Cure overdose, p.1
Cure Overdose, p.1Shane Griffin
Smash Words Edition Published by Poupichou Press
First Published in Print in Masque Noir 1999
Copyright Shane Griffin 1999
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The dark smog engulfed the city street, making the people look like murky blobs as they scuttled along the walkways. Tayt concentrated as he waded towards his destination. The smog was thicker than he had ever known it to be, so thick that there was a definite viscosity to it. He had a feeling that it was a bad sign, even before he arrived at the building.
He entered the building through the outer air lock. In the foyer the doorman, dressed in a closely fitting bright red biohazard suite, greeted him and took his stained brown and repulsively smelling envirocoat. He stepped through the inner air lock into the main foyer and was immediately stopped by a sour looking police officer. The officer wrinkled his nose in distaste.
“Been out in the murk for nothing today mate. I’m sorry, but you can’t go any further.”
Tayt rummaged around in his trench coat pocket for a moment, pulled out his Tracker license and handed it to the officer, who glanced at it and threw it straight back to him.
“That’s all fine and good, but the whole building is being shut down. Only people with proper clearance can come in or out.”
“The whole building? Why the whole building?” asked Tayt surprised.
“Sorry I can’t say. You’ll have to leave now.”
“Yeah, well I’d love nothing better than to go back home lay in a nice hot bath of full of decontaminator, but Captain Belcher called me personally. He said that he’d found one of my bounties and I needed to come to this building to make the Id.”
The officer looked at him sceptically.
“I’ll have to check this out. Stay put, I’ll be back in a minute.”
Tayt waited while the officer made a call on his wrist phone. A moment later he was beckoning Tayt to follow. They got into an elevator which took them to the 78th floor. When the doors opened the officer just pointed down the long corridor.
“Down the end, take a left. It’s suite 665.”
Tayt stepped out into the empty hallway. The building was an apartment block, one of the largest in the city and judging by the fancy carpet and painted walls this was one of the more expensive levels to live in.
He was unused to the thick carpet, having spent most of his life on polished concrete floored apartments and it annoyed him. His shoes made a swishing sound on the carpet as he walked and he had to consciously pick his feet up and take longer strides. An unfortunate side effect of spending a great deal of time outside on the ground was you quickly developed the murk shuffle, otherwise you spent more time on your face than upright. He rounded the corner and was immediately greeted by Belcher.
“G’day Tayt. Thanks for getting here so quickly.”
Captain Belcher had all the classic traits of a senior police officer; slightly overweight, face as hard as rock and a hair line receding just enough to remove his youthful menace, only to replace it with an unrelenting demand for respect. He was also one of those people who looked uncomfortable in a suit, but whose job demanded one. Despite this Tayt liked Belcher and he had developed both a professional and social friendship with him over the years.
Tayt stuck out his hand and Belcher shook it firmly.
“No problem Belch. Thanks for letting me up here, I could have been looking for this user for months before I worked out he was dead.”
Belcher’s hand went limp suddenly and he withdrew it quickly.
“Yeah well, one favour repays another and all that,” said Belcher quietly.
“Hey what’s going on Belch? You never told me who exactly I was coming up to identify. Come to think of it what the hell is one of my bounties doing up here anyway. Were they robbing the joint?”
Belcher looked everywhere except into Tayt’s eyes and cleared his throat for a long time before he spoke.
“The reason I didn’t tell you who it was is because we don’t want anyone getting wind of this. You have to believe me I wanted to tell you before you got here but…”
“But what Belcher, who is it and what’s the big deal? I mean drug users die every day and no one usually cares at all,” interjected Tayt.
“Yeah, well this particular user was in the company of someone pretty prominent when she died.”
Tayt’s bad feeling about the day was getting worse with every evasive answer that Belcher gave him and he was starting to lose his patience.
“Are you going to tell me who it is or do I have to go look for myself?” demanded Tayt, as he attempted to step around Belcher. Belcher stepped straight in front of him again.
“Ok, Ok. Just stay calm, this is hard news to break to a friend you know. Your bounty was Codi Hoplin and she was found, presumed overdose, in that apartment down the hall…”
Tayt’s shoulders slumped and he leaned heavily against the corridor wall.
“Shit no…”, he said in dismay. “I promised her parents I would track her down and have her in rehab before she could hurt herself. I mean, our family’s are so close that she could have been my sister if we hadn’t, well you know…”
Belcher stepped closer to Tayt and laid a firm hand on his shoulder, but could still not meet Tayt’s eyes when he spoke.
“There’s more Tayt. Like I said before, Codi wasn’t alone, she was with someone pretty high profile.” Belcher took a deep breath and his grip tightened on Tayt's shoulder until it hurt. “She was with your brother Simon.”
