Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Life, deregulated

Too much freedom?
  [vote for,

Drax looked in the online search system, scrolling past the first 30 pages of sponsored ads for a reasonably honest product materials analyst who wasn’t bribed off by the food and candy industry to break down what was in the evidence he had collected, a cigarette and some “bath salts.” Honest materials analysts were hard to find; ever since the Liberty Revolution had eliminated the listing of ingredients as a regulatory requirement, manufacturers, confectioners, soda companies, major food corporations, tobacco product makers, party drug sellers, and the bath salts industries had desperately wanted to keep their product secrets from getting out to anyone, especially not private death investigators like Drax, and especially not the public. Knowledge like that would certainly cause a lawsuit and a black eye if an enemy business interest, say, the exercise equipment industry, were to find out. Drax tried another type of search: ‘medical biochemistry device services.’ Paydirt. ‘Roland’s biochemistry and etc. service. All components revealed.’

Roland’s shop front was a greasy hole in the wall in the sub- basement district of Anaheim. It was only the back room in which he kept his unlicensed black market NMR machine that was reasonably sterile to keep out false positives for random ingredients. Only Roland, in his sterile suit, went in that room.

Drax put the cigarette into the machine’s sample tray, and passed it through the bulletproof window lazy Susan to the shop owner and chemist. Roland plucked up the sample tray and deposited it into his NMR machine’s core, and then disappeared into the side room where the readout computer sat.

Drax turned on the flatscreen while he waited. “Net connection’s down. Sorry, you’ll have to settle for whatever the kids DVR’d.”

Drax flipped through the recording titles: there were the usual popular cartoons, “The Adventures of Joe the Camel,” “Barbie and Her 50 Sold Separately Friends, “ and some old Charlton Heston religious flick. He settled on the latter. Something was taking too long. He got as far as Pilate asking “Truth? What is truth?” when Roland opened the door carrying the paper readout.

“Obviously, Cellulose, saliva, the usual burnt plant fibrous carbon bits, tar, arsenic, a huge spike of nicotine, off the chart of what I’ve ever seen before, DDT, cadmium, a bonkers amount of ammonia, and diacetylmorphine. Jesus this brand went hardcore in wanting to increase sales.”


“Diacetylmorphine. Basically heroin.”

“You sure about that?”

“Yep. Reran it three times, even ran a reference solution just to make sure the instrument was clean. Smoke that with whatever was in those bath salts and my guess is you’ve got an o.d. from hell.”

“Speaking of...”

“Yeah hold on.” Roland wandered back in and spun the lazy-susan around again so Drax could put the bath salt package remnant in.

The huge magnetic analyzer whirred again, dimming the lights for a few blocks.

Drax went back to watching Jesus get whipped.

“Mephadrone. Potent shit. I thought the industry had set a deadline to stop selling that years ago.”

“Yeah, well, you know how that works. They set a deadline, then it becomes a ‘future goal,’ then it passes by, then some manufacturer goes behind everyone’s back and reintroduces it, and soon they all do, without ever informing anyone at the Standards Organization.”

“Don’t ask what’s in Coca-cola these days.”

“Something like the original recipe, I suppose?”

“Something like it.”

“I presume you’ll be wanting to be paid in something other than bitcredits.”

“Right. Nothing traceable. Keeps me out of the crosshairs. You’d better keep a low profile as well. Whoever is selling these doesn’t want to play by any old Producer’s Code of Honor.”

Fortunately Drax was used to this. In his line having an industry trail or two was par for the course. He pulled out a wad of yuan-notes.

RayfordSteele, Mar 24 2018


       yuan = Nuyen I presume (Mmm.. "Shadowrun", been a while).   

       So which supplement did you pull that from or is it your own?
Skewed, Mar 24 2018

       //Methadrone. Potent shit.//   

       Nitpick: "mephedrone".
Wrongfellow, Mar 24 2018

       " He pulled out a wad of yuan-notes. "   

       Well, at least the last sentence sounds like William Gibson. The rest, not as much.
normzone, Mar 24 2018

       Sp. "Whoever" (nominative)
pertinax, Mar 25 2018

       It's a cool story, but what's the idea?
Voice, Mar 25 2018

       This was a subtle dig at the world that I see that libertarianism as a political philosophy has a hard time avoiding, in its rush to remove any real authority and replace it with whatever truth is convenient for the marketplace and domineering oligopolies that would have far too much control over consumer protection law. I wrote it in the throws of one of our recent debates over gun control and such.   

       I was going to continue the story further but got bored.
RayfordSteele, Mar 25 2018


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