Dr. Henry Meese cursed for not having set the recorder on the microscope. “Thatch!”
Jeremy Thatcher came running. “What? What?”
“Where’d you get this?” Henry found himself doubting his own eyes.
“Grass dew. It’s just dew from the yard. Why?”
“Tell me what you see,” said Henry.
Jeremy peered into the dual eyepiece. He shifted the slide a few times, then lifted his head to stare into space.
“What do you see?”
“I see the impossible,” said Jeremy.
“Describe it to me.”
“Dammit, act like a scientist. Describe what you see.”
“The didinium have formed a line, and they are blocking the paramecia, forcing them toward a few amoebas.” He looked into the eyepiece again. “They seem to be herding the paramecia to feed another species.”
Henry nodded. “Get more samples from that exact spot, and pray there’s more like this to be found. These won’t be alive much longer. We’ve got to document this thoroughly and get them recorded or we’ll be branded as frauds.”
Henry observed, drew pictures, and took notes with as much detail as he could, cursing himself again for not setting up the recorder.
Jeremy came back in. “There’s not much here. The dew’s almost burned off.”
“Just make as many slides as you can, and set up the other microscope with the recorder.”
When the microbes on the discovery slide stopped moving, he put it aside.
Jeremy had four slides ready, so he moved to the other microscope, recorder attached, and slid one in. He clicked his mouse over the record button on the computer and started it.
“Check my notes while I look through these. Anything you remember, write it down, whether it agrees, contradicts, adds or even subtracts from what I’ve already written.”
One-by-one he checked every slide, carefully scanning it for behavior similar to the first.
“I’ve corroborated the behavior your described, for the most part,” said Jeremy.
Henry sat and stared.
“What’s next?” asked Jeremy.
“My worst nightmare,” said Henry.
“What do you mean? Aren’t we taking this to—”
“Impossible.” Henry took his notes. “No one is going to believe this.”
“But we’re scientists,” said Jeremy.
“Who’s the scientist you respect more than any other in our field—besides me?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Consider him for a moment, and think about reading a description like this. Or something different—what if he said he’d discovered extraterrestrial DNA, but he had none to show you. What do you think of him now?”
Jeremy drooped. “But we’re scientists.”
“I know. But until we find more evidence, we’re stuck.”
“We’ll find more,” said Jeremy.
“We already hit the lottery with that first slide.” Henry shook his head. “But we’ll try.”
“I’ll prepare samples every morning.”
“Jeremy.” Henry let out a deep breath. “We keep it between us unless I say.”
“You’ve made that clear.”
“I know—but I’m still trying to convince myself. There’s nothing I hate more than some self-appointed scientist running some esoteric studies.”
“Bah,” said Jeremy. “A little self-loathing will do you some good.”