Sunday, December 30, 2007

2. SaDex Drip #2

18:88:88 EST WEDNESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2059:

He swallowed a litre and a half of water, paused to breathe and swallowed another litre.

Whatever they had been up to in his digestive tract, it had been commercially sensitive - the kind of thing they would rather keep from general exposure. Carelessly, Cruciate had given Proteus the right to keep him there as long as their ‘biological property’ remained in his gut - which, now he considered it, could be forever.

With their goods in his belly and without having legally reassumed ownership of his body, Cruciate was in felonious breach of contract and doubtless they would be coming for him.

He had remained at large two weeks. He had gone to ground in this grim, complicated region of St Kilda and, day by day, was discovering the nature of what he carried in his stomach.

He seated himself on the toilet pan. His shit was like a bird’s. When he flushed, it sudded like soap.

He sighed. Maybe there was still some SaDex in the dripsac.

18:88:88 EST WEDNESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2059:

There wasn’t.

He felt a clench of disappointment in his solar plexus.

The wonderland of clams was gone from the window. Now a great chromium-plated machine with a non-threatening demeanour went through its graceful paces.

- CPF300: Silver Friend

Desolately, Cruciate kneaded the plastic dripsac. Bone dry.

SaDex had the not-necessarily-annoying property of excising one’s memory. He had drained the sac last night. He was painfully aware of that now.

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But, like any committed drug-user, Cruciate had a back-up.

There was no drip tray beneath the gravity-feed apparatus. With each administration several droplets of the thick SaDex colloid smattered on the brick-red dacron carpet. Cruciate had automatically logged this information in his subconscious and in the current desperate circumstances it rose to the surface.

He was sure he could process that piece of carpet for at least a single dose of the synthetic alkaloidoid that was his drug of choice.

- Intelligent, Incisive

With a blunt Stanley Knife, he cut out the square-decimetre directly beneath the dripsac.

Beyond the window, the gleaming peripheral adroitly negotiated a domestic services contract with an officer from a utilites provider.

- Obliging, Amusing, Accommodating

In the kitchen, Cruciate boiled up some tap water in a misshapen aluminium saucepan. He added the carpet scrap.

The peripheral checked the feedlines of a convalescing suburbanite who laughed at the machine’s pleasant banter.

- CPF 300: Our Latest Model: Your Most Reliable Friend -

18:88:88 EST WEDNESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2059:

The carpet came apart into a watery stew. With constant heat, it thickened into a pale orange paste.

Cruciate filtered out most of the solids and was left with a litre of bad-looking liquid laced with acrylic fibres.

He tasted it. Tart. Chemical. He smiled.

Distantly, The Realistic yammered; a distorted, disembodied voice. He would get down to some serious viewing in a moment or two.

18:88:88 EST WEDNESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2059:

Cruciate sat in the window’s gaudy light, careful not to let the crack in the orange polypropylene stool nip his buttocks. Painstakingly, he siphoned the mixture into the dripsac, picking as many fibres from it as he could.

He inspected the crutch of his arm. Dr Winebald’s work was characteristically shoddy - the flesh around the clear plastic spigot was hard, inflamed; the vein was cysted, collapsing, and administration of the SaDex colloid was agonising.

But he could ignore all that once the drug kicked in.

He fumbled with spigot and feedline, making a connection. A rivulet of deep red streamed down his forearm.

He took a lungful of cigarette smoke and vomited on his V-shirt.

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