Ricky

© Copyright 2011

Winter, 1994

#

Puerto Rico, Ponce City & Space Island

#

The bailiff spoke to the werecreature and her attorney while two of his assistants kept the journalists and their photographers at a distance.

"I’ll have an assistant escort you to a conference room where you can wait till I can see if the jail people will take the judge’s suggestion about you going back to the cell till bail is set. Which they damn well better. And don’t worry about those reporters. We’ll keep them off you."

"Thank you, sir. But, you know, they’ll just bug you and everyone else here if I don’t speak to them for a few minutes and give them something to run to their offices to write about. So could we speak to the reporters in the conference room? Leaving the photographers outside?"

Her attorney broke in. "You cannot talk about the pending case. And it’s best not to talk about anything. They will twist your words or just plain get them wrong."

"I understand. I’ll refuse to speak about my case. But I do need to talk to them sometime, and now is the best time. If I give them something they’ll run with that and not speculate — overly much."

She grinned at the wishful thinking of that last and turned back to the Bailiff, who had been looking narrow-eyed at the journalists.

He nodded at her decision. "We’ll try it. And I’ll stay in the room while my assistant goes to talk to the jail people to make sure the reporters don’t get carried away."

#

A quarter hour later Sylvia and her attorney faced six reporters while the bailiff looked on from the sidelines. She let the questions wash over her until they began to repeat. Then she held up a hand till they were all silent.

"First, I cannot talk about the case against me until after the trial."

They protested and she held up a hand until they were silent again.

"That’s absolute, and my attorney, Humberto Salinas —" She pronounced his name clearly and waited a beat for them to get it and get it right.

"He will interrupt me in case one of you tricks me into trying to answer. I will tell you what happened to cause me confront those men.

"I’m sure of my facts because I recently learned how to talk to dolphins, and I got the story from them."

This caused another spate of questions which she ignored as before. They quickly hushed; they were learning that she would not be pushed.

She spoke briefly about the translation project and gave Prinny’s father as a contact for details, knowing that he would refer them to his daughter but protect her from pressure and exploitation. She described the shooting of the dolphins, emphasizing the self-sacrificing nature of Oberon, and how the little dolphin Miranda cried herself to sleep and Prinny helped comfort her.

"This is what I went to confront the four fishermen about. And can’t talk about." She smiled at her attorney who had been just about to raise his hand to shush her.

"After all this is over I promise to say more. Thank you."

She ignored the shouted questions and walked out ahead of her attorney.

He caught up with her just as the bailiff took her elbow.

"You sailed pretty close to the wind there, Ms. Connelly. I hope to God it doesn’t come back to haunt you."

"We’ll see. There is another matter. There is a woman in the cell who I want represented. I’ll be paying all her expenses. Her name is Serena. You can get all the details from the court."

"I can’t promise anything. But I’ll look into it and get back with you the next time we see each other."

#

The holding cell had emptied out quite a lot when she got back into it. Sylvia went over to Serena and sat down beside her. She looked at the monster.

"I talked with my attorney. He’s going to look into your case. He didn’t promise anything, but I don’t think he’ll refuse the case." She suspected he was more likely assign someone else from his firm to deal with Serena.

The cell began to fill up again as the evening wore on. Sylvia had to prove herself twice before the word got around to leave her alone. At least physically. Despite saying she was not a medical doctor several women insisted on talking to her. She listened intently, inspected them, gave advice and covert healing. This earned her and Serena a good night’s sleep.

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, but with fewer inmates to deal with. Still, the cell was half full by midnight. Crime obviously did not observe holy days.

#

Monday morning she bade farewell to Serena and promised she would keep her attorney on Serena’s case.

When the guards escorted her from the holding cell to the releasing station Sylvia was surprised at who was waiting for her at the lockup door. It was her younger brother, Richard Connelly.

No one would think he was five years younger than she now. He stood a bit over six feet and his broad shoulders made his sturdy waist look thin. His black Irish good looks from their father sat well upon him. Certainly the female officer on duty appreciated them. The two of them had been chatting amiably before her arrival interrupted them.

She signed the register on the line the woman pointed out to her, accepted the paper sack containing her few possessions, and exited through the door the woman buzzed open for her. It clanged shut behind her.

His big arms enveloped her and she hugged him tightly. He returned the favor. She pretended to protest with an "Oof" as her unhuman body took up the strain almost as if it did not exist.

Pushing herself back she mussed his minimal dark curls, burr cut when he had entered the Miami Police Academy several years ago and let grow out just a bit. She had loved his hair since Mom had brought him home from the hospital.

