The Professor: A Murder Mystery

I’m trying to write this as if it were an episode of NCIS/CSI/Elementary, etc. Here are the first few chapters


“Professor, what brings you here so late at night?” Katherine Slankard asked.
“Couldn’t sleep, had a moment of inspiration,” the professor explained, “so I thought I would rush right on down and get to work.”
“Well, if you need anything, you know where to find me.”
“Thanks. I should actually only be a few minutes.”

The professor smiled as he walked down the hallway to the storage room. Things were going well. He thought he would have had to use his ID badge to get inside the lab, but the janitor recognized him and opened the door for him, so there would be no evidence he was even there.

Even if there was, that wasn’t an issue. He frequently visited the lab, mostly for consulting on projects, but often enough to do his own research. His research was what brought him there tonight. He had worked long hard hours on his latest project, and now, he just needed a few supplies and he could create his final product. He laughed to himself. Calling it a product was, in fact, the best word to describe it, but it also made him sound like drug dealer. Drug may have been an appropriate word, but not quite the right one.

He found the storage room and it only took a few moments for him to gather the supplies he would need. He slid on the gloves he had brought and carefully made his selections. He didn’t need a list, he had it memorized.

He could have made his product in the lab itself if he had an office there. He had asked about that possibility, and he thought he would receive it, but the higher ups at ORP Chemical Corporation had nixed it. He had smiled and pretended to be understanding, but really, he was hurt. He had done good work for them the past few years and there were several spaces open. But none of that mattered tonight.

The professor placed his supplies in a medium sized cardboard box. None of the supplies were unstable, none would cause him any issues if carried another way, but the cardboard box was as inconspicuous as he could think of. And so he started his walk back toward the front door.

“Goodnight Katherine!” he hollered as he neared the door.

Unfortunately, she turned the corner before he could exit. “Goodnight,” she said, but then she noticed the box. “What’s in the box?”

The professor named a few of the supplies. They were innocuous enough.

“You know you can’t take supplies from the lab,” Katherine said.

“Can’t you make an exception just this once?” the professor pleaded, “You know me.”

“I do know you, but I can’t make an exception. And you know why too. What’s going on?”

The professor said, "Like I said, a moment of inspiration. Wanted to take these for an experiment.” Yes, he thought, experiment was a solid word for it. Still, not the most accurate, but better than drug.

But Katherine wouldn’t budge, “Even if its for your students, you know you can’t take the chemicals. Do I have to report you?”

The professor made his decision in that instant. He set the box down. “No, please don’t report me.”

Katherine smiled. “Good. Now goodnight, professor,” and turned around. But it was too late. The professor had already picked up an empty beaker from a nearby table and in the next instant smashed it over her head. She crumbled to floor.

The professor waited only a moment to be sure she was really dead, then picked up his box and left the building, careful use only his gloves on the exit door.

Chapter 1:

When Agent Kimberly Clark got the call she was excited. Of course she knew she should be sad, would be terrified even. Excited was definitely the wrong emotion. But she was so tired of desk duty, of paperwork and grunt work, that when the call came, she couldn’t help but be excited. Excited about her first murder case at major crimes.

Kim, as she liked to be called, was a fairly petite woman. She had a soft-spoken voice and though she wasn’t what many guys found “sexy” she had discovered that she was attractive enough to feel content with her own self-worth. Her brown hair was in a bob style, and she knew she could grow it out even longer if she wanted. So as she got ready, she was content to dress modestly. She normally dressed modestly, sometimes a bit provocatively, but never slutty. And for her first murder, she wanted to appear professional. And so she chose her outfit and drove as quickly as she could to the crime scene, wondering the whole way what she would find when she got there.

The crime scene wasn’t a home, so she lowered the probability of the issue being a marital dispute in her mind. Of course that could still be the ultimate motive for the murder, and she didn’t want to set aside any option before starting in on the clues, but she felt free to let her mind wander.

She didn’t know if she wanted a quick and easy case for her first one, or a challenge. A tough one would show her detective skills, a quick and easy one would boost her confidence like a baseball player getting his first hit.

That reminded her and she asked Google who won the game last night. Of course the Cubs had won in extras. Paul would be furious when she got there. His beloved Nats just were not having the season they were supposed to.

She pulled into ORP and as she walked toward the door she already saw police tape. She flashed her badge at one of the other officers and walked into the facility.

She could tell Paul wasn’t happy already as she took in the body and blood that had spilled over the floor. But Agent Proctor would be all business, he always was.

“What do we know?” she asked, and he gave her a rundown of the basic facts. Dr. Slankard was the manager of the late-night shift. No cameras revealed anything. The few people inside the lab were already been vetted, and the crime scene folks had already started dusting for prints.

Dr. Keeling, a man in his late fifties to early sixties, was the man in charge of the whole facility. “No,” he was saying, “I can’t think of any enemies she had inside the lab. I just don’t know who would do this.”

Dr. Keeling kept talking, but Kim started tuning him out. Instead, she took in more of the crime scene. Pieces of glass were still on the lab floor. This act was probably not premeditated.

