Monday, January 4, 2010

Escargot, Anyone...?

by Ben Small

Scenario: You're staying in a swanky hotel and you hear a knock on the door. The peephole reveals a uniformed bellboy carrying a silver tray. A silver box on the tray.

Would you open the door?

So, say you do. Say you invite the bellboy in, and he hands you the box and a note on hotel stationary. "Enjoy our courtesy hors d'oeuvres during Happy Hour this evening 5:00 -- 7:00 P.M. this evening."

You thank the bellboy and open the box. Inside, on a bed of pale sand, you see a brightly colored, patterned sea shell. The colors gleam and seem to shimmy, like turning the dial on a kaleidoscope.

The shell moves. There's a snail inside.

Do you pick up the snail?

This may seem an innocuous question. But what if your response to that question determines whether you live or die?

The snail you see is the Cone Snail, a Brazilian wonder that shoots a dart containing the most deadly poison in the sea, a neurotoxin so concentrated and powerful, there is no antidote. The victim almost always dies, and does so in terrible, stinging pain. Only the symptoms of a sting, like organ shut down and stoppage can be treated, and these life sustaining procedures may have to be conducted for months. But usually, the victim dies with a silent scream, for while the pain is intense and spreads up the arms to the trunk, and then down, turning one's skin and muscles into instruments of torture, the victim can't make a sound: lungs are paralyzed.

So, will we see you at Happy Hour?


Chester Campbell said...

I never did like escargot. Now I know why.

Beth Terrell said...

Yikes. Yes, I would have picked up that pretty shell (though I wouldn't have eaten the live snail, since I prefer my escargot sauteed with butter and garlic). But thanks to your post, I'll know better now!

Could this be the perfect murder weapon?

Ben Small said...

Beth, I'm making it one! I'd have picked it up, and these shells are collector's items.

Sheila Deeth said...

Ooh er! I usually avoid picking up things that move though.

Anonymous said...

Why yeah, nosy me, I'd pick up the shell! And be dead!

Jean Henry Mead said...

If it moved, I wouldn't touch it.
But I agree with Beth, it's a great murder weapon. :)