"Ricki Ticki! You’re good-looking again! And what are you doing here?!" She pretended annoyance, putting her hands on her hips.

"Mom sent me. I’m supposed to rescue you from unimaginable horrors."

Looking at the release officer he said, "Got to get my sister out of here. Hope your husband gets better soon."

He took the paper bag from Sylvia and looked inside with a frown.

"Where are your clothes?" She was in the sturdy paper dress they gave to releasees when they had been brought in with no clothing besides underwear.

She hooked an arm in his and guided him toward the Exit sign.

"They got torn off in the fight."

He stopped to look at her. She pulled on his arm till he continued with her toward the outside.

"Hey, I tore them off myself. And I put the four men I was fighting in the hospital."

At his blank look she said, "You didn’t read the police report."

"Mom just told me I was to get here quick. I had to call my supervisor from the airport and tell him I had a family emergency."

By this time they were at the large double door that opened onto the street. Through the window panes in the doors she saw that a trio of reporters were waiting for them. Their editors had gone the cheap route by giving them each a camera rather than sending photographers with them. Her story must not be so hot now.

"If you don’t want to have your face on film you’ll go to that limo over there and get in. I’ll join you when I’ve disposed of them."

Ricki hesitated. "Will you be OK? I really shouldn’t be photographed."

She tiptoed and kissed his cheek. "I’m an old hand at handling these guys. I’ll exit first and go to them. Let them gather round and you just go out like anyone else."

She pushed through the doors and walked toward the reporters. They hurried to meet her.

#

In the sleek black limousine sent from ArgenSpace to meet her at the jail she continued their conversation.

"So Mother called you and said come help me. How did she know?"

"She has any news stories about subjects she’s interested in emailed her. Like you, me, our ‘bro, movie stars she likes, all sorts of things."

"Emailed? Mom hates computers. They confuse her."

"Yeah, like math confuses her. Until she wants to figure savings on sales. Then suddenly she has no problem at all.

"That’s the way it was with computers. Her neighbor got one, so she had to have one. And her neighbor could use email, and find bargains on the InterWeb, and have news stories from newspapers sent to her. So Mom was not going to be upstaged. And all of a sudden computers aren’t confusing any more."

"So she found out about my arrest, calls you up, doesn’t tell you why, but hysterically orders you to come help her little girl."

"Yeah. So what’s this all about?"

Sylvia got through most of the official story about her fight before the limousine pulled up at the nearest water taxi depot. Rickie tipped the driver even though it wasn’t required for limos. That was her little brother: tough as any cop on the job, a softie off-duty.

Past midmorning the day was heating up, but a sea breeze cooled them as they walked over the cracked concrete of the pier. Sylvia headed for her favorite water taxi company and had Rickie pay for a small private boat rather than a larger one charging cheaper group-fare rates. That would have required a wait for several more customers to arrive and she was eager to get home.

Soon they were bouncing across the waves, leaving white foam in their wake under the blue skies.

As they approached Space Island her brother gazed at the island.

"Wow. Quite a lot of money went into this."

"Space industries are growing explosively. They’re calling it the New Frontier."

"You ever going to go into space? I bet you could wangle it being so important and all."

She laughed. "I’m a big scaredy cat when it comes to dying in vacuum, or burning up on re-entry." She shivered, and it wasn’t pretense.

Rickie was like a tourist as they walked down the ramp, across the pier, and into the visitor’s entrance.

A blue-uniformed employee spotted them and hurried over. She was a thin Jamaican-born Puerto Rican who Sylvia knew well enough to greet by name.

"Dr. Connelly. Is all that business straightened out?"

"It will be, Rocio. Thanks for asking. This is my brother. He’ll need a short-term visitor’s pass."

Rickie had his passport out and the woman took it, filled out a form, and handed him the passport and a card for his wallet.

As they walked out of the air-conditioning into the soft air of the island Sylvia said, "You didn’t really need the passport. Just a driver’s license. Argentina and the US have an inter-territorial agreement." She explained what that meant.

"Hmm. With that easy entry this could be a smuggler’s paradise."

"Not quite. Security realized that and took steps. If you want a busman’s holiday I can introduce you some people I know."

"No. I want to know what’s really going on with you. You know you can’t lie to me, Sylly. And I’ve known something’s not right ever since you healed Rissa by a laying on of hands. And this time you’re not sloughing me off."