Paul was asking, “What about rivals? Was she working on anything particular that others would want to get their hands on?”

Dr. Keeling shook his head, “No, most of the projects here are fairly mundane right now. I can get you a list if it’s helpful, but I doubt it.”

Kim spoke up, “What about you?” He seemed like he was still in a bit of a shock over the whole scene, but she knew never to leave a stone unturned, “Was she about to take your job or anything?”

The doctor again shook his head, “She easily could have. In fact several headhunters from other companies have tried to poach her, and she has talked to a few, but normally we just bump her pay up another 2% and she’s content. She was as solid as they come.”

Kim didn’t want to make any assumptions, but it didn’t sound like there was any reason for an insider to go after her for work related issues. “What about inter-office romances? Was she seeing anybody?”

Dr. Slankard’s body was still on the ground, the ME working toward delivering her for autopsy, though it was obvious what had happened. A lover was a real possibility. There was no ring, so it wouldn’t have been an affair, but maybe an uncomfortable breakup. Or of course, Dr. Keeling could be hiding research of a sensitive nature.

Just then, though, one of the crime techs spoke up, “I think I’ve got something,” he said. He pointed to an area on the ground. There was no blood, so Kim wondered what was significant about it, unless there should have been blood. Instead he said, “There is a dust pattern here. Once we do our think we can mark it off, but there was something sitting here on ground.”

“Something?” asked Paul, “care to postulate what?”

The tech used his hands to show the dimensions, “I’d guess a simple box of some sort.”

Both Kim and Paul turned to Dr. Keeling, “Is there a box there usually? Perhaps deliveries or something?”

Dr. Keeling shook his head, “No. A box sitting there would be unusual. Let me check something.”

He went to a computer terminal at a desk in the far corner, away from the crime scene, typed in a few strokes, then came back. “The computer doesn’t say any of our chemicals are missing, but we will do a visual inventory. I’ll call in some extra help. It may take a little while, a few hours at least. You’re welcome to wait, or I can just call you with the results.”

Both Kim and Paul knew the answer to that question. Even though it was her first murder, Kim knew enough to explain, “Sorry, but we’d prefer to stay here. If you don’t mind, we’ll talk with the employees who were working in other parts of the lab and see if anyone noticed anything. Just let us know when you find something.”

Of course, both Paul and Kim would keep an eye on the work Dr. Keeling would do. If something was missing, ORP might have good reason to cover it up. They didn’t want to give anyone a chance for that.

Fortunately, Dr. Keeling at least seemed to be on the up and up. He found them after a while. They had spoken to a few people, but no one seemed to have either seen anything or have reason to be hiding anything. But Dr. Keeling handed them a sheet of paper, “Here are the chemicals that are missing,” he said.

Paul looked over it first. Then he handed it to Kim. She only recognized a few of the names, and was about to ask for implications when Paul beat her to it.

Dr. Keeling grimaced, “Most of those chemicals are harmless. Even combined, most of them wouldn’t have any practical purpose that I am aware of. There are a few that are dangerous though.”

“What are we talking about here – dangerous as in could poison someone or dangerous as in, its not plutonium but its that bad?”

Dr. Keeling replied, “Closer to the first, but some of these are easily made into airborne agents. I’m not sure what kind, but this could be a biological attack.”

Chapter 2:

The professor smiled. His experiment was moving along well. He had truly felt sorry for Katherine. She didn’t have any family that he knew of, but he knew she was a frequent volunteer at a food pantry down the road from the university. He might give them a donation in her honor. That would be a nice gesture.

He sat at his desk in his office trying to focus on grading. When he couldn’t seem to do the math right, he set the papers aside and instead tried to read an article from the latest journal.

When that didn’t work, he gave in and pulled up the latest data on his experiment. Of course he hadn’t kept it at the university, but he had sensors that would transmit data to his computer. It looked like everything was going perfectly fine. The few samples he already had prepared would soon be joined by several more. He would have enough product – enough to enact his plan.

Just then there was a knock at the door. “Excuse me, professor?” a female voice said.

The door was open, but he could tell the girl – at probably nineteen or twenty, more like young woman – was just trying to be polite. He didn’t recognize her, but it was still early in the semester. He had timed his experiment that way on purpose. Start it too late and all the students go home for the holiday and he doesn’t get to see the results. Of course he might see the early stages, but he wanted to see every stage.
“Yes, please come in, uh –“ he paused, beckoning for her to share her name.

“Rachel. Rachel Moore.”

The name sounded familiar, she was definitely a student in one of his classes, but he couldn’t tell which one. And he admitted it, “I’m sorry Rachel, which class are you in?”

“Freshman Intro to Chemistry” she stated, which explained it. Freshman Introduction to Chemistry was his biggest class. This semester he was also teaching Freshman Intro to Biology, Inorganic Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Advanced Chem Lab. 15 hours was a lot, but he would get 12 next semester. And by then he would have the results of his experiment.

