As usual, here is your warning that this story has cursing, sex (not graphic), innuendo, and violence. It’s my Rated-R action adventure called Derailing Bedlam. This is the fourth outing (third official) for Cassidy and Lloyd, so feel free to click on one of the two covers to see how it started. Each one is 99 cents!
With Cassidy strapped to a chair and Lloyd chained to a thick pipe on the wall, the chief farmer of Crystal Falls takes her time preparing for the interrogation. Wearing a blue wool cap that reeks of sweat and mushrooms, Mica Bulbosa pops a tiny morel into her mouth and shudders at the brief wave of euphoria. Once her high is over, she pushes her wheelie chair across the room to a large box that holds her latest batch of hallucinogenic truffles. Sniffing the air, the bald woman puts on gloves before reaching into a bag of fertilizer and spreading a handful over her crop. She picks out a fingernail from the soil, the cracked remnant of one of Parker’s victims being useless for her work. Turning back to her guests, Mica removes her gloves and is careful not to get any dirt on her neat lab coat or bright yellow shirt. Instead, she wipes her hands on her jeans before washing up at a large slop sink that is surrounded by a ring of bioluminescent mushrooms. Whistling out of tune, she takes a necklace off a wall hook and puts it on in the hopes of teasing her guests.
“I believe this colorful charm is what you were sent for,” Mica replies, holding up the oddly-shaped key. The rainbow-colored metal shines in the ugly lighting of the lab, which used to be a school cafeteria. “Where to start with the questioning? My husband enjoys this more than me, but I have new mushrooms to test. Some of these cause pain and I have one type that can work like a truth serum. This green one would put you in a coma, but that won’t help. Shame because I was hoping to see if a single bite is enough to get the job done or the entire piece needs to be ingested. Oh well, I’ll keep it with me in case one of you proves to be entirely useless.”
“I’m really confused on what’s going on here,” Lloyd admits while he slips off his shoe. He stretches his leg to pick up a nearby pen with his toes, but he drops it into a wastebasket. “We could tell you all we know about Katie and you still couldn’t beat her. She has heavier firepower than what we’ve seen here. You’d have to fight her on her turf too. So, why can’t we just part ways and forget this ever happened?”
“I didn’t expect you to be such a coward. Such a disappointment, Mr. Tenay,” the scientist says before pushing a crimson mushroom into Lloyd’s mouth. She steps back to watch him gasp and cough, the serial killer’s face turning red as if he ate something spicy. “Good kick, but it appears that the sensation lingers for too long. Might not have any culinary uses unless we find something that can minimize the potency. Although, I’ve heard there are people in the South who enjoy spicy foods. Please tell me when you can feel your tongue again.”
Returning to Cassidy, Mica pulls out a stun gun in case she has to use it on the mercenary a second time. She pops a round mushroom into her mouth and gets within reach, the sudden surge of adrenaline helping her nerves. Taking the prisoner by the hair, she pulls the woman’s head back and puts a leather restraint around her neck. Keeping it loose, Mica reaches around to slap Cassidy in the face a few times. The mercenary groans and opens her eyes, but shows no sign of concern or fear. When she yawns, the scientist pushes a purple mushroom into her mouth and covers her lips to force the surprised prisoner to swallow it whole. The brief struggle ends with Cassidy’s body tensing for a second and going limp in the chair.
“I feel a truth mushroom would work best at the beginning,” Mica claims while taking a seat in front of the prisoner. Pulling a notebook out of her pocket, she goes over the questions that her husband has written. “All he wants to know about is business, which is so boring. I much prefer to talk about product, but you wouldn’t have any information on that. Unless you can tell me about Katie’s medicine business.”
“There are a few things I know about that,” Cassidy replies in a droning voice. She stares ahead in silence until Mica snaps her fingers and coaxes the mercenary to continue. “Katie has a deal with the South Bend production family. Once a month, either we or someone she trusts picks up a shipment. Then, she trades the drugs for whatever she needs. People in the Shattered States call this bartering. For example, Katie may get a box of aspirin. She keeps a bottle or two for herself then gives the rest away for food, weapons, or whatever has caught her fancy. There are times she has to keep more for herself because she has people to take care of. We call that leadership.”
Taking off her wool hat, the scientist scratches at her itchy scalp and eats another euphoric mushroom. “All stuff we already know with the addition of sass. You’re speaking the truth, but it looks like you still have some control. Hard to tell if my creation is a failure or your reputation for being incredibly stubborn is well-deserved. Perhaps a person needs to be weakened before taking this mushroom.”
“I remember that video game!” Lloyd shouts from across the room. “Hey, does the kid know what happened to my last churro?”
“You ate it for breakfast a week ago.”
“What about the bag of jellybeans?”
“I loaded those into a shotgun and fired them at the clown gang we fought last month.”
