A few weeks had passed and finally the doctor had been charged. Detective Baker now had the chance to continue questioning where others had left off.

“My client was not responsible for his actions,” the solicitor, Brian Murphy, insisted.

“Your client deliberately developed the bug; then with deliberate and calculated forethought he distributed it to his enemies embedded in invitations to a debate on Brexit, for God’s sake!” Detective Baker insisted.

“He wasn’t of sound mind,” Murphy insisted. “And he handed himself in."

“That’s as may be, still he was of sound enough mind to develop a strain of bacteria that he then used to deliberately infect and kill his victims.” Baker’s irritation was bleeding into the tone of his voice. Normally he prided himself on his implacability but in this instance, with the painful death of thirty two victims under the defendant’s belt, he was struggling to maintain his composure. Two of the deceased were friends of his that had been assigned protection duties to one of the more important victims. On top of all this the level of collateral damage was also becoming more evident; the numbers of apparently unrelated dead and dying was increasing steadily, earning this guy the notoriety usually reserved for the likes of Shipman.

“He has a medical condition that made him behave irrationally! You’ve seen the reports.”

“Yeah, yeah. That’s what they all say. Fact is, the level of expertise and calculation he demonstrated shows the presence of mind a sane person uses to execute such an act. Your client will be remanded until his bail hearing. If I have anything to do with it there is absolutely no chance he will get bail. Care to comment, Doctor Ericsson?”

The face of the mass murderer, Doctor Peter Ericson, changed almost imperceptibly, so far the only evidence of emotion the detective had detected since the man’s arrest.

“No comment,” he grinned in response. “Just joking. Actually, I do have a comment. Am I being recorded?”

“Absolutely. Sound and vision. The floor is yours, Doctor,” Baker replied, sarcastically, tinged with a little apprehension.

“Good. I want this recorded for posterity.”
“Doctor,” the solicitor interrupted. Murphy hated it when his clients confessed, it reduced his fees significantly.

“That’s alright,” the doctor responded calmly. “I want to do this. Perhaps my brilliance will someday be discovered by someone in the New World.”

“America?” Murphy asked in spite of himself. He, too, was surprised at the change in his client.

The doctor rolled his eyes.

“The best the public purse can afford, no doubt,” he spat. “Not worth the air they breathe. Never mind, you won’t be annoying for long.” He turned to speak to the detective. “As it happens I know that I will never serve a day in prison. Like that absolute, death, I can absolutely guarantee my imminent freedom.”

He reached out and grabbed Detective Baker’s hand before the man could pull away.

“I promise,” he re-iterated, his face serious.

The blood drained from Baker’s face, his hand tingling at the doctor’s touch. The certainty of the doctor’s assertion left him cold with a creeping fear slithering up his back.

“Get lost!” he cried, recoiling in disgust and fear. “Creepy fucker.”

The doctor smiled serenely before continuing.

“Just for the record, it wasn’t a bacterial strain I unleashed. That’s just pure conjecture on your part. Let’s just say I was a keen gardener and there were more interesting resources at hand. In a way your conjecture was a little right, at the time I was searching for antibacterial agents in the soil.” The doctor paused for a moment. “Satisfy my curiosity, Detective, they found holes in the envelopes, like they’d been eaten through, didn’t they?”

Baker automatically looked through the notes he had in front of him.

“There did seem to be a little damage to the envelopes, yes.” Baker shook his head, annoyed at the realisation that this interrogation wasn’t going his way and for now he wished it was over.

The doctor smiled again with a slight nod of his head.

“Some hatched ahead of schedule it seems.”

“What hatched?” Baker asked.

Tearing his eyes away from the prisoner Detective Baker turned towards the solicitor, the detective expecting some sort of support or legal objection to something, anything really, but instead noticed a change in the lawyer’s demeanour; a vacant stare was all that remained in Murphy’s eyes.

“What I call the ‘Spice Effect’,” Doctor Ericson said, smiling with satisfaction.

The detective looked down at his own hands; they were more than a little itchy.

Copyright © 2018 David Kingsley Roberts

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