He snuck a glance at his computer as the data. He smiled. Soon he would have plenty of sample. So he discreetly took one hidden vial from behind his desk and opened it. There was no odor, no sound, but he had just released his experiment into the air. Rachel had just become patient zero. If he left the office and closed and locked the door after this conversation, she would be the only one effected by the one vial. By the time anyone else came around, the chemical combinations would have dissipated enough to be of no effect, or of so minor an effect that it would not be noticeable.

“What can I do for you, Rachel Moore from Freshman Intro to Chemistry?” he smiled. He truly did enjoy teaching. Of course there were some frustrating students. He felt guilty any time he called the funeral home where funeral services for a dead grandparent had been held, but for every 19 students who had a perfectly legitimate death in the family, there was the one who made it all up. Most students, however, either just wanted to bunker down and get the work done, or they were actually interested in chemistry and had passion for it.

He quickly pulled up the Blackboard client and found Rachel Moore’s grades. Solid B-‘s. He had been around long enough to know what would come next.

Rachel affirmed his best guess when she said, “I was a straight A student in high school. I don’t mean to say I was perfect – I got the occasional minus, but I’m worried about my grade. I know your syllabus says you don’t offer any extra credit, but I was wondering if you had any suggestions.”

The professor smiled. He had her pegged. He nodded, “The study habits you had in high school are the place to start. First off, did you study? Some just breezed through high school.”

“No, I had to work. I memorized and made flash cards, I quizzed myself, highlighted my book, all of that.” She showed him her textbook, “I’ve been doing the exact same thing this year, and in my other classes, it seems to be working, just not in this one.”

The professor let his smile fade. Rachel wasn’t trying to be rude. But she had just indirectly said it was his fault she didn’t get the grade she wanted. Of course, she didn’t realize she had said that.

He replied, “First off, a B- in my class is nothing to be ashamed of. Do you have interest in chemistry or biology?”

Rachel shook her head, “Not really. No offense. But I’m more interested in English class and journalism.”

The professor’s smile returned. He could tell Rachel was a good student, and a hard working, polite, respectful student. That would take her far. He even wondered if he could have her write about his experiment. But he knew better.

“Rachel, those are all good strategies. But those are high school strategies. Have you ever heard of Bloom’s taxonomy?”

She shook her head.

He explained, “At the high school level, most teachers are aiming for simple comprehension and knowledge. So questions like, “state the definition of…” or “list the inert gases,” that sort of thing. Your techniques work great for that level. But I’m moving you up a step or two. I’m asking questions that have to with application and analysis. They’re questions that you can’t just regurgitate answers to. You have to reflect on what you’ve learned and actually do something with it. For instance…” he tried to explain more to her but could tell she was having trouble following. Not her fault, just a difficult transition.

He stopped when he could tell she had lost him, “What I mean is that. It’s no longer enough to just repeat what your teacher tells you. You need to think for yourself. What happens if… What does this actually mean? Those kinds of questions.”

Rachel nodded, and hesitantly asked, “So like instead of highlighting facts and terms, ask questions of the text as I read it? The terms might be important, but the implications are more important?”

The professor beamed. She had understood after all. “Yes! You do that and I’m sure you’ll ace the test come Friday.”

He thought she would be glad about that, instead, she looked panicked.

“Did you forget about the test?” he asked.

“No,” she said, standing, “I just realized I really need to use the bathroom. Thanks, but excuse me!” she said as she dashed off.

The professor smiled. That was quick. His vial had done its job after all. He opened another file in his computer. He had named it “Data Entry 5673-2668765.” To anyone else, it would be incredibly boring. No one would think about opening it. To him, though, it contained a special meaning. He smiled at his own cleverness. And he wondered how Rachel would be doing on Friday. If she was doing how he expected, perhaps he could move up his timeline.

Chapter 3:

Kim and Paul reported back to their boss, Chief Gamble. Gamble was an old curmudgeon, but he had a decent sense of humor. As long as you worked hard and stayed with the lines, he was happy with you. People respected that.

“Bio-terrorism?” he asked, “Is that really what’s going on?”

Paul took over as the more senior of the two, “That’s what we’re led to believe, sir.”

Gamble shook his head. “Alright, what are next steps?”

Paul continued, “First, we need some inter-agency cooperation.” Gamble laughed, but beckoned Paul to continue, his only statement on how difficult inter-agency cooperation might be, knowing that it was exactly what was needed. Paul kept going, “second, we need to find out if there has been any chatter. Homeland Security, CIA, NSA, all of that. Or, if this is a homegrown thing, then FBI.”

Kim jumped in, “Right. Then, we also need to contact CDC, plan for the worst, hope for the best. What strategies do we have for dealing with a successful attack? Since we don’t know where or when the attack is coming, we can’t evacuate or anything like that, but we do need to make plans.”

Gamble nodded, but then said, “Ok. We’ll deal with all of those points. We’ll deal with our friends in the acronym business and we’ll get all the latest information. Obviously this case has become more than just a murder. But its still a murder none-the-less. So where are we on that front? Let’s keep it simple.”

