Death at the Alchemist Lab

Ukážka z finálovej poviedky v súťaži Fantázia Award s názvom Death at the Alchemists Lab. Poviedku som napísala priamo v angličtine špeciálne pre túto súťaž. Slovenská verzia neexistuje.

Death at the Alchemist Lab (excerpt)

‘Could you please tell us exactly who has found the deceased? And when?’ The woman spoke like a machine; there were almost no emotions in her voice, for her it was just another dead body.

‘I’ve found her. I woke up, grabbed a piece of bread in the kitchen and went right over here to the laboratory. It was five in the morning, the house was quiet, even the maid was still sleeping. I never thought I’d find her like this…’ he glanced over to the body on the floor and shuddered.

‘Have you moved the body in any way?’ asked Mr Eliot, and Mr Fill just shook his head.

‘Did you and your wife sleep in separate bedrooms, Mr Fill?’ asked Miss Castell.

The small room fell silent. It was considered very rude to ask such a personal question. But Miss Castell obviously could not care less. She had not become the only female inspector in town for being polite.

Mr Fill frowned at first, but then he smiled faintly. ‘You are asking because I didn’t suspect anything to be wrong until I walked in here.’


‘I slept on a sofa. I do that when I work late in the lab, I don’t want to disturb my wife’s shallow sleep.’

Miss Castell nodded and everyone around relaxed. She was brilliant, although no man would dare to say it aloud in front of the others, but her ‘right to the point’ approach was sometimes a bit too unsettling for everyone’s liking.

Inspector Castell looked around the alchemist’s laboratory. It was a dark place with only one small window, just above the ground. There were many glass vials, flasks and beacons all around, together with brazen bowels and stone mortars. On the shelves there were countless bottles and paper packets full of ingredients or finished products.

She knew that the alchemist was supplying a few pharmacies in the neighbourhood. These days it was much easier to order a small amount of an expensive potion at an alchemist than to keep a large amount of ingredients. Modern science demanded a modern approach.

The body dominated the floor of the small room, between cupboards and a long table. Or rather the blood dominated the floor, the body was just calmly lying there. There were a few broken vials next to it, which were probably pulled down as Mrs Fill was falling. Nothing else seemed to be broken.

‘Is anything missing?’ Miss Castell asked, just for confirmation.

Mr Fill’s hesitation before answering caught the detective’s attention. She did not know why. It was perfectly normal under the circumstances to take a while to skim the room and double-check whether there was indeed nothing missing. Yet…

‘No, nothing is missing,’ declared Mr Fill with confidence.

Miss Castell paused for a while and looked at him conspicuously. It seemed improbable that anyone would be able to make such a statement in this overfilled room.

‘What do you think has happened, Mr Fill?’ she changed the topic slightly.

‘Well, isn’t that obvious?’

Enlighten us, Miss Castell forbade herself to say. That would be rude even for her.

‘Please, just tell us, what do you think,’ she inquired, rephrasing her question while crouching down to the body.

(to be continued)