Staring down the barrel.

I don’t like things to get the better of me, especially inanimate objects. Toasters, vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens, they’re all evil. I’m not paranoid, but they are all out to get me.

Presently I’m sitting at the kitchen table being stared down by a bottle of chilli sauce. I’m slightly worried about it, and it’s getting the better of me.

The bottle is a gift from a friend. On the label, emblazoned in red lettering are the words ‘Ten Minute Burn’, below the text, four laughing skulls and underneath them, ‘Another Bottle of Pure Pain’.

A disclaimer pronounces, ‘Do not ingest directly, only add to cooking’. This is no normal bottle of chilli sauce. Its chief ingredient is fresh Naga Bhut Jolokia. The hottest chilli in the world.

On the Scoville scale it rates at 1,041,427 SHU. To put this in to perspective, Jalapeños have a 3,000 to 6,000 SHU rating, and Habaneros weigh in at 300,000. You can see my dilemma. I know this is going to hurt.

If I were facing down a more classical foe such as Billy the Kid I’d put my chances at 70/30, Bonnie and Clyde 60/40, or a rather irate samurai, around 10 percent. I know there is little I can do about this one. Mainly because it will be self inflicted.

I have met burns victims and seen people covered in boiling pitch. It’s all part of the metalworking trade. Industrial accidents that can scar you for life. This burn however will be slightly different. For a start I will bring it upon myself.

My first worry is the burning sensation in my mouth. How intense will it be? Will I be able to cope? Do I have enough, natural yoghurt and larger in the house to temper the sensation?

I will more than likely end up writing on the floor like some rabid dog. Flailing wildly as I consider hacking off my own tongue. The neighbours will probably pass by, look in the window and think, ‘He’s up to his usual tricks’. Not realising that this time it isn’t rabies.

My second worry is the exit. The second stage burn as NASA may put it. This I will have no control over. And it’s a real worry. If I am at home I may be able to cope, but if I am at work or in town when it strikes, things wont be pretty.

As I stare at the bottle it seems to become more malevolent. Taunting me, daring me to take a swig. Come on you pussy, take me on. What’s your problem? Can’t you handle me?

But then I come to my senses. Why should I have to tackle this alone? I’ll invite my friends over for a chilli, experiment a little, study the consequences.

It’ll be the last time they buy me a present!

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