As the European Lawn Tennis season thunders on, Wimbledon fortnight comes round yet again. This year, however, there appears to be something strange and mysterious happening. Is it Something In The Water?
As usual in an Axolotl story, some of the female characters tend to have very large breasts indeed, innocent girls use shamefully earthy language and there are copious quantities of bodily fluids sloshing around. Grow up and get a life before you read it.
"Ah, Dr Wallace, so glad you could make it so promptly. As my secretary rather cryptically explained, we seem to have a bit of a problem; but it's something right up your street. Take a seat. Smoke? Ah, no, of course..."
Professor Merridew put his cigarette case back in his inside pocket. Dr Wallace, whose hand had shot out to take one, or even two, leaned back in his chair.
"Tennis," said the professor. "You don't mind if I do?" He lit up with obvious relish and after about thirty seconds blew a stream of smoke at the ceiling like a contented steam engine. "First today," he admitted. "Now, where was I?"
"Tennis. Tennis elbow? Not really a speciality of mine," said Dr Wallace. "My expertise lies more in the field of..."
"Yes, indeed. Indeed, yes. Saw your paper in the Journal. Fascinating work. That, in fact, was why we wasted no time in contacting you. There's something we'd rather like you to look at."
"Something in my field?" The doctor stared longingly at the cigarette as it lay on the edge of the ashtray. He gnawed at his fingers.
"Very much so, we think. Wimbledon fortnight started a few days ago. Ever been?"
"Never found the time, old chap. Strawberries and cream. The smell of the fresh-cut grass. The girls in their full, bouncing T-shirts; their short, short skirts and tight little lacy knickers, drenched in honest sweat..."
"You sure you haven't been?"
"I'd have remembered if I had, believe me."
Funny you should mention the girls. The women, we have to call them these days. Not even ladies any more. Some of them are a bit strange, if you know what I mean. Queer, what?"
"I gather they are, yes. One can understand it, living in each other's pockets month after month. Some of the younger ones are pure and innocent and extremely desirable. Hardly to be wondered at if they tend to stray from the old straight and narrow. But what's all this to do with me?"
Merridew took a long drag on his cigarette, regarding the doctor through the smoke with narrowed eyes. He ruined the effect at the end by having a coughing fit. "Shit," he said at last, as his secretary came in with a jug of water and a glass. He drained a full glass at a single gulp, and poured himself another. "They've grown big breasts," he announced suddenly.
"The female tennis players. Not all of them. Just half a dozen or so. And one of the ball girls, too. The development has been swift, sudden and somewhat staggering. I've got some pictures somewhere here..."
Dr Wallace leaned forward eagerly, his hands trembling as the professor dug into his desk drawer.
"These were taken on day one of the tournament. The usual press shots. Long lenses. They take dozens of each player, hoping for a flash of panties to please the editor. Now, look at these: same players, two days later." He slid a pile of prints across the desk.
Dr Wallace studied them, turning over the pile with almost desperate haste. "I see," he said hoarsely. "Any more?"
"Yes. These are yesterday's. I've asked for another set. We don't have all the players in this bunch of photos, some of them have had to withdraw."
"Too big, I'm afraid."
"My God!" Wallace began leafing through the prints again, more slowly. From time to time, he pulled out a picture and laid it on the desk, forming a separate pile. "You said there was a ball-girl, too?"
"Yes. But the press don't photograph ball-girls. They're not old enough to appeal to newspaper editors. They're only schoolgirls."
"Have you got any pictures of her, though?"
"A few." The professor looked shifty.
"I'd like these back," Merridew said quietly as he opened his drawer. "You can keep all the others, but I wouldn't want these to fall into the wrong hands."
"Of course." Dr Wallace looked at the top one. "Fuck me!" he said unprofessionally. He shuffled through the rest, then mopped his brow with a large silk handkerchief. Without asking permission, he poured a glass of water and took a long drink before picking up the pictures again. "The players have withdrawn, or some of them. Has the ball-girl withdrawn, too?"
"No news on her. The players are more important, of course."
