Tales of Orion – Part II

Heading out into the uncertain zones

Orion slowly regained consciousness, his head spinning. The TV lay on its back, making furious mechanical noises, and the lights were off. He dragged himself to his feet and staggered to the bathroom.

Leaning heavily on the sink he hit the dispensary’s large red button. He winced as the sensor array burst to life and ran feelers of light up and down his body. The data core emitted a series of alien chirps and a heavy ‘clunk’ announced the arrival of a prescription in the hopper.

Orion fished it out. “SGA Approved Super-Lax Bowel Stimulant”.

No…” he moaned weakly.”…I need something for my head…” He punched the button again.

The dispensary repeated its scan.’Clunk’.

He reached into the hopper and pulled out an ominously familiar package. “SGA Approved Super-Lax Bowel Stimulant”.

He pulled himself up and began punching the machine. “I bang! need bang! something bang! for bang! my bang! bang! HEAD! bang!

The dispensary made a series of offended sounding chirps, spat out a small slip of paper and turned itself off. Orion scooped up the note and staggered into the lounge,squinting to read the minuscule type.

“Prescription: Tea”

Tea! He could really use a good cup of tea. But of course tea has been declared illegal after the infamous harbour “tea parties” of ’08. It was still available if you had the right connections – the Invisible Hand or the Big Sur Tong -but it was an age since he’d had that kind of pull. He sighed,remembering. Old Leakie used to smuggle it in via camera seal from the NBBC spy ships. It was salty and tasted faintly of fish, but it was still Earl Grey…

Leakie! Of course! He started across the room, fumbling in his pocket for labour scrip before he remembered. Leakie was gone. Called up and sent to Antarctica as a drone loader. Army boots and ice. There’d be no more seals waddling ashore at Quantico.

He collapsed onto the couch. Even if he had the connections, the savings from his Sanicorp Street Bleach jingle (dancing girls in gleaming white street cleaner’s uniforms,happy borough sanitation workers riding Frank the Friendly Street Sweeping Vehicle, Mr Sanicorp with his slicked back hair singing In these times of fear and doubt, no local committee can be without, the product that makes your sidewalks gleam, Sanicorp’s Street Bleach gets streets clean! still running on late night cable and bringing in a small, intermittent royalty) wouldn’t stretch to more than a few grams. He’d heard Oolong was up to 500 scrip per kilogram.

The Consumption Meter started complaining again. There had to be a better way…

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