“What!?” exclaimed Tayt suddenly shrugging off Belcher's grip. “Where is he now?”
“That’s the reason why we have to keep this hushed up for the moment, you see he was found with her. He’s dead too Tayt.”
Tayt’s shoulders slumped again, but this time his legs did too and he slid down the wall his face blank and drained of all colour. Belcher turned and shouted up the hallway to a bunch of junior officers who were milling around the door of the apartment.
“Jones, get me a glass of cold water for Tayt and make it fast!”.
Tayt finished the last of the cold water and put the plastic cup on the carpet with a shaky hand.
“I’m alright now Belch, thanks.”
Belcher didn’t look convinced.
“You know you don’t have to go in there if you don’t want to. I can get an Id. done down at the morgue.”
“No!. You said you needed an Id. on the quiet so I’ll do it. Besides if we are ever going to get to the bottom of this I have to see the crime scene.”
“Whoa, what do you mean we? Your job is tracking down drug users for their families and bringing them in for rehab remember.”
“You get me in on this or I tell every reporter I can find about what’s going on.”
“Don’t make me have to arrest you Tayt.”
“Fine arrest me if you want, but you know who my phone call will be to.”
“Ok already Tayt,” replied Belcher exhaling heavily.
“Good now help me up…so… so I can go make these Id.’s.”
Tayt held his breath and tried desperately to prepare himself for the sight as he entered the apartment. He had been to a hundred crime scenes before and seen thousands of dead users in his career and it didn't help one bit. Codi lay on a black leather
Belcher followed more slowly.
“Can you make the Id.?” he asked softly.
“Of course I can make the bloody Id! It’s my brother and one of my best friends for God sake!”
“I’m sorry you had to do it like this, but I have to do everything to keep this quiet. Now why don’t you go home this is too much for anyone.”
“Bullshit! I’m staying on this until I find out what really happened and don’t try and tell me your keeping this hushed up to protect my brothers reputation just because he’s some high profile politician.”
“You’re right it’s not the whole reason. Last month I received a message to meet your brother here today. He said it was top secret and very important. I was the one who found them here like this. Your brother also told me to watch out for my own hierarchy.”
“Just how hush-hush is this Belcher?”
“Not even the mayor or the chief knows yet. I have no idea what your brother wanted, but I bet my career that this double overdose is at the centre of it.”
“Then we better find out how Codi and my brother really died,” said Tayt firmly as he walked purposefully past Belcher back into the apartment.
The other officers attending the crime scene looked at him sceptically as he entered, but he ignored them and strode intently to Codi’s lifeless form. Once again Belcher followed more slowly.
“Tayt they both died of overdose we’ve already done the biochemical. We even know the time of death. It was around 9pm last night.”
“No, there’s something not right here.”
“I don’t know, it feels wrong…no, it looks wrong. I mean look at Codi’s face….”
Tayt’s last words were choked with emotion and he had to stop.
“You OK Tayt?”
Tayt wiped his tears away, shut his eyes and tried to imagine he had never met Codi before.
“Yeah, look at Co…her face. She looks unusually distressed and tense, almost like she was being forced to have the hit.”
“Must have been a bad batch. I’ve seen them looking worse than that from badly cut stuff before.”
“You trying to tell me that these two shot up with a bad cut in this place. He could have paid for what they used with his pocket change.”
“You’re right. Jones!”
“Yes sir,” piped Jones as he scampered up beside Belcher.
“Have we done a spot test on the needle residues yet?”
“Yes sir they both came up 95% plus and cut with baking soda.”
“Shit! Why didn’t anyone pick up on this before?” Belcher shouted around the room at the other officers. “Damn it, this may be a murder investigation. I want everything done properly!”
“The only way to be sure is to check the police video suite and pull up the recording for this room,” said Tayt.
“As soon as we do that it’s public record and I give it two hours maximum before the media gets hold of it,” replied Belcher.
“Then we have two hours to work out what happened,” replied Tayt sternly.
Belcher let out a deep breath and loosened his tie.
“Alright Tayt, it looks like we have no choice. Jones! Go down to the security suite and log out today’s recording for this apartment, but make sure you enter it as a drug related inquiry.”
“If we’re going to do that you may as well break into Simon’s personal computer files,” added Tayt.
“You heard the man Jones get some people on it.”
“Yes sir but…”
Tayt ignored the rest of the conversation and turned back to look more carefully at Codi and his brother. His brother in particular caught his attention, but he could not figure out why. As he stared at his brother's lifeless form he began to wonder what his brother had even been doing in this apartment, he had certainly not told Tayt that he would be in town. Yet that was not what was nagging at him. He looked from Codi to Simon and back again several times trying to work out what it was. Suddenly it dawned on him. They both looked as though they were stressed or in pain when they died. He could see it on Codi’s face, but Simon was face down on the coffee table. What gave Simon’s pain away was his clenched fists!
