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Pretty, Still - 4. Dunster

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Realistic Fantasy
Dunster began to undress in front of Mrs Bunsen.

(updated 28.08.19)

Submitted: August 26, 2019

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Submitted: August 26, 2019

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Pretty, Still - Dunster

 

Dunster began to undress in front of Mrs Bunsen. There was a line of coat hooks on the wall, by the doorway, and Dunster began to undress by it. Not that Michael hadn’t undressed in front of Josie before, but that had been in her bedroom when they’d had sex, while Ernest swept Warren Drive.

Bunsen removed her red-rimmed readers, polishing them furiously, desperately trying to contemplate Dunster’s next move. Only half an hour ago this man, this animal, had molested Linda Newman, aged 14, thirty years his junior. Now he was about to molest her!

She reached for the sturdy conical flask of concentrated sulphuric acid on the demonstration bench and carefully removed the bung.

Sweaty Dunster, who looked as if he hadn’t shaved for a week, had huge, dark bags, and weals, under his bloodshot eyes. He took off his jacket and hung it on the hook, not once taking his beady eyes off quivering Bunsen.

He must be ill. Why else would he grope an impressionable young schoolgirl, who didn’t know her own mind, in front of School?  Josie thought of Esme lying in her vegetative state. How Michael offered to introduce her. How she politely declined.

She felt sorry for him, wanted to reach out, and hold him in her loving arms, but he wasn’t all there. Michael’s mind was elsewhere: brooding, stressed-out. Josephine noticed his hands were shaking. He hung up his waistcoat. She held up her acid…

‘Would you like me to fill the pipette with the sulphuric acid for you, Mr Dunster?’ she said.

His whole body visibly sagged, the relief. She knew it was the relief, she’d felt it before in him.

‘Would you please, Bunty?’ he replied quietly.

Why did he insist upon calling her that dreadful name? She hated that! Bunty, the girl’s comic! She carefully poured the highly corrosive contents of the conical flask into the round pipette. As he unknotted his tartan tie and hung it up on the hook, then unbuttoned the first two buttons of his blue birds-eye shirt.

Josephine shuddered: Dunster had never undressed this far at School.

She thought of the children. The children would arrive for double chemistry at any minute! She had to protect the children. Dunster rolled up his sleeves like a strangler, blocking her way out. He moved towards Mrs Bunsen. She, in turn, edged towards the prep room door.

If, and it was a big if given Dunster’s demented state, she could make it to the prep room, sidle past Butcher’s physics set in the dark (they were shining box lights through prisms to create rainbows), and find Dr Goodman teaching taenia solium, the so-called pork tapeworm to her Zoology elite. Then she could raise the alarm and report Mr Dunster to the Head of Science for assaulting a minor.

Her ordeal wasn’t over yet. He was closing in, rubbing his sweaty hands with glee. She heard a babble of schoolchildren approaching the laboratory…

‘Bunty!’ he shouted suddenly at her face, ‘Did you watch the moon landing yesterday?’

‘Of course, Mr Dunster!’ she cried honestly, feeling her way off the plinth, ‘Didn’t we all?’

He followed her, climbing down off the plinth, the minty fragrance of his toothpaste stinging her nostrils, ‘And…?!’

She backed away, nearly reached the prep room door, not far now, ‘And what, Mr Dunster?’

He scraped his fingernails down the blackboard, making a shrill, squeaking, noise, ‘What did you make of the… moon landing…eh… Bunty?!’

She reached the door, felt her bottom swing the wood inwards, to safety, ‘I thought it was nice.’

‘Nice?!’ he roared, ‘that historic moment: that “small moment for man, giant leap for mankind” will be remembered for generations to come, and all you have to say is that it was nice?’

Mrs Bunsen fell into the prep room just as the laboratory door burst open.

Linda appeared, took off her blazer, hung it over Dunster’s clothes, put on her white lab coat, ran to him, took his trembling hands in hers, kissed him on both cheeks, gazed up into his eyes.

And said: ‘What are we making today, Mr Dunster?’


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