Her older brother knew something of her situation and had not told anyone, even his wife and mother. Sylvia had not wanted to give him more than vague information, and he had not wanted to know more.

But Rickie … She trusted him absolutely, and she had long felt the loneliness of not being able to confide in anyone. Besides, he might be able to give her more information about international prostitution rings than her local police contacts had been so far able or willing to give her.

"OK. But first I’m going to shower and change clothes and we’re going to have lunch. Now let me show you the sights on the way to the hotel. This is our multiplex cinema, has that new 3D projection system. And this…"

#

Rickie stopped just inside her hotel suite. Sylvia did too. She had gotten so used to her home that she had forgotten how luxurious it was.

"Wow. You must make good money to afford this."

"Yes, I do. But the hotel gives me a big price break. If you went next door and looked at the face plate next to the door you’d see it’s named after me."

He looked at her as if he had never met her before. "I keep forgetting you’re a celebrity."

"I can’t forget it. I keep having my nose rubbed in it. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m a very minor celebrity."

He grinned at her. "Does that really work?"

She grinned back. "No. Here. This will be your bedroom. Hang up your stuff while I take a shower. And call down for room service to bring up a drink if you want one."

"I sure do. Hey. It’s got a bed my size."

"I asked for one when I moved in. For no reason, except maybe my subconscious was expecting you to visit someday."

He fell backward onto the bed, his small overnight suitcase slipping to the floor.

"Oh, my aching back. That feels good."

"When I get out of the shower I’ll do that Japanese walking-on-your-back trick."

"Deal."

#

Rickie was sleeping when she looked into his bedroom, head turned to the side and snoring lightly. His suitcase was where he dropped it.

"Hey. Lazybones. Up you go." She had to prod his shoulder a time or two to wake him.

He sat up, bleary eyed. She snagged his suitcase and hung up his spare jacket and two days change of everyday clothing. His socks and underwear she dropped atop the dresser and put his toiletries kit on the white-porcelain plastic of the bathroom sink.

"Let me freshen up and I’ll take you up on the Jap foot massage thing."

Ten minutes later Rickie was lying face down on the sea green carpet just inside the balcony, looking down at the island and the seascape beyond.

"What’s that — God, you weigh a ton! — that big barn-like building?"

"Quit complaining, softie. That’s the spaceship hangar. We’ll go see the spaceship on the way to the south end of the island this afternoon."

"I didn’t come here to sight-see. I want the straight scoop from you."

"You’ll get it. But I want to be someplace where no reporters can lurk."

He turned his head and looked up at her seriously, then let his head fall back onto the floor. He groaned as she massaged his back with her feet, balanced a bit precariously on that broad platform.

Later, in the dining room on the ground floor, Rickie looked right at home in the light jacket needed against the too-high air conditioning. Sylvia was perfectly comfortable in a light summer dress, just as she would be in the high Sahara or the Arctic. Her unhuman skin was very versatile.

"So what’s going on in the police biz?"

He examined the menu, said absently "I’m in the fast-track for management, so they’ve been assigning me to six months in different departments. It was Robbery until recently. Now I’m in Vice. Next is Homicide. I’m looking forward to that."

"Vice. That sounds interesting. I met a bunch of prostitutes in the holding cell. Made a friend or two."

He looked over his menu at her disapprovingly. "They shouldn’t have put you in there. There are some pretty tough customers in there."

She laughed. "Rickie, I’M a pretty tough customer."

He shook his head, returned to his menu, shortly put it down decisively. A waitress was immediately at his elbow.

"Ready to order, sir?"

He grinned up at her. "I certainly am. My breakfast this morning was airline food."

The woman took their orders. As she walked away, just an extra bit of sway to her walk, Sylvia quietly mocked, "Ready to order, sir?"

He grinned, watching the well-padded show, took a sip of his iced tea, looked back at her.

"I know, Jungle Jane and all that. But I can’t help it. To me you’re still my little sister."

"Who’s five years older than you and was a tomboy always ready to kick ass."

"Yeah. Until you discovered boy-ees and turned into a wimp." He held up a limp-wristed hand, the little finger extended.

"I just hid it better. Remember Roddy Mack, who broke his arm negotiating a curve while skating? Well, the curve he was negotiating wasn’t concrete."

He sat bolt upright. "You mean that little sonofa —"

"Calm down, white knight, and get off your horse. I well and truly paid him back. Now, tell me something. Two of the prosties were speculating about some new ring of pimps invading Puerto Rico run by ‘The Cat Lady.’ It sounded really strange."

"Yeah, we have those rumors in Miami, too. We had a briefing, so it might be more than just a rumor.

"It’s hard to separate the myth from the reality, but the ring is real. It’s all over western Europe and penetrated Louisiana as early as 1910. Legend has it that it started in Ireland in the 1860s and spread to England in the 1870s. The boss was supposedly a shapechanger out of Irish myth, Bearach Irusansdaughter." Shock struck Sylvia like lightning at the word shapechanger. "She was supposed to be unbeatable and immortal. Until another shapechanger burned her up with a fireball. But he wasn’t immortal either. Seems the Cat Lady had a sister —"

He smiled up at the waitress who had appeared like magic with their salad, salad dressing, and croutons. The top button on her blouse was no longer buttoned. Sylvia accepted her salad, noticing with amusement that the woman bent further over Rickie’s than her own.

He crunched a crouton while he administered dressing to his greens.

"The sister was another myth, the Grey Lady, who breathed on Fireboy and rotted him to death. Of course they were just nuts dressed up in masks."

Satisfied his salad was just right he took a big mouthful. Sylvia followed his example and the table was silent while they finished chewing.

"But legend has it that the Cat Lady shows up in one disguise or another till this very day. Just another whore in a mask, of course."

Sylvia was not sure about that. Now that she thought about it, she probably had ceased to age, too. She might very well live decades, even centuries past her normal life span.

"Now here’s the really strange thing. The whores are the bosses of the Organization, which is what they call themselves, and the pimps work for them. You’d think the pimps would take over. But supposedly every Org whore studies martial arts, pistolry, and knife work. And they outnumber the pimps ten or more to one. They gang up on any pimps who get out of hand. Apparently they make an art out of torture. Any rebel is found hanging upside down from some rooftop by his guts with his sex organs mutilated."

He shuddered, then grinned. "That kind of example would sure keep me from getting ambitious."

Sylvia had finished her salad and spilled a few croutons into her plate to capture extra salad dressing.

"It’s a wonder police haven’t cracked down on them. Maybe get the Feds’ organized-crime arm involved."

"It’s been tried. And laws have been passed to control prostitution. But something always happens. Sometimes it’s assassination, or castration. But usually the policeman or the congressman or high church official is discovered to have a secret sex life, with a contrite prostitute or mistress finding God and confessing all. Maybe selling her tale to a publisher for a good chunk of change and retiring to a foreign country."

She swallowed the last crunched crouton. "That’s so obvious! Wouldn’t people see through the tricks?"

He shrugged. "It’s worked for well over a century. Oh, good!" The waitress got a big smile from her brother as she set a plate containing a huge near-charred steak in front of him. Poor woman, Sylvia thought. Rickie had eager eyes only for his food.

Sylvia had a similar plate but with the meat practically raw. The two siblings buckled down to serious eating. As the meal progressed Rickie’s eyebrows slowly rose as she matched his intake ounce for ounce and pound for pound. When they finished she belched and sat back with a happy sigh.

"Jesus, Sylly, have some couth."

"That’s how us tough customers act." She grinned at him and he rolled his eyes.

"Dessert, sir?"

"Let’s see that menu again."

"Yes, sir! I have it right here, sir." Actually she had two menus. The wait people in the hotel restaurant all knew Sylvia and her sweet tooth.

Each had two slices of pie with several scoops of ice cream, two glasses of milk with a big picture of milk for refills, and coffee with Amaretto liqueur.

"Sylly, the joke’s getting old. You do not have to match me in the eating department."

She looked at him, her face serious. "Rickie, I swear I’m not doing this as a joke. I really do need this amount of food. Cross my heart and hope to die."

Slowly he nodded. Childish her oath might seem to anyone else, but he knew she was deadly serious when she spoke it.

As they ate, silent again in respect for their food, he looked her over, again and again, as if trying to see beneath to some radical change in her.

When they finished and the waitress had cleared the table he suddenly said, "Do you have a tapeworm? Or … cancer?"

She reached across the table and his huge hand engulfed hers. She spoke softly.

"No, dear Rickie. I’m absurdly healthy. And I’ll tell you all about later."

Then briskly. "Now finish your story. You’ve got me really curious."

"OK. The Org has got to have some kind of spy ring. Or maybe all the whores report back on their customers. They are also the most educated prosties on the planet. They take college courses, for God’s sake, and graduate. A lot of them get out of the world and start businesses. Some of them pretty big, with other former whores working in them. I suspect that they have tentacles in banking and investment firms all over the planet."

