|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
Space Drugs II: The Afterglow
Jarius And Bill
When he comes to, the moon is halfway across the sky. It’s not quite midnight yet but it’s pretty damn close, close enough to warrant the generation of end of day reports in Apex’s shipping department, anyway. Having kept a sturdy lotus position throughout the duration of his strange hallucinatory experience, Sean Hymarc unfolds his legs and stands, pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and intently picking out the one he flipped upside down when he first opened the little cardboard box.
As he lights his cigarette, Hymarc’s quite amused when he sees Edvard holding not just one, but both of the aliens at bay with his disintegration pistol, the formers looking none too thrilled about being stuck in this bullshit situation. All they were trying to do was carry out the will of their current Universe, and what do they get? A fucking weapon pointed at their heads.
“Doctor, lower your gun. What they said was true, their space drugs indeed sent me on a journey. I was alone in a forest, a clear path laid ahead of me. I ascended a mountain trail that led me to a wise old man who lived in a cabin, and he let me in on a little secret.”
Edvard, gun still trained on the unruly purple creatures that made multiple attempts at his life during the shockwaves resulting from all that commotion across town, asks his boss what secret that would be.
“My place in the Universe, my Good Doctor. The purpose of my life; who, or rather what, I truly am.”
Sean turns his attention to G1-Zm0, Ray, KingPig, and Wolf. They all have their individual weapons trained on both intruders’ various body parts.
“Boys, do any of you know when the girls will be back?”
“I can send out a return request,” G1-Zm0 clanks. “They could all be back here by tomorrow morning.”
The rest of the three grunt in agreement, not taking their eyes off their assigned alien limb that doesn’t have to stay attached to its purple body, necessarily.
“Good, do it,” as he turns towards the window, taking a surprised step backwards when the lack of daylight graces his brain. “Well, I didn’t realize it was night already. Wasn’t… didn’t I sit down in the afternoon? And, is that… what’s that smoke coming from my future base of operations? Is it on fire or something?”
“Yes, sihr, but you vere out for quite some tiem. I vas actually quite vorried, hence vhy I have zeese griftas under ze point of mine gun. Vhi–”
“Oh for god’s sake, just let me explain it,” Wolf groans, unable to deal with Doc Torpol’s Nazi-ass accent. “While you were tripping something happened across town boss, some kind of explosion or shockwave or something. Ray and I, and Gizmo and Kay-Pee, technically, although they didn’t have much of offer… anyway, we all discussed it thoroughly while you were entranced.”
“Okaaay,” Hymarc begins, now with two lit cigarettes hanging out of his mouth, one half burned and one lit just a moment ago. “And? Get to where you’re going or don’t get to going, Seven.”
“Well, the running theory around here is that the tower belongs to your prime competitor, whoever that may be, correct?”
Off in the corner of the room, hiding underneath window planter Alpha-Beta, Alvey Fratto begins to perspire, and without even a banana peel to wipe up the sweat. He knows that nobody told him to eat the peel, he doesn’t need to remind himself, but he gets very hungry when he’s stressed. And overworked. And tired. And cranky. And hungry.’
“Well, that said,” Wolf continues, actually unaware that Alvey is still in the room, “it would be logical to assume that, as the first major stockholder in this city, he is aware of the second major stockholder in this city, the latter being you. Now, follow with me here: maybe he’s planning something. Or she, maybe she’s planning something, something big. A weapon of some sort so he can buy up your acquisitions and assets to assert a more dominant grip on New Manhattan.”
“We don’t know what percentage he owns,” Ray adds, “but it can’t be much more than yours. That kind of wealth, even in this metropolis, it just doesn’t exist like that. You own eight percent, he probably owns ten or twelve, and if he can’t make that a flat twenty, he likely at least wants to get it to what was once the legal driving age.”
“Hah, you ‘member dat slop sheit? Forcin’ us to go tha Dee-Em-Vee ‘nd driave ‘round in circles wit’ sum creaky old lady, just hopin’ she’s in a good mood and she don’t fail us. Fuck it, fuck it all,” KingPig drawls.
Hymarc waits for the explanation to finish and, when he realizes it had, he lazily shakes his head and meanders over to the window to gaze at his next achievement. “So… why the smoke?”
“Oh, uh,” Wolf fumbles, “we don’t really know. It probably blew up in their faces, whatever they were planning. Or maybe it was unrelated, there’s really no way to be sure.”
“Okay,” Hymarc mumbles, his brain working overtime. “I have my plan.”
“Hold that thought, big man!” Bill shouts through the barrel of Torpol’s disintegration pistol, the trigger mechanism of which could have been better designed by a two-year-old back on Fuego. “Our job is complete, we need to go home.”
Sean looks at the aliens out of the corner of his eye, realizing that they never told him where they came from and not caring even a microscopic bit.
“No, no I don’t think so. You see,” he says, pulling out a blank sheet of paper from his pocket and unfolding it – the back, just for clarification, is blank too; Sean Hymarc just carries blank pieces of paper around with him, just in case he gets a little peckish – “I have a mission to do, a mission fueled by my newfound purpose and power in this Universe. I haven’t felt this woke in a long, long time. So, you won’t be going anywhere until you complete my commands, the list of which I may add to at any time.”
