This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 820 words.
Experiment One. Part One.
Subject: Michelle O’Connor.
At work one day, I heard Shell on the phone to Emma. It seemed that Emma had fallen off of her bicycle on the way in, and had to go for treatment on cuts to her leg. Michelle was not pleased that Emma would not be coming into work, but was sympathetic about what might happen at the hospital. “Oh no, not stitches? That means lots of pain-killing injections, and a big Tetanus jab in the bum after. Ugh, needles make me shudder, I’m terrified of them. One of the reasons why I never had kids, I’m sure”.
Without even having to resort to subterfuge, I had discovered Shell’s weakness. She had a morbid fear of hypodermic needles that was sufficient for her to forego childbirth to avoid them. I doubt she knew the name of that phobia, but I did. Trypanophobia. It was so extreme in some sufferers, that they deliberately refused medical treatment involving those needles. No doubt some may well have died of self-neglect, rather that tolerate being injected.
It was very easy to become closer to Shell, knowing already that she found me attractive. I smiled at her a bit more, came back early from my breaks to appear keen to be around her, and one day I noticed that her hair was shorter, so said that it suited her. Not long after that, she passed me a note instructing me to meet her in the rest room after the shift, for a performance appraisal. She asked the two other people there to leave and give us some privacy, and immediately cut to the chase. There was no performance appraisal of course, and instead she suggested that we might go out on a date. “I know I’m a lot older than you, but I think I look good for my age, so what do you say, Paul?”
She was nothing if not confident.
I said what she wanted to hear. I liked her, didn’t care about the age difference, and would be happy to collect her at her house and take her out at the weekend. I lied about my own circumstances, telling her I only lived in a rented room in a big house, and my accommodation was embarrassingly poor. She wrote her address down on a napkin, and said to pick her up at seven on Saturday. As I left she spoke quietly. “It has to be our secret though, honey. After all, I am your team leader, and I don’t want anyone to know I am seeing you outside of work”.
That suited me perfectly.
Parking my car in a side street nearby, I walked to her house as it was getting dark. A busy road, with lots of cars on it, but few people. Nobody noticed me in my dark raincoat, I was sure of that. I had brought along a screw-top bottle of wine, carefully resealed on one of the work benches before I left. After she invited me in, I suggested a drink before we left to go to the Chinese restaurant that she had recommended. Opening the top of the bottle in front of her, I almost filled her glass, pouring myself little more than a mouthful. As I was driving, that was a good enough excuse. The strong red wine contained enough sleeping tablets to knock down a bull, but she didn’t notice the finely-ground powder as she quaffed it down.
During the time I had been pretending to be depressed and upset about father’s death, the family doctor had gven me a lot of medication quite happily. Sleeping tablets, sedatives, even drugs to control depression. I hadn’t taken any of course, saving them all up for other uses.
As she seemed to be in no rush to go out, I topped up Shell’s glass, and engaged her in innocent conversation about her background. Divorced for over ten years, she had no siblings, and her elderly mother was resident in a care home some distance away. She told me she had once wanted to be a teacher, but hadn’t done well enough at school. When I saw her grab the arm of the sofa to support herself, I guessed my concotion was working.
She excused herself and went up to the bathroom, obviously wondering what was wrong with her. I waited long enough to appear respectful, then went up to find her collapsed and unconscious on the small bathroom floor, breathing loudly.
As I had no intention of getting my car and moving her until everyone was at home with their curtains closed, I went back downstairs and made a few notes in a small notebook. After that, I boiled a kettle, and washed out the wine bottle and glasses, placing them inside one of the kitchen cupboards.
Checking my watch, I decided to wait for one more hour.