Chapter 2: Old Affections
By AmyAmy, based on an idea by John Hynden
Patrice had just got into her pajamas when the doorbell rang. Just about to get onto her computer. If she’d been able to afford actual pajamas, pretty ones, it wouldn’t be so annoying. As it was, she was wearing a pair of worn-out yoga pants with holes in the knees and a t-shirt that no longer possessed a shape or color.
No matter who it was, she couldn’t answer the door without making herself respectable.
She wrapped her dressing gown around her, pulling it up close around the neck, covering her chest. She scurried downstairs, slippered feet clumsy on the carpeted treads. It would be just her luck, that whoever it was, had gone by the time she got to the door. And if they weren’t gone, they’d be an annoyance, Jehovas, or some creepy leering man trying to get her to change her electricity provider while he sneaked peeks at her chest.
She checked the security camera, but the person who’d rung the doorbell was only partially visible, overall trousers and a hi-vis vest, blindingly bright under the little coach-lamp next to her front door. His head and shoulders were out of frame. She shifted her head from side to side and up and down as if she was looking through a window. The view on the screen didn’t change. She sighed at her own stupid reflex. She always did that with the screen and it never helped. It was a screen, not a peep-hole, and the camera needed adjusting.
She put the chain on and undid the deadlock. Keeping her weight against it, she opened the door.
“Delivery for Paddy Grogan,” said the man through the gap. His hair was very short, but he didn’t look like a lunatic, didn’t look like anything. Just a courier. A few meters away, parked against the kerb, was his van, white of course, emblazoned with Van Man Couriers livery.
Something wrong right there. Only people close to me call me Paddy. All the arseholes at work call me Patty, or worse, Pat.
Patrice kept her foot against the door. “At this time of night? It’s not normal.”
Anyone could paint up a van like that. If a kidnapper had a size and weight advantage, he could bundle an unsuspecting woman into the back of a van in seconds. And how many seconds would it take this one to carry her, struggling, to the back doors of the van? No more than ten. In this quiet cul-de-sac, curtains drawn in the triple-glazed windows, nobody would hear her screaming.
She glanced down and saw the corner of the package, bulky, cube shaped, covered in tape.
The man tapped the side of his nose, as if he were nostalgic for old sitcoms where people had really done that to indicate an unspoken secret. “This one’s off the record. I’m on my own time, job for cash. I was told you’d be expecting it.”
Patrice shuddered at the sudden chill in her gut. She’d made a mistake. There would be consequences. Her grip tightened on the edge of the door.
“Yes. Just a second,” she said. Her voice thin and high, sounding nothing like herself. She slammed the door closed, unhooked the chain, failed to unhook it in her haste, unhooked it again, properly this time, and threw it open.
Without asking her if she wanted help, the man picked up the large box, carried it into her hallway and put it down on the carpet. “No need to sign, obviously.” He gave a small smile, as if he was awkwardly trying to win her approval, or that she should be pleased he’d done his job so well.
Patrice threw the door closed behind her and deadlocked it. Then she put the chain on again. A useless gesture, and she knew it. So very useless. When they came to bundle her into a van, they’d have keys to her house and bolt-cutters to snip the chain. They’d probably even replace it afterwards, so there was no sign of a forced entry.
She ran to her computer and launched herself into the cheap office chair. She muttered to herself. “Come on, come on,” over and over as her computer lagged, she opened up the screen, and browsed straight to the site. Every second it delayed, her jaw clenched tighter. The site was slow, hosted in Russia somewhere, or Bolivia, or… Who knew where really? She entered her special details. Typed them wrong, then typed them wrong again in her useless rush, her shaking fingers hitting all the wrong keys. She stopped, breath coming in gasps. A third failure and she’d be locked out. Carefully, pecking one key at a time, she typed it again.
At last, she was in. And as she’d feared, there was a message waiting for her:
Expect a delivery tonight. There’s a costume for you to wear and some toys to play with. Make a nice video, showing all your best expressions and upload it. Upload some high-resolution pictures too. Make sure to show everything properly.
