A Battle Of Wits

"What you do not smell is called iocane powder," I told the two ruffians spoiling for a fight over some perceived slight. "It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in hamburger meat, and is among the more deadlier poisons known to man."

I turned my back to the two and slipped the toxic stuff into the fast food I was concealing, then offered them up for perusal. "The battle of wits has begun," I continued. "It ends when you decide and we all eat, and find out who is right… and who is dead."

"I'll 'ave that one," said the shorter of the men quickly, pointing at the bun nearest him with a grimace.

"Has that got cheese on it?" asked his friend pointing at one of the remaining items of food. "I'm allergic to cheese."

"You're trying to trick me into giving away something. It won't work."

"It makes me all bloaty," he carried on, looking to his friend for confirmation and receiving a brief nod.

"It's not cheese," I conceded. "It's lettuce leaf. The colour is a giveaway."

"Oh, right, yeah, yeah I see now. It must be the light."

"You're just stalling now," I said with a slight smile.

"You'd like to think that, wouldn't you!?" he replied forcefully, but I detected the tremble of fear in his voice.

A minute passed in uncomfortable, near silence.

"How about we all just forget this?" I offered.

"Yeah, yeah, sounds good," said the taller man quickly. "So, er, where was the poison?"

"In all of them," I said. "I'm forming a suicide cult and felt I could do with a dry run. You were almost it."

"That doesn't really make sense."

"Did you say you put that powder in all the burgers?" asked the short man. "Cos I just took a bite and it tasted okay to me."

"Ah," I said with as much sadness in my voice as I could muster. "It takes a few seconds to…" I didn't have to finish the sentence as he dropped to the floor. The bun rolled away towards some pigeons.

"Poor Jake," said the remaining ruffian. "He was okay. I guess there's gonna be a few less birds around here soon too," he added, nodding in the direction of the feathered gathering around the tainted meal.

"No," I answered. "I've spent the last few years building up the local pigeons' immunity to iocane powder."

"Why?"

"I get incredibly bored at work."

"I hear ya," he said, looking around and then down briefly at the prone corpse of Jake. "Oh well, see you around."

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Author: Mark

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