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Space Capsicum

By Robert Lynch

I entered the bank and waited for my appointment. I sat nervously with my briefcase on my lap. Trent McClain, my loan officer, was a young man in his mid-twenties.  We went into his office and closed the door.

“Welcome, Mr Dawe. What brings you to the bank today?” he asked.

“I’m a botanist.” I answered. “I grow Carolina Reaper chillies, the hottest chilli in the world, and I think I’ve found a new variety which is even hotter. I need a loan to develop the new variety.”

“I see.” Trent replied. “How much do you need and what kind of collateral do you have?”

“I already have the equipment that I need.” I said. “Mostly I need to hire an extra person to help me run the business while I divert my own time to this project. I have some projections and other materials to show you.” I opened my briefcase and pulled out some of the papers, revealing a single display capsicum that I brought with me.

“Excellent.” Trent said, taking the papers from me. “You know; you’ve really been lucky to get me as your loan officer. I love chillies. I’ve even eaten a Carolina Reaper before.”

“Well, that is a spot of luck.” I replied. “It really means that you can appreciate not just the business side but the enjoyment of this new variety.” I held up the fruit I had brought with me. “This is the only ripe fruit I have at the moment. I’ve had tests done on the first batch which report an average Scoville Heat Unit of 4 million Scovilles.”

“Wow,” Trent said, “That’s a huge jump from the Carolina Reaper’s 1.5 million. What will you name this new variety?”

“I’ve been thinking that I’ll call it the ‘Space Capsicum.’ Apparently many astronauts have trouble with taste in microgravity, due to fluid retention or some such, and prefer to eat meals with a bit of hot sauce for flavour. I was thinking that I might market the variety with a sort of challenge, that the chilli is so hot you can only eat it in space.”

“Interesting idea, I think many people would be up for that challenge.” Trent said, his eyes fixed on the fruit in my hand.

“Well, I’ve never eaten one myself,” I told him, “and this is the only one currently in existence. Would you like to be the first to try the new hottest chilli in the world?” I leaned forward offering the chilli to him.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“What better way to secure the support of the bank then by demonstrating the product?” I said.


Holding the stem, he bit down on the chilli and chewed it through. “It doesn’t seem any hotter than a Carolina Reaper, although there is a burning oily aftertaste.”

“That’s the chloroform.” I said.

“What?” he slurred.

“The capsaicin of the chilli is the perfect chemical mask for a 25g dose of chloroform. You already expect it to burn, so you keep chewing and eat the whole dose. Don’t worry, you’re about to have a really good sleep and you won’t remember this conversation.” I told him.

His head nodded forward as the drug did its work.

“Thanks for leaving your computer logged in.” I said as I rolled him aside.

They never expect a botanist to be a bank robber. Fools.


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