The Chemist squirmed in his seat whilst the Cerberus Class guard droid ran its scanner over his body.
“Nothing,” it said at length.
Lem Porteous steered his chair closer to the chemist. The crime lord looked terrible, red rimmed eyes, skin stretched too tight over his bones, limbs trembling like guitar strings. He drew an old fashioned plasma pistol from the folds of his robe and pointed it at the Chemist’s head.
“I know you have something new and I want it.”
“There’s a new batch of Megacoke I just finished…”
Porteous whipped the pistol across the Chemist’s bald head.
“That shit has no effect on me now; I’ve heard the whispers, you’re making something better and I want it!”
The Cerberus drew a laser scalpel and made passes at the air. The low buzzing brought back the memory of the day when Porteous invaded his laboratory. He refused to go along with him, defied him, simply would not produce the new thrills that Porteous needed. He had principles.
He had a wife too until Porteous’ goons dragged her into the lab and fired up the scalpel.
Porteous pushed the cold muzzle of the gun against the Chemist’s groin.
“I can blow them away and have them rebuilt and blow them away again as many times as I want,” he hissed in the Chemist’s ear. “Now where’s the new stuff?”
The Chemist sagged in the chair.
“Very well,” he said, “but it isn’t tested.”
“Fuck tested, I’m hurting,” Porteous said.
The Chemist rose and went to a cabinet, covered all the way by the Cerberus, and withdrew a slim glass vial of greenish powder from a secret drawer.
Porteous licked his thin lips.
“What is it?”
“I call it ALICE. It’s a synthesis of Amphetamine, Lysergic Acid, Cocaine and Ecstasy.”
“That don’t spell Alice,” Porteous said.
The Chemist shrugged.
“Allow me a little poetic license… whatever it spells, this stuff will send you to wonderland.”
The Cerberus ran his scanner over the vial.
“Harmful chemicals detected,” it announced.
“Fuckin A!” Porteous cackled. “How do I take it?”
“Cook it up.”
The Chemist prepared a dose of Alice in a fresh pneumosyringe and approached Porteous’ hover chair.
The Cerberus drew a laser wand and levelled it.
“Proximity violation,” it shrilled.
“Aw, for fuck’s sake, stand down,” Porteous ordered.
The droid obeyed.
The Chemist injected the drug into the back of Porteous’ hand.
“A minute or so.”
Porteous sighed and lay back in his chair.
“Oh yeah,” he muttered.
The Chemist stood back.
“I was going to call it something else,” he said.
“Something other than Alice, something more appropriate.”
He smiled with satisfaction as Porteous’ head began to swell. It was almost four times normal size before the crime lord even noticed it, so wonderful were the effects of the cocktail. By then he could not speak to order the droid back to life but he could still hear.
The Chemist walked behind Porteous’ desk as the head swelled still more.
“Can you guess what I was going to call it, Lem? No? I was going to call it Red Queen.”
There was a wet pop.
“Off with his head,” the Chemist said from beneath the desk.
Tapes, also known as Mark Tomlinson, is a 49-year-old father of four who dabbles in short fiction and will contimue doing so until he gets it right.