This is the twenty-first episode of a fiction serial, in 820 words.
Experiment Two: Part Two
Subject: Danielle Goldman.
Having set an alarm to wake me, I was up early, keen to check on Danielle and review the camera footage from the overnight recording. My initial observation was that none of the creatures inside her container appeared to have harmed her in any way. During the night, they had congregated by species in distinct areas, with only the single creatures and spiders choosing to rest alone in the corners. The monitor attached to her arm showed she was not doing very well. Her pulse rate was dangerously low, and the blood pressure hardly registering. Whatever terrors she had experienced as I slept had taken their toll, and she was barely conscious.
Using a long spout attached to a bottle of water, I tried to force some into her mouth, sure she must be incredibly thirsty by now. But she clenched her jaw, and moved her head to one side, her eyes firmly closed. I thought I might need to stimulate the insects into activity, so I increased the heat setting inside the container, and threw in some vegetable matter that they might feed on. Within moments, the plant-eaters were scurrying around, keen to eat, and the predatory creatures attacked them, attracted by the movement.
Despite the veritable hive of activity happening on and around her body, Danielle did not stir. I was beginning to wonder if anyone can become used to their greatest fear if exposed for long enough, when the alarm sounded on the monitor. I walked over and muted the high-pitched sound, noting that the pulse and blood presure were no longer registering, and the numbers had gone, replaced by a flashing red warning.
After waiting a few moments with my notebook poised, I concluded that Danielle had just died, and wrote down the time.
Reviewing the video footage took a long time. For most of the night she could be seen wriggling around as best as she could, trying to dissuade the insects from settling on her face and head. But by five-fifteen, she was undoubtedly exhausted, and seemed to be deeply asleep. By contrast, her companions in the container were active for most of the time, before settling into their chosen spots by six fity-eight, not long before I arrived in the workshop.
It was midday before I had finished, and I decided to go back to the house for lunch before the task of clearing away the experiment began. I was distracted as I ate, very excited by the prospect that my second experiment was successful, in that it might well have proved that someone could indeed die of fright, given the right set of circumstances.
When I had dressed in the protective clothing, I went to the container and removed the cuff and monitor lead from Danielle’s arm. Then I sealed the access ports tight, before attaching the nozzle of a compressor to the underside. With that in place, I connected the hose to an extraction pump, and turned it on. Though very noisy, it would suck all the air out of the container in a very short time, killing all the creatures inside without me having to resort to using insecticide or other means to dispose of them.
When nothing inside was moving in the newly-created vacuum, I unlocked the lid and opened the container. It took some time for me to go and retrieve the drum of acid containing what was left of Shell, but I could see no point in using up any more of my supply. Using the hoist and chains, I poured that into the larger box I had built the previous day, and allowed it to settle as I swept out the insects using a dustpan and brush. After filling a large plastic box with the dead creatures, I added the boxes containing the scorpions, and dropped the whole thing into the acid. That bubbled away nicely as I began to attach some hoist straps to Danielle’s body.
The creaking sound given off by the straps as the body was lifted out of the container gave me cause for concern. It seemed that her weight was close to the maximum that the hoist would bear. Once her body was lowered into the new tank, I went and made some notes and calculations. I would need a stronger hoist, I was sure of that.
There was not much more I could do that day, as I now had to allow a full twenty-four hours or more for Danielle to dissolve before I could pour her back into the drum and return it to its concealed place. So I changed out of the protective clothing, and went back into the house, satisfied with my work.
Something nice for dinner would be in order. I decided to drive into town and buy some Chinese food to bring home.
I might even try chili prawns.