The following is an excerpt from my third published book - Mental Dental (Murder By Proxy)
This book has received some great reviews and continues to sell well.
Its different, entertaining and involves the reader in finding the culprits to the murder mystery.
The chapter I have shared here with you is the starting point of the mystery, a mystery that involves death, multiple deaths and an accused dentist, desperate to prove her innocence.
The Dreaded Dentists Waiting Room
His thumping heart raced at a rate of knots, as if trying to escape from his chest wall. A copious amount of sweat was pouring from every pore of John Massey's body, stinging his eyes as it trickled down his face. His cold and clammy hands, clasped in despair as the point of no return fast approached with each passing second.
His mouth felt as dry as a bone and he didn't want to be where he was.
The day he had dreaded for so many weeks had finally arrived, and the hour of potential torture and pain was now unequivocally unavoidable.
He sat in the cold, clinical waiting room, a bundle of nervous fear stuck on an uncomfortable and well-worn chair, firmly between the white walls scattered with posters of people with perfect, gleaming smiles. Trying to remain composed and focused, he attempted to divert his worries and think positively. He watched the public interact with the friendly receptionist as she tapped their details on her computer and smiled at the grateful punters as they smiled back and made follow up appointments.
"Why can't I be like that?" he thought to himself.
John was in his thirties and an accountant by profession who was no stranger to stress. However, he quizzed himself on why he was being so scared and negative at coming to the dentists and why he would react in this way, every time he had to be there. He knew the inevitability of this all was worthwhile in the end and after all, what was the worst that could happen?
This was his local dentistry centre, a seven partner practice that he had been coming to since he moved to this small town in the south east of England with his parents as a young child. His mum used to bring him here and no matter how good the dental practitioner was, he would still get frightened and dread the whole experience. His parents were dead and he was unmarried so there was no one around to hold his hand and reduce his apprehension and anxiety.
He was resolute in getting through the torment and John always tried to be brave and face this ordeal but for some unapparent reason, he caved in to the feelings of fear and helplessness, transforming into this quivering wreck. Visiting the dentist was not on his list of great days out or wonderful things to do in life…
The small aquarium buzzed with life as the innocent and colourful fish swam aimlessly between the bubbles of air being pumped out from a plastic sunken ship that lay on the colourful blue gravel base. The purpose of this display of nature was supposed to sooth nerves and relax potential victims of the tyrannical Torquemada trained dental health professional he would be facing but it did not seem to do much for him.
John tried to think of other things and reassure himself that this trip to the dentist was necessary and that it may not be as horrific as he was making it out to be. However, this was not happening, the more he tried to think about something else, the more images of a large handed, drill wielding monster came to mind.
"Mr Massey" John heard, being called out by a young lady dressed in a gleaming and clean white gown and a face mask resting under her chin, exposing a kind smile of reassurance.
No blood or mangled body parts to be seen, this was a good sign.
"Oh, that's me" he said as he clambered clumsily and timidly off his seat, knocking a fellow patient's magazine off his hand and onto the floor.
He apologised, recovered it and made his way to the young lady who waited at the door to the corridor of fear, the corridor that led to the rooms that were set off from it and into the torture chambers full of drills, hammers, needles and other menacing tools of pain.
"Please don't be nervous Mr. Massey, everything will be just fine" the young lady said reassuringly.
"My name is Dr. Jessie Stack; I will be your dentist today".
John felt better but a little awkward as he had been expecting a male dentist equipped with big hairy arms and strong forearms that were used to pulling heavily against gravity and extracting the most cumbersome of molars.
"I am ever so sorry, I am a little anxious at being here at the dentist" John uttered.
"Please don't worry, we get many nervous people here and let me assure you my colleague Wendy, the dental nurse and I will look after you".
She continued by pointing at the bucking bronco like chair in the middle of the room and said „please take a seat here, and mind your head on the lamp‟.
John obliged by following these instructions, sitting on the examination chair and clasping his hands tightly on his chest as he did so. He had managed to avoid an extra bump on his head and then Wendy, the dental nurse, proceeded to place a waterproof bib on his chest, this covered his nervous, sweaty palms that were now clamped shut like a vice on each other.