Kim nodded. It was a fair strategy. Treat it like any other murder and the larger pieces would fall too. She said, “I was planning on talking with Dig Deeper Chemicals. I don’t think they’re suspects, but they might be able to tell us another side to the story.”

Gamble asked, “Like if an ORP employee had a secret meeting to defect.”


“Get right on it. What about you Paul?”

Paul explained how he was going to go back to ORP, talk to the daytime employees, see if they could tell him anything. He expected a dead end, but he wanted to see if he could shake anything loose.

Soon, Kim was in the car again, heading toward Dig Deeper. She wondered why it was called Dig Deeper. But her mind quickly started to wonder again: If it was a biological attack, what kind of attack would it be? Would it take place here in DC, or had the robber merely acquired it in DC, planning on taking it up to Baltimore, Philly, New York, Boston? Or take it south to Charlotte, to Raleigh, to Atlanta, to Miami? Or even take it west, maybe even all the way to LA? But then wouldn’t it have been easier to steal from a facility out there?

She pulled into the parking lot for Dig Deeper and was greeted by a friendly secretary who sent her right on up to the director’s office. He introduced himself as Dr. Jamner. “What can I do for you today?”

Kim had to admit she didn’t really know where to start. She explained about the robbery at ORP, but didn’t want to disclose too much.

Dr. Jamner laughed, “I understand your concern. But I can assure you, we’re less rivals and more collaborators. If one of us had an innovation, it would take over both labs, and though the discovering lab would get credit, the other lab would profit nearly as much. That’s just the way things are working these days. The one thing I could say is that the robbery could not have happened here.”

“Oh,” Kim asked, “Why not?”

“Here we have much more strict protocols about who comes in and who leaves the labs. We do work with some more sensitive chemicals here, and so we have extra precautions. I don’t say that to boast – more sensitive chemicals come with their own fair share of headaches. But, for instance, no one could access our chemical storage without at least scanning in an ID badge. For some of the chemicals, it requires much more clearance.”

Kim wondered about that. “If you have the more sensitive chemicals, then why not at least attempt a robbery here? Wouldn’t it be easy enough to fake an ID or steal someone elses?”

Dr. Jamner nodded, “It would be. But why risk if you have access to the other lab?”

Kim followed up, “Who actually has access to labs like these, besides employees and staff?”

Dr. Jamner said, “We invite researchers and professors from all over to come in and support our work or use our facilities to do their own business. They have to pass a background check of course, but they’d have access.”

“Does ORP do the same thing?”

“Yes, of course. Though I’ll admit, one of the perks of coming here instead that we provide free office space for our consultants. The thief wouldn’t have had to leave the facility. They could have just dealt with the chemicals here, assuming their target was nearby.”

Kim had a thought. “That’s actually really helpful. I assume there is a lot of overlap between the two labs. Do many consultants work for you and for ORP?”

Dr. Jamner explained, “No, actually they don’t. It’s not an official policy, like I said we are more collaborators than anything, but its just a by the nature of things issue. Different sides of town. We’re closer to some colleges, their closer to some. It’s not an even split, like I said, we provide our consultants better perks, but its not a big enough difference to make up for the convenience of just working with the closer lab.”

Kim nodded, and simply said, “Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.”

Dr. Jamner said, “Before you go, can I ask, am I still a suspect?”

Kim smiled. “It’s an ongoing investigation. We’ll check out your alibi, but for now, just stay close by.”

She got in her car and started laughing. That was the official line, the right thing to say of course, but she had a new idea, and she was going to run with it.

Chapter 4:

Rachel woke up and rushed to the bathroom. She got ready for the day like normal and even got a cafeteria breakfast, which she normally didn’t do but felt like she needed to on test days. After breakfast she went to the bathroom and headed back to her dorm, where she made herself some hot chocolate in the microwave and then settled down into studying. But every ten minutes it seemed she had to go to the bathroom. She wondered if she should see a school nurse. First, she checked her own temperature. It was normal. Her stomach felt fine. The nurse would probably say it was just nervousness.

She studied some more, then looked at the time. 12:20. A quick lunch, then 15 minutes of cramming, and then 1:15 Chemistry test. Fortunately, Chemistry was her own Monday/Wednesday/Friday class. It made for long Tuesday/Thursdays, with her English class first thing in the morning at 8, journalism at 9:30, her math class at 1:15 and American History at 4, but it worked for her. She wanted to skip chemistry Friday afternoon all too often, but so far she had stuck with it. Hopefully that paid off today.

She came back to the dorm to see her roommate, Claire, sitting at her desk, texting on her phone. Claire had been the smarter of the two. She had jam packed mornings, but by lunchtime on Friday, her weekend had begun.

Rachel set her alarm for 15 minutes and got to studying. She made it five before she had to race to the bathroom. Five more and she had to race in again. She didn’t know what was wrong, but this couldn’t be normal, could it? The alarm went off and she had to go again.

When she came out of the bathroom after that, Claire said, ‘Everything okay?”

