EXCERPT: Homo Perfectus by David Farland

CATEGORY: Biochemical Deterministic Happenstances

RULE 789.3: You Might Not Like Drugs, But They Will Like You

SOURCE: S. Damian Chancellor, pharmacologist

VIA: David Farland

In the modern world, pharmaceuticals rule. Drug companies influence Congress, buy ads on primetime TV, and wine-and-dine doctors’ associations, all for the promise of health. After all, pills help roll back aging, fight disease, even combat depression. But can the drug manufacturers really be trusted, or do they have their own agenda?

Our next author, who was once a pre-med student and has retained an interest in the field, says of the drug industry, “Very often I will read stories about promising medical experiments, such as those used to boost intelligence, and then never hear a word again. It makes me wonder—are the drug companies holding out on us?”

This next story is a tale of a madman with access to all the resources of a powerful pharmaceutical company. He has chemicals to influence women’s desires. He has drugs to make him stronger and smarter. Is immortality the next potion in his bottle?

Now that really would be better living through chemistry.

 

Homo Perfectus
by David Farland

Drinks

Asia Nicita had the flawless face of an angel, with tightly braided hair of rusted honey and sea-green eyes that proclaimed her innocence, yet her figure was that of a succubus—athletic with intoxicating curves. But it was her mind that intrigued Damian. It hid encased above her heart-shaped face, behind a forehead and cheeks dusted with opalescent glitter. Damian wondered what secrets he might pry from it.

As she folded her napkin onto her lap and scooted into the seat of the booth, Damian smiled. The club here in SoHo smelled of Thai-spiced chicken, vague perfumes, and female musk. The air throbbed with music from an Irish runic band, with electric violins, and Celtic women’s voices synched in stunning harmonies.

“You look wonderful tonight,” Damian said softly.

“I am wonderful,” she teased, as if she had just reached that conclusion.

Damian smiled. He knew that she found him attractive. Most women responded to his short dark curls, his gray eyes. If she didn’t think him desirable now, she soon would. They were seated in a booth at the back of the restaurant. The pheromones that he had slathered on his neck would sublime into the air and then attach to the chemoreceptors at the back of her tongue. She’d be aching with desire for him within fifteen minutes.

“Have you eaten here before?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I’m new to the city.”

“It’s very popular with the after-theater crowd. We should leave before the place really fills up.”

She pouted for a microsecond, dismayed at the thought of having to rush. “The food smells sooo fantastic!”

“Oh, don’t worry. We have plenty of time. So . . . how do you like the new job at . . . the company?”

It was a casual-sounding question, as if spoken from lack of anything better to talk about, but Asia, instantly wary, fell silent. “Uh, let’s not talk about work.”

That was almost all that Damian did want to talk about, but he’d circle the subject. It was a technique gleaned from the master interrogator Hanns Scharff, whose efforts for the Luftwaffe during WWII had nearly decimated the Allied Alliance.

“Don’t be worried,” Damian said. “After all, I’m in the Personnel Department. I know everything. . .” he trailed off, leaving her to wonder what he really did know. The truth was, he did know everything about the company. The pheromones that he wore were a tightly controlled company secret. They were but one of many that he kept, and he longed to share some of them with Asia.

She was employed in the C Wing at Chancellor Pharmaceutical as a research chemist. She’d held the job for only a week. At 24, she was young to be a PhD. Asia was half Greek and half Swedish. Women from such stock were often gorgeous. She had an IQ of 184 and a bust that was 34D, hidden beneath a red-sequined blouse that was a bit too conservative. It concealed her beauty rather than revealed it.

On the basis of breeding alone, she was perhaps the most perfect woman he’d ever had the pleasure to meet—a fine prospect for biological upgrades.

“There is nothing wrong with talking about your job with fellow workers,” Damian suggested. “You’re on the Methuselah project, and you’re studying toxicity levels of common contaminants—dioxin, bisphenol A, chlorine and the like—in long-lived animals.”

“We’re not supposed to talk about it outside the compound,” she said sharply. Her voice sounded loud as the singers on stage worked a soft crooning melody to a solitary drum.

“It’s all right,” he said, seeking to redefine her fear. “With me, it’s safe to talk about what you do; you just can’t reveal what your research teaches you.” He did not wait for her to agree. She had been told during her employee orientation to keep silent. But as her desire for him grew, he knew that she would begin to open her mouth. “Even I don’t know what Chancellor Pharmaceuticals has discovered, and I have a Level Six Security Clearance.”

That was a good line, he thought, delivered with authority. He needed her to see him as the authority here.

He hurried on, “Yet the implications of your research . . . hint at astonishing things. Think of it: the only reason that the company would want to know how toxicity levels affect people with life spans of a thousand years, or ten thousand years, suggests that some discovery is about to be unveiled, something monumental!”

“Is that what you think I do?” she asked coyly, struggling to change the subject.

She had to know more than she feigned, of that Damian was sure. But even with her high IQ, he doubted that she could guess what was really going on. The world was about to change. Mankind was about to change at a fundamental level. He wanted her to embrace that change.

“You have beautiful eyes,” he said, suddenly wanting to possess her completely.

The waiter, a young man named Chaz, a Cuban who wore a shiny gold nose ring and spiked hair bleached white on top, came from the kitchens and asked what they would like to drink.

“I’ll have the 2002 Merlot,” Damian ordered, then suggested to Asia, “you really should try it.”

“Perrier,” she said, “in a bottle.”

Smart girl. The taste of some common date-rape drugs could be masked by wine.

Damian talked for a bit on other topics—the latest earthquake, her favorite rock band. He watched until her breathing had slowed and deepened, her eyes had closed to slits, and her face had become slightly flushed. She was feeling the effects of his pheromones. He took her hand and asked, “How do you feel about casual sex?”

“I . . . can’t fraternize with other employees,” she said.

“No, that rule applies only to people within your own department,” he quoted the employee manual. “I’m in Personnel. You’re in Research. We can . . . fraternize.”

She shook her head hesitantly. The drug-induced lust was fooling with her mind. “I don’t believe in that. Sex isn’t meant to be casual. It’s more about . . . bonding than pleasure. Americans fall in love to mate; while the French mate to fall in love. In the end, everyone falls.”

Damian chuckled. For a woman who still looked like a child, she showed unexpected maturity.

The waiter brought the drinks, setting one on each side of the candle that guttered in a glass container in the midst of the table. He offered to pour Asia’s water over ice, but she took her bottle and said, “Excuse me.”

With eyes half-closed, like a lizard basking in the sun, Damian watched her get up and head for the women’s room, hips swaying seductively as she dodged a waitress. She clutched her drinking water as she elbowed the restroom door open.

This girl has been rufied before, Damian surmised, as he swirled the merlot in his glass and inhaled its bouquet. Either that, or she’s just very cautious. No matter, there’s plenty of time. . .

[End Excerpt]