"They sound like a cult."

He nodded. "Except they’re not ideological, unless business is their ideology. They don’t get mixed up with reformers, or religions. They keep a really low profile. Except when they move into new territory. They don’t actively recruit, but they offer too good a deal not to attract converts. Local gangs sometimes attack them, but they’re always ready — going back to my spy ring theory — and their counter-attack is devastating. If necessary they can call in troops from all over the world."

He grinned. "Speaking of which, about fifty years ago some little middle-European dictator got offended that women in his country were getting too uppity. He figured it was the example of the Whores — oh, they capitalize the word and apply it to themselves, like they’re proud to be whores. Anyway, he dispatched a company of soldiers to take over the main Organization headquarters, a big brothel.

"You guessed it. They were waiting for the soldiers, and had fortified the mansion, and had booby traps outside the walls. Nothing that would kill, but badly wound. Which was really smart. A dead man can be stacked out of the way or buried, but hurt men have to be taken care of, and they scream and groan and harm morale."

They grinned at each other, two long-practiced co-conspirators.

"So the big boss sent a brigade of soldiers, along with field guns. They set the guns up, ordered a surrender, and getting no response, opened fire. OK, smart aleck, I see you’re ahead of me. Yeah, the guns exploded. All of their ammunition was worthless. They tried big machine guns, same deal. So they settled in to await reinforcements.

"Which arrived, all right, that night. But it was reinforcements for the other side. Two or three thousand women, and men too, all dressed in camouflage. They captured the brigade and killed every one of the officers, then hung them up by their guts every place they could. Come morning it turned out that some Whores had gone to the dictator’s mansion. Before they hung him up by his guts they took time to torture him over every inch of his skin. Or they made it look that way. Which is the last time anyone has tried to use military force against the Org."

He swished water around in his mouth and looked about for the check. The waitress somewhat regretfully brought it, telling him that all "The Doctor’s" meals and those of her guests were billed to her room. He checked the amount and gave her a generous tip, thanking her for her terrific service and hoping her a good day.

Sylvia hung back as they left the dining room, patted the woman’s arm, and murmured, "My brother. He’s got a girlfriend. They’re very close."

The woman smiled, "You know the saying. All the good ones …."

Sylvia nodded.

#

Back in her room she took her brother out onto the balcony and sat in a deck chair, feet up on the railing. The sun was well past noon in the cloudless blue sky but was not yet glaring into their eyes. He hung his jacket on the back of his chair. It might be winter north of the Caribbean but here the ocean breeze was warm.

He relaxed with a sigh. A belch surprised him. Sylvia laughed. "Now who’s got no couth?" and "How come I’ve never heard of the — Org? It seems like they ought to be in history books."

"I’ve wondered that, too. I have some theories, well, guesses.

"One is that it’s not polite to talk about prostitution. And prosties who are proud to be prosties? Double taboo.

"Another guess — any book that talks about the whores gets burned in the warehouse, or maybe even at the printers. Or stays locked up. The briefing material we studied is numbered and labeled confidential on pain of termination and stored in a locked cabinet. It looks like it’s at least ten, maybe twenty years old. We sign it out, read it in the classroom, and sign it back in."

"But you say the word gets around to dictators and so on what might happen to them if they attack the Org. Oh, of course. The Org itself lets them know."

He waved a finger in the air as if making a checkmark on a list. "Batting a hundred, little sister."

They sat for a time, enjoying the breeze and the sights. Then Rickie spoke up again.

"One last fact. Maybe the strangest of all. According to legend Whores never get sick. In any way. No colds, no cancer, no VD. They don’t even get pregnant … although I suppose that doesn’t count as a disease. Nor do their children or spouses when they get out of the business. No Alzheimer’s or juvenile Alzheimer’s."

He peered over at her at that last, since she was the one who had found a cure for juvenile Alzheimer’s.

The implications were staggering. A cure for EVERY disease? That would be really strange. Cancer alone was at least a hundred different diseases. Science had long ago given up on finding THE cure for cancer.

But she did know a cure for every disease. Her. She could lay her hands on people and cure them. Or more correctly inject messages into people’s bodies telling their bodies to cure themselves.

Did the Org include shapechangers still? Like the Cat Lady and the Grey Lady her brother had spoken of earlier. And if they were real, the killer he had labeled Fireboy was real, or others like him. Were there factions among the shapechangers? And would someone from them contact her some day? Or try to kill her?

"Do they really never get sick?"

