed a little more popular than normal, and one of them started using mouthwash," said Laura.  "It was very boring, but they both survived, and they both said they liked the sandwich."
"How fortunate," said Dr. Watford, sarcasm almost visibly dripping from his words.  "Killing undergraduates, though not strictly against school policy, is likely to cause some problems for you.  Is this it then?  Do we now have the cure for cheese safely under lock and key?"
"No," said Dominic, staring out the window.  "No, we don't."
"Yes we do," said Laura, trying to see where he was looking.  "In my fridge."
"No, my dear," said Dr. Watford.  Domininc is pointing out that our grad student Helena is currently running across the quad carrying the cure for cheese.

No comments: