Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Beetle juice

Many years ago now I wrote several drafts of a short story which I never took to completion. In it, an Iraqi scientist goes in to see Saddam Hussein and announces that he has almost perfected the ultimate weapon and can he have some funding to finish.
This was long long before the dodgy dossier etc
He calls his invention beetle juice, from a substance supposedly in common beetles. I had been watching stag beetles making their way across a garden, clambering over each other when necessary. It occurred to me that it was quite odd from a human point of view although probably quite reasonable from the beetle's point of view.
But sticking with that sense of oddity, one might envisage some bodily fluid which does something or other the insect needs but has an odd side effect of taking away its sense of space.
So, says the scientist, to Strong Man Hussein, I have made some of this stuff in the laboratory. It affects humans in much the same way as it affects beetles, but with the further effect that because some human beings are more self-aware than stag beetles, it has great potential for starting fights. And the effect is irreversible. One sniff and your sociability is trashed for life.
I had some fun with the story, or began to; because, as I say, I didn't finish; and I had them debating how to trash the west and evaluating different approaches. The scientist, who was trying to be funded, persuaded the big cheese that one should take the long view and not be in too much hurry to defeat a member of NATO because that might bring its own problems. Let me atomise a few litres of this stuff in the air of London,e said; and within ten years the whole country will disintegrate.
I only mention it because I am wondering if there isn't something in the idea; and someone has done it.

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