Rachel sighed, “You noticed, huh?”

Claire laugh, “If you had to go more often, I’d say just stay in there.”

Just about, Rachel thought. But what she said was, “Yeah. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this test.”

“Just talk to the professor, I’m sure he’ll understand. Cute girl like you having trouble controlling your bladder,” she laughed.

Rachel stuck out her tongue, ignoring the joke, “Another time, maybe, but I just had a conversation with him on Wednesday afternoon. If I act funny he’ll think I’m cheating.”

“Then what about wearing a diaper,” Claire laughed.

Rachel seriously thought about it, “No way. I’ll hold it. I’ll ace the test and get out and run to the bathroom.”

“Of course you will.”

Rachel rolled her eyes this time, and started to head out the door.

The professor set out water bottles at each desk. It had cost him a little, but when most students saw the bottles, they would be encouraged and motivated and do better on the test. It also allowed him to be sure no student cheated by writing answers on their own water bottle.

Of course, Rachel might not appreciate it. If the pace of the – no drug was not the right word, and experiment wasn’t the right word either, he had decided, if the pace of the concoction was as expected, she would be hard pressed to get through class.

Students started filing in about ten minutes before class. That’s how you could tell it was test day. Normally students came in loudly, talking with friends, about five minutes before class started, with a few coming in right before the bell. On test day everyone was quite, everyone arrived early.

The professor made his tests challenging. He didn’t want them to be overly difficult, but he had learned that super easy tests didn’t really help either. He thought he had found the line where if students paid attention in class, did the work, and put in a little effort in studying, they would wind up with at least a B. A lot of students didn’t like that, but he thought it was fair.

Soon he saw Rachel walk in and sit in her usual seat. He wondered how she was feeling, wondered if she knew what he had done. But of course there was no way for her to know, know way for her to understand, just yet.

He kept an eye on her, but didn’t want to stare. So he went back to his laptop. Students often wondered what he did while they took the exam. Sometimes he really was just fiddling, but today he would be tracking his other concoctions. They would be ready soon, and he was eager to introduce it to a larger audience.

The clock struck 1:15 and he began class promptly. He explained the requirements and tried to field a few questions. Then he made the statement, like always, “Go ahead and put your books, notes, water bottles and everything else except for pen or pencil away. Remember once you start the test you must complete it before leaving the room,” – he took a glance at Rachel and noticed she winced just slightly. “And as always, remember, I am rooting for you. I want you to succeed. I want you to do well. This class is not curved, everyone can earn an A.” He started handing out the test packets, “As soon as you receive one, you may begin.”

Rachel got her packet and wrote her name at the top. She still practiced some high school habits, and one was going over the test questions before she answered the first one. There were a few basic definitions and terms, but true to his word, the professor had asked several questions about the implications, about application and analysis more than knowledge and comprehension. Of course, she had studied by going over the chapters and asking questions of each section, and sure enough, she knew answers for every question but one.

As she worked, she unconsciously opened up the water bottle on her desk and drank several sips. Every few questions she would drink a little more as paused to rest her hand, which got tired of writing out the answers when she was more used to typing.

She was surprised she had lasted this long without needing to use the bathroom, but knew it was coming. Or maybe whatever it was had already passed through her system.

She was about half way through the exam when it hit, and hit hard. She really needed to go. She tried to write faster, but it didn’t really help. She took another swig of the water bottle and then realized she wasn’t helping herself.

But actually, she thought, drinking from the water bottled kind of distracted her system. So she would drink a little, and keep going, drink a little, then keep going.

Soon she was about three fourths of the way through.

The professor began collecting the papers of the early finishers. Early finishers fell into two categories. One category was the diligent student who just didn’t need all the time. The other category was student who hadn’t put in the effort, was surprised by nearly all the questions, and had decided to just give up. He used to have sympathy for the second group, often wondering if he needed to make his exams easier. But then he started figuring out whose grades in the class to actually look at. Normally a few students’ grades could tell him if he needed to be gracious or if the test was just right. Never the top students, never the bottom students. But he knew who should be getting about a B or A- and he could judge the test based on their work.

He looked at the clock and announced, “10 more minutes, folks.”

As they turned in the test, he quickly graded the first page. So far, it seemed about right. He glanced up, and saw Rachel hard at work. He couldn’t tell what she was thinking.

About half the class had left, and so far, he had a good mix of grades.

At the five minute mark, he had about one fourth of the students left.

A little after the five minute mark, Rachel came forward and handed in her exam. He said, “Thanks,” and smiled. He flipped through it quickly and noticed that every answer had been completed. “Good work,” he said, but then he noticed.

She was wet.

Rachel was so embarrassed. She couldn’t hide the spot. She hadn’t wet her pants since she was in, like the sixth grade. So she walked as fast as she could without calling attention to herself. She thought she had done well on the test but no longer cared about anything except getting back to the dorm room and cleaning herself up.

As soon as she was out of the building, she ran.

Wow I really like the flow of this story. And I love the setting, really looking forward to more!

