Chapter Nineteen



I heard cats fighting again on my way home: the Thai girls. They always sounded like house cats fighting when they argued. I looked in the commons area and they were nose to nose and looked like they would be coming to blows pretty soon.
Damned whores. The pay raise wasn't enough for me to put up with this shit. First pirates way out here where you never saw pirates, and now the whores were acting up. “Knock it off, you two,” I said. “Now, what's going on?” I demanded.
“My me drops, bitch!” one babbled.
“She say she no have have any drops but she lying.”
Her bloodshot eyes frowned even deeper, she crossed her arms and then turned her back on me. “Well?” I said again.
She whirled around and kicked me in the head. I went out like a light.

I came to in the sick bay laying on a medic with an IV needle stuck in my arm and wearing an oxygen mask. My head hurt like hell.
Destiny and Tammy were there. I took off the mask and started to get up, but they pushed me back down. “Hold off, John, you should rest. The gurney said you had a slight concussion.”
Gurney. That's what they call medics back on Earth. At least the boat's name made more sense than the Earth name, not like Port and Starboard and head.
“No I shouldn't,” I said. “I should kick that cunt's ass and lock her up.”
“The robots already did. They tased her,” Tammy said. I thought, really? I didn't know they could do that. Why the hell can't they make decent coffee? Or patch a leak? Or even find one? And I remember seeing something on the news about the company researching ways to program some three “laws” some guy wrote about a few hundred years ago or so in fiction. Some sort of safety program.
“You two tased her,” I said.
They looked at each other. “I did,” Destiny said.
“Thank you,” I replied.
“I'm sorry,” Tammy said. “She should have had drops. You can't blame her, I missed her. It's my fault you’re on that gurney, and I'm sorry. But if you're going to get mad at somebody, get mad at me, not her. And John, finish reading that book and fewer things like this will happen. If you'd read the rest of the book this one probably wouldn't have happened.”
I sighed. “What's going to happen to them on Mars?” I asked.
“They think they're going to be prostituting, but they're going to be rehabilitated. The study of the brain and mind has really advanced in the last couple hundred years and these days we can undo much of the harm done to them in their lives. Many if not most drug addicts, not just droppers but people addicted to older drugs as well, even ancient drugs like the opiates, are mentally ill to begin with. Much of their illness comes from untreated trauma in their lives, and some are chemical imbalances from faulty gene sequences. These are the easiest, we simply balance the chemistry.”
I didn't have a clue what “faulty gene sequences” are. It dawned on me that she didn't talk like a college professor around the whores like she did when none of the hookers were around.
She continued. “Cure their mental problems and it's a lot easier for them to kick the drugs and lead a normal life.
“They used to think that the drugs caused the mental illness, and psychoactive drugs really can harm the mind. And they used to treat many mental illnesses with some of the same psychoactive drugs! But most of them are mentally ill to start with. Mental illness causes drug use far more often than drug use causes mental illness.
“When their five year contracts are up they won't be the same people. We hope they'll stay on Mars, Mars needs people badly. It has too many PhDs and too few less educated people; there are things that need to be done that don't require a higher education and it's a waste to have a research scientist doing without help for mundane things. There aren't even enough robots. There's such a shortage of robots and unskilled workers that sometimes scientists have to clean their own labs. Some restaurants have to have human cooks because robots are so scarce, usually the restaurant owner does the cooking him or herself. Only a very few Martian homes have robot cooks. Robot repair pays pretty good and needs no college, it's just a six week course. And they need people to build the robotic factories that manufacture robots, and they're building smelting plants. Mars really needs construction workers badly.”
“Well,” I said, “I think you'd have to be crazy to try any of that shit in the first place. So you conned them?”
“No, we said up front that addiction treatment was not only part of the deal but was the primary purpose, that's why the trip to Mars. These girls don't want to be addicts or prostitutes, that's just where life put them. But they worried about income; most of these girls know of no other way of making money. We're going to teach them how.”
“Who's paying for all of this?” I asked. It sounded like I was the captain of a charity boat.
“The CEO of your company's daughter is a philanthropist. She's paying for it.” She looked at Destiny. “Destiny works for them, too.”
Destiny looked sheepish. “Look, John,” she said, “you're not supposed to know any of this. So you don't know any of this, okay?”
“Okay,” I said. Hell, I didn't care about Tammy but I sure hoped I didn’t get Destiny in any trouble. That was the last thing I wanted. “I'll play ignorant,” I said. I didn't know they were going to make me write this damned report.
The computer beeped and the readout said I could leave, so we started the walk home. Tammy went into her quarters and we continued on.
Ich habe keine Augentropfen, bitch!” we heard while walking past the commons. God damned whores... We went in the commons. The fat blonde was there arguing with one of the Thai chicks. I have no idea what “Ich habe keine Augentropfen” means except yeah, I do, since after she said it she said “bitch”. Sue, another Thai chick from someplace called Bong Chong; at least, the name of the place sounded like Bong Chong to me. I guess that's somewhere in Thailand, I don't know. Anyway, she usually pretty much kept to herself, but was trying to bum drops from the fat blonde woman, and she didn't speak hardly any English and no German at all and the German woman could speak English but didn't talk any Thai, so I don't know how they were communicating.
