This is the twenty-ninth part of a fiction serial, in 685 words.
Experiment Three: Part One.
Subject: Marta Dalca.
Age: Approximately 65.
After the tank was half full, I changed the hose input to warm water. I didn’t want Marta to die of hypotherimia. Nobody is scared enough of hypothermia to die from that fear. They just die of the cold. She had soon worked out that I was not going to engage in conversation with her, so stopped trying very quickly. As the tank filled, she seemed to be remarkably unconcerned. Her age and life experience had taught her that whatever happened, she could not survive to tell the tale. I made an excited notation in my book.
Marta was undoubtedly aware what was going to happen. Even as the water reached above her shoulders, she remained remarkably relaxed. Looking at me through the glass, she raised her right arm, and pointed at me. With a glint in her eye, and a firm set of her jaw, she began to speak in her own language.
“Te blestem, băiat rău. Ești rău și nu vei ști niciodată pacea. Îi chem pe strămoșii mei magici să-mi păstreze spiritul pentru a vă bântui până în ziua morții tale!”
Naturally, I did not understand the Romanian language, so I translated it on my laptop.
“I curse you, wicked boy. You are evil, and will never know peace. I call upon my magical ancestors to retain my spirit to haunt you to your dying day!”
She repeated this constantly, like a mantra. When the water was up to her bottom lip, she still kept on saying it. As it started to enter her mouth, her words changed, and were less intelligible, but she repeated them enough that I could note them down.
“Nu vei cunoaște niciodată pacea. Eu, Marta, voi fi cu tine mereu și nu vei putea să părăsești această casă sau să cunoști compania umană. Voi fi aici întotdeauna, și mă veți vedea tot restul vieții”.
I quickly translated that, though of course I was unconcerened.
“You will never know peace. I, Marta, will be with you always, and you will be unable to leave this house, or to know human company. I will be here forever, and you will see me for the rest of your life”.
I didn’t want to drown her of course. My interest was in seeing if the fear of the water would cause her to die from natural causes. She spat water from her mouth as she spoke again.
“Ești un monstru, iar Marta știe asta. Te voi bântui până când veți fi vechi și gri. Am o strămoșire a vrăjitoarelor vechi. Ai ales un tânăr prost, prost. Vei regreta această zi, deși nu știi asta acum”.
I made some notes, and waited to translate what she was saying.
“You are a monster, and Marta knows that now. I will haunt you until you are old and grey. I have an ancestry of old witches. You have chosen badly, foolish young man. You will regret this day, though you do not know that now”.
I was becoming rather bored, and went to the back to increase the flow from the hose. I got it just below her nose, and she turned and smiled at me.
To be honest, I had been hoping for a great deal more fear.
Frustrated, I waited until the water covered her head, and reached the top of the tank. Even as she fought for breath, and bubbles rose around her mouth, she continued to stare at me with a terrible glare. As the water began to spill from under the firm lid, I rushed to the back to shut off the tap.
The experiment had failed badly. She had chosen to drown.
Now I knew that I had no choice but to pump out the water from the tank, and consign Marta’s body to the acid the next day. I was displeased, to say the least. I had been unable to induce sufficient fear in the woman to make her die before she drowned naturally, and by choice.
It was time to rethink my tactics.