"Oh, of course. Yes, indeed. Any theories on what's caused it?" Dr Wallace was sorting through the ball-girl pictures for the tenth time.
"Nothing really. That's why we called you. We'd like you to conduct an inquiry, as a matter of urgency. In fact, starting this afternoon, assuming you're free to come down to Wimbledon. You'll be able to examine the females concerned."
"Examine? You mean... ?"
"We've thought of that already. I've laid on a woman."
"A woman? You've lain on her?"
"No, I've laid her on. She's a doctor as well. Dr Lewis. Her field is angled more towards research into consumer products for chemical enhancement. Non-invasive breast enlargement. She's done a lot of work with something called Pubertophen."
"Really?" Dr Wallace raised an eyebrow. "I've seen some of her papers. Nice pictures."
"She'll be on her way to the All-England Club now. If we leave right away, we'll be there by three. Pity it's pissing with rain, but it will give you a chance to meet your colleague, have a look round, meet the patients, carry out your initial investigations. It's all hush-hush, of course. The public have been told it's a flu virus. But between you and me, it's only a matter of time before some bright Charlie compares these pictures with the ones taken on the first day and puts two and two together and makes four. Or forty-four. Well, if you're ready? I'll have to leave you to it once we're at Wimbledon, but..." The professor stood up and held out his hand. Dr Wallace looked at him quizzically. "The ball-girl pictures, please..."
"Oh, how silly of me! I seem to have got them mixed up with the others..."
"Dr Wallace? A pleasure. Fay Lewis." The woman in a well-filled white lab coat held out her hand. Dr Wallace's eyes opened wide.
"My pleasure entirely. The professor has briefed me. A rum do, what?"
"Certainly is. There's nothing wrong with big whoppers, in their place. But the Centre Court isn't really the place. I've had a bit of a word with the old Tournament pasha chappies. It appears two of our women have disappeared."
"Disappeared?" Dr Wallace looked concerned. "Where to? Which ones?"
"They've flown off home to mummy. The pressure must be pretty darned heavy. For some reason, the boys from the gutter press don't seem to have caught on yet, which seems to be a remarkable oversight on their part. You'd think one look at the pictures ought to have been enough. You've seen them, of course?"
"Prof Merridew showed me some. So which players are still here? We need to examine them."
"I've got a little list." She flourished a single sheet of paper. "The complete tournament entry for the little Ladies' competition. Lots of names there. When the information first sort of leaked out to the Wimbledon medical orificer, she bashed out a list of about fifteen girls with bigger gazongas than the others. It quickly narrowed itself down to nine, then six..."
"The first three were all-stacked, all-natural. Big for tennis players. But by the time the list had come down to six, there was absolutely no doubt about it. Those six were more than just big. A lot more."
Dr Wallace licked his lips and produced his handkerchief. "And this was yesterday?"
"Yesterday morning. By yesterday evening, things had... developed ... even further. Of course, none of the girlies in question had been seen on court since their bodily changes had taken place."
"So we're down to four."
"Five, actually. There's a ball-girl, too. She looks like a very interesting case, if you're into voluptuous schoolgirls."
"So the professor told me." Wallace mopped his brow.
"We'll come to her," said Dr Lewis with a little private smile. "Meanwhile, here's the short list of four players we have left. They are all standing by for an examination this afternoon. Probably all stripped off and waiting in the locker rooms."
There were four names highlighted in yellow.
Ms Nakako Nakashita - Japan
Ms Yekaterina Kalashnikova - Russia
Miss Joan Hunter-Dunne - United Kingdom
Mme Marie-Louise Poitrine - France
"None from America?"
"There were two. They are the ones who flew home this morning. Probably to appear on a chat show. Wymyn Tennis Players Who Develop Hee-yuge Breasts Overnite."
"Is there such a show in the States? How very interesting."
Dr Lewis looked at him curiously. "These are happy-snaps of the four of them, before and after. As you can see, the changes have been remarkable. These were taken yesterday. I should warn you..."
Wallace was ahead of her. "They're bigger than this now?"
.... There is more of this story ...