Tayt took a closer look at his brother's cold clenched fists. He was right, his brother was holding something.
“Belcher! You better come look at this.” There was no reply and Tayt stood to see Belcher staring at the apartments computer terminal screen with another officer. “Belcher!” Tayt said more insistently.
“I think you better come see this first,” said Belcher in a hollow voice.
Belcher rubbed his temples in a vain attempt to rid himself of an oncoming migraine while Tayt continually stared at the small vial he had discovered in his brothers hand.
“So after an hour of sitting around here trying to work out what is going on all we have is an empty glass vial labelled A2, a security tape which shows an empty room for the past two days and not one computer file left in your brother's personal terminal,” said Belcher in disgust.
“I guess Simon was right this has to go pretty high up for them to have access to the security suite and my brothers files,” replied Tayt still staring at the empty vial. “I bet Codi’s files have all been wiped as well if we look.”
“What about yours? Just about nobody short of the prime minister can get into tracker files without permission,” asked Belcher, suddenly alert.
“I wish, but I haven’t received anything from Codi or Simon in the last six months at least,” replied Tayt unhappily.
“That means we have nothing to go on except the residue in that bottle,” said Belcher in defeat.
“Sir,” interrupted Jones.
“What it is?”
“Three TV crews just turned up and are requesting permission to land on the roof landing platforms.”
Belcher put his head in his hands.
“I’m sorry Tayt,” he mumbled, “I won’t be in charge of this much longer so you better go before I get asked some sticky questions.”
“I understand Belch,” said Tayt, throwing him the vial. “But I’m not done with this until I find out who is responsible.”
Tayt arrived at his building late that same evening after spending a good few hours doing some hard drinking. He stumbled across the polished concrete floor of the foyer to his mailbox and checked it out of habit. To his surprise there was a large envelope jammed inside and it was full to bursting point. Intrigued, he opened it when he was safely inside his apartment and sitting in such a spot where he knew the security cameras could not get a good view of what he was reading. Inside was a report and when he read the title he almost dropped it. It read “Project A2”. Shakily he opened it and inside the front cover was a letter in his brothers handwriting. He read it slowly.
I have sent you this report because I need it to be kept safe. I have already destroyed all references and copies of this document from my personal computer files. Make sure nobody gets hold of it and if something happens to me you need to take it directly to the press.
The report is evidence that the government has been orchestrating the sale of a new drug called A2 onto the streets. A2 is a so called magic cure for just about any illicit drug addiction. I don’t understand the technical side, but I do know that it has one big side effect. It over sensitises the receptors in the brain so if an addict ever uses again, even once, it will cause an immediate catastrophic overdose. The government knows this and is using it as part of a secret agenda to reduce the addict numbers. It’s all part of a new long term policy they are trying to push through which will eventually lead to extermination of addicts on the streets.
If all goes well this will be out in the open soon and stopped
Tayt clenched his fists in fury.
“Damn the press! I’m going to take this to someone who can get these people!” he thought as he stabbed at the numbers on his wall phone with a shaking finger. The phone rang for a few seconds before it was answered.
“Belcher, don’t talk just listen. I found something. Meet me at…”
Tayt pulled his envirocoat more tightly closed. The murk swirled around him as though it wanted to smother him in its grip. With one last look back into the murky street behind him he entered the alley. He had only taken a few steps in when a hazy form emerged in front of him.
“Belcher?” asked Tayt.
“I hate coming out in this muck,” replied Belcher as he stepped closer so Tayt could see his face. “Now what is it that you’ve found?”
“This,” said Tayt as he pulled out a clear air sealed bag containing the report. He passed it to Belcher who looked closely at it to read the title.
“It’s a report on that stuff in the bottle. It implicates the government in some nasty activities including my brother's murder!”
Belcher looked up at Tayt again with sadness and regret in his eyes that was visible even in the murk. Belcher brought his hand up and rested it firmly on Tayt’s shoulder.
“We’ve worked together for a long time and you’ve been a good friend…I just wish your brother had kept you out of this. He already got Codi killed.”
“Wha…” began Tayt, but before he could react someone had grabbed him from behind pinning his arms behind his back. He tried to free them but to no avail. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his neck. It was a needle. Tayt continued to struggle against his assailant, but found he was held in an iron grip. He looked at Belcher who still held his shoulder firmly, but would not look at him in the face.
Cure Overdose by Shane Griffin / Science Fiction have rating 2.4 out of 5 / Based on33 votes