“Did that actually work?”
“No, but I was angry that you refused to share.”
The pair stop talking when Mica stands and stomps her foot, her frustration etched upon her face. Having another snack, she walks in a tight circle while rubbing her eyes and moving her other hand like she is pointing at a collection of notes in the air. With a long sigh, she regains her composure and goes back to the dazed mercenary. She zaps Cassidy and immediately puts a silver mushroom in her mouth, the morel preventing her from passing out. Grabbing the mercenary by the chin, the scientist watches for eye dilation and any other signs of her crop taking effect. She scowls at how very little happens, but her expression softens when she hears Cassidy faintly mumble to herself. Putting her ear near the woman’s mouth, Mica makes out a quick mantra about not giving in to the mushrooms. Before she can move away, the mercenary lunges forward and bites the side of her face. Shocked by the pain, the scientist leaps back and delivers a punch that knocks the prisoner and chair over.
Hurrying to a mirror, Mica checks the damage and stares at the wound on her cheek. She curses under her breath as she grabs a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and splashes some on the injury. Ignoring the burning sensation, she rummages through a medical kit in search of a large bandage or sutures. When she finds some gauze and looks back at the mirror, Mica freezes at what she sees behind her. Cassidy’s chair has been put back on its feet and Lloyd is no longer chained to the pipe. She slowly turns around, expecting to find the serial killer appearing behind her like they do in horror movies. Instead, the scientist sees nothing more than her lab and at least twenty places the escaped prisoner could be hiding. A slight tug on her shoulders causes her to whirl around, but again she finds only what was there before.
Cautiously walking towards Cassidy, Mica pulls a syringe from an inner pocket and takes the cap off. Stopping in front of the prisoner, she considers asking where Lloyd went, but doubts she will get an answer. From the dazed look on the mercenary’s face and pooling drool on her lap, she is wondering if the truth mushroom is a total failure. With a shrug, she leaves the woman alone and goes about checking around every table and closet. Hearing a strange click, Mica spins and throws the syringe, which shatters against the wall. Taking out a fresh one with black liquid, she inches towards her newest crop and peers into the box to see if Lloyd is hiding inside. There is nothing out of the ordinary and she jumps at the sound of an exhaust fan turning on, the sudden breeze billowing her lab coat for a second. Staring at the spinning blades in the ceiling, Mica grins and hurries to the corner where the switches and fuse box are found. A frustrated growl slips from her lips when she comes up empty again and considers that the serial killer may have left her lab.
As the fear and tension get to her, Mica reaches into her outer pocket and devours a handful of mushrooms. The familiar euphoria begins, but it abruptly turns into a ripple of agony along her veins. A heavy pressure builds in her chest and she has to grip the side of a table in order to avoid falling. Hearing a chuckle, she looks over her shoulder to find Lloyd standing next to her and grinning as wide as he can. The serial killer moves to stay behind her when she turns around entirely, his body kept low at first to avoid her spotting him in her peripheral vision. Opening her mouth to yell, Mica’s voice is cut off by a cough that sends a splatter of mushroom specks onto the wall. Among the expected colors, she spots a chunk of green that reminds her of her coma-inducing creation. Touching the pocket where she put the morel, she finds that it is empty and thinks back to the tug on her lab coat. Scowling at Lloyd, Mica lowers herself to the floor to avoid collapsing and hurting herself. Within a minute, she has fallen into a coma with her eyes wide open and dilated to the point where they are almost entirely black.
“I’ll be taking this,” Lloyd whispers as he takes the key. Spotting a moldy blanket on a table shelf, he puts it under Mica’s head and steps back when the smell of her hat begins to make him dizzy. “Have to appreciate the lessons we learn from cartoons. Now, to get the jeep and make our harrowing escape. Hope they haven’t started stripping it and taking our gear. Bad guys never seem to do that to us for some reason. It’s like they know we’re going to escape and run amok through their territory. You okay, kid?”
“My head feels like it’s been sat on by three hippos and a gassy hedgehog,” Cassidy mutters in a gravelly voice. She waits for Lloyd to free her from the chair before rushing to the sink and vomiting up the last of the mushroom. “That thing tasted foul and made me dizzy, but didn’t even come close to a truth serum. Although, I was honest about the churro and jellybeans. I’ll buy you some on the train when we get there. Ugh, I really shouldn’t have done all that drooling to sell the incapacitation. My chest is all sticky and damp, which . . . Oh, that’s just a disgusting thought you had.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“But you laughed.”
“I was thinking that it would be funny if you sprouted mushrooms.”
“Okay, that isn’t as bad as I expected.”
“We can call them Titty Truffles or Mammary Morels.”
“Shut the fuck up, Lloyd, and take a few minutes to loot. This bitch and her family owe us for the trouble.”