Interesting story, I hope you will continue it! Nice to see a non-diaper dimension thread

Thanks for the feedback. My life recently took a turn for the busier, so I don’t know when I will be able to continue this story. I have an idea for at least the next “unit” and will hopefully at some point be able to work on it. It is not dead!

So far so good.

Nicely paced and believable. I do wonder if more people would have noticed Rachel wetting herself. At the very least there would have been a noticeable puddle on the floor around the desk. In my experience, even a small bottle of water causes a bit of a lake.

Part 2:
Chapter 5

Rachel was fidgety. Whatever was going on with her body hadn’t stopped. Ever since that test things just hadn’t been right. Sure, she had got an A on the test, but she had had four more accidents, and was frequently waking up at night and rushing to the bathroom. One of those four accidents had been a nighttime one.

Fortunately Claire had been understanding, if a little teasing. But she hadn’t complained too much, and had graciously made sure that she herself didn’t spend too much time in the bathroom, trying to keep it open.

After the last accident, though, Claire had suggested she go to the doctor.

And of course, waiting in the waiting room, Rachel needed to pee. She had already asked to use the bathroom, and had been given the “receptacle” to pee into. That had only been five minutes ago and her bladder already felt full. She was embarrassed to ask to go again, but would be more embarrassed to wet herself again, so she started to approach the receptionist again. But that’s when the door opened and a nurse came out, “Rachel Moore?”

Rachel stood up and followed the nurse, who was friendly but also businesslike. She had Rachel stop at a scale, and took down Rachel’s height and weight. Then she led Rachel to a room and had her sit on one of those doctor’s tables found in every doctor’s office. At least this one had cloth to sit on rather than paper.

After the nurse took her temperature and blood pressure, she opened up a computer and asked several questions about medical history. Then she asked about medicines and allergies, and finally, “So what brings you in today?”

That was the point that Rachel had dreaded. She didn’t know how to explain it without embarrassing herself, so she decided that being blunt was the best option. “I’ve been having some bladder issues, accidents that I shouldn’t be having.”

The nurse, for her part, took it in stride, though she did smile and say, “That must be rough. Dr. Aaronson will probably want to do some lab work and maybe get some imaging done. We’ll check your insurance first, and make sure everything is covered before we do procedures that are going to cost you an arm and a leg. In the meantime, take one of these gowns and change into it, and we can do a physical, and check on at least that much.”

The nurse left and Rachel changed as quickly as she could. She knew the drill. She wondered what her insurance would actually cover. It had been a decent plan for her in the past, but things were changing, she knew.

After a moment, the nurse knocked back on the door again, “You ready?”

“Yeah,” Rachel said and the nurse came back in. Rachel was glad it was the nurse doing the physical and not Dr. Aaronson. The physical was awkward enough. But the nurse made it easy on her and started to explain the insurance policy while she checked everything, “So it looks like everything can be covered under your policy as a ‘office visit’ but you’re co-pay will fall under the specialist category for today. It will be $50 dollars.”

Rachel nodded. That seemed reasonable.

The nurse quickly finished and told her Dr. Aaronson would be in soon. Dr. Aaronson did have her move to a new room to get the imaging done, and it went pretty quickly from there. A few more labs, and she was done. She ended up back in the first room and soon was back in her normal clothes when it happened. She had another accident.

And that’s when the knock on the door came. Fortunately it was the nurse.

The nurse came in and quickly closed the door. She was about to start in on her spiel, but Rachel interrupted, “I’m so sorry, but I uh-“ she lifted herself off the table and while her clothes had taken the worst of it, there was a clear damp spot on the cloth.

The nurse nodded, and said, “We can give you some scrubs to change into if you’d like. I’m sorry that happened to you today.”

Rachel graciously agreed, and so the nurse started in again, “We’ll have the results in 48 hours. In the meantime, we recommend limiting fluids – don’t dehydrate yourself, just be careful, stay away from caffeine and sugars, and you may need to think about wearing some protection.”

Rachel grimaced. Claire had mentioned diapers once too often for her not to know what “protection” meant. She gulped but then asked, “You mean like diapers?”

The nursed nodded again, “Yes, unfortunately because of the volume you are experience, pads just won’t cut it. We have some here if you’d like to take a few, just until we can get the results back. They’re pretty medical, but then you wouldn’t have to buy any from a store.”

“I uh-“ Rachel didn’t know what to say. Wetting herself was embarrassing enough. Wearing diapers might be useful, but she didn’t know which was actually worse.

The nurse was gracious, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll bring you some with the scrubs. You don’t have to use them, but you certainly can. And don’t worry, I’ll put them in a discreet bag, so no one will have to know.”

“Thanks” Rachel tried to get out, but it came out as a wimper.

A moment later, the nurse returned and true to her word, what she assumed were the diapers were in a discreet cardboard box. The scrubs themselves were light blue on top of the box, they actually looked comfortable.

The nurse explained, “You can change in here, just leave the door open when you live and make sure you pay at the front desk. We may also want a follow up appointment.”

