coffee cup goo


“What the hell is it, Neil?”

“I don’t know, Doctor. It was in my coffee cup when I opened the lab this morning.”

Louise Manners wrinkled her nose. “I told you never leave your dishes in the lab over the weekend. We work with biological…”

“Doctor, how could left over coffee turn into…into that?”

“We’d better not expose ourselves. Get the Hazmat gear. Let’s get it into a containment box.”

“Oh, there you are, you naughty fellow.”

Louise and Neil whirled at the sudden intrusion. Archie, the night janitor, was standing at the doorway. Ignoring them, he headed for Neil’s cup.

“That’s not your coffee.” He became aware of the two biologists staring at him.

“My pet fungus Reggie. I bring him to work with me for the company.”

Archie turned back to the cup. “You come with me now.” Walking out of the lab with the cup, Archie called over his shoulder. “I’ll bring this back tonight.”

Neil turned to Louise. “Pet fungus?”

“Neil, what if we could market it? Let’s get to work.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of August 15, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long with 150 being the ideal. My word count is 175.

To me, the image seemed hideous and humorous at the same time. I was in the midst of writing but having trouble creating the twist at the end until I considered Simon Pegg’s rather funny take on the character of “Scotty” in the “Star Trek” reboot movies (the movies themselves aren’t that great, but I like Pegg’s performance). The story then wrote itself.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

43 thoughts on “Reggie

  1. Nice humour James. I could only see the hideous-ness in the picture, so tried to ignore whatever that stuff is! Pet fungus seems as good an idea as any other. I quite like the new Star Trek films, especially the most recent one.


    • Thanks, Iain. I guess it’s a generational thing regarding Star Trek. I was twelve years old when the original series first went on the air in 1966. Gene Roddenberry gave the show and its spin offs a certain philosophical feel and personality that I don’t think J.J. Abrams was able to recapture. You can hire actors and call them “Kirk,” Spock,” and “McCoy,” build a model of a ship and call it “Enterprise,” but, in my opinion, while it may be a good action/adventure flick, it’s not really “Star Trek.”

      Besides, Chris Pine portrays a really whiny “Kirk” who has destroyed his ship twice in three movies. Oy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree they need to stop destroying the Enterprise every time – a bit like James Bond always has to become a rogue agent in the recent Bond films. I do like Chris Pine though.


      • I’m sure Pine is a good actor (I still have to get around to seeing the Wonder Woman movie). I only just saw “Star Trek Beyond” last night. Rented the DVD from my local library. I was kind of hoping by the third movie that Kirk would have matured as a Captain.

        Interesting that you mention James Bond, which is a franchise that’s been around longer than Star Trek. Ian Fleming created Bond in literature in the 1950s based on his own experiences in the 40s, so the character had had to adapt to a lot of political and social changes over the decades. The trick is to have him be able to update for the times while still maintaining “James Bond-ness”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree that the recent new films of the rebooted StarTrek series seem to indicate that this younger version of James T. Kirk is regrettably accident-prone or careless, in that he keeps destroying multiple versions of the Enterprise. However, these new films *are* positioned in an alternate universe from that of the original series, so we shouldn’t be too surprised at any of their outrageous differences. But, personally, I would not wish to live in this alternative universe with its characters and their too-cavalier exuberance. Call me old-fashioned, if you must, but I much prefer the values expressed in the original series and the StarTrek universe envisioned by Gene Roddenberry, which was less “edgy” and more optimistic.


      • Well, it’s certain that we are of an era together. Nonetheless, on further analysis of the new Kirk character, it occurs to me that we’re seeing in him the result of excessively quick promotion with insufficient seasoning under other captains, and observation of their practical experience. Too much responsibility too fast does not allow sufficient time to develop one’s analytical skills, which leads to recklessness and its concomitant probabilities of tragic outcomes.
        On the other hand, in both universes I think Kirk had the right instinct about the Kobiashi Maru simulation. The probability of success is higher in all cases if the approach to an apparent no-win situation is to apply every scrap of ingenuity to changing the apparent rules of the game, in favor of success or at least survival, rather than learning to accept failure gracefully or with a minimum of casualties. The worst that can happen is that one loses anyway, despite the ingenuity, which is no worse than if one merely accepted the losing situation “according to the rules”. But rather than “going down fighting”, one might not go down at all if one “thinks outside the box”, even if it seems to be “cheating”. There are no points lost for cheating death.


      • As I recall, Kirk in the reboot universe hadn’t even formally graduated from the academy before receiving a field promotion to Captain of the Enterprise.


      • I think the notion of “pet rocks” worked for a while because the rock served a function as a novelty paperweight and desk ornament. And, because they were nicely rounded and textured, they could be fondled as a meditational aid, or simply tossed from hand to hand to while away a few moments. Further, they were inexpensive to purchase and entirely maintenance free.

        I’m not sure I can picture the useful features of our putative semi-intelligent pet fungus, unless, perhaps, it could be taught to move in response to voice commands or music, or even to flow on its own back and forth out of and back into a coffee mug or similar vessel. However, natural fungi are never so animated. Some of them may be induced to grow slowly into intricate fan-like or floral shapes, sometimes in interesting earth-tone color patterns. But this might require a sealed terrarium with some degree of variable control over environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, lights (or darkness), air-flow, trace gasses, et al. This could make for a rather high-maintenance “pet”.


  2. I also was minded of a couple of these notions; one being the pet rock fad, another being from Star Trek Deep Space Nine where we were introduced to Security Chief Odo, who was a member of a race of shape-shifters. During the course of the series, viewers learned a bit out of Odo’s “childhood” — that is, his discovery as an undifferentiated blob of goo that ultimately was trained to mimic all sorts of shapes, ultimately including humanoid form. As I recall, there was some question about whether his substance was entirely organic or if it sometimes appeared to be inorganic. I suppose, if he had control over his molecules in order to mimic any kind of shape or object, then it would be reasonable to infer that he could arrange his molecules as long-string organic compounds or as individual ones that would characterize inorganic minerals. Now, if we’re considering in this story an intelligent fungus (presuming that Archie talks to it because it seems to respond to his voice), then perhaps it is not really a fungus at all but rather something that only appears so at present.


    • As I recall PL, Odo was eventually discovered to have a race of beings like him and that he could merge with all of them for a type of joining we corporeal beings could hardly imagine.

      Since Reggie seems to have the ability of independent motion and responds to Archie’s voice (apparently), that might make it as intelligent as a gerbil or a dog, but probably not human intelligent.

      I agree a fungus couldn’t do all of that, but I was having a bit of fun with the pet rock/pet fungus concept. Some people will buy anything.


      • Yes, well, there were a couple of other objects noted in the DS9 series or in “The Next Generation” series that were less intelligent but still had mimetic capabilities. They were not specifically of Odo’s race, but apparently had some similar characteristics. One of them, I think, was actually a key to a lock that could be either a flat, compact, “hidden” form or an erect arrow-like tower about three inches tall when it was ready for use as a key.


      • There was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Aquiel” involving a shape shifter that had to change forms every so many days but who did so by murdering and replacing the host. As I recall, a part of the creature touched Dr. Crusher’s hand, replicating it but remaining animate only for a few seconds.


      • Yes, this was one of the cases to which I was referring. The source creature in this case was apparently a predator and not one of Odo’s race. Nonetheless, it was another of the hints presented in the StarTrek universe about the existence of shape-variable beings. The other case of a key indicated a shape-variable technology, presumably also based on similar principles.


  3. Food for thought , indeed, especially since I am just beginning to learn about the world of science fiction through writings such as yours . Fascinating!


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