The story concerns a woman named Leslie who becomes convinced that a co-worker tried to poison her when her boyfriend becomes ill after drinking coffee that was meant for her. It becomes obvious almost immediately that she is unhinged. Leslie has no empathy for others and only her thoughts and desires are of any importance to her. Her belief that someone means her harm even when there is no evidence to support her suspicions is unreasonable. She focuses on one co-worker in particular, Helen, and not only threatens and verbally abuses her but also tries to get her fired. The fact that her boss refuses to follow her directions in this matter makes him a focus of suspicion as well. Her behavior becomes more and more bizarre as she unravels. Her paranoia escalates so rapidly that soon she is unable to think of anything else and goes to incredible extremes to prove her theory and get revenge. She bugs her office, puts security cameras around her house and buys a gun in order to “protect” herself.
This story keeps the reader guessing. Does the “had I but known” (‘…she had no idea that the coffee was contaminated and that she and eight of her coworkers would die of poisoning in less than three weeks’) at the beginning foretell of Leslie poisoning herself and her co-workers? Or is her paranoid suspicion right? Did Rick go into anaphylactic shock after drinking Leslie’s coffee? He does ask her to fetch “adrenaline shots” from his car. If so he recovers much too quickly and if the author is using this as a twist it is incorrect.
Several times in the sample it almost seems as if Leslie is talking to someone else and I wondered if perhaps she is actually in an institution and the story is all happening in her mind. An intriguing thought. The author does a good job keeping the reader guessing. The title of this story, “Intoxication” could have two meanings. It could mean that Leslie is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, both of which come up in the story. But based on how she acts I am inclined to believe that it refers to her increasingly manic behavior and thoughts.
Unfortunately, while the story has an intriguing plot that grips the reader it is marred by the obvious lack of editing. In several places words are left out of sentences. Tenses are misused. POV shifts within paragraphs. And the author needs to learn to use hyphens when they are called for. For example “thirty seven years old” should be “thirty-seven-years-old.”