Rachel nodded and took the box and the scrubs as the nurse left.

She opened the box and looked at the diapers. She pulled one out. Medical was right. Large and bulky and plain white, with tapes on the side. But what was the alternative? Go commando? And then what if she had another accident on the way home?

She decided. She pulled down her pants and her panties, and after a few moments, walked to the receptionist, carrying the box that now had the other diapers and her wet clothes. She stood in front of the receptionist, wearing the scrubs and wondering if anyone could tell she was wearing a diaper.

Chapter 6:

Agent Kim and Paul were sitting in the office of Dr. Underwood. Dr. Underwood taught chemistry at one of local universities, and was on ORP’s consultant list. Employees of ORP had placed him at the lab the day of the murder, and no one quite knew when he had left. And his alibi was fairly weak.

“Look, I know I was just home with my family, but I didn’t kill anyone. You can have my DNA, access to home, anything you need,” he was saying.

Kim responded, “We’ll take you up on that. But we’re more concerned with a possible bio-attack.” Yes, treat the case like a simple murder case, but don’t neglect the implications. Slankard was already dead. The bio-attack was still in the future, as far as they knew.

“Yes, the materials that were taken could be used in a bio-attack. I understand. But I don’t have them at my home, at my office, or anywhere in the lab.”

Kim had already decided that Dr. Underwood probably wasn’t their guy. He was nervous, not too helpful, like some who wanted to cover their tracks, but still helpful nonetheless. He honestly didn’t seem like he had anything to hide.

Paul had seemed to reach the same conclusion. “Look, we’re not saying you’re off the hook, but let’s play this out. With these kinds of materials, what kind of issue could we be facing? We figure airborne, but could it be water supply related? What kind of targets would be most effective?”

Underwood shook his head, “Airborne and water supply both could be possible, but airborne would be quicker and hit a greater population in a higher concentration. As to targets, I don’t know. That would go to motive. If its personal – that changes things. If it is a terrorist type thing, you’re looking at concerts, political rallies, you name it.”

Kim and Paul nodded. They still hadn’t figured out motive. According to their coroner, Slankard’s death had been blunt force trauma. Most likely not premeditated. As best as they could piece together, whoever took the ingredients had set the box down, most likely because Slankard had caught him. They figured him, and most of the consultants were hims, but it could easily be a woman. Left-handed, medium height based on where the abrasions were located, but that didn’t rule out a whole lot of people.

Paul changed tactics, “Okay, let’s talk specifics. Is this going to be a disease outbreak we need to have vaccine’s for?”

Underwood again shook his head, “No. Nothing in the ingredients tells me that its going to be any kind of disease like that. Not anthrax, not anything like smallpox or anything like that either. I just don’t know.”

They were getting nowhere. They gave him their cards and told him to call if he thought of anything, but they were no closer to figuring out the situation.

Rachel walked back toward her dorm room. She was surprised by the diapers, if she was honest. Sure they were big and bulky, not form fitting at all, but they were actually comfortable. And, more importantly, they were dry.

She walked in to the dorm room and set the box down. Claire stepped out of the bathroom and asked, “How’d it go?” So Rachel pointed the box. Claire gestured, asking, “May I?” without words, then opened it. The first thing she saw was the wet clothes, “Oof. That bad?”

“Worse, look under,” and Claire’s eyes got big as she saw the diapers. Rachel pulled down her pants slightly – Claire and her had a rule – wearing underwear around each other was acceptable, especially at night, and especially for quick changes – no need to be puritanical, but no complete nakedness. Claire laughed out loud, not a vindictive laugh, but honestly finding it humorous, “I’m sorry. I know I’ve mentioned them, but I didn’t think-“

Rachel was able to laugh at herself too. She was embarrassed but it wasn’t her fault. “Wanna try one?” she asked.

Claire paused, but then said, “No thanks.” And that was that.

The phone call came on time, two days later.

It wasn’t great news, “Rachel?”


“This is Dr. Aaronson’s office. We wanted to let you know we have finished our lab work. You don’t have a UTI, and there is nothing wrong with your system that we can tell. We’re sorry we don’t have better news for you.”

“Thanks for letting me know,” Rachel sighed. She wondered what the next step was, but the voice on the other end, who seemed to be the nurse she had worked with, answered it for her, “It may go away pretty quickly, just like a weird bug we weren’t able to catch, or it may be longer lasting. Since we can’t find anything physical, we don’t recommend medication.”

Rachel knew what was coming next, and this time she was willing to broach the subject, “So, more diapers?”

The nurse replied, “We can order some for you, but we’ve check your insurance again. It might just be cheaper for you to buy some on your own. How are you doing with the ones we already gave you?”

Actually, Rachel thought, it was getting worse. The past two nights, she had wet her bed. She had gone through several of the diapers, though she still had a few left. She replied, “I’ve got some left. I can always order online, right?”

“Of course, and if you change your mind, let us know, we’ll be happy to help.”

Rachel couldn’t believe it. She was going to be wearing diapers for a while at least, it seemed.