He takes a bite out of the piece of paper and puts it back in his pocket, commenting that it helps keep him regular when everybody gives him a weird look.
A platform then lowers from the ceiling, loaded with a notebook, a pencil, and two black collars with large blacker cubes sewn to the sides. KingPig and Ray each come over and take a collar, strapping them to both aliens’ necks. The aliens share a glance, their eyes bursting with laughter like the Onyx Moon when Moron detonated the less-than-faux explosive, sans the laughter. Then, the weapons are pointed at them again, which is getting so old.
“On this list, when it’s done, I will have a few com– I mean, and meant, demands. One: you will provide me with more of that… Doctor, what did they call the drug?”
“Zhey called et Tryptamine, to vhich I argued seeing how zhere are literally oodles of tryptamine compounds in zhe human brain, not to mention zheir likely inclusion in zhe neurochemical makeup of zhe aliens’ own brains. I do not trust zhem, sir, not vhun bit.”
As Hymarc speaks, he scribes along in his notebook. “Very well. One: you surrender your entire supply of the so-called Tryptamine to myself, The Good Doctor, KingPig, Gizmo, and-slash-or Ray,” leaving Wolf feeling more left out than Alvey, who still has yet to be acknowledged by his freshly woke boss. “Two: you will give me a detailed explanation of how the crystal changed, from solid form, into a gaseous powder and then into a perforated tab of paper similar to that which one would use to distribute and consume lysergic acid diethylamide, the only psychedelic drug acceptable for human use. For now. Thir– what the fuck?”
Jarius and Bill literally vanish, their collars landing on the tile floor with a cheap plastic clack. The shell of the collar once around Jarius’s neck cracks upon impact. The MERCs are embarrassed and, following Doctor Torpol’s lead, they all holster their weapons.
Hymarc gingerly approaches and looks around. He then stomps his foot on the floor where the prisoners were standing, hoping to find some sort of trap door or something that would have allowed such a daring escape before remembering that this is my goddamned building and if there was a trap door here I would damn well know about it. You’re an idiot Sean, you’re a goddamned fool.’
Across the city, over top of the building Sean sweats over daily, also known to a very select few (including you) as Cape Enterprises, Uncorporated, a drastically less visible than carbon monoxide silver flying disk floats about fifty feet skyward before adjusting its angle and shooting off into the stars, leaving no trail, causing no sound, and alerting nobody in the city, especially the two
Zeroc that decided to stay behind in the Cape headquarters.
“This… does not make a difference,” Hymarc says, practicing the rage management techniques he acquired from the classes that he was made to star taking ten years ago. He only had to attend ten classes, the classes running five times a week, but he’s been showing up ever since. Not necessarily because he enjoys them, and certainly not every day, but because the classes offer a fantastic networking opportunity. Where else would he find humans stupid enough to accept a job as a research dummy to a large corporation they’ve never heard of? If they’re dumb enough to believe anger can be managed, they’ll believe anything!
“Ray, Wolf, you have a new mission as of tonight. You are to go to the warehouse,” turning his piercing daggers towards G1-Zm0, “the warehouse where we lost half a man and came out with two-thirds of a cyborg,” returning to Ray and Wolf, “and retrieve the extraterrestrial device we recovered from the crash. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to activate it. When KingPig and Rose originally brought the thing there I had them lock it in the trunk of one of my old cars for safety, so as long as you don’t open the trunk, you’ll have no problems. Clear?”
“Crystal!” they say in unison, one significantly more excited than the other.
“Excellent. Doctor, I need you to embark on a search. I don’t know where Fratto ran off to, but we must find him, I have a very special assignment brewing that only he can handle.”
Alvey almost gets up and spr– well, does his version of sprinting over to The Good Doctor and President Hymarc, but he is literally wedged beneath the planter, his body fat swollen from the stress of sitting in a crammed position for so long. Alvey Fratto is trapped in what nobody else in their right mind would describe as a crevice, with no idea how to get out.
“And KingPig, you are free to go wallow in your mud. After, I shall add, you prepare the common room and the girls’ bedroom for their return from their mission and-slash-or missions. Good?”
“I like ta wallow in da mud, ye!”
“Beautiful. Now, everybody get the fuck out of my sight, and more importantly, my office.”
All of Hymarc’s employees file into the elevator and ride it down to the various floors they need to be on. Even Alvey, who’s body was lubricated just enough to worm his way out of the crevice by a sudden hot-flash-induced sweatstorm, joins Doctor Torpol to look for Alvey Fratto The Coffee Man. Meaning The Good Doc doesn’t recognize him by face, by voice, or by smell. This is good for Alvey, at least that last part is.
President Hymarc, on the other hand, goes to his desk and picks up one of the novelty bottles of sand that he purchased from his last vacation to Hawaii with Doctor Torpol. He removes the crumbling cork stopper and, after digging through the part that gets stuck in the bottle with the secret pen he carries on him at all times, he spills the sand in a neat little circle next to the wall-windows that line his office. He then sits down in this circle, legs folded under him, and closes his eyes, sinking deep into meditation over the implications of what he learned during his spacey alien drug experience.