“Hold on, Destiny,” Tammy said, “we're still in trouble.”
I got it. Finally, even being so tired that my brain wasn't working right. God, what a dumbass I was! I really needed some sleep, but I wasn't going to get any for a while.
“Computer, lock all doors,” I said. “She's right, Destiny, We're in trouble. I finally get it. She left them short of drops and told them the pirates stole them. They're not even human any more, you should have seen them. They scared the hell out of me with those crazy red eyes and all those knives and their eyes weren't even very red yet. Jesus, my boat is full of inhuman monsters!”
“John!” Destiny said. “How can you talk like that? They're people!”
“John's right,” Tammy said. “they aren't. Only Lek and the ones in here that had squirreled enough away that they wouldn't go through withdrawal are human, and these girls are only barely human. John, you might not be very educated but you're not stupid. Destiny, he's right, they're not human. They don't even know about drops right now. We need to find a way to get this drug into their systems and...”
“What if we can't?” Destiny asked.
“Then everybody's dead. We have to find a way. A spray bottle of drops won't help anything against all of them. John, is there any way to send vapors of it into the atmosphere?”
I shook my head. “If there is I don't know how.”
Destiny said “If we can't get the drugs in them, we can use John's houseboat to escape at least, since the droppers will kill everyone and die anyway. We can ride back on one of the fleet's boats.”
Tammy said “Just getting to the houseboat would be incredibly dangerous, but I don't really see any other way, either.”
“I'm afraid they'll find a way in here anyway,” I said. “They shouldn't have been able to get through the stairwell doors but they did, even starting to go through withdrawal.”
“I did that,” Destiny said. “I told the computer to unlock the door.”
“You can do that?” I asked, perplexed.
“John, my dad started this company, and I hold more stock than anybody but him or Charles. There isn't a company door anywhere I can't open with a word. How did you think I got outside the ship? But we have to get to that pilot room!”
“Hold on,” I said. “No, it's way too dangerous and we won't have to. I have an idea the computer gave me earlier when Angel thought she lost her drops down the drain.” I pulled out my fone, forgetting I'd already ordered the computer to lock all the doors. I really needed some sleep! “Computer, lock and seal all doors, especially the door to the commons and my quarters and Doctor Winter's cabin and the pilot room.”
The computer replied “All doors have been locked for the last five minutes. Sealing doorways.” I was really sleepy... and scared.
“What good will that do, dumbass?” Tammy asked. “You might as well lock the doors against a herd of elephants that are holding sharks with friggin' lasers!”
“Huh?” I said.
Destiny laughed. “We haven't watched that one yet, Tammy. What are you thinking, John?”
I said “I'm thinking Tammy knows drug addicted whores but I know my boat and its computers. Now shush, both of you. I know what I'm doing.
“Computer!” I said into my fone, “replace all air in every room except the commons with nitrogen. And have robots bring three small oxygen bottles and masks to the commons.”
“John,” Tammy said, “you're not a dumbass, that was a stroke of genius! That's how you controlled Angel and the ones that attacked me. I wondered how you did that. Are you sure you haven't gone to college?”
“I don't get it,” Destiny said.
“You didn't take many biology courses, did you?”
“Not after undergrad, and not much then even. Why?”
Tammy laughed. “Of course not. What does an astrophysicist have to know about biology?”
I said “I thought you said you were an astronomer?”
“I hold degrees in both. There's really been no difference in the last hundred years, anyway, John. Astronomers have to know an awful lot of physics and chemistry. But Tammy's right, no biology. So what's going on and why am I scared to death and you guys seem to be fine?”
Tammy said “John's smarter than I thought he was. I knew he was no dummy, even though he isn't educated. But that was really a stroke of genius, and I'm embarrassed I didn't think of it.”
“Think of what?”
“Nitrogen is an inert gas,” Tammy explained.
“Yeah, I knew that,” Destiny said. “Undergrad shit. Basic chemistry. So what?”
“It isn't poisonous, like carbon dioxide. They won't even know there's no oxygen, they'll just get light headed or high or something like that, and go to sleep. Then we put on the oxygen masks John told the robots to fetch, put a couple drops in their eyes, and make the atmosphere normal before they get brain damage from lack of oxygen.”
“What?” Destiny said. “There are two hundred of them!”
“Relax,” I said. “Once they pass out we'll add oxygen to the nitrogen so there won't be brain damage. Once we get drops in all their eyes we'll set the atmosphere to normal and they'll all wake up happy. Will they remember any of it, Tammy?” I asked, curious.
“Not much,” she replied. “Certainly nothing after they stopped being human.”
“What do you mean, ‘stopped being human’?” Destiny asked. “You guys keep saying that!”
“God, Destiny,” Tammy said, “when you're out of your field you're even dumber than John!”
I didn't know whether to feel insulted or complimented.
She continued. “A wolf with rabies is more sentient than an angel tear addict going through withdrawal. You know those old gray movies we used to watch about vampires and werewolves?”
“Huh?” I said. “You guys have known each other for a long time?”
“We went to college together. Now, shut up, John,” Destiny said. “Go on, Tammy.”
“Is a werewolf human? A vampire?” she asked.
“Of course not.”
“So where does a vampire come from?”
“Come on, Tammy. A vampire bites a human and he turns into a vampire himself.”
“Is he human?”
“No, he's a vampire.”
“But was he human?”
“So were the droppers. But not now. Like a vampire, or a werewolf. Only this isn't some sort of supernatural hocus-pocus stupid movie voodoo, it's chemistry. This is real. These women are worse than vampires or werewolves. They look human, except for those eyes, but they're not. I thought you'd read the literature?”
Destiny blushed. “I did. I guess I just didn't get it.”
Tammy grinned. “John got it. You two dumbasses are perfect for each other.”
Destiny said “Shouldn't we start now?”
“Too dangerous,” Tammy said. “Wait until they've passed out. How long, John?”
I laughed. “You're the scientist, all I know about knocking droppers out with nitrogen is what the computer told me.” My brain was actually working despite the lack of sleep. Wow. Adrenaline, I guess. “Computer,” I said into my fone, “how long until all cargo are unconscious?”
“All cargo will not become unconscious under present conditions for foreseeable time frame” the stupid, stubborn piece of junk computer said.
“Computer, explain!” God damned computer.
“One specimen is in a protected area,” the computer said.
Stupid damned computers. Why in the hell do they act like that? I sighed. “Okay, dumbass computer, excepting the single specimen how long?”
“One minute,” it said. What? Damned computer, would it take one minute or did it mean it had to compute something? God damned computers.
“Computer, inform me when all but the ‘specimen’ in the commons are aslee... I mean, unconscious.” It replied with the expected “Affirmative.” And then another damned alarm went off as gravity seemed to get lighter.
God damn it, there isn't enough damned money on the solar system to pay me for this shit. I'm retiring, I've had it.
If I live, anyway, I thought. I have two hundred vampires and werewolves on board. Drugula, I guess.
Shit. The other damned generator went out. And I couldn't do another inspection until we got drops in the werewolves' eyes and made the atmosphere normal.
And I really needed some sleep really bad.