Most of the box will be taken up by the autoclave. Get the old bottle that came into evidence last week from the ero-drug raid. Decant the contents into the new container (provided), autoclave the old one and fill it with some plausible liquid. Then put it back in evidence. The autoclave should see to any DNA, but wear gloves and a mask to handle it, as the heating will discolour any traces of grease and make fingerprints difficult to remove.
- Do not get caught.
- Do not get any of the liquid on your skin, and do not sniff it or breathe in any vapor.
- Do not spill any while decanting. Not even a drop.
- Use the provided container and screw the lid tight.
- Take the container with the liquid to our mutual friends. They are waiting for it.
Do not fuck this up you stupid cunt, or you will find out how far from hitting bottom you really are.
She logged out. The message would delete itself instantly, but he would know exactly when she’d logged in, and exactly when she’d read it. He wouldn’t forgive her tardiness. She should have checked earlier. There would be consequences, there always were.
* * * * *
Patrice opened the box with a paring knife. It was wrapped all around in red and white tape that read FRAGILE that crumbled when she cut it, little fragments sticking to the blade.
She ripped open the flaps at the top, revealing a layer of giant bubble-wrap. Beneath was the promised “costume”. He generally used the word as a joke, and most times it would be nothing other than a few bits and bobs. Nasty ones.
As always, he’d thought through his humiliation. She smoothed out an American style cop outfit, cheap and tacky, made of shiny PVC. It was nothing like an English policewoman’s uniform, probably nothing like a real American one either. There was an absurdly short beige mini-skirt, and a mushroom colored plastic shirt, with a button-front designed to show a lot of cleavage. It had short-sleeves, with epaulets, and a golden plastic shield on the breast pocket. There were no handcuffs, but there was a wide belt with a cop-badge buckle. The belt had d-rings, ostensibly to clip utilities to. No doubt the real intention was to clip a wrist-cuff to each one, securing the wearer’s hands at her waist.
She looked back in the box, frozen. Her hands didn’t want to touch it. She didn’t want to reveal whatever else was inside. Didn’t want to know. But she had to get everything out of it, and there was no choice. And yet, her fingers refused to obey, instead clamped tight into fists. Bile rose up her throat, and she swallowed it back.
She had no choice, she had to keep moving, no matter what. She leaned over the box again. A plastic ziploc bag contained four clover clamps with short chains, and at the end of each chain a lead weight. The whole lot was about as heavy as a large bag of sugar, making around five-hundred grammes per weight. She would feel it when she clamped them to her nipples and pussy lips.
She looked in the box again. There were two other items, a stainless steel slave-collar, with a brass padlock, and an enormous black rubber dildo.
She looked into the box again. More bubble wrap. She pulled it out, revealing a large gray metal box, a bit like a small tumble-dryer, or a microwave with no window. That had to be the autoclave, whatever that was. It came with a dog-eared instruction book, spiral bound, about an inch thick, and with brown rings from somebody resting coffee cups on the cover. Whatever the autoclave was, it wasn’t a new one.
She may as well give up any hope of getting into bed before one AM.
There were no keys for the padlock. She would have to cover her neck with a scarf tomorrow morning and go to a locksmith at lunch time.
She slumped down onto the carpet, her back against the radiator, tears streaming from her eyes, dripping from her face and making wet patches on her t-shirt. The costume, the toys were nothing, just more humiliation, more blackmail material, and he already had enough to finish her a hundred times over. But the bottle? What was he making her do now? If she got caught taking that, she wouldn’t just get the sack, she’d end up in court. If it was something really creepy she might even end up in prison. But if she didn’t… His consequences were worse than the prospect of prison.
He had all the other videos, all the other photos, though the direct threat to her had become the least of it.
It would really give those shits down at the division HQ a laugh to see her in that prostitute’s cop outfit. Yeah Patty? You must have really wanted to be real police, they’d say, and they’d bust a gut laughing. Her real friends never called her Patty, only Patrice, or Paddy.
Like on the box.
Last month’s box had been addressed to Patrice Grogan, not Paddy. How did he know her family called her Paddy? How did he know? He could have guessed. No, it wasn’t that. He never guessed, he always knew.
It was another message. He knew who her friends were, had probably always known, and he was telling her he’d sink his hooks into them if she didn’t keep doing as she was told. He must have found out she’d been looking at ways to kill herself. Not that she ever would. Her friends, her family, he’d make them pay.
The only way out was if he let you go. She’d only been dreaming. Fantasizing. Wishing that today he’d order her to do it, to keep her quiet or something. He’d always said there would be consequences if she did it without being told, and he didn’t make empty threats. But there always the chance that she’d log in to the site and there would be the order that set her free.
No matter how much she agonized over it, there was never really a question as to whether she’d follow his instructions. Of course she would. She always did. With him, you didn’t get a choice in the matter.
She better get a move on, or there would be more consequences. Her face was a mess now, she’d have to do her makeup. He hadn’t liked it when she’d made a video with eyes red from crying that time last year. She wouldn’t make that mistake again.
Somewhere upstairs, a phone rang. It was an unusual ring, by design, so there was no chance that she’d miss it, or mistake it for something else. She ran up the stairs two at a time.
Panting, she picked up the cheap, feature-phone and thumbed the accept button.
“Hello. Hello, it’s Patrice,” she said. Her words came between gasps for breath. Her heart was pounding so fast it might burst, but it wasn’t from the exercise.
“Hello Patrice,” said the computer voice. “You were late. Don’t be late again Patrice.”
“I’m sorry. I was on my way to check and…” There was no point making excuses, it would only make things worse.
“I have a new task for you. Detective Maeve Craine needs to die. I want you to find somebody to do it.”
“Sorry. If I’m being slow, I apologize, but what do you mean?”
“Find somebody to kill her. Not a metaphor. Physically dead. Not breathing. Shooting is the usual way, but if you want to do it some other way, that’s fine. As long as she stops making trouble.”
“Yes. You are being slow.”
“How? How would I do that?”
“You have a computer don’t you? Hire somebody.”
“It would cost thousands, wouldn’t it? I don’t have that kind of money.”
“That’s your problem. I’m sure you will find a way around it, but no loan sharks.”
“How long do I have?”
“How is your little sister these days? Jessica, wasn’t it? Finishing her A-levels? Do you think she will do well?”
“I… I hope so. She failed the first time, had to go to a different college.”
“That’s good. You should remind her to look after herself. How old is she now?”
“Nineteen. What a wonderful age. Old enough to be drinking. She should watch that. Boys round that age will try anything. I hear there is a lot of drink-spiking going on. She should be careful. ”
“I understand. I’ll tell her.”
“I’m looking forward to your video. I want to see you use all your holes.”
“I’ll get ready as soon as this call is over.”
“Good girl. Don’t disappoint me now.”
* * * * *
Maeve closed Detective Chief Inspector Ridley’s office door behind her.
“Detective Inspector Craine,” he said, looking up. “To what do I owe the pleasure at this unreasonable hour of the morning?”
“Sorry to keep you awake sir.”
He shook his head, “Can’t I even get a cup of tea before you start in on me?”
She stood in front of his desk, directly facing him. “It’s past nine o-clock, sir.”
He sighed. “I suppose, as your superior, I shouldn’t joke.” His eyes were half-closed, like he was squinting at her.
She pushed the authorization-form across the desk towards him. He scooted his chair forward a little and picked it up, holding it at arm’s length, despite wearing his reading glasses.
He pushed the form back towards her. “I can’t approve this.”
What was wrong now? She bit her lip, caught herself doing it and stopped, put her hands behind her back, twined her fingers together, looked all around the room, anywhere but at Ridley.
He glanced at her and looked away quickly, as if he needed to re-read the form. What did he see? Did he remember her, sealed in black rubber, hood laced on tight, her lips forced into a kissy-shape by the thick circular reinforcement around the mouth hole?
Her face and chest turned hot, as if he was radiating heat at her from a distance.
At this rate, people were going to figure something out. Their affair had been over for years, even then carefully hidden from everyone around them. It would be supremely stupid if somebody in the division learned about it now, or worse, suspected that they were hiding an actual ongoing affair. The men seemed to assume she was sleeping with someone senior without any evidence, it would be worse if she gave them some.
