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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Staff (01/31/13)

By Wilma Schlegel


“So, you’re on the staff, aren’t you?” the young football player asked the pretty nurse who was about to give him a shot.

“Ye-ah,” she spoke the word as a question.

“So why would I need defense against you?” With his chin he indicated the poster on the door of the exam room.

“It says, ‘Handwashing is your best defense against Staph,’ not staff,” she answered and stopped just short of rolling her eyes. He was a patient, after all.

“Oh, is that what it means?” He continued to flirt with her.

He thought he was very witty, she didn’t. Neither of them washed their hands when they left the room.

At the pharmacy the athlete had to wait in line behind a diabetic and a cancer patient. Of course he didn’t know that. To him they were just two people ahead of him. He just wanted to get his prescription filled, get out of there and get to practice.

“Sean Taylor?” His name was called and he sauntered over to the pick-up window.

“Okay Mr. Taylor, here’s your antibiotic, Methicillin. Be sure to take all of it. There’s information here.” The pharmacist indicated a pamphlet.

“Yeah, thanks,” Sean mumbled. He paid and left the place, glad to be about his own business again.

‘Seriously, all the hype over a simple gouge in my arm - it’s just stupid,’ Sean thought. ‘What a huge waste of my time - well except for that ‘staph’ nurse. What a great play on words that was. I kill me!’

Four days later Sean’s arm was healing nicely and he was back on top of his game.


Not so for the bacteria in his wound. For them it was a whole different ball game.

Thud! Ed hit the wall hard and slid down like a discarded sack of sog. “Ugh, what hit me?” He asked as he shook his one-celled body in an effort to clear it.

“It’s that weapon they use against us, Methi...Ed?,” Joe was alarmed to see his buddy down. “Hey, buddy, not you! Get up, get up! You’re okay - tell me you’re okay!

“No, Joe,” Ed’s voice was a hoarse whisper. “Listen, I think this is it. That great ‘pool of pus’ in the sky is calling me home. You’d better get out of here before it gets to you too.”

“Okay, Ed, I’m outa here.” (If Joe seems insensitive, remember he’s only a single-celled organism.) Joe low-crawled through the slimy slosh to the crusty edge of the wound he’d infested and waited for a transport. There were thousands waiting with him.


About that time, Sean peeled back his bandage to get a look at his wound. The edges were crusty and puckered, the center was a little mucousy-wet. He picked off a thick, ugly piece of scab with his fingernail, then with the side of his hand he swiped off the drop of blood that formed. All it needs is some air, he thought as he wiped his hands on his pants.


Joe saw his opportunity and took it. He clung to the thick crust until he was safely aboard his new hiding place - the human hand! He cleverly avoided being wiped on the pants. Now, as soon as that hand touched someone...


Three weeks later, a light-headed Sean with a gaping, oozing, tenderly painful wound was wheeled into the urgent care facility. They wheeled him right by the poster that said, “Take medication as prescribed.” Then they wheeled him passed another that reminded, “Handwashing - The best defense against Staph.”

And there he sat. He had to wait for a diabetic and a cancer patient ahead of him with some kind of infectious thing going on, he heard.

Once it was his turn he didn’t even consider flirting, he was too feverish to care. “Just kill me now,” he groaned. “Or give me something stronger than this.” He handed a half-empty bottle of methicillin to the nurse. “It didn’t work for me.”


Miraculously, Ed on the inside, had made a complete recovery. Not only that, but he’d studied the tactics of the enemy weapon. No longer would he fall for the tricks of Methicillin or any other “cillin”. Take that!


Staph - short for Staphylococcus Aureus - a bacterium; some strains can cause serious infections.

Methicillin - a derivative of penicillin, formerly used to treat Staphyloccus Aureus infections

MRSA - Methicillin Resistant Staphyloccus Aureus (causing infections in thousands each year)

Diabetic and Cancer patients - people who might be especially susceptible to MRSA

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This article has been read 372 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Danielle King 02/08/13
This is so clever and original and bang on topic. I would never have thought of bacteria having identities. You really brought those little monsters to life through their dialogue and actions. I love 'pool of pus in the sky,' and the way you described the crusty wound. That's one way to promote hand washing hygene and making sure to take the full course of antibiotics. This story should be pinned on the walls of hospitals and clinics. Loved it!
Linda Goergen02/08/13
I think I am going to have all of my family read this, they think I am a fanatic about hand-washing and sanitizing! This was terrific, so very creative and packs a powerful punch of a message in its vision! Though I admit, it was so vivid in one part, my stomach was doing flip-flops, threatening nausea trying to read it…but even so, I really enjoyed the read! :)
Catherine Craig 02/10/13
Interesting play on words for the title and unusual theme. Good word usage.
C D Swanson 02/13/13
I worked in Nursing homes, and was fanatical about washing my hands CONSTANTLY.

This story was right on, and so clever and extremely well written! Brilliant job with the subject. Loved the descriptions, spot on.

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/14/13
This is awesome! As soon as I saw the title I though oh man I can't believe I didn't think of that. Very creative! Congratulations on ranking 7 in Masters and 12 overall!