June 21, 2008

Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 36 (OMNINet: Greyrock IV)

By liam

Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 36 of the my online book "Excited Delirium". Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index .

Defending the world’s largest pharmaceutical testing ground was starting to become a habit for Major Len Daniels. His current mission would be his sixth time working in Nigeria with Greyrock.

Normally, he worked with a crew in and around some of the refining facilities of the OMNINet oil operations, but apparently, the pharma division had pulled rank and it was declared that it would take priority.

Daniels hated these assignments in general because he hated Africa – its AIDS-ridden countries, the shanty towns and beggars, the level of rot that had afflicted all of the areas he’d been to. It made him shiver when people even joked about mankind originating from this dark world. At least when he was working on the oil projects, he was usually with a larger number of friends who had the same disregard for their environment as he did.

Len Daniels was on assignment with Ernie Colvin, an ex-Marine who was about 20 years old and who had signed up with Greyrock for more money and decent armour that he didn’t have to buy out of his own paycheque.

“Rumour has it that Nigeria is about to spend a few billion on an AIDS drug treatment program,” Colvin said as they made their way to a shanty town that was being used as a test facility for UniCure, a division of the OMNINet.

“They’ve just received a big handout from the UN and a couple of charities in Europe,” Daniels confirmed. “I’ve been told by my commander that they want to do some photo-ops to prove that the money is being well spent,” he said slowly and coldly as he focused on navigating through the hill-like ruts as they drove along what might pass as a logging road in North America. “Look at this … these people can’t even invest in a decent fucking road.”

“It’s Africa, man,” Colvin answered with a smirk. “Did you expect the I-95?”

“I just expected a little bit more … civility,” he said, with a harsh tone.

“I’m sure that will be the first priority of the local town council … just right after they get some clean water and maybe a few running lights,” Colvin said with a hint of sarcasm.

“Well, good news there. When I last checked, they were buying their water from one of the local bottlers because their ground-source is poisoned by mercury tailings from a couple of gold properties just a little south of here. And purification’s off the table because there’s no money in it for suppliers.”

“Well there you go,” Colvin said, trying to sound optimistic. “New roads are on the way!” He couldn’t believe how harsh Daniels could be about this kind of a situation, but then he didn’t have the same level of experience as his manager. “So … how come we’re not going to the test facility?”

“That’s where all of the sick people are,” Daniels said.

“And we’re going …”

“Where the sick people aren’t.”

“Oh. OK,” Colvin confirmed, not sure how to respond to Daniels unique level of warmth. He stopped asking questions as they rumbled along the road.

Within a few minutes, they arrived at a small village centre.

“You’d better pull up,” Daniels said as he slowed the customized Land Rover.

Colvin responded by tugging his goggles down and yanking his mask up over his mouth and nose.

“It’s amazing how the terrain and environment changes here at a moment’s notice,” he said, sounding a little like Darth Vader.

“I can only imagine that Hell would be a little more enjoyable,” Daniels said caustically as he covered up his face as well. They looked like two teens who were about to pull a heist at the local corner store after trick-or-treating for the night.

As they stepped out of the vehicle, the mud had turned to a wave of dust, a small Sirocco of grain that pelted at the small patches of skin that was still revealed on their faces.

“A friend of mine has set up a company that is working on a facial mask that is bullet-proof, won’t fog up and can be worn when you’re doing this kind of shit,” Daniels said as he prepared some of his weaponry. He’s hoping to set up the company and then sell out quickly to some of the venture folks in Washington.”

“What are the guns for?” Colvin asked cautiously.

“You weren’t briefed,” Daniels said calmly. After a few seconds, his rage kicked in and he slammed his gun on the panel of truck. “Fucking Christ! Those idiots at central didn’t bring you up to speed. Stay here, then. Get back in the truck.”

“What do you mean?” Colvin asked. “I’m here to back you up, buddy.”

“Don’t ‘buddy’ me. Just get in the fucking truck.”

“Sure man, whatever you say. You’re the boss.”

“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Daniels said flatly.

As Colvin sat in the large leather seat, he watched as Daniels went from shanty to shanty, small piles of tin and wood propped up to act like homes and protection against the harsh wind. His manager looked like seeming like a brown-tan ghost because of the swirl of dust.

Within a few minutes, Colvin jolted as he saw a much darker image emerge from the last pile of materials. A young girl was running and Daniels emerged quickly to chase her.

Colvin pulled up and leapt from the truck to help with the pursuit.

He was a few years younger and was much faster and was able to catch the girl with little effort. She probably weighed about 60 pounds despite the fact that the was in her teens and he held her while Daniels approached.

“Give her to me,” Daniels shouted, trying to be heard above the sound of the whipping wind.

“What’s going on?” Colvin insisted.

“Give her to me,” he repeated loudly.

“No, man … not until you tell me what this is all about!” Colvin yelled as he shoved the girl behind him.

“These are the people who have recovered,” Daniels bellowed. “I’ll give you a few minutes to think about that,” he said as he lowered his pistol.

“What the fuck are you …” Colvin hollered, as the young girl squirmed behind him. He did as he was told. He tried to process what he was seeing and drew a blank.

“Here are a few hints. Drugs. They cost a lot. For people that are sick. If they get better, they don’t need drugs any more. Get the fucking picture?” Daniels barked as the wind continued to slash at their gear, failing to invoke the same misery as Daniels had just brought to this village.

The light went on with Colvin, but he still asked: “But why?”

“The people visiting weren’t supposed to see that the treatments actually worked,” Daniels yelled. “They were supposed to see the poor defenseless waifs that were rotten with AIDS or some other disease, snap a few pictures and then sell the misery to a bunch of stupid middle-class yucks at home. We’re selling them cough syrup at a thousand bucks an ounce.”

“There’s not supposed to be a cure,” Colvin said quietly, finally understanding the reason why they were here. He turned to the girl to look at her and as he turned again to Daniels, he looked into the barrel of his manager’s Baretta.

As Daniels drove away, the flames of the small village whipped in his rear-view mirror. Beside him was a small pile of clothes that he had kept to ensure that if the scene was inspected, there wouldn’t be any signs that Greyrock had every visited.

“Another case of tribal warfare that drew in a UN observer as a hostage, I’m afraid,” he said to himself, pretending to be a journalist, as he bounced his way back to his operations base.

(Note: "Excited Delirium" is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)

Read more with Chapter 37

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Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .