William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Sixty-Seven

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Rocky wiped the crumbs from his mouth and opened a bottle of water as he watched Julia swim.  “So this is the end of it?” he called to her.  “You’re just going to give up?”

She swam toward him and rested her arms on the edge of the pool.  “It’s not about giving up,” she said.  “It’s about refocussing.  I just don’t have that much interest in immortality anymore, which is actually good since they took away my funding and my robot.”

Rocky picked up the tray and came over to the edge of the pool.  “You’re telling me you don’t want to live forever now?”

“Well now I know how,” she said.  “It’s simply a matter of very precisely mixing some of the most potent toxins ever found in nature and inducing a massive assault at a cellular level.  It was almost a lost art, Rocky.  But we have it all written down.  All of it.  And Carson will come around.  He’s a scientist before he is anything else.  We were just perhaps unwise not to think through the implications of all of this before we started.”

“You really don’t want to live forever?” he asked, pressing her.

“Not without you, baby,” she said.  “And it only works on women, remember.  Humanity could make it without men, Rocky.  We really could as a species, at least for a few thousand years.  But it wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun.”

“So no more new zombies.”

“Let’s hope not.  What did you find out about ours?”

Rocky ate another piece of cake and showed her the front page of the Sacramento Bee.

“You’re kidding,” she said, climbing out of the pool and grabbing a towel.  “Let me see.”

“Secret Human Experiments at Folsom,” read the headline.

“California State Prison at Folsom – Authorities have yet to respond to the claims of three men who claim they were unjustly prisoned.  Wigbert Gomez, Angel Rivera, and Randall Townsend left Folsom Prison today.  Family members are concerned that their loved ones had been drugged.  Psychiatric evaluations of the three men reveal similar stories; they were sitting on their Harleys outside Petunia’s, a popular bar in Galt, when they were accosted by a woman in a van.  None of the men were able to account for the time period between that encounter and their awakening in the medical ward at Folsom Prison.

“It wasn’t like we’d done nothing bad-like,” Randall Townsend said at his home in Vacaville.  A biking aficionado, Townsend is a full professor in Berkeley’s Physics Department.

Or was, until students began complaining that Professor Townsend was not actually teaching his classes, was actually doing little more than maneuvering through Powerpoint slides.  While students were quick to point out that this was not unusual for Berkeley, the fact that Professor Townsend had done little more than advance the slides for two weeks gave rise to concern.  Berkeley’s Physics Department has temporarily suspended Dr. Townsend from active teaching pending a psychological review.

Wigbert Gomez’s associates at Paint My Car, asked that he be relieved of duty when he insisted on applying paint to windshield wipers.  “It’s pretty,” Wigbert noted before he was ushered into the waiting room.

The sad case of Angel Rivera is by now known to most readers.  After his release from custody, Angel failed to show up for his job at the South Sacramento office of the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Instead, according to family members, he insisted on a surfing trip.  “He was acting strange,” his wife, Annabel Rivera noted.  “First, he suggested I drive to the beach, which he never does because he likes to drive.  Then once we got there, he didn’t want to have anything to eat, which is so not like him.”

According to his daughter-in-law, Mavis Fuente, Angel took his surfboard and headed out into the sea, paddling ever outward without looking back.  “We finally called the police,” Mavis told this reporter, “but by that time, you could barely see him.”

As reported on national television, Angel Rivera apparently kept paddling his board until a rogue wave swept him overboard.  His body was recovered by the coast guard early the next day.

Authorities at Folsom State Prison again declined to address the conditions or circumstance of the incarceration of these three men, and their families are left to wonder.  Our calls for comments have to date gone unanswered.”

“I feel so bad for their families,” Julia said.

“The two still alive, do you think they will ever recover?

Julia shook her head.  “They’ll learn some coping skills.  Repetitive tasks will become second nature, but they’ll never regain the lost cognitive capacity.  This poison destroys entire regions of frontal lobe, almost as effectively as a surgical lobotomy.”

Rocky said nothing.

“You’re thinking about Billy, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” he said.

“How is he?”

“He seems happy enough.  He started his new job.”

“No way,” she said.  “You didn’t really go ahead with that plan.  Please tell me you didn’t.”

“I had to,” Rocky said quietly.

“I think it’s cruel.”

‘We made a deal,” he reminded her.  “That’s why I’m here right now eating cake by my pool with you and not sitting in jail.  I killed a policeman, remember.”

“A zombie policeman.”

“Try selling that to jurors.  We killed thirty-four people, Julia.   And we burnt down a twenty million dollar historical landmark.  Who do you think cleaned all that up after we drove away in a stolen police car?”

“I know,” she said.  “You made a call and Rick Biondi covered it up.”

“No,” he said.  “It was too big.  Schwarzenegger covered it up.  No police, only his personal security on the scene before the firemen got there.  Or maybe after the firemen got there.  It’s hard to say, but read the headline on page twelve, you’ll see that the California Firefighter’s Union just got some major pension dispensations from the governor.”

“Why would he want to cover it up?” Julia asked.  “He got nothing out of it.”

“He wanted a zombie.”

“Well he didn’t get one.”

“Yes he did,” Rocky reminded her.  “That was the deal to keep us all out of jail.  Biondi had Billy’s paperwork done in just a few hours.  Billy is a state worker now, a proud new member of the governor’s security detail.”

“It’s cruel,” she said, slipping into her sandals.

It is cruel, Rocky told himself.  “Wait,” he called after her.  “Can you bring me another one of these cupcakes?  I think I’m addicted.”

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Written by williamdoonan

September 16, 2013 at 10:45 am

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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