THREE MORE VANISH; FOGEY GANG ACTIVITY ON THE RISE
New York (Yelopress/ASP) A spokesman for the DEFA today released details of the disappearance of three adult males, all in their early 20s. Missing and presumed dead are Daniel Tompkins, James Rivington, and Jacob Astor, all of the notorious Lower East Side sector of New York City known as "Bodysnatchers' Alley."
In DEFA custody and undergoing intensive interrogation are two presumed members of the executive council of the Senior Savages, a fogey gang controlling a strategically located enclave of the sector. This brings the number of suspicious disappearances to 105 in the just-ended 24-hour period, 18 above the corresponding period last week. Local citizen groups have been demanding increased summary executions of hormies as a deterrent to the stepped-up incidence of youth serum related crime. Meanwhile, regional militia groups...
New York City
27 February 2018
My dear Skorblut!
I had scarcely had the opportunity to become acquainted with our Ami colleagues before they insisted upon assigning me to an active case. Every available unit of manpower and materiel is being mobilized in the attempt to halt what appears to be a crime epidemic of monumental proportions.
I am to investigate a particularly vicious 'fogey' group, the self-styled "Elder Statesmen." This band of aging stilyagi, hoodlums, and assorted gangsters must take the responsibility for a disproportionate share of the violent crime in a once-fashionable East Side neighborhood.
Area police and paramilitary authorities are in the process of mounting a large-scale offensive against street crime and anti-social behavior. If I am able to contribute my limited expertise to this effort, so much the better for the relationship between the German federal and American enforcement agencies.
True, my mission here has the primary objective of gathering intelligence data on the so-called "Youth Serum Phenomenon." But it is all to the good that I am acquiring practical field experience in combatting the problem at the same time that I am researching it.
Rest assured that I will inform you of all important developments and will keep in contact in any case.
Convey my warmest greetings to Trudl and little Petra and know that I remain
The tap-tapping of walking sticks, the dragging clump-hop of deformed limbs being forced into double-time limp signaled the approach of death.
Rookie Detective Ganymede pressed deeper into the dark doorway, fingering the curves of his snub-nosed .38, the only thing standing between him and a horrible doom: being literally chopped up and rendered down for the life-giving juices contained in his body organs.
Metal scraped against wood as the hormone-crazed oldsters drew swords from their canes and bore down on him like assault troops with bayonets at ready.
-- from Fiends of the Night, by Ezekiel Vladimiroff
FROM: SKORBLUT, GERMAN FEDERAL POLICE (SECURITY DIVISION)
TO: BLACKBLIGHT, DRUG ENFORCEMENT FIELD AGENCY
SUBJECT: IDENTITY VERIFICATION OF NEW LIAISON AGENT
CONFIRM CREDENTIALS OF EISENZANN, ONE OF MOST RELIABLE OPERATIVES OF GERMAN FEDERAL POLICE, POLITICAL DIVISION. LONG AND MERITORIOUS RECORD ATTESTS TO COMPETENCE IN AREAS OF INVESTIGATIVE AND UNDERCOVER WORK. WE REMAIN DISTURBED OVER UNEXPLAINED DISAPPEARANCE OF LAST LIAISON MAN. WE TRUST THAT INVESTIGATION IS PROCEEDING SATISFACTORILY AND THAT YOU WILL IMMEDIATELY REPORT ANY NEW DEVELOPMENTS. END.
"... The drug itself, technically designated diazo-dextroamyl-inframethylene, was discovered in the laboratories of the Niedrigst Pharmaceutical GmbH several years previously. Said firm immediately began experimentation with test animals, with so striking results that plans were swiftly set in motion to produce and market it under the trade name Antisenilium. However, government officials, after extensive consultation with behavioral scientists over possible adverse social consequences of release of the drug, put a total ban on distribution and ordered a total halt to research. The ban was subsequently extended worldwide.
The most stringent precautions could not prevent details of the synthesizing process from being leaked to certain criminal elements who immediately saw it to their advantage to create a black market trade in the substance. The drug, familiarly known as "Fountain of Youth Serum" by its effect, or "DeathBane" on the streets, soon made its appearance in uncontrolled urban sectors. A determined police campaign has not sufficed to suppress trade in the drug or to prevent the alarming rise in crime associated with its availability.