He was still staring intently at the form, as if expecting it to do something. At least he wasn’t looking at her, noticing her red face.
“Sorry sir. What’s wrong? Didn’t you already approve this in principle?” she said. He opened his mouth to speak, but she kept on going. “The descriptions of the people seen entering and leaving matched automated recognition. We missed them before. This is our chance to bring them in.”
As soon as she stopped speaking, he jumped in with a reply. “Exactly.” He paused. “Last time, we didn’t realize how serious these people were. You were lucky that they’d already left when you got there. Extremely lucky that nobody was hurt.”
He cut her off, “We’re all about doing things properly, aren’t we? So, we are not going to trust to luck. I think at the very least, you need to bring firearms in on this.”
“Are you sure we should delay this sir? What if they change location and we miss them again?”
“We always knew these kind of measures would become necessary. You should be prepared to follow procedure. I’ll escalate it immediately.”
“How long will that take sir?”
“I’d like to hope you’ll be clear to go by this afternoon.”
She folded her arms and stared down at the form. It was just a front, her gut was all twisted up. She could imagine herself and him, transplanted into scenes from Brian’s porn collection. Ridley in heavy rubber, his cock covered in a thick black sheath. If she moved too quickly she’d leak into her pants.
“That’s the best I can do. We’ll have to take our chances with the delay.”
He looked older than she remembered, tired, dark shadows beneath his eyes, and the glasses aged him too. Or was it the grey speckles in his hair? She took a deep breath, the heat was fading from her chest. She mustn’t think of how he’d seen her in the past. That wasn’t the person in his office now. A serious person. Work to do.
“I’m concerned about information relating to this investigation going where it shouldn’t sir.”
He nodded, looked up, stared her straight in the eye. There was the old Ridley, the man she remembered, before he’d turned into just another senior officer. “I know, I know,” he said. “But I’ll keep this as discreet as possible. If they’re gone when you get there, I’m prepared to allow it might be more than mere coincidence.”
She swallowed, her throat tight. “Alright sir.” Her voice cracked, the word ‘sir’ was just a breathy whisper.
He seemed not to notice. “I need you to put this into the computer, and get ready to lead a team. Just Shepley, and whoever I can get from firearms. Reliable men. Or women. No hotheads.”
Hotheads? Poor choice of words there, or did he have reason to suspect that the new constables on the team were unreliable?
The room was stuffy, humid, the air stale, smelling of dust and old office carpet. Sweat was beading on her forehead, her upper lip. Each carefully measured breath was not quite enough. How could Ridley work in here?
She had to stay professional. “As you say sir.”
“And if you don’t have one already, run up a quick presentation for firearms on proper procedure for ero-drug scenes.”
“Is that really necessary sir?”
“We don’t want one of them sticking his finger into something and kicking up a fuss with the union when his dick drops off.”
“Yes sir.” She raised her eyebrows and stared back at him.
“I know you hate office work.”
Her face flushed again. It wouldn’t do. She was better than this. She shook her head, very slowly. “I understand the need for it sir.”
“You better get to it then.”
She turned, left, closed the door behind her.
The air outside the office was a cool blessing, though it also carried that stale carpet smell that infused the entire building. As if the place had flooded one time and the carpets had started to rot before they dried out completely.
She took herself to the toilets, tensed-up, moving carefully, as if a careless step would break something. She undid her pants and pulled down her underwear, sat down in the cubicle, and gave a long sigh of relief. She didn’t need to pee, but something trickled out of her anyway. She wiped it up. She wiped again, and again, until she was absolutely certain there was no trace of dampness remaining. She checked her undies and found the padded crotch damp, but acceptable. It could be worse, could have been blood. All erotic feeling was gone now, the institutional toilet-cubicle decor had killed it dead. One glance at the bio-hazard warnings on the sanitary-bin would kill anybody’s enthusiasm.
She floated back to her cubicle with a spring in her step, appreciating the freedom of movement. She thumped down into her chair, ready to start work.
She stared at her keyboard, then looked to the left at the trays of unresolved documents, reminding her she hadn’t reviewed them in weeks. Then to the right, where half a bottle of stale water and a tea-mug with a brown stain in the bottom sat, unappealing. She slouched deeper into her chair. There was a long day ahead. She leaned forward against the desk, and propped her head up on her hands.
Had she done the right thing, coming onto this task force to work with Ridley? There were pluses. It had high political value, the sort of place where commendations might be earned, but it had been bound to bring up old issues. Was she handling it right?
Maybe she just needed to get over herself.
“It is what it is,” she muttered under her breath. “It is, what it is.”
Her old teammates had complained she was more interested in getting a promotion than doing her job properly, complained that she was abandoning them, leaving them in the lurch. They didn’t understand. At least she had the experience. If she didn’t get the promotion, it would go to some useless career brown-noser. She was practically obliged to push herself, for the good of everyone else. She was damned if she did, damned if she didn’t.
What if she’d underestimated the nostalgia effect of Ridley? Their relationship had been a liability, a mistake that she’d buried, and if she had any sense, she’d re-bury it before it wrecked everything.
No, it hadn’t been him this morning that had put her off balance, it was Brian and his pictures, her guilty memories. But what was she guilty of exactly? Nothing. For a regular person maybe dressing up like that was nothing, for somebody in her role, it was definitely an issue. It would launch a hurricane of excrement if anyone ever learned about it. If Ridley had pictures, or worse, video, that might be problem, but he’d never recorded anything. At least, not that she knew of. Besides, anything he had would certainly implicate him too. There was nothing to worry about on that front.
She brought up her login prompt, but before typing the password, she hesitated. Last night Brian had been great. His cunnilingus technique needed a bit of work. At least it seemed like she was his first in that regard, as it had missed the spot. He was usually such a quick learner, so it had to have been his first attempt.
Her fingers hovered over the keys, motionless. Brian, she should think nice thoughts about Brian, hot fantasies of his tongue playing over her erogenous zones. Seven years? Had it really been seven years since her last time with Ridley? The memories hadn’t faded as much as they should.
She pinched herself hard, digging her filed-short nails into her thigh. She needed to stop thinking about this. She had a presentation to prepare, with charts. For a bunch of firearms blokey-blokes, who thought they were rock stars. She’d have her work cut-out. They would be certain they already knew their job, and would definitely not appreciate having anything explained to them by a girly DI.
* * * * *
Maeve sighed. Ridley had made handling Patty her responsibility, and it was becoming a chore. Not that Patty showed any sign of guessing who Maeve was from before. Which was a good thing. No, Maeve’s problem with Patty wasn’t special to her. Everyone said it, Patty had a respect problem. Sooner or later, Maeve would have to make an official report on Patty’s behavior. Then there’d be more problems.
Patty wasn’t real police, she was an administration contractor, like Brian. She worked for some amorphous corporation that had won the contract to provide administrative and computer services to the police. In some ways, that made her lower than pond-scum, in others it made her untouchable. Nobody in the police was responsible for evaluating Patty’s performance, or disciplining her.
While officially, Patty wasn’t in charge of evidence, staffing issues meant that in practice, she was. Pissing off Patty would make things harder for Maeve. So that meant that Maeve couldn’t piss Patty off, which was difficult, because Maeve’s instinct was to slap her round the face until she was dizzy.
It would be difficult again today, for Maeve not to do that.
Patty lived behind one of those safety screens that meant that you couldn’t hop over the counter and help yourself to things behind it, or throttle Patty in irritation. It was covered in an assortment of annoying postcards depicting tired retro bitch memes.
You don’t need to be mad to work here, but it helps.
Let’s be drunk all day, okay?
I’m sorry, but I didn’t order a glass of your opinion.
Can you ask a stupid question? Better than anyone I know.
I’m sorry you treat me like your bitch and wonder why I act like one.
And so on… Maeve hated them and the passive-aggressive place that they came from.
Maeve leaned across Patty’s counter and raised her eyebrows.
“Can I help you?” Patty said, adjusting her glasses, with their bright blue frames. She had aged dishearteningly well. She looked younger than Maeve. A result of her indoor existence, or expensive moisturizer, or possibly bathing in the blood of virgin boys. The comment most male officers made was that she was a vampire.
She’d changed her hair, today it was straight and blonde, done up in a braid. Last week it had been dark and wavy. Blonde suited her better. There was something else different too, but Maeve couldn’t put her finger on it. Perhaps it was just the scarf around her neck, so old fashioned looking. No, it wasn’t that.
Maeve held up her tablet, showed Patty a page from the evidence catalog. “Remember this? Evidence I brought in last week?”
“Nope. Let me see that number.”
“It’s a weird old bottle. You can’t miss it,” Maeve said.
“I can see from the picture. A brand of lemonade they don’t make any more.”
“Lemonade? There’s no label, how can you tell?”
Patty pointed at the picture. “By the cap.”
“Really? Anyway. Probably not antique lemonade in that bottle. It needs to go for testing.”
Patty nodded. “I would ask you where it needs to go, but it says that it’s already booked out to DCI Ridley, so there’s not much point having that conversation, is there Inspector?”
Patty’s snide tone was so out of order for an administrator addressing someone of her rank that Maeve would have been reeling, if she wasn’t already used to it.
“Booked out? You mean it’s gone for testing already.”
“It doesn’t say that. Specifically.”
“Let me see.”
“No. I can’t let you go snooping through the inventory. I suggest you talk to the DCI about it. He’s your superior, isn’t he? I would have thought you’d have spoken to him already?”
“Who booked it out? The DCI didn’t come here himself, did he?”
Patty tipped her head to the side. “Oh, I’m sorry inspector. I don’t know. I wasn’t here when it happened, but it looks like his name and signature, doesn’t it?”
“Thank you, Patty,” Maeve said. She didn’t have much time left, she could follow this up later.
As she walked away, it came to Maeve that Patty had new glasses. Her old frames had been bright red. Whether they were red or blue, they still looked like something from an old eighties movie.
The idea of Patty having not been on duty was absurd. Nobody else staffed the counter. If she wasn’t there, it was closed.
Patty ought to be more careful, most people probably wouldn’t have noticed the metal collar hidden under her scarf. Maeve was more attuned to such signs than some, or so she suspected. Still, Patty was still pushing her luck. If any of the blokes noticed it, she’d get enough piss ripped out of her to fill a reservoir.
* * * * *
Maeve clicked up the first slide and the image filled the far wall of the meeting room. Why did they call them slides? She had no idea. They were just pages in a PowerPresent document.
Seated, feet up on the chairs in front of them, were Sergeant Evan James, and Constable Steve Grant from firearms. Behind them was her subordinate, Constable Matt Shepley from the ero-drug task force, looking at his phone. She’d ask him to stop, but he’d pretend not to hear, and then she’d look even more of an idiot.
“This all of us?” said James, in his customary laconic tone.
“W-”, started James again.
If she let him get going, odds were, he’d mansplain her to death. “Sergeant, if you can listen for a few minutes, we can get this over with quickly. Time is of the essence.”
James made a quiet snoring noise, rude, but deniable.
“The purpose of this briefing is to acquaint you with the special risks associated with erotic drug manufacture sites.”
James put up a hand.
Maeve ignored him and continued. “You’ll be well aware that the rule is always to avoid touching anything unless it’s unavoidable. For these kind of scenes, that goes double. Do not touch anything, especially pills, chemicals, any kind of powder or liquid. Do not inhale anything. Absolutely do not taste-test anything, not even the tiniest trace.”
James put his hand down again.
“There are serious health risks at these scenes. You need to wear your breathing protection, and use gloves at all times. I’m guessing you two have the appropriate protective wear available.”
“What the fuck is an erotic drug anyway?” said Grant to James, under his breath, as if Maeve couldn’t hear him.
“Thank you for that question Constable,” Maeve said, emphasizing his rank. “If you’ll just look at this slide, you’ll see that erotic drugs are the rising tide of crime. In the eighties, it was heroin and cocaine. In the noughties, crack and meth.”
“Really?” said James. “Thanks history. Never have guessed.”
She brought up a slide with some pi-charts, showing break-downs of drug type used over different periods.
“And in the last decade there’s been an increasing move towards engineered substances, advanced biotech products that are developed too quickly to fall under any legislation. Many have conventional addictive effects, like a powerful high, hallucinations, sedation, stimulation, and so on. Recently, however, we’ve been seeing more and more drugs targeted at sexual use. They’ve become so numerous, and such a major problem, we usually refer to them colloquially as ero-drugs, to distinguish them from the old class A, B and C.”
“It’s not classified? Why are we even chasing this shit?”
“Thank you, Sergeant. You also raise a good question. I’d have thought you were aware the old classifications are obsolete, defunct. And, I’m sure you do know, if you’ve read a news-feed in the last three years, that these new drugs go far beyond older products such as the famous little blue pills.”
She clicked and brought up the slide showing breakdown of known ero-drug use by type in the last year.
“Some serious shit,” Shepley said, barely audible.
“Yeah. Some scary graphs you guys got there,” said Grant, in a sarcastic tone.
She looked past him and gestured at the chart. “The first category are date-rape drugs, for use on men, and women, though the specific products are different for each. You’ve got the old sedative type, and the new arousal type. The arousal drugs don’t make the victim docile and torpid, instead they become excessively enthusiastic for sex. Desperate for it. They often also become oblivious to pain, and…”
Grant was sniggering loudly. Maeve paused, staring directly at him. He avoided catching her eye.
She raised the volume of her voice and continued. “…they may indulge in extremely self-destructive actions as a result.”
Shepley leaning forward onto the back of the chair in front of him, resting on his folded arms. “You guys can laugh, but what some of those idiots do to themselves is enough to make a hardened ER nurse throw up,” he said, quietly enough that Maeve could pretend she hadn’t heard his uninvited contribution.
Maeve raised the volume of her voice another notch. “The third type of these drugs render the victim compliant and suggestive. Unlike old favourites, they don’t leave the target barely conscious. This means they can be used for all kinds of nefarious purposes beyond ensuring cooperation in sex acts. Some of these drugs interfere with memory, others do not. The latter are the worst for the victim in some ways. Fortunately, most criminals seem to prefer the former, unless they are particularly sick.”
“I thought they just made all that shit up, just locker room talk,” James said. “You can’t make somebody obey with a drug. That’s just bollocks.”
“Far from it Sergeant. Now, the third category are drugs intended to enhance sexual stamina, for men, or women. Most of these are relatively harmless when clinically pure, and if appropriately dosed. However, they are almost never clinically pure. And they are rarely used in the correct dosage, if that could even be determined for drugs that have never been formally tested in the first place.”
“So, what’s the problem with them?” said Constable Grant.
“All categories of these drugs tend to have side effects, either as a matter of course, or due to poor manufacture. They can be severe.”
“Basically, your dick drops off,” James said, with a laugh. He looked at Grant, who smirked back at him.
She pulled up the slide with the breakdown of side effects and sighed. She should have put a picture of a gangrenous penis. That would have shut James up.
“Close to the truth in some cases. And there are also spontaneous recurrences, addiction, withdrawal, brain damage, nerve damage, organ damage, stroke, straight-out heart-attack, and incidental effects like dehydration, bleeding, and exhaustion. In addition, for the date-rape drugs, the psychological damage done to the unwilling victims is a life-long burden. Over twenty-five percent of victims, that we know of, take their own lives, and the percentage is even higher for victims of compliance drugs, even for those who haven’t been sexually assaulted.”
“So, this shit is actually illegal?” James said.
She brought up the final slide, showing the roadmap for the taskforce.
“Under recent legislation, unquestionably, yes. Any unapproved drug is now automatically restricted, and all chemicals that aren’t on the list of exceptions, are illegal for public use or distribution, if manufactured without a license, except when used in a pre-approved test. Furthermore-”
James started to say something.
Maeve lifted her volume another notch and kept talking. “Furthermore, drugs designed to produce a mind-altering effect, to induce compliance, obedience, suggestibility, or unusual sexual arousal fall into a special category. Whereas the policy for traditional narcotics is now to treat and prevent, and they are effectively decriminalised for users, if not suppliers, it is open season on ero-drug users, dealers and manufacturers alike. For this category, the penalties are severe. We have a dedicated judge available, with specialist knowledge, and when the PR kicks into gear, when we make some arrests, this task-force is going to be high profile.”
