Guin twisted her head around.
Although 200 marsyears had passed since she had lived on Earth, Guin still remembered what it felt like to walk the surface of Earth without an environmental protection suit on.
She had briefly worked with HAZMAT teams one summer, helping to eradicate a deadly trend amongst Earthlings of starting their own home laboratories to cook addictive substances such as meth. An unhealthy obsession with a momentary high. A synonym maker’s dream:
20/20 (“Clear Vision” Hawaii)
417 (SW Missouri because of meth capital)
All Tweakend Long
Anything Going On
the attenborough (London; 11/29/07)
Artie (as in i, Boise, ID 7/30/09)
Batak (Philippine Street Name)
Bato-(Philippine Street Name)
Batu Kilat (Malaysia, it means shining rocks)
Batu or Batunas (Hawaii)
Billy, Or Whizz,
(Britain – cartoon character called Billy Whizz who seemed to be always on the stuff!)
Bling (LA, CA 8/12/09)
Blue Funk, (Southwest Area of SD Ca.)
Boorit-Cebuano (Filipino Street Name)
Boo-Yah! (Southwest Area of SD Ca.)
Bottles (Used in New Zealand 7/31/07)
Chikin or Chicken
Clean out the chimney (Used in New Zealand 7/31/07)
Cotton Candy (LA area)
CR (California Central Valley)
Crank Is “Walk” & Coke Is “Talk.”
Creek Rock (Sand Mountain, AL)
Cri,Cri (Mexican Border in Southwest Arizona)
Crysnax (LA area)
Debbie, Tina, And Crissy
Desoxyn (drug name for meth at the pharmacy)
D-Monic Or D
Dunk (LA, CA)
Fatch (Mexican Border In The Southwest Arizona Area)
G (short for Glass or Go-fast)
G-unit (Los Angeles, CA 8/12/09)
Gagger (So. Calif.)
Gear Or Get Geared Up
George as in george glass from the Brady Bunch movie (CA 8/17/09)
Gina or “I want to talk to Gina tonight” (Calif; 11/18/07)
Gonzales (Like the cartoon “Speedy”)
High Speed Chicken Feed
High Riders (Used in New Zealand 7/31/07)
Holy Smoke (Hong Kong)
Homework (This is because homework is generally done on paper which had lines)
Honk the BoBo (Southern MD)
Horse Mumpy (Tampa, Florida)
Jenny Crank Program, (jenny crank diet) (Seattle, WA 11/4/07)
Jibb Tech Warrier
Junk (San Diego)
Livin the Dream (Alberta Canada)
Lost Weekend (Bay Area SF)
Moon Juice (Missouri)
Motivation in a bag (Cleveland or Columbus, Ohio; (11/19/07)
Night Train (11/7/07)
On A Good One
(New Zealand)’place where meth is made is a “P lab”
Philopon (East Asia)
Pookie (LA area)
Poor Man’s Cocaine (Philippines)
Pump (Bay Area SF)
Quarter Tee Bag
Redneck Heroin (Atlanta)
Rocky Mountain High
Scante (Hispanic Population in Southern California)
Shabs (San Francisco)
Shiznack, Shiznac, Sciznac or Shiznastica
Snow, Motivation (Colorado Springs, CO)
Spin, Spin, Spin
Spun Ducky Woo
Syabu (pronounced “shabu” – SE Asia)
Ta’doww (Southwest Area of SD Ca.)
The New Prozac
The White House
TIK (1/27/08 – South Africa)
T. D. – for – Tink Dust (as in: ”Tinkerbell”, from Disney)
Time (Atlanta, GA)
Tina Or Teena
Tish – Shit Backwards (C.V. Calif. area)
Truck Stop Special
Tweek (A Methamphetamine-Like Substance)
We We We
White Pony (Ridin’ the White Pony)
Whip (Western Australia 2/3/09)
Work: I think that came about from it being my dealers “work” (1/22/08 Arlington, TX)
Freedom to choose is not always about making choices to enhance one’s longevity.
Guin leaned her head against the back of her helmet.
