William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Thirty-Nine

leave a comment »

They sat at the large work table in the lab so that Carson could continue the testing array.  Adam LaPorte repeated his story for Julia while absentmindedly twirling the dead mouse’s tail between his fingers.

“That’s quite a tale,” Julia said.  “What makes you think our ‘zombie’ is in some way connected to your mice?”

“I have some knowledge of methamphetamine production and distribution.”  Adam told then about the chemicals that he had isolated and given to the mice.

“You’re a user?”

“I’m not,” he said.   “But much of the crystal methamphetamine in this country is produced in small labs or kitchens in Arizona and Central California.  Probably half of it is cooked within a two hour drive from here, but there are a few superlabs.  And one of them, near Seattle, is responsible for about five percent of the entire domestic inventory.  It is from this lab that my tainted sample came, and I believe your zombie’s too.”

“This is interesting,” Julia told him.  “You’re suggesting that someone is plotting to turn our nation’s crack addicts into zombies.”

“Meth addicts,” Adam said.  “And yes.  I don’t know who or why, but yes that is what I think I’m saying.”

“And why did you come to me?”

“I came here because this is where the zombie was.  Then I checked out the Medical Center on the internet and learned about your project.  I thought you could shed some light on what’s going on with my mice.”

Julia scanned Adam’s paperwork.  “It says you tested three females and twenty males.”

“Right.  All the females lived, except for this one.”  He pointed to the mouse on the table, “who’s death, as we’ve established, is due to human error.  None of the males lived.”

Julia nodded.  “Who designed the test protocol?”

“What do you mean?”

“Who decided it should be three females and twenty males?”

“I did.”

“And how did you arrive at that particular configuration?”

Adam leaned back.  “It was something my girlfriend said.”

“What could she have said that would lead you to undertake an undesigned, unauthorized, and illegal live test protocol?  That really must have been some conversation.”

Adam listened as Prometheus hummed through the test array, the robot arm whipping from one side of the test parameter to another.  “I was going to preface this by warning you that it would sound strange, but I don’t think that’s necessary.”

Julia shook her head.  “Nor do I.”

“She’s Haitian.  My girlfriend is,” Adam continued.

Carson grinned.  “Is she hot?”

“Live molten lava.  She said they do this to people back in Haiti.  Not so much anymore, but that women come back to life easier than men.  She said that very few men survive and they don’t quite act right afterwards.”

Carson stared.  “You’re talking about Haitian zombies.  That has been scientifically documented.  Zombification was used as a means of social control, the ultimate punishment for transgression.”

“Except they’re not really dead,” Julia said.  “The drugs just suppress bodily functions so that they appear to be dead.”

“And that’s clearly not what’s going on with Karen,” Carson said.

Julia raised her eyebrows.

“Who is Karen?”  Adam asked.

“Just a friend,” said Carson.

“You have a live one, don’t you?” Adam said.  “And she’s come back.  Let me work with you.  I can be of great help.”

“How is that?”

“I know a lot about chemical reactions and how they are dispersed and perceived.”

“What about pheromones?” Carson asked.  “Do you know anything about that?”

“Stop it,” Julia scolded him.

“Of course I do,” Adam said.  “I told you I work in flavoring.  Most of what you think you taste is actually due to smell.  Try eating while holding your nose and you won’t taste a thing.”

“Yes, but is it possible for humans to communicate pheromonally?” Carson asked.

“Do you like McDonalds?”

Carson nodded.

“Walk by the restaurant and you’ll want to go in.  That’s the french fries having a conversation with your limbic system.”

“Yeah, but would it be possible for one human brain to communicate with another through smell alone?”

“Yes,” said Adam.  “It happens all the time in dogs and cats.  Male dogs know when female dogs are going into season.  Most mammals can communicate anger or fear pheromonally.  Our bodies still communicate with one another all the time.”

Julia shook her head.  “Not significantly, no.”

“Oh no? You want a little test?”

“What kind of test?”

Adam opened his briefcase and took out a small vial.  “This is my special cologne.”  He pulled out the little plastic cork.  “I use it when I’m feeling especially lonely.  Care for a little test sniff?”

Julia didn’t move.  “Really?”

“You won’t have any more doubts,” he said.  “I guarantee.”

She rose hesitantly and leaned forward.  “This isn’t dangerous right?”

Adam shook his head, and Julia leaned forward, closed her eyes, and inhaled.

“I call it ‘Obsession for Me,’” Adam said.

Instantly, she felt her nipples tighten, and the moistness between her legs. She slapped Adam hard across the face.

“What just happened?” Carson asked.

“Nothing,” she said angrily.

“You wouldn’t have believed me otherwise,” Adam said.

“Thanks for coming in,” she responded.  “But I think we are dealing with two different things here.  I’m fairly certain that Karen is not a regular methamphetamine user.  And your theory is bullshit.  There must be a quarter of a million methamphetamine users in California.  If five percent of all the drugs are poisoned, we should be seeing zombies all over the place, something like a hundred and twenty thousand.”

“Twelve thousand five hundred,” Carson and Adam simultaneously corrected her.

“Fine, that’s still a far cry from one.  And we’ve only had one.  How can you explain that, chemical man?”

Adam smiled.  “First, only a small percentage of the product has been encumbered.  Second, remember that it might not even be noticeable in women.  They go through this “transition” shall we say, in their sleep.  For men it would be a different story.  Most of them would die, and those who did not would be a little sluggish afterwards.  If they were a little sluggish, maybe their friends don’t notice because they’re tweakers as well.  Or some medical examiner covers it up because they think they made a mistake.”

“There should still be more than just one,” Julia noted.

“No, there would be very few men,” Adam corrected her.

“Why is that?”

“I used to be the chief chemist at the Seattle superlab that produces this particular variety of the drug.  It’s called Candlestick.”

“You just get more interesting by the minute,” Julia told him.

“Candlestick meth,” Carson said.  “I’ve heard about that.  Never tried any; never tried anything to be honest.”

“It’s not for you,” Adam said.  “It’s sort of a boutique drug.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means it’s not for everyone.”

“Who is it for?  Why can’t I have some?”

“It’s only for women.”


Written by williamdoonan

June 10, 2013 at 10:12 am

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: