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George and Sikes sat in the Newcomer doctor's waiting room. To take his mind off the patients around him, Matt let his eyes wonder around the room. The large sign on the wall read, "DOC TARI WELCOMES YOU TO HIS JUNGLE". It was a small, crowded waiting room done in a jungle theme. Not for the first time, Matt cursed the idiots at immigration who had given out the names to the Newcomers. Doctor Tari had obviously decided to embrace his new moniker whole hartedly.
As much as he tried, Matt's eyes kept being drawn to the sick Newcomers pressed in around him. A women whose spots were green, emitted a bluish gas with a loud burp. Sitting close, next to him was a Newcomer male who moaned as he scratched different spots on his body. Matt surveyed the scenes around him with disbelief.
A nervous George sat across from Sikes, next to an old lady who seems to be involuntarily chewing air. "I really don't think this is necessary."
"Interesting crowd." said Sikes, trying to be light harted.
George smiled. "Doc Tari is a very good physician, too bad he only treats Newcomers."
"Yeah, too bad." replied Sikes, sarcastically.
Just then a nurse popped her head out of the door to the patient rooms. "Mr Francisco, the doctor will see you now."
"Matt...", pleaded George, trying to weasel out.
"George.", was the only response from a stern Sikes.
"But I'm feeling much better."
But Sikes was not interested in a discussion, "Go."
A reluctant George crossed over to and past the Nurse. "Room four.", she said as he past her.
With a look to Sikes, George entered the room.
The Nurse then crossed to the air-chewing old lady sitting across from Sikes. "The doctor needs a specimen." Reaching down the Nurse handed the old lady a specimen bottle that could hold three gallons of liquid! Sikes looked at it then at the old lady, who took another bite of air. He smiled uncomfortably, wondering.
Doc Tari, a young Newcomer physician, looked at a computer screen as a nervous George sat on the examining table.
George was still nervous. "I told my wife that my symptoms were probably caused by a simple blockage of my \evets drainal flow. I mean we're an adaptable species but we've never been on planet this polluted before."
The Doctor looked at the information that came up on his screen and a frown appeared on his face. He appeared intrigued. "Hummm."
This was not the response that George wanted. "Hummm? It couldn't possibly be the Polahanahma disease."
Doc Tari hit a few more keys. He watches the results. Now he was confused, "Hummm."
He hit a few more keys as George tucked in his shirt and stood up. George's nervousness grew, "Hummm?", he repeated.
Doc Tari continued to look at the screen, "Hummm."
George was now becoming annoyed, "Hummm? What's 'hummm?'"
George crossed over to look at the screen but got there just in time to see it flicked off by the doctor. "Everything is normal, isn't it?"
Doc Tari looked up at George. "How old are you, George?"
"In earth years about seventy-seven."
"Sit down, George."
George was now thoroughly concerned, "I don't want to sit down."
"George, you've reached a turning point. It's a little surprising though, you're much younger then most." The Doctor looked at George a beat, "But over the next two days you can expect your mind and body to continue playing tricks on you. Abdominal spasms will probably be the first sign that you're entering your primary phase. I'll give you a prescription to ease the pain of your transition."
"Transition? What are you saying?"
Doc Tari was sober, "Judging from your fluptel count, I'd say in a day or two you'll experience the gahsac."
At the mention of 'gahsac' George slowly sat down, this information having hit him like a slow motion ton of bricks.
Doc Tari tried to lighten up the mood, "It's like death and taxes. Just in your case premature, who knows maybe it WAS brought on by the pollution. We can never be sure about these things."
As quickly as George sat down he now popped up, a smile forced on his face. "You're right Doctor, we can't be sure about these things, and I'm afraid this is one patient you've misdiagnosed."
George exited, Doc Tari in tow. "GeorgeWait.", said the concerned Doctor.
The scratcher was leaning over and moaning on Sikes, just as George entered the waiting room, Doc Tari right behind him.
George turned to Sikes, "Are you ready?"