"Maybe, maybe not. But they do have connections to one do-gooder organization, the only philanthropy they practice. The Athenaeum Society encourages public hygiene like garbage disposal and purifying drinking water, educates people on basic medical prevention like tooth-brushing and washing your hands, and gives free medical care to desperately poor people. They have their own doctors, though they’re not called that and they’re only licensed for basic prophylaxis —"

"My, my. What big words you have, Grandma."

He grinned. "And they encourage medical doctors to give one day of free service at the free clinics. Like lawyers and their pro-bono service. ‘Give back to the community’ and all that."

She sat up and turned to look at him. "So you think their ‘doctors’ administer some kind of cure-all. Damn, Rick, I’m a biologist. There just can’t be a cure-all. People who claim that are con men, pure and simple."

"But they don’t claim anything. If they have a secret miracle drug only their own people get it."

"Yeah. Hmm. They’d be swamped if anyone found out about it. Or sued out of existence."

"Or taken over by the government."

"But where would this cure-all come from? Deepest darkest Africa?"

He grinned. "You found yours in a snake-bite in Borneo."

He sobered, said "It came from Mary McCarthy. I’ve done some research, and that’s my best guess."

She repeated the name. It rang a bell. She sat upright and slung her feet to the floor. His closest hand flashed to snag one of her wrists but her unhuman reflexes automatically made her body evade his hand and snag his instead, then instantly release it.

"Sit back. No need to get on the InterWeb. I told you I’ve already researched all that." She complied and he continued.

"Mary McCarthy was a best friend of Mary Boole. You know, the woman who —"

"We read about her in our Women’s History class back in college. She invented the telephone and the telephone exchange and kick-started the Irish Industrial Revolution."

"Yeah. McCarthy was the first woman doctor in the British Empire. She even got a license to practice. Which was a Goddamned miracle. Unless the Org was behind her. She was a certified genius. Wrote a paper theorizing about the biochemistry of genetics decades before they discovered DNA. Practiced medicine, mostly surgery, only one day a month. But never lost a patient.

"And she may have given Boole the idea for the telephone by talking about the neural basis of hearing and speech. After all, a telephone and telephone exchange is just a mechanical ear and mouth connected by wires that go through a really simple mechanical brain."

Sylvia said, "The history text we had in class gave credit for the invention to her husband. George Boole was a certified genius too. Wrote a book with Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell about the basis of all math. Mathematica Universuum? Something like that. Which led to computers."

"Which are like telephone exchanges. Or mechanical brains. Doesn’t it make sense that biological analogies would more likely come from a physician than a mathematician?"

She ran a hand through her hair, disarranging it. Then reflexively rearranged it, something she would never do in public, catching herself too late. But luckily her brother had not noticed her hair moving all by itself.

"Wow, "she said. "The history professor didn’t catch that. You’re not —"

They grinned at each other as they said in unison "— not as dumb as you look."

"I dug up more evidence of McCarthy’s influence. You remember Sir Robert Kane? Father of the Irish Industrial Revolution? He had a genius wife, too. A botanist. Wrote a basic text under a pen-name when she was something like twenty, before she met Kane. She —"

"I’m a biologist, remember? I know all about Katherine Kane. She hybridized, discovered, whatever, rubber trees that would grow in Ireland. Also a variety of gorse, which is a quick-growing plant that crowds out other plants, that is purple and gives a resin useful as electrical insulation. Before that gorse was a weed to a lot of Irishmen.

"But her most important discovery was that a fungus was the cause of those potato famines. Insecticide kills it easily, but some of the cures are almost as bad as the disease. She discovered safe insecticides.

"You think McCarthy might have been behind these women?"

He thought about that a moment, shook his head. "These ladies were smart before they ever met McCarthy. Maybe McCarthy gave them pushes here and there, but they earned their reputations. But if anyone came up with a medical miracle it was McCarthy. But I don’t think there is one. Just some very smart people using the very latest medical advances."

Sylvia got up and half-sat, half-leaned on the openwork parapet, looking at her brother.

"I wonder how I’d go about meeting these Org people? Maybe join a branch of the Athenaeum Society? Maybe there’s one here on P’Rico."

He looked alarmed. "Dumb-ass. These are really dangerous people!"

"And I’m —"

"Yeah. Yeah. You’re really dangerous people too."

He got up and walked inside the apartment, snagging his jacket from the chair.

"Let’s go look at spaceships and dolphins."

#

Go to chapter nineteen, Revelation.

© Copyright 2011

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s