Pied Piper | Alan C. Williams

Pied Piper

By Alan C. Williams

For the NiTH Major Short Story Competition 2016 | What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Award


Jill and Sandy watched as Trevor Gilmour entered the cafeteria of Hexan-X laboratories. As was usual for the past few weeks, he was followed by his entourage of pretty women.
“He is sooo lovely,” Jill said, dreamily.
Sandy glared at her colleague. “ Lovely? It’s obvious that he has you under his spell also, Jill. Yesterday you called him an ugly, beady-eyed, chauvinistic pig who eaten more than his fair share of lamingtons and custard slices.”
“No. I’d never have said that about my Trevor. He’s just so sexy with cute little puppy-dog eyes and a personality that makes you want to cuddle him. He’s absolutely Drop-Dead Gorgeous.” It was at that point that Jill sighed then resumed gazing at Trevor adoringly.
“Jill! There’s something very strange happening here. It’s almost as if some of the women that work here have been hypnotised or been enchanted in some way … just like the Pied Piper and the rats in that children’s story.”
Now it was Jill’s turn to be indignant. “What are you trying to say? Comparing me to ‘a rat’?”
“Well! You are eating a cheese sandwich,” was Sandy’s off-hand reply. Then she continued in her thoughts to solve the puzzle. Both women were accomplished chemists, continuing their family traditions. They had recently completed a programme developing pheromones to help in sterilisation of insect pests.
“So, Jill. Can you remember when you first felt this … this unnatural and extremely scary affection for Trevor?”
“Oh yes. I was with him the elevator this morning – just him and me. He had this strange aftershave on. He’s so clever!”
Sandy ignored the last statement. She knew what Trevor did. He was a minor office clerk who filed their reports.
“Jill. You said that his after-shave was ‘strange’?”
“Sure, Sandy. It was fruity like a … like a cherry smell.”
“Cherry? Just excuse me for a moment. I need to think this out.” Sandy stood up then wandered over to the large panoramic windows of Hexan-X that overlooked Logan’s River. Jill came over to her after a few minutes.
“You know what that slug Trevor’s using on those women, don’t you?”
“So he’s not ‘lovely Trevor’ anymore?”
“No. Whatever he did to me has worn off, thank goodness. It’s that weird cherry aftershave, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” said Sandy. “He must have read my notes on the human-pheromone that I discovered last year, stole the sample I prepared then used it to make himself our modern-day Pied Piper.”
“Why haven’t I heard about this … this super-aphrodisiac?”
“I found it by accident. It’s similar to oxytocin – the ‘love hormone’. Oxytocin is a part of the make-up of all mammals, helping bonding between mother and child through its release in breast milk. It’s also crucial with relationship bonding for adults. However my discovery is so much more potent.”
“But why keep it such a secret?”
“Think about it, Jill. A chemical that makes women fall in love with a man … any man? No matter how sleazy? I knew I should have destroyed that sample.”
“So what do we do now?” Jill enquired.
“You and I need to do some serious research tonight, using your mum’s old recipe books.”
The next day saw Trevor enter an exceptionally busy cafeteria. Jill had passed the word around to be there. As Trevor waddled in with his following of enamoured females, Sandy strolled over to him. Her own unique ‘love’ perfume was noticed by everyone although it only affected Trevor due to his use of the stolen pheromones.
Immediately he fell in love with Sandy, dismissing his followers with an angry tirade. Sandy paraded around the large eating area, followed by a love-struck Trevor.
“Marry me! Marry me!” he cried out, as he knelt on the carpeted floor.
“Only if you tell everyone what a sleaze-bag, lying, little thief you are. And don’t forget to apologise to all those women you tricked into loving you.”
Under the influence of the truth potion in Sandy’s perfume. Trevor confessed, admitting to a number of other serious indiscretions within the company as well. There was no doubt that Trevor’s days of theft, harassment and freedom were finished.
As security led Trevor from the room, Jill whispered to her old friend “Impressive work! Combining a love potion and a truth potion together,”.
“I told you I’d pick up some improvements to the old family spells, Jill. Merging magic and modern chemistry will make us both famous.”
“It’s a pity we won’t be there when that other spell happens tonight, even though it’ll only last for a week.”
“Yeah. From slimy Pied Piper to slimier cane-toad. Imagine that!” Sandy said with a thinly disguised cackle.