“What, with just the two of you?”
“Actually, Sergeant, there are four more of us you haven’t met, and if you look at the slide, you’ll see we have a budget for eighteen full-time officers, plus support staff. You could request a transfer and join us,” she said, though she was rather hoping he wouldn’t.
“Now, on to our situation. Last week, uniforms followed up a complaint from a neighbour. Strange smells coming from a flat. When they saw what they had, they called us in. We found a significant site of manufacture and use, and evidence of weapons. We missed the perpetrators that time.”
She paused for effect, amazingly, wasn’t interrupted immediately. “Last night, automatic monitoring of reports matched another sighting. Probably the same people.”
“So, could be nothing then?”
“Thank you, Sergeant James. It could be nothing. It almost certainly isn’t, and these people could be heavily armed, and prepared to resist arrest.”
* * * * *
Abness locked his office door and took the laptop out of his bag. He pushed his work computer forward and set the other on his desk. Wireless security couldn’t be trusted, so he had to connect the disposable phone to the computer with a cable. He pressed the headphones into his ears, and with a final glance at the door, he sat down and opened up the program he used to drive the phone.
The cook picked up after three rings. Efficient, not like Patrice. She was becoming unreliable. She had to be pushed too hard and reprimanded too often. He’d have to do something about it soon, but not now. Or perhaps there would be a way to kill two birds with one stone?
He typed his words into the computer. At the other end the cook would hear the emotionless computer voice repeat them, unrecognizable and untraceable. Professional.
“Is it you?” It was Keating’s voice over the headphones. The cook. It struck him it was a foolish title, steeped in the past. The modern drug business was nothing like the old days of crack and meth.
“Of course it’s me. You didn’t give this number to anyone else?” Abness typed.
“I’m not stupid. What do you want?”
“Show a little respect. You’re useful to me, but not that useful.”
“I’m under a lot of stress right now. That fucking ginger bitch is all over us. I had to abandon a lot of valuable product. Drones showed up minutes after we left to fetch the pickup.”
“You should be thankful you were given those minutes of warning. You still have fifteen minutes before they get there. If you left something that valuable you can still retrieve it.”
“Too risky. A bit more time would have helped. If they’d pulled us in, you’d lose your revenue stream, and they might make a connection to you.”
“They wouldn’t. I’m not afraid of you grassing either. You don’t know anything. It would be a nuisance, nothing more. The problem is with you. You need to be more discrete.”
“Can’t you stop the investigation? Pull her chain?”
“She’s not my dog I’m afraid. Any interference would be noticed. Surely, she’s not that much of a problem, for an experienced operator like yourself?”
“Just buy her off.”
“I didn’t call to talk about her. You’ll receive a delivery soon. The sample. The one you lost. It will be returned.”
“That wasn’t my fault.”
“When you get it, do a basic test. One man, one woman. Once you have a result, get rid of them. I don’t want them talking about it afterwards.”
“I would have done it by now, but you didn’t tell me what it was for while I still had it. If I’d been told it was important, it wouldn’t have been left behind.”
“There are times when it’s not convenient for me to communicate. Now, you have your instructions, so there is no excuse. Make sure you don’t miss anything.”
“What is that stuff anyway? If that bottle is as old as it looked, whatever’s in there would have to be spoiled by now.”
“That’s for you to find out.”
“Anything you know will help me focus the tests.”
“I’m not so much interested in the effect, but whether it might lead to a new means of manufacture.”
“In that case, basic testing won’t cut it. We’ll need multiple subjects.”
“As long as you are discrete.”
“I don’t have time to go chasing around picking up strays that nobody will miss.”
“I’ll send somebody to deliver the sample. You can keep her for testing. That’s the best I can do at short notice.”
It’s not enough.”
“You have your instructions.”
Abness ended the call.
Keating was becoming belligerent. He was afraid. It would be a shame to lose him, as his product was good, and delivered on time in most cases. Clearly, there would be delays this week, but that was to be expected.
story continued in part 3