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Al and I were seated on either side of my bed in the cheap hotel room we’d rented about an hour or two ago, contemplating the murder of the Creator. Between us was a notebook with notes detailing a classic break-in murder, all crossed out.
“It’s too risky,” I said. “There are a million ways it could go wrong, especially considering the fact that we’ve never done this before. First of all, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to break in. If somehow we do, someone might wake up. If not, the Creator might-”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, smart boy,” Al said, waving his hand dismissively. His brow was furrowed. “We have to find an-” he paused for a second, searching for the word. “An elegant way to do it.”
“You mean inconspicuous.”
“Not only that but also elegant. Elegant in the sense that it would be easy to execute and would be too advanced for the police to detect it was even a murder.”
“Why’re you so worried about detection? We could just scram as soon as we do it.”
“Yeah, but what if we don’t get a chance to? What if the circumstances-”
“I see your point.” I scratched my chin, thinking. An elegant way to commit murder. “Poison,” I said suddenly.
“Poison the Creator? Oh, how these babies grow,” Al mock-wiped a non-existent tear from his eye.
“And how senile decay destroys daddies’ brains.”
“Ooh, these babies learn fast and learn hard. Daddy’s gonna have to keep an eye out for them from now on.”
“Al, what do we poison the Creator with?”
“Don’t ask daddy. Daddy’s brain has been destroyed by senile decay.”
“Well, from my time in Weapons Development, I know of a few deadly poisons. Ricin, dimethyl mercury, saxitoxin, tetrodotoxin, thallium, SUX, potassium chloride, cyanide-” Al rattled off poison names while I barely listened.
“The important question is, o great scholar,” I said when he’d finished. “Which of these can we find easily and give the Creator easily?”
Al thought for a moment. He talked mostly to himself when he spoke again. “There’s no chance of finding pufferfish or shellfish here, so saxitoxin and tetrodotoxin are out. SUX is hard to obtain, so that’s out too. Ricin- castor seeds will probably be available, so that’s a contender,” he put up his index finger. “Potassium chloride is found in every school lab,” he counted two on his fingers. “And maybe we can also get botox if we really try,” he put up his ring finger as well. He talked to himself for a few more minutes, going through his mental list of poisons and ruling them out or counting them in.
At the end of that scholarly monologue, his left hand was open, displaying five fingers. “I have five that we could use. Ricin, potassium chloride, botox-”
“Hold on, botox? The stuff that’s used for removing wrinkles?”
“Yes, son. Botox is the deadliest poison known to humankind.” He stopped for a second to let me digest this, then continued. “And two plants- hemlock and wolfsbane, although I prefer the former three options.”
“Let’s go with the former three, then. I know nothing about poisons, so I’m gonna have to trust you, unfortunately.”
“Thou shalt not disdain those who can kill thee,” Al said with an evil, warning glint in his eyes.
“So we have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C. Now tell me, o Shakespeare of poisons, how shall we go about it?”
Al explained everything to me like a teacher trained in the fine art of poisoning. I made a mental note to never annoy him too much.
Two days later, I walked through the huge black gates of Bal Bharati Public School, in the crisp new white shirt and grey pants I’d bought for myself the previous day, a black backpack slung on my shoulder. Someone had once wisely said that all you need to get inside a school is a uniform.
I walked as fast as I could, not daring to run in case people got suspicious. I followed the children of my age, most of whom were walking toward the building straight ahead, just behind the vast green field where kids of all ages were playing some sport. It was one of the three buildings in the school area, out of which one was just beside it, connected to it by corridors on the first and second floors as I noticed when I looked up, and the other was completely cut off from those two, 50-100 metres away from them.
I had chosen to come here alone for the potassium chloride, while Al had gone off to the market to get castor seeds. Al had offered for me to do the relatively safe market job instead as I was ignorant about the fascinating science of toxicology, but I had chosen this. It had felt right, somehow. I was the protagonist, and so I should be the one doing the dangerous job- I hadn’t said that outright, but that thought was in the back of my mind, and it was probably what had compelled me to take this stupid, stupid decision.
Never in a fight against Hela mutants had I been so nervous as I was now. A million scenarios of me getting caught were constantly bugging me like little devils on my shoulder. I told myself to breathe easy as I turned left into the grey building, and told myself to look out for a chemistry lab. Looking both ways as I walked down the clean corridor, I did not have to go far.
The chemistry lab was on my right, large and white-tiled, like a hospital lobby. I took out a few printed sheets and a pen from my backpack, walking inside and alternately surveying the lab and the papers, pretending for the cameras (if they existed inside the lab) that I was a student sent by a teacher to check if some chemicals were available.
Marble slabs topped with glass shelves full of bottled reagents were systematically arranged in rows inside the lab. On one end, away from the door, was a demonstration table where the teacher probably told the students what to do. On the other end was a longer slab with more bottles, flasks, containers, and other lab equipment. I walked down the rows, making random ticks on my paper, looking for potassium chloride. Then, something happened.
“What are you doing here?” a voice said behind me.