Jessie then asked „what can we do for you today?‟ to which John explained in a weak voice that he had been experiencing some discomfort to his back teeth and he had noticed some blood on occasions when he had brushed his teeth.
Jessie then politely said, "Let us have a look then, can you please open your mouth up as wide as you can, thank you‟ as she popped the mask over her mouth and nose.
She then proceeded to place the light above the chair over his cavernous mouth, then put some disposable gloves on and switched the light on placing the dentist mirror in his mouth. She then started to call out some numbers as she prodded the dental probe into his gums.
John was getting more nervous, curious as to what she might find, what would be involved in rectifying the damage, how much would it cost and more importantly, how much would it hurt?
As the numbers flew out of Jessie's mouth she then paused and said "ah yes, we have the culprit here, a cavity on your right lower molar with associated abscess, we will need to do something with that right away". What then followed was what John had dreaded, Jessie explained the treatment and then she uttered those words "you need a root canal on that…"
He had previously required this intervention and he recalled it was painful, very painful. He started to perspire more and his pulse rate seemed to double with the adrenaline surge that had ensued following these words.
The anticipatory fear was evident as both the dentist and the nurse said "are you okay Mr. Massey, you have gone a little pale?"
He was obviously far from comfortable with this but he nodded and they proceeded to inject his gums with some anaesthetic. There were two jabs to the site and it was done, well this bit anyway. Wendy asked him to sit out in the waiting room again for a few minutes for the anaesthetic to take full effect and they would start on the job in hand once the gum was numb.
John obeyed clambered off the chair and went out clumsily into the crowded waiting room. He sat on a chair, quietly anticipating the drilling, re-drilling and pulling of things from his oral cavity. He watched as a child was being called in by his dentist and tried to remain brave. He felt numbness to his right side of his face and thought "good, the anaesthetic is working".
Suddenly the strangest feeling occurred, the numbness was no longer contained to the lower jaw, he could feel a rush of warmth across his face that was increasingly widening, he now seemed to no longer be able to move his head or mouth, he found he was then not able to move any of his limbs, he was pinned to his chair and unable to anything about this, he had no control over these bizarre effects.
"This is very strange" he thought but could not address this as he was now fixed to the seat.
The busy waiting room bustled with life as Handel's water music was being piped out to the reception room as a soothing background. It was too loud for anyone to hear his mumbled call for help… he then felt his chest become heavy and felt breathless. Was he having some kind of untoward reaction to the injected drug?
Quite quickly, he felt he was becoming sleepy and his eyes shut and his hearing seemed to change frequency, echoes now that were fast becoming distant and then they came to an end, the noises had stopped.
It was approximately twenty minutes from when he sat out that the young girl that had gone in with her mum to see the dentist had come out of the clinic room and was back in the waiting room.
Wendy addressed the waiting room from the corridor and called John back by saying "Mr. Massey, do you want to come back in?"
There was no reply, no movement and no attempt from John to return to the surgery room, he remained sat on his chair, eyes closed and peaceful.
"Mr Massey, the dentist is waiting for you, please come through" Wendy exclaimed again, but with equal abandonment of reactions from the patient.
Other patients were now taking an interest in this waiting room drama that was developing; a patient was ignoring a staff member and what was going to happen now?
At this point Wendy approached him and nudged his left shoulder slightly. There was no response and although it was the deftest of touches, this nudge was enough to send John propelling slowly sideways and falling towards the patient next to him.
The lady screamed out as John's limp body slumped against her "oh my god is he dead?"
Wendy was alarmed to say the least and desperately called for help when the truth became apparent to her and the waiting room full of patients. They were horrified by the fact that John Massey was indeed dead.
Children screamed, mothers clasped their offspring to their protective bosoms and hurtled out of the building, screaming. The staff now surrounded the patient, threw him to the floor and commenced basic life support and CPR whilst the young receptionist had now abandoned her computer and was calling the paramedics. Chaos had ensued in an otherwise mundane world of community dentistry.
What could have gone so dreadfully wrong?
The public were kept out by the clinic staff and as the paramedics arrived, within minutes of the desperate call for help, they were directed to the mortally wounded soul that lay on the floor, ashen and life less.