The fact that it can only be extracted from the glands and tissues of live or recently deceased subjects in the post-pubertal stage makes the drug all the more difficult to obtain, and, from an economic viewpoint, all the more precious. The black market price of a single dosage, effective for a three week period, has reached $2500.
The so-called "DeathBane, administered to an aged subject, a wrinkled effigy of his younger years, brings back youthful appearance and vigor, restores the lusts of a bygone day. The drug must, of course, be re-administered at three week intervals, else its effect fades. This creates certain difficulties for...
-- from the hearings of the UN Extraordinary Subcommittee on Social Stability
Keeping a journal is entirely my own idea. But it will make easier the periodic reports I must submit to higher-ups both here and in my own country. It also creates s permanent record of my observations that could provide valuable data for my colleagues, should anything unforeseen happen to me. For the present let it remain a private indulgence, its existence known only to me.
To date the following:
Blackblight, my nominal superior, invited me to dine with him at a favorite cafe of his, a converted cellar beneath the sidewalks of an industrial area turned residential. Seated behind a rough-hewn wood plank table on what must have been a salvaged church pew, I plunged my fork into a triangular slab of undercooked beef while listening politely to his laments about his overweight daughter, his malfunctioning televiewer, his ulcers...
I must have let slip a fawn, for he abruptly stiffened and let drain the emotion from his voice. "Your commander, Police-Colonel Skorblut, seems to have a very high opinion of you, judging you capable of handling even the most difficult and unusual assignments. I hope you can justify his confidence."
He paused to spit out a bone. "The particular case you are on, this Elder Statesmen affair, has progressed to the point that we have the opportunity to plant a man right in the inner circle of the gang." He looked over at me and curled his lips over gold-capped teeth.
"Our intelligence net intercepted a courier from the International Drug Smuggler Centrale. He was to have delivered a shipment of DeathBane to the Elder Statesmen for distribution on the streets here. It will, in fact, be delivered. By none other than you."
He wiped the grease off his chin while that sank in. "To facilitate your penetration of the gang, we will provide you with a cover story. An all-points 'wanted' bulletin will be issued for the man you will be impersonating, so they will make the logical assumption that if you leave them you will be hunted down by the police. And, since you will demonstrate certain useful skills, such as the handling of class II sidearms, they should be most happy to welcome you into their ranks."
I fear that my eyes avoided the glint of his predatory smile, for he immediately enquired whether I had heartburn.
Assured that I did not, he hinted that butterflies-in-the-stomach were inexcusable for a senior field agent and that he could arrange for my early retirement if that suited me.
The wineglass shattered in my hand and I must have looked as though I would tear out his jugular in the next instant (which I might well have), but then he was on his feet laughing uproariusly and pounding me on the back.
"Go to it, my boy. That's the sort of spirit we need. You're hired."
So I was. Once again I am the innocent victim of circumstance. Be it so then. It is good for discipline.
The militia patrol escorted me as far as the warning track of the Redline Zone. The desolation began here -- and extended as far as the eye could see: an unending stretch of blasted and gutted buildings, broken sidewalks, lamp posts bent at grotesque angles, open fields of burned-out vehicles, doorways clogged with the corpses of stray dogs intermingled with twisted-up baby carriages, and everywhere shards of plexiglas from exploded televiewer screens.
Farther, my brave and trusty uniformed companions would not venture. Not even in their armored vehicles. This was the notorious Death Strip, home turf of the Elder Statesmen.
According to the instructions, I was to proceed 1800 meters due east, then activate a small microwave transmitter. The contact man of the Elder Statesmen would presumably home in on the signal and locate me. Further course of action was left to my discretion, meaning that I was in the hands of fate.
I kept to the shelter of crumbling brick walls as much as I could, trying to present as small as possible a cross-section to telescopic sights. Open stretches I crawled across. On my stomach. I had been told that my weight was insufficient to trigger an anti-tank mine, and that thought cheered me considerably between mouthfuls of dirt.
1750... 1800 meters exactly. I flicked on the tiny transmitter. And waited.
Half an hour at least under the merciless sun, an inviting target for one and all. I must have temporarily relaxed my vigilance, for now I could sense a slight pressure in my back.
"Don't turn around," said the quavery voice, barely audible, in back of me. "Straight ahead, now to the right. Slow. Slow.". I turned my head imperceptibly, and out of the extreme corner of my eye made out a spidery old dame clutching tightly with both hands a long-barreled pistol.
Suddenly I was jumped by at least two men and something was pulled over my head. I could no longer see and my arms were bound fast.
"Take it easy, kid. This is just a necessary precaution we take with strangers. To keep our number unlisted. So we don't get any surprise visits, see?"
They amused themselves for an hour or so, letting me stagger around, stumbling over loose bricks and making grazing collisions with assorted jagged obstacles. Then, without warning I was thrown to the ground and the absurd thought came into my head that they were going to make an end to me then and there. But, I heard the ringing scrape of metal, and now I was being pushed downward, then being helped to cling to what felt like the iron rungs of a ladder. And they let me fall the last meter so that I could pick up a few more bruises. Someone roughly helped me to my feet.
Off with the hood, but I still couldn't see because of flood-lamps burning into my face. Then they flickered and went dim and I could no longer hear the snorting of the diesel generator in the background.
"Goddam injector must have clogged again. No matter. You would've had your look-see at our home-sweet-home soon enough anyhow. Better get used to the sight. You won't be going anywhere in a hurry."
Between the pulsing black dots still covering my field of vision, I could just make out the speaker. A woman. In her late twenties, early thirties perhaps. Tall and willowy. Blonde.
Behind her were some of her comrades. Some young looking, others wearing the sagging flesh of old age. Apparently DeathBane didn't flow freely here.
"All right. Out with it. You're supposed to be carrying 5000 grams of the stuff. Give."
A touch of a hidden lever and a compartment in my left thigh sprang open. I handed over the package to the blonde.
The others huddled around me, groping, barely able to restrain themselves.
"To your posts. Everyone will get what's coming to them."
Three husky men wielding what appeared to be electro-prods dispersed the group.
The blonde turned back to me. "Good deal. Now I'm going to return the favor. You filled your part of the bargain. And that means you get to stay a while. It's for your own good, actually, cause the Deps are after your ass."
My blank stare must have told her something, because she stopped to explain.
"You know -- the Deps. Drug Enforcement Punks, we call them. Just picked up the bulletin on the monitor.
"Let me offer you the hospitality of our humble dwelling. As you might have noticed, it used to be part of the sewer system. Still is, if you think of us as the sewage. Human sewage, that's all we are."
I gratefully accepted her offering of stale crackers and luncheon meat with embedded strips of rusty tin. I wolfed it down with unfeigned hunger.
The blonde must have been in a good mood. DeathBane shipments apparently didn't arrive very often.
"The name's Lyrica, kid. I happen to like your looks, but don't get any funny ideas. I'm not one of your typical lollies that you can flip on her back at the snap of your fingers. I can best any dom between here and sunset. That's why I'm dictator of this here organization."'
Of course. Vampire Lyrica, the scourge of the Death Strip. And, I the fool had just fallen in love with her.
FOGEY GANG: Band of marauding oldsters seeking out young victims to kidnap and sell to underground rendering plants, presumably to be dissolved down into their component chemistry from which the raw materials for DEATHBANE are extracted for distillation.
Male gang members are usually referred to as DOMS, an acronym of "Dirty Old Men," their female counterparts as LOLLIES, for "Lewd Old Ladies." The term FOGEY itself must derive from the 1950s jargon phrase "old fogey," once a derisive reference to an elderly person.
HORMIE: A user of the banned Rejuvenation Serum, sometimes known as "Young-Again Hormone." The drug has not been demonstrated to be addictive, but it is common knowledge that discontinuation of usage causes rapid deterioration of muscle tone and health. The ex-user soon returns to his former aged state, or even worse. Hence the total "dependence" of users on additional doses at least every twenty-one days. Related expressions: Crazed as a hormie, hormie-struck, hormie dormie, hormie heaven. See also: FOGEY.
-- Practical Encyclopedia of Street Argot, VIth Ed., 2016.
I have been keeping my latest journal entries on scraps of parchment foil that I managed to slip out from between layers of cartridges in ammunition cases. Yes, sorting ammunition and cleaning weapons seems to be one of the main recreational activities here, and one I have been cordially invited to participate in after letting slip my modest role in the ill-fated UN Quick-Strike Force incident.
I have not yet been asked to join in the other major "sport" here. Quite frequently a dom will sneak off with a lolly into an unused section of our makeshift bunker. When the two reappear, hours later, they usually are hand-in-hand and their eyes have a new sparkle. This occurs quite frequently after the doses of DeathBane are passed out. It must do something to the body's hormone balance.
Several of the lollies have been eying me strangely, and the prospect of "X" happening is not all that repugnant since everyone here is now quite youthful in appearance, thanks, no doubt, to my recent delivery.
I have been questioned why I do not partake of the DeathBane myself, now that it is readily available. Why do I choose to keep my graying hair and leathery wrinkled skin? Well, I have become quite accustomed to my features over the years, I reply, and the minor ravages of age cannot help but give me a more distinguished appearance. Beyond that, my previous occupation as a drug runner necessitated an unsuspicious front, and a youthful face would have destroyed the illusion of respectability.
My answer seems acceptable, but do I detect a grain of doubt in some of the persons who thus confront me?. Perhaps I must indeed take the irrevocable step (I do have an odd premonition about it) and actually let the DeathBane flow in my veins. How would it feel to be young again? Ah, temptation, get thee from me!
Yesterday, one of "our" (now I am even thinking of myself as one of them!) Snatch Units returned from a raid into "enemy" territory. Successfully. They had five captives. Bound and gagged. Ready for delivery to the secret serum refinery. And I am helpless to prevent it. It is all I can do to sneak a few notes and observations down on paper, much less attempt to free the closely guarded "booty."
The "prisoners" are gone. A tragic end for them but a relief not to have them in front of my eyes.
Lyrica has been engaging me in long conversations of late. She is hinting at something. I must do everything to get into her confidence.
I have been "invited" to go along on a raid on the nearby police fortress. There is said to be a sizable arms stockpile there, and not as well guarded as it should be. With the proper tactics, it should be possible to break through the security ring and make off with a few assorted weapons.
The assault team needs someone who can handle a Mark VII rocket launcher. It is an ideal tool for cracking open concrete emplacements and fortifications, but somewhat tricky to use. It just happens that I am acquainted with the device, and I had occasion to mention that in one of my informal little chats with Lyrica. Of course, she remembered.
With her crooked little smile, she hinted at appropriate rewards if I would lend my expertise and swore she would drink my blood if I withheld my aid. I volunteered,
Tomorrow at dawn. Like in the movies.
It is done. Our little adventure has been carried out. I have tasted of the promised reward and I have in my possession the information I am here to get.
It does not dawn until 0600 at this latitude at this time of year. Lyrica awakened us hours earlier, clashing a wooden spoon against the sides of a soup tureen. To give us time to force down some dried rations and to assemble and oil our weapons.
Five of us there would be, with none other than Lyrica herself leading the assault. All wore the strange white coveralls that had been laid beside our bunks. That is how I recognized Jad and Luke, who were testing the bolt action of their machine pistols. Walt was trying to ram a rag down the breech of his FN assault rifle. Lyrica was screwing a perforated muzzle onto what looked to be a paint sprayer, but on closer inspection revealed itself as the latest version of a rapid-fire shrapnel thrower, She had a red-striped pouch strapped on her side. I could make out warnings in 8 languages stenciled on it. Before I could pursue the matter, someone behind me shoved a rocket launcher into my hand, and as an afterthought, gave me a portable napalm projector to carry.
Laden down with iron as we were, the short climb to the outside left us gasping for breath. The grim-faced doms on guard up top exchanged a few words with Lyrica, then we set off in a foot-dragging slog through the slowly dissipating darkness.
Ten minutes brought us to a heap of brick and cinders concealing an entrance to what must have once been an underground parking garage. Inside -- our transportation. One look answered all my unasked questions as to how we would penetrate the police fortress without being fired upon by its long-range armament and how we would haul away the captured spoils. It was an ambulance.
Lyrica at the wheel kept the crate grinding along in second gear most of the way through the Redline Zone. She managed to evade the worst of the craters and blocks of rubble giving the Strip its deserved reputation as a death trap for man and machine. Walt, at her side, read directions in a low monotone, all the while keeping his automatic rifle cocked and pointed at the windshield. We bounced through the last of the obstacles, and I felt a surge of relief as I spit two loose fillings out the side window.