The Unknown Quantity

“Penny!” Knock. Knock. Knock.

“Penny!” Knock. Knock. Knock.

“Penny!” Knock. Knock. Knock.

“What is it, Sheldon?”

“There was a rather persistent young man outside, asking to see you.”

“Well, where is he?”

“Oh, he’s not a tenant. I couldn’t let just anyone into the building.”

“God, Sheldon, did he say who he was?”

“He claimed to be a courier, but he didn’t have any identification. He said he’d left his wallet in the office! A likely story.”

“Did he have a van, or anything?”

“He wasn’t stupid, Penny! Of course he had a van. So would I, if I wanted to impersonate a courier.”

“And why, exactly, would anyone want to impersonate a courier?”

“Of course, that is the conundrum – I’m still working it out myself.”

“Sheldon! Did he leave a package?”

“Well he certainly tried to, after I questioned his credentials.”

“I don’t like where this is going…”

“Don’t worry, Penny: I refused to be party to his fraudulent machinations, or to sign his so-called documentation. He took the ‘delivery’ away again in his ‘courier van’!”

“Sheldon, has anyone ever asked you, in the nicest possible way, to leave before I kill you?”

“How could they possibly ask that nicely? But I’ll admit that the phrase is familiar to me.”



“Leave. Before I kill you.”

“Oh, you weren’t speaking hypothetically?”



“What is it, Sheldon?”

“I need to ask you a question.”

“If this is about the birds and the bees again, it’s still a metaphor, and yes, your parents lied to you.”

“No, although we’ll return to that later. I need to ask you about Penny.”

“Okay Sheldon. Penny is a bird, according to your parents’ reimagining of biology…”

“No, no. Good Lord, Leonard! If I wanted to indulge in sordid discussions, I would read your chat logs.”

“So that was you!”

“Oh, don’t be so paranoid. It was Wolowitz.”

“What do you want, Sheldon?”

“I may not be reading our interaction correctly, but I believe that Penny might be annoyed at me.”

“That hardly seems likely.”

“That’s exactly what I thought. But she did threaten to kill me, which seemed a little hostile at the time.”

“What did you do, Sheldon?”

“And why would you assume that I did anything?”

“Because Penny doesn’t usually announce her desire to kill someone unless they’ve done something incredibly annoying.”

“Oh, and you’re suddenly our resident expert on all things Penny?”

“You did ask for my advice.”

“Please, Leonard. If you recall the beginning of our conversation, I said I needed to ask you a question. I did not specify that I would require or value a response. Hearing you fumbling around on the pseudoscientific periphery of female psychology is all the confirmation I need.”

“Always a pleasure, Sheldon. And what conclusions has your insightful experiment drawn?”

“I’m glad you asked. Penny is obviously not mad at me for some perceived slight. She is clearly angry at you, probably for some failure to perform adequately in the bedroom. I am your room-mate, so she has transferred her unconscious frustration at you to a more accessible target, namely me.”

“It must be dizzying, living in your head.”

“Well, it would be, for a lesser intellect.”

“Hey guys, did you catch the news?”

“Could you be a little more specific, Howard? Sheldon has alerts set up for any stories within a five mile radius of the apartment, so we’re fully conversant with cats versus trees for this week.

“There’s no need for sarcasm, Leonard! Mrs Whiskers was saved by a strapping young member of our fire department, and is recovering well.”

“No, this is a big story, and it happened just down the block! Some sleazoid was pretending to be a courier driver and seducing women with his package, if you know what I mean!”

“Well, I don’t know what you mean, Howard. I can’t see what’s so enticing about a package. Unless, I suppose, it’s the thrill of the unknown, the barely concealed bulges hinting at hitherto unknown delights…”

“Um, Sheldon?”

“Don’t tell him, Howard. Some things are better left unsaid.”


This piece was written for Nika Harper’s Wordplay #8. The challenge was fan fiction, with the prompts “failed delivery” and “inner demon.”