They took over from the staff and like a green clad cavalry, worked on John, thumping his chest, inserting cannulae into veins, injecting drugs, giving oxygen and intubating his airway. They even considered an attempt to shock his heart but due to the absence of any electrical activity, this consideration was soon abandoned.
They continued to try and resuscitate him but after forty minutes, they declared him deceased.
John Massey now lay alone on the previously clean floor, chest exposed, tubes protruding from his lifeless body.
"This is a mess, a complete mess" Wendy exclaimed to one of her colleagues.
"I have never seen this happen before in over fifteen years of working as a dental nurse, what could have gone so wrong?"
This was indeed not a common sight in a dental surgery, what made it worse was that the victim was someone that was young and apart from being a little nervous and anxious he was otherwise fit and well…
There were going to be questions that needed answering urgently, people did not die in dental surgeries, not like this anyway.
The practice manager telephoned the police at the request of the paramedics. She then addressed her colleagues and asked that everyone please not touch anything and sits in the staff room, they all comforted each other and did as they were instructed.
John Massey's body was covered up with a blanket to restore some dignity to the unfortunate soul and the doors were firmly closed to the public. The reception staff started to call the rest of the patients who were booked for the day and cancel their appointments.
None could continue to work, not after this incident.
Dr. Jessie Stack was crying as were others, aghast at what had transpired as this was far from “a normal day at the office”.
The dentists, nurses and administrative staff sat quietly for a few minutes, the distant sirens of the approaching police cars were getting closer. They then heard the screech of brakes outside the building and the Practice manager, Julie, let the police officers in.
Initially there were two officers but soon they seemed to multiply as more officers came.
After hours of questions and statements, the police and Scenes of Crimes Officers had gathered all the evidence, especially the syringes and vials that had been used on the day, the clinic room, reception area and the body had been photographed, evidence catalogued and John Massey was released to the coroner.
His body was taken away in a black body-bag which was zipped to the top and made this already sinister scene more morbid.
There was no next of kin to be informed. There was still, the big question of why this had happened and what could have caused this?
Dr. Stack was distraught, inconsolable and as she saw it, the prime suspect. She had done everything by the book. She was a young but experienced dentist whose practice was unflawed, so what had gone wrong? She had never even had a complaint in the six years she had been a dentist and now as the newest partner in this thriving practice, it was the last thing she needed.
She asked herself: „Was it something in the vial of anaesthetic?‟ "Was he allergic to anaesthetic, even though he had received this product in the past as his documented records clearly stated?"
"Was there foul play?"
"God forbid … was this a murder?"
"If it was, what were the motives if any and who had done it?"
Questions and more questions but no answers… these were up to the police investigation to reveal and they needed to come up with some very definite answers.
At this point, the reporters were gathering outside the surgery, like a pack of hyenas stalking their prey, eager to get a story to fill their pages with, especially one as tragic and as unusual as this one. There was also a small mob of worried and equally inquisitive members of the public, many who were patients at that same dental practice and obviously keen to establish a cause and avoid a recurrence if one was found. Already they had started to make stories up, blaming this dentist or that dentist as they may have been less courteous to them in the past or inflicted more pain than tolerated during a filling. One member even speculated at the victim being “bumped off by the secret service” even though they did not know the victim, but if it makes life interesting…?
A week had passed and this otherwise thriving and busy practice was everything but busy, patients either took their business elsewhere or they lived with their dental pain. It had wrecked their business. It had wrecked patient confidence in them. It was dreadful.
A week had passed and after toxicology and post mortem examinations were concluded, the cause of death was recorded as accidental death, possibly due to anaphylaxis. The toxicology results were inaccurate as some of the drugs that had been injected by the paramedics into Mr. Massey in an attempt to save his life may have caused the results to be inaccurate. A sad end to a life but no misadventure or wrong doing, was this right or was something or was something more sinister occurring? Was there still something that was left untapped?
The evil that is unveiled is a figment of my imagination however... as one of the reviews has put it:
This book is worth your time to read. A murder mystery that happen in the dentist office. It could happen.
Read this killer thriller on Kindle and Paperback.