William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Thirty

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“This is absolutely bullshit.” Denise Rosen set the two plastic cages on the lab table. “You haven’t even submitted a testing protocol.”

“It’s not bullshit.” Adam checked the cages, noting that each held a mouse. 
“I’ll write a protocol in the morning. Which one is the female?”

Denise fumed, reached into her pocket. “The female is the one with the pink card. The male is the one with the blue card. Those clues seem to work for most people.”

“You want a cigarette, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.  But it’s against regulations.

Adam turned on the hood vent. “You can smoke under here.”

She stared at him coldly, then sat by the edge of the metal table and lit up.

“You’re sure that one is a male and one is a female?”

“I am,” she said. “The male has a penis and the female does not. That’s how we tell.”

Adam stared at her, checking her out.  Dishy little bod; she’d be fine if she kept her head under the fume hood. “When did they eat last?”

“About five hours ago.”

“Is the female ovulating?”

Denise inhaled deeply. “She’s been moody lately.”

“I’m serious.”

She shrugged. “You know, we don’t really test for that. The females tend to sync with each other.  Last week saw a lot of sexual activity, so my guess would be that she is not ovulating.”

Adam nodded. He had diluted the meth additive in water with a little glycerin.  Using an eyedropper, he dripped the solution onto a couple of food pellets in each cage.

“They’re going to die, aren’t they?” Denise watched as the mice devoured the food.

“Yes,” he said. “Technically.”


“How do you ascertain death?” Adam asked.

Denise watched as her smoke was pulled up into the vent. “They roll over, and we find them with their feet in the air.”

“What if they’re not dead, just comatose?”

“They tend to not to be upside-down and cold.”

“So you check temperature?”

“We could.”

The female mouse went first, convulsed and curled up. The male did the same four minutes later.

“What did you give them?” Denise asked.

“It’s a fairly complex and strange compound. African figs, deep sea blowfish and Seattle methamphetamine.”

“What is it for?”

Adam stared at the mice, watched as their breathing slowed until their tiny rib cages were motionless. “Getting high and smiting enemies, I think.”

Denise stubbed out her cigarette in a petri dish. “Well I think you have smitten your rodent enemies. What am I supposed to be looking for in the autopsies?”

“Nothing.”  He opened the cages, picked up the mice, and set them on the table. “No autopsies. I don’t think they’re dead.”

She picked up one of the mice and lifted its eyelids. “Dilated.”  She rubbed its chest, and then did the same to the other mouse. “No heartbeat.”

“Do you have a stethoscope?”

“Not with me,” she said, “but the sensor array has digital thermometers. We can monitor temperature.”

“You’re cold,” he said, admiringly. “Eight years of graduate school and now you’re spending the evening probing mice rectums.”

“Ears, not rectums.”  She rummaged through the cabinets for the appropriate probes, then used adhesive tape to hold the probes against the mice ears.

Adam sat heavily. “I’m going to bet that they’re not dead. They’re in a deep coma, so core temperatures aren’t going to drop much.”

Denise shook her head. “Mice don’t really go into comas. They’re too small. Small mammals are metabolically precarious. They burn calories too fast. I’ve never seen a mouse in a coma.”

“You’re seeing it now,” he said. “Do you play cards? We might be here awhile.”

“I don’t.”

“OK. Do you know any workplace gossip?”

“I know you’re sleeping with one of the secretaries.”

“True that.

“That’s all I’ve got,” she said, lighting another cigarette.  “How about twenty questions?”

Adam shrugged.

“Were you really a drug dealer?”


“So you never sold drugs?”

He shook his head.

“Did you ever use drugs?”


“Did you like them?”

“Very much.”

“Were you ever a high-ranking member of a drug syndicate?”

Adam shrugged. “That’s a hard one. I’ll say no.”

“But you were a big shot at a meth lab.”

“Oh boy, yes.”

“Do you feel bad about that?”



“That’s not a yes or no question.  But to be perfectly honest, I think I didn’t pay alot of mind to who was using the product. I just figured I would make it as clean as possible and maybe the users wouldn’t suffer the same effects as those that did not. Like the teeth thing.”  He stood and began pacing around the room. “There’s nothing central to the product that rots teeth, but people cook it so badly, put so much shit into it, and the shit rots dental enamel. Nobody using Candlestick meth has that problem.”

“Next question. You know that what you just said is a bunch of hypocritical justification, right?”

“I do.”

“You’re trying to make zombie mice, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” he said. “Look. It’s late and you have a long night ahead of you.  I’ve got to go.”

Denise looked up, surprised.  “You’re kidding, right?  I can’t stay here.  I have a date.”

Adam stared at her.  “My turn to ask questions.  You don’t really have a date, do you?”

“Mouse #2 just dropped one degree,” she said, watching the monitor.  “And no, it’s not really a date, but I’ve got something on standby, something on tap.”



Written by williamdoonan

April 11, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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