"You've got no idea.", replied the relived Sikes.
Doc Tari continued, "George, you should talk to the elders, prepare properly. George?"
But George was gone. The Doctor turned to Sikes.
Sikes was confused by what he had just heard, "He Okay Doc?"
The Doctor regarded Sikes, a serious look on his face, "Make sure he doesn't operate any heavy machinery, during his gahsac."
Doc Tari exited back into the office, Sikes grabbed his coat and, as he turned to leave, bumped into the air-chewing old Lady Newcomer. She handed the Nurse the three gallon specimen jar which was now nearly full of a viscous yellow green substance. "I'm sorry Nurse, but that's all I had."
Sikes looked at the goo, swallowed hard and then got the hell out.
Sikes tried to keep up with the briskly walking and intense George as they cross the squad room. "Come on George, what'd the Doc say?"
"He said I was fine."
Sikes' sarcasm was even heavier than usual, "'Fine' yeah, right. You're fine but don't operate any heavy machinery?" He caught his breath for a beat, "Would you slow down."
"Life is too short as it is Matthew, and we've got work to do."
"George, why don't you talk to me?"
"For the same reason you haven't practised with your new gun."
Zepeda came up as they arrived at their desks. "Spaceman, I heard, how you feeling?"
George, his annoyance beginning to bubble over, replied "I'm fine. What do you have on the vault murder?"
Zepeda got the message from the irritable George and shared a knowing shrug with Sikes. "I ran a check on the twenties found at the murder scene. They were part of a million dollar stash from a four-year-old armoured car robbery. The heist was pulled by a pair of Newcomer brothers Jay and Johnny..."
George, finished her sentence for her, "...Walker."
"You know these guys?", inquired Sikes.
George nodded. "It was one of my first arrests. I brought in Jay, his brother was killed in the shoot out. Jay claimed only Johnny knew where the money was hidden. It was my testimony that sent Jay to prison. He swore he'd kill me if he ever got out."
Zepeda looked at George, her concern returning, but for a different reason. "Well watch your back. He broke out two nights ago, it's the escape case I've been working on."
Sikes raised an eyebrow, "I guess Jay must of been a Jerry Lewis fan."
Zepeda gave a mirthless laugh, "The records shows he used to work there at the film vault. And Bert's report confirms one of the tissue samples belonged to Walkerthe other to a Newcomer ex-cellmate of his named Bill Meelator. I put out an all points on both of them." She then turn to George, "Oh and spaceman, your wife called."
Zepeda walked away just as Albert came up to Matt and George's desks. Albert looked to his friend with anxiety, "George, I heard about your fainting. I've been so worried. Are you all right?"
George snatched up the phone and began dialling. "I am in the perfect health, I just wish everyone would leave me alone."
"His 'goose sack' is out of whack.", confided Sikes to Albert.
George shot Sikes a look as Albert tried to put two and two together.
Albert, still confused, turned what Matt had said over in his mind. "Goose? Goose-sack? -- Gahsac!", he finished in triumph, as he figured it out. "George, you're gahsac."
Albert moved to embrace him, but George backed off. Ignoring Albert, George talked into the phone, "Susan...Buck?"
While George was occupied on the phone, Sikes moved closer to Albert and asked, "This Gahsac, what gives?"
Albert gave Sikes a confused look, "What gives?"
"What is it? Some kinda disease or something?"
Albert shook his head, "Oh no, he's not sick. The gahsac is like a metamorphosis."
Now it was Sikes' turn to be confused, "He's turning into a butterfly?"
"No, he is reaching a new phase of his life." Albert explained, patiently. "You see, the gahsac occurs in two stages. The first, primary gahsac, generally symptomised by swelling gleeny glands, eye trouble and abdominal spasms, is the beginning of atrophication."
"You lost me."
Albert continued, "I don't know much about itespecially when one as young as George experiences it. On the ship, the Overseers would sequester those reaching gahsac and sometimes sent them to do less demanding work."
"Put the old bones out to pasture huh?"
