The smell of it burned the inside of Jim's nose and he wrinkled it in dislike as he filed in behind the other students in his class, copying the others and taking a seat in one of the plastic chairs which sat in rows overlooking the pool below. Jim had never like swimming, the sport had always seemed pointless to him and he was grateful that this was the last stage of the competition. The Championship... The event filled Jim with excitement for a completely different reason as it did for those around him and he waited quietly in his spot for the contest to begin. Around him the other students talked excitedly among one another, laughing cheerfully and Jim could have sworn that he heard Carl's name mentioned at least five times by the same person in just the one conversation. Carl this, Carl that... Jim made a face, feeling the anger and resentment building up inside him, as the emotions began to spike, he forced himself to calm down with the help of the satisfying thought that people would not be talking about the boy for much longer.
The chatter resided as the four contestants made their way out of the changing rooms and over to the edge of the pool which was divided into four segments by lane lines. There were some cheers from the crowd just at the sight of seeing their school champion and Jim studied each of the contestants curiously. The one standing closest to the stands where he sat was a boy with unruly red hair, strands of which were sticking out from under his dark blue swimming cap, a pale face that was covered with small freckles and a lean build which obviously came from the exercise which he gained from swimming. Next to him was another boy wearing a red swimming cap and Jim assumed that his hair was shorter than the first as it wasn’t visible at all. This boy was slightly chubbier in his build and Jim would have assumed he would be the one losing had this competition been going to be a fair one. The next contestant was a girl and her hair too stuck out from under the yellow swimming cap and Jim could see the lump on the back of her head from where she had obviously attempted to pin it up to fit it all under the cap to begin with. She was a lot smaller than the boys but Jim didn’t judge her because of her size. He knew better than anyone that smaller people could often be craftier and quicker. Then there was Carl. His short dark hair was concealed nicely under his green swimming cap and he was grinning up at his friends who sat just a few seats away from Jim. Jim wasn’t aware of any of the noise in the building now, focused only on the boy standing at the edge of the pool. He checked the mental list he had in his head, checking once more than he had done everything right up until this point and thinking about the actions he would take next after the show had ended. It wasn’t until the sound of the whistle being blown reached his ears, interrupting his thoughts and pulling him back into reality, did Jim realize that the competition had begun and the swimmers had already poised themselves to dive and were now doing so head first into the water.
Cheers filled the room again and Jim allowed himself a smile, playing along and clapping with the others although not as enthusiastically. All four of the schools shouted encouragements to the four contestants, some were for Carl and some were for the others who Jim learned were named Tiffany, Liam and Scott. Not that they mattered. Jim’s eyes were fixed on the body that was Carl's as he disappeared under the water for a moment before resurfacing and using a Freestyle Stroke to move his body through the water. Jim almost admired how he managed to move gracefully through the water and did so with much more grace than he had ever moved on the ground. For the first few moments Carl was in the lead, closely followed by the Tiffany girl who Jim knew would do well in the competition before she had even entered the pool. Carl eventually made it to the other end of the pool where he kicked off and continued back to the end where the lifeguard and referee stood overlooking the contest with a critical eye. Carl was on his second lap before Jim began to grow concerned. Surely enough time had passed now… He had done everything right, he was sure of it, so why was Carl still swimming? No sooner had Jim began to worry when Carl, who had kicked off yet again from the end of the pool before changing his swimming style to a back stroke, seemed to freeze in the water as though floating on his back. A few seconds later he was gone, having disappeared under the water and Jim leaned forward slightly so that he was sitting on the edge of his seat.
Two minutes and fourteen seconds. That was how long it took for the first person to realize that something was wrong and a teacher from one of the other schools who was sitting in the stands opposite Jim rose from her seat to get a better view of Carl. Jim wished he could sit on the side of the pool which Carl had been swimming in just so that he could have gotten a better view but the view which he had right now was enough and he wasn’t going to complain. Three minutes and nineteen seconds. Now the referee had blown the whistle, the lifeguard had come to the rescue of someone who was unable to be saved and the other contestants were torn between backing away in the water and treading the water on the spot they had stopped, being unable to look away from the scene which was unfolding in front of them. Then there was panic... Screams, yells and gasps came from all directions as people rushed down from the stands to crowd around the boy being lain down on the tile floor.
“Call an ambulance!” Jim heard someone shout as he rose from his seat but he knew it was already too late and Jim took advantage of the attention of everyone in the room being on Carl and made his way slowly to the doors which led into the boys’ changing rooms. Botulinum Toxin, highly poisonous and highly undetectable. With the poison having already entered Carl’s system, Jim was certain that when the ambulance came to escort Carl to the hospital the only part of the hospital he would be going to was the morgue. Once he had reached the lockers, Jim stopped at the one he had watched Carl store his things inside before the competition had begun and he reached into his pocket to pull out the small key that opened it. It had been easy to obtain the key as the entire plan had been easy to carry out and Jim congratulated himself as he turned the key and pulled open the locker. Carl’s clothes, phone, watch and wallet were inside and Jim, leaving nothing to chance, pulled out a pair of latex gloves and snapped them on before putting Carl's trainers into a plastic bag in his own school bag and removing the £20 from Carl’s wallet before putting it back inside and locking the locker. He let the key drop on the floor by his feet before returning to the chaotic scene in the next room as the sound of the ambulance sirens traveled in the open windows from outside.
Sure enough, one of the medics who had come in the ambulance already pronounced him dead before he was taken away and Jim took a moment to ponder his feelings. Watching Carl die had made him feel ecstatic and he still did, the adrenaline from what he had done was still pumping through his veins and he wanted to laugh but kept his expression neutral with a hint of shock in his eyes as to blend with the mass of people he was standing with. However, it wasn’t the euphoric feeling or adrenaline that had him curious but the lack on any other emotion. In films, which he had watched often with his neighbour Sebastian, people had often felt regret for killing someone even if they had meant it at the time or planned it in advance. Jim, on the other hand, didn’t. He didn’t feel guilty, or sad, or regretful. Relieved, perhaps, but none of those. He continued to wonder why he didn’t whilst sitting on the bus which took all the students but one back to school. Finally, when he was sure that no one was paying attention to little Jimmy at the back of the bus he allowed himself a chuckle at orchestrating the perfect murder.
All the times Carl had laughed at him were irrelevant now because Jim got the last one.