At any rate, Sue was out of drops like Lek had been. Damn. I called the other Thai chick's room. “Lek, could you please come to the commons? I need an interprepter.” I didn't know that Tammy spoke fluent Thai.
This was the one chick who was arguing with the one who had attacked me, who had been trying to get drops from another woman. I think, anyway, I get them mixed up and I was still groggy from that kick in he head and wasn't sure which one kicked me. Anyway, it confuses the hell out of me, both with the same name. It sounds the same to me, anyway; one tried to show me how they were supposed to be pronounced but my western lips just won't move like that, and my western ears can't tell the difference.
“Okay, Joe, I be right there. Cost you some drops, though, okay?”
“I'll try but I can't promise.”
“Try hard, Joe,” she said threateningly.
“My me drops!” The other one said. “Meow drops!” I guess they‘re called “drops” in all languages. Wait... the German woman didn't say “drops”, did she? She did say “bitch”, though, but she does speak English real good, even though there's that heavy accent.
Damn, I hoped Lek hurried. “You'll get drops,” I said. “Just be patient.”
“Meow drops ticks in knee!”
“I'll see what's taking Lek,” I lied. I was going to see someone who knew what the hell they was doing, and that was Doctor Winters, my expert on dropper whores who had pretended, and still did in front of everyone except Destiny and me, that she was one, too. I didn't know she didn't need an interpreter but I found out later she spoke Thai and a couple of other languages fluently. That's one damned smart woman, I'll tell you.
She was walking quickly toward me. “We have a prob...” I started.
“I know. My fault, sorry. I'll fix it. And John, finish reading that damned book!
“I will...” I was going to tell her I'd been busy but hell, she was in the commons already. I shrugged and went back to my quarters to read some more.
The book said that when drops first came out, when they were doing drug trials, there was an angel tear addict who only weighed a hundred pounds that killed a musclebound three hundred pound championship freestyle fighter who was working as a bouncer in a redneck bar in Tennessee with her bare hands, and was eating the man's flesh. The crowd panicked when she killed the bouncer and a few people were trampled and one died. She ran out after the terrified crowd, screaming. Police were there by then.
The police's tasers had no effect on her at all, except to make her even more vicious. She put nine cops who were all trying to restrain her in the hospital while she had nine bullets in her before one shot hit her in the head and killed her.
Oh – you guys should put chapter ten from her book in this report, the whole thing will make a lot more sense that way. Chapter ten is a video of a drophead going through withdrawal. It's a hard video to watch. I'd rather I had just read about it, and I really don't like to read. I threw up watching it, and I have a strong stomach. I mean, Billie burning herself up didn't bother my belly. Well, maybe the stench turned my stomach a little but I didn't throw up.
But the woman in the video tore her own face off with her fingernails! It was horrible, and I puked and shut it off. How does Tammy study this kind of thing? I'm glad we had the noisy damned maid, the vomit stank and made me want to barf more.
I went in the head and rinsed my mouth and brushed my teeth. After my stomach quieted down I turned the book back on and they had one woman they called a “subject” in a straitjacket, locked in a padded room. Dead the next morning. Damn but that shit is nasty.
Destiny came in. “Are you okay, John?” she said with a worried look on her face. I guess I must have been a little pale.
“Yeah. Damn, how does Tammy do it?”
“Do what?”
“Study a Frankenstein monster. God,” I said, “Worse than a Frankenstein monster. That book... Destiny, a woman tore her own face off! My God but that was the worst thing I've ever seen in my life!”
I didn't know that I'd see a whole lot worse than that, in the flesh, the ripped and torn and eaten flesh, before the trip was over.
She said “I read it. Why do you think I'm working for the charity? These poor women... the withdrawal from this drug is horrendous torture and they all die if they stop taking it. We're trying to find a cure. The problem is, we just can't tell on Earth because the drug is so easy to make there, because of Earth's exact gravity. A chemist could do it with a centrifuge on Mars, but a dropper couldn't. On Earth, we can get them through withdrawal but they go right back to using. So we're trying it where a dropper can't make drops, with the very best medical and psychological help there is.
“If we succeed,” she continued, “we can not only rid Earth of its dropper problem but perhaps even populate Mars as well!”
I was doubtful but didn't say anything. It would be nice if they could pull it off, but I didn't think they would.
Uh, guys, I need to piss. Thanks. Be right back.
Where was I? Oh, Tammy's book. They were trying to make a female viagra and wound up with drops. The stupid scientists didn't see how dangerous and addictive they would be until after the drug trials.
It came out after the woman killed the prizefighter and put nine cops in the hospital arresting her, with bullets in her no less, before she was shot in the head that she was addicted to the chemical the scientists were testing, and was going through withdrawal when she killed the guy. She had been an experimental subject, whatever that is, but I gathered the scientists gave her the drugs.
Of course, they stopped the experiment right then and there, but the formula was already out, filed in the patent office. And it was really easy to make and the necessary chemicals were all common and available anywhere.
My fone and tablet went off at the same time. Fifteen minutes to decel.
“Gotta work, huh?” Destiny said.
“Yeah, you can cheer me up later. I gotta turn this tub around.”
“Do we get zero G?” She asked. “Only a little,” I said. I know what the book says is acceptable. I hate books.
Especially Tammy's. God but I hated reading Tammy's fucking disgusting book.


Chapter 18
Chapter 20

mcgrew publishing