"No, they were not forced to eat grass." said Albert mildly.
Sikes decided to let this go, "You said there were two stages of gahsac."
Albert nodded, "Oh yes, the secondary gahsac, usually occurs several months later and signals the end of potency."
Sikes grinned, finally getting it. "Ooooohlike a human woman going through THE CHANGE?"
George hung up the phone, and he was obviously not in a kidding mood. He noticed Sikes grin.
Sikes turned to George, "Why didn't you tell me?"
George stared at his partner coldly, "Tell you what?"
"You're going through menopause." said Sikes, smiling.
George was more than a little peeved by this. "I'm glad you find it so funny." At this he turned and walked away.
Sikes called after him, "George... George!"
But George kept going, Sikes shrugged and followed him.
A pissy George entered the day care centre, to find the furniture rearranged. He marched over to the crib that Vessna usually had, but was surprised to find the child in it was not her. Emil walked over to join him.
Once again Emil is smiling. "Afternoon, Detective."
"Where is Vessna, Vessna is always in this crib." said George, with growing impatience.
Emil nodded and pointed, "Oh, I put her over here in the corner. She's doing just fine."
George hurried over and began gathering up Vessna and her stuff. "She was 'fine' where Mrs Chernin had her."
Emil gave a little shrug. "I suppose, but I noticed that crib gets a lot of sun and if she opened her eyes today I didn't want the bright light to hurt her."
"Thank you, but I'm sure she'd be happier with her crib where it always is." was George's terse reply. At this, Emil backed away and joined the other kids, recognising George's mood.
George looked down at Vessna. "Don't worry, little neemu, I won't have this doddering old geyser turning your routine upside down."
Sikes had been standing in the corner all this time, listening. He now moved over to join George who started out, now having Vessna and her gear in tow. Sikes tried to calm his partner, "George, calm down. I've heard of human women becoming emotional during the change, but-"
"I'm not a human woman and I'm not going through the change. I haven't had any abdominal spasm and that's the litmus test - so don't tell me anything."
"Calm down George, so your water works are drying up, it's no big deal."
George IS upset, "This is not about my water works. Why must everything with you humans be sexual?". With this George exited the station with Vessna, leaving Sikes to look at his back in wonder.
The old ford, belonging to Bill Meelator, was parked on the street. It was the only thing to be seen in the dark night as it stood bathed in the glow of a streetlight. Inside the car Bill cleaned a gun while Jay Walker counted into two separate piles the stack of twenty dollar bills. When Jay had finished Bill reached over and stuffed his cash in a bag. Bill's face broke into a wide smile. "I'm heading to Brazil, gonna buy me some desert property in the Amazon Basin."
Walker looked over at his accomplice. "We're not done yet."
Walker reached into his coat and produced a gun of his own. "Francisco killed my brother."
Bill was startled by this, "Whoa, wait. You kill a cop and I'm dead meat, too. My deal was to help you break out and get the cash - that's all."
Walker shook his head, "The job's not donewe'll stake him out and when the time's right, we'll slice him."
"Not me, I'm out." said Bill defiantly.
Walker's voice took on a dangerous edge, "We're a team."
"Not when it comes to killing a cop. That's dumb man. We got the money."
Meelator started to get out of the car, but Walker grabbed him and pulled him back in. They cursed at each other in Tenctonese and began to grapple. The fighting and struggling in the vehicle intensified until a yelp of intense pain emanated from the car.
On her drawing board, in the Francisco house's den, Susan was working on her drawings as George entered the room.
George smiled at his wife, "Vessna's out like a prize-fighter"
Susan looked up, "Do her eyes seem to be opening?"
"No and I think the newold child care worker upset her routine." Then looking pointedly at Susan, "Is Buck upstairs?"
Susan nodded, "I haven't said anything, I thought we should do this together." Calling out, "Buck! Buck, come down here!" She turned back to George "I tried to reach you all afternoon where were you?"
George thought fast and covered, "Just working a case."
