Contains Strychnine – a flash fiction story

‘Right… This is my offering for the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop. Thanks to Leanne Sype for recommending :-)! See Leanne’s blog for more info…

Hope you all enjoy it!


Contains Strychnine

The librarian peered at me over the top of her reading glasses.
‘And what would you be wanting a book about something like that for, young man?’
The fluttering in my belly started again. Maybe she knew. No, that was silly. How could she know? How could she possibly know?
The old woman was still waiting for an answer. And smiling. It was a grandmother kind of smile. At least I think it was. I’d only ever seen photos of mine so I couldn’t be sure.
The librarian waved her hand in front of my eyes and laughed.
‘Sorry. What?’
‘The book. What do you want it for?’
I shrugged and tried to look casual.
‘Just a school project. It’s for chemistry.’
She nodded.
‘OK. I think I can help you. Let’s see what we can find.’
We wandered down the aisles between walls of books. The librarian read the signs under her breath until we reached Science. She stopped and pointed to the fifth shelf.
‘No wonder you couldn’t see them. We keep them out of the reach of inquisitive schoolboys.’
She winked. That made me feel even worse about lying to her.
‘Now, what exactly are you looking for? We’ve got an A to Z of Poisonous Plants, How to Rid your Garden of Rats, Moles and Other Pests, or The Encyclopedia of Toxicology.’
I chose the encyclopedia.
‘It’s an adult book so you won’t be able to take it home, you know.’
I nodded. I didn’t bother telling her I’d never be going home anyway.
She left me to it and I lugged the book to a desk. I flicked through the pages until I reached S. Sarin. Sodium cyanide.
Strychnine. That’s what the box of pesticide said. Contains Strychnine.
I read the list of symptoms. Muscle spasms. Convulsions. I learned that death came eventually either from asphyxiation, whatever that was, or exhaustion from the convulsions. The end would come about two or three hours after exposure to the toxin.
My skin turned ice-cold and I shivered. Two or three hours? I thought it was supposed to be quick. A chill whispered down my neck as I realized. I didn’t care about him but I’d never meant to hurt her. I was protecting her. From him. From what he would have done.
I’d seen it in his eyes. She thought he was The One. After Dad left she thought that about them all. But this one took her out. Fancy meals. Concerts. Hotels. that sort of thing. But I saw through it and he knew. He hated me because I knew what he was. A monster.
My stomach felt like a giant was squeezing it in his fist. I imagined Mum’s face. Serving the food I made them before I left. Dabbing her mouth with a napkin. ‘Like a proper lady’ she’d say. Then, as the poison started to work, writhing and screaming.
I wanted to puke. I grabbed my bag and ran.


About davidbastiani

I write words and sometimes they end up in the right order. I am the creator of Milo Peretti - Rome's newest private detective - and I'm currently working on my debut novel, The Colour of Weeping. I also write poetry. Sometimes I might let people read it. View all posts by davidbastiani

17 responses to “Contains Strychnine – a flash fiction story

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