The circulation fans in her suit, linked with sensors on the outside of the suit, simulated Martian winds blowing across her skin and through her hair.
She felt the dry, gritty Martian air on her neck and smiled.
Memories of an early summer day in north Alabama sprang to the forefront of her thoughts.
She had tagged along with a drug enforcement task group as an advisor, her expertise on that particular day a tangential twist on her knowledge of rocket propulsion.
A lab hidden on the local Army base, assigned to explore alternative uses of popular street drugs, wanted access to unusual combinations, hoping to find the one mix of ingredients that could be used on another planet without cause or concern for breaking social rules or violating local laws.
The lab scientists concluded long ago that illicit laboratories were often the most innovative, their access to raw materials limited not by annual government funding but by the implied value of their product, value derived by addicts who often died as willing guinea pigs, a feat no military, government or commercial lab was overtly willing to take.
Guin’s mission was to ascertain the controlled explosive capabilities of the booby traps set up around labs in the backwood lairs of Appalachian moonshiner descendants, trained in ancient techniques and modern warfare to protect their territory against invaders both foreign and domestic.
She, too, wanted to find the perfect propellant.
However, she did not know why.
The company she worked for had only recently hired her and, like all new employees, put her through a trial period to test her willingness to do whatever it took to get the job done and to keep her eyes and ears shut while on joint assignment with other companies and unnamed tactical government agencies.
The HAZMAT suit she wore that day was nowhere near as sophisticated as her current suit on Mars.
Yes, it had a communications system and a rudimentary heating/cooling unit but it easily ripped on sharp objects and did not keep track of her vital signs; its external sensors added up to the detection of a few hazardous chemicals and that was it. Otherwise, she and the team relied on portable gear to deal with expected hazardous situations, which often led to mistakes in the field such as when what they thought was a harmless 55-gallon drum of wax turned out to be a temperature-based state-change toxic fume bomb.
Guin wandered across the short Martian field, kicking up dust and sending small pebbles arching in a path in front of her.
She knew she was supposed to leave this area off-limits but had forgotten why, turning off her connection to the ISSA Net to let her thoughts meander without making meaningful connections for other Nodes on this planet and elsewhere in the Inner Solar System.
However, her telescopic vision locked on to one of the pebbles she’d kicked.
Its shape was unnatural.
This far out from the colony, the chance of a mechanical part falling off a lander and bouncing out here was next to zero.
But it was not zero.
Guin picked up the donut-shaped “pebble” and turned it over.
The visual chemical signature on the surface of the rock returned her to the memory of the HAZMAT team’s discovery.
“We are not alone.”
It wasn’t just that the meth lab cookery they found was way too complicated for the average unemployed lab tech to assemble from parts acquired on the old Internet.
None of the equipment had ever existed before.
All of this found in three mobile homes pushed together, a few rusted pieces of metal siding welded over the rooftops to give the appearance of a “triple wide,” ratty pink fiberglass insulation dangling between precariously-stacked cinder blocks in the crawlspace underneath, but the insides of the mobile homes were cleanly gutted and replaced with unearthly contraptions.
Guin squeezed the Martian donut in her hand. It did not crumble like the other pieces of sandstone under her boots.
Guin had wanted to take a few samples with her from the meth lab but was removed from the building along with everyone else but a few guards.
She was driven back to her office and debriefed about what she saw.
Instructed never to say anything or write a single word about that day, Guin had nearly forgotten about it. She wondered if she should reconnect to the ISSA Net and search for clues about that day but she chose not even to inform the secure Nodes on the ISSA Net what she was thinking about.
Guin had long ago accepted that she only knew what she knew and might never know everything she wanted to learn about.
But she was going to keep filling in the gaps.
That last shipment that was delivered to the colony was designated for this area.
Had she wandered here accidentally or on purpose?
Who had determined that the shipment should be set up here?
What was in the shipment?
Did those who packed the shipment know she was in the area and, if so, did they realize she had been in the party that came upon what first looked like a den of squalor on Brindlee Mountain only to discover the greatest mystery in the second decade of the 21st century?
She was going to find out!