After a beat Buck sauntered in carrying his book bag, a smile on his face. "Hey, Dad, Mum. I didn't hear you come in."
George gave him a cold stare, "We need to talk."
"Can't now, going to the library."
Susan's face also took on firm lines. "Like you've been going to school for the last three weeks?"
This stopped Buck in his tracks.
"Sit down, Buck. Where have you been going?" said George, trying to be reasonable.
Buck looked at his parents defiantly. "To study."
George's voice took on a harder edge, "You are in enough trouble now without lying more!"
"I have been studyingwith the elders."
George couldn't believe his ears, "The elders - that's ridiculous."
Susan was surprised by this too, "Buck, they are just old people with old ways."
George now found himself on the horns of a dilemma, "Well Susan, just because they are old, that's no reason to dismiss them."
Susan turned to her husband, "I didn't mean..."
Buck spoke quickly thinking he had found an unexpected ally, "See, Dad understands." He turned to George, "You're always talking about the importance of learning from our Elders."
"Well, yes, I did say that, but..."
Buck continued, "I want to become one, learn from them."
George was startled by this, "And just ignore your education?"
"What is education? For six years I've gone to human school to learn human ways. I've tried to give it a chance, but I'm just contracting. But even after just one day with the elders they opened up an entire world to me, the world of myself. After that, how do I go back to their high schools?"
George tried to maintain a reasonable air, but was gradually loosing it. "Buck, I don't want you wasting your time!"
Buck snorted, "Wasting my time? Reading contemporary American civics is a waste of time. All these people know are the experiences of one tiny planet. The elders know of a lot more, they've experienced an entire universe."
George now lost all pretence of reasonableness and in a firm voice said, "Well you are going to stay in school, their school, because we live on their 'tiny' planet. End of discussion."
Buck stewed for a moment, then exited, slamming the door behind him.
Later that night George was sitting up in bed, still irritated by his talk with Buck. Susan lay under the covers on her stomach eyeing George.
"George, go to sleep, Buck is only sixteen, he'll grow out of this stage."
George sighed, "I sometimes wonder."
"Of course he will. He's spirited now, we all settle down as we grow older."
George thought about this, not sure he liked what he's thinking. Susan's eyes started to close, almost nodding off.
"Have I settled down?" George asked, fishing.
This was not what George wanted to hear, "So, you think of me as growing older?'"
"Go to sleep, Neemu." Susan said sleepily.
"I have plenty of spirit. People say that about me, you know." continued George in a hurt voice.
With this, George looked at Susan and smiled to himself. He carefully pulled back the covers and began slowly making his way humming up Susan's back. During this Susan winced a couple of times, obviously not enjoying George's somewhat overzealous performance.
"George, be careful." George continued up her back humming louder. "Ow, George."
George stopped his humming and rolled over frustrated. "You always like it when I'm a little rough on your hoved rakstafs."
"Well I do, but something's different."
This made George defensive, "Nothing's different. That's the way I always do it."
"Then maybe your hummer is askew." Susan regretted the words as she said them.
George became indignant. "There is nothing wrong with my hummer." A beat, "Maybe it's all just getting old for you." With this he got out of bed and stood up.
"George." cried the exasperated Susan.
"There's nothing different with me, if anything's different it's with you."
George walked into the bathroom closing the door behind him. Inside the bathroom a weary George examined himself in the mirror not pleased with what he saw. He rubbed his arm as he felt a slight pain. There was a knock on the door.
"Neemu, I'm sorry. It's just been a rough day, the kids, and work... I'm just tired. It doesn't have anything to do with you." called Susan through the door.
Just then a jolt of pain doubled George over and he let out an exclamation of pain, which he quickly tried to muffle.
"George, are you all right?" called Susan, now concerned.
George was immediately hit with another jolt of pain which knocked him to his knees.
"I'm fine." replied George, covering his pain.
Ripping open his pyjama shirt, away from his abdomen, George looked down to see the muscles underneath rippling involuntarily. "