Kim picked up the phone, and was glad she did. It was Underwood. She didn’t mean any disrespect leaving off the “doctor” that was just how her other colleagues talked about everyone.

“I’m sorry to call so late, but I had a thought and I think you’d want to hear it.”

“Go ahead.”

“I did some research on my own based on the ingredients you’d told me about.”

“Okay, what did you find?”

“Those ingredients in the right combination will not cause a disease outbreak or anything like that, like I said, but it will cause something different.”

“Okay, you’ve hooked me in. What will it cause?”

“Urinary incontinence.”

It took Kim a moment to understand what Underwood was saying, “You mean this is all an elaborate prank, like sticking someone’s hand in warm water at a sleepover?”

“It’s more than that, but in principle yes, on a much larger scale, this is exactly that.”

Kim wondered: Why would someone murder for a prank?

But Underwood wasn’t done, “There’s more.”

Kim didn’t saying anything, tired of Underwood’s game. Finally he broke the silence, “Look up Matthew Kylar. He’s been doing research at ORP. And a lot of his research is in bladder issues.”

Kim pulled out her laptop and got right to work. This was finally a promising leading.

Chapter 7:

The professor, Matthew Kylar, had everything ready. Enough vials to cause everyone at the conference to become incontinent. He smiled. Then he wouldn’t be the weird one. He wouldn’t be teased. Not that many of his colleagues knew, of course, but his childhood hadn’t much fun.

He flashed back to one particular sleepover. He had been at his best friends house. He had put on his Goodnites like he had every night. But then he had an accident. He had rushed to the bathroom to try and change, sticking the Goodnite in a plastic bag and putting on a new pair. He thought he was being discreet. But then his friend had tripped over his suitcase that morning. And saw everything.

His mind flashed forward again. He had long since stopped wearing Goodnites, but was on another sleepover. Yet at 16, he had still had an accident. He couldn’t hide it. And this time, his friend’s sister found out. His friend’s sister who he had a crush on.

And she had told everyone. And when he had starting asking girls out, no one wanted to date a bedwetter.

By the time he was an adult, he had started wearing diapers again. And the few people who knew were supportive. But he couldn’t keep a relationship. Whenever things got serious, and his significant other found out, they would start to see him as a little boy, and not as husband material. Some tried to stay in the relationship, but the dynamics shifted so much, he had to get out. And that gave the girls permission to tattle to other girls about him.

Others just broke up with him on the spot.

But he was about to show them.

The next night, the Women’s Conference. Estimated attendance, 10,000. And this time, he wouldn’t be closing any doors. His concoction would spread.

Soon, there would be a whole new world. And no one could make fun of him anymore.

Kim and Paul had spent all day trying to track down Matthew Kylar. They had finally figured out he would be at the Women’s Conference. Presenting on Important Women in Chemistry and Biology. Male presenters were in the minority, but Kylar’s research and status in the local community made him a great get despite the target audience.

Which they assumed would be his target audience. And so they raced to the conference.

Every attender would be in the main hall before breaking out into the workshops. They assumed that’s when he would unleash his potion.

Kylar had heard the voicemail. Two agents had wanted to speak with him about a break in at the laboratory. He knew it was now or never. He sat in the middle of the crowd. He had his supplies set up. As soon as the current speaker – talking about the need to empower women, blah blah blah, was done, when everyone was up and moving, he would simply just walk towards the exits with everyone else, then drop his box. When everything shattered, he would have an easy excuse. He could go right on in to his lecture, and no one would know until it was too late. The agents would have no proof.

Kim and Paul snuck quietly into the back of the auditorium. They couldn’t see Kylar, but there were only two exits, they could station themselves just right. And keep looking.

The rest of the audience was giving the speaker a standing ovation. Kylar just rolled his eyes. Finally, mercifully, he thought, the conference facilitator told them, “You are dismissed.”

He started walking back toward the exits, along with everyone else.

Kim had eyes on him. She tried to approach slowly. She didn’t want to spoke him.

He was in the right spot. But then he saw someone coming straight toward him. It had to be one of the agents.

Kim saw the box. She was only a few steps away. Three steps, two steps, one step.

Kylar dropped the box with a little bit of force. He heard the vials shatter. He smiled. And tried to get away.

Kim was one step too far away to stop the vials from breaking. She had no idea what would happen now. Contain the box? Chase after Kylar?

Fortunately, Paul was in her ear. “Deal with the box. I’ve got Kylar.”

Kylar couldn’t get away. He couldn’t escape. Another agent was tailing him. So he stopped, and turned around. “Can I help you sir?”

Paul said, “Sir you are a suspect in a murder case, can you please come with me?”
Kylar thought through his options. He thought he could get away with it. But then again, if he didn’t, life in prison. He ran the numbers in his head, and simply said, “Of course.”

Kim grabbed the box as quickly as she could. Most of the attenders had already past this spot by, but she quickly called in a team to mark it off. It was a crime scene now. The CSIs would deal with it.

Which was good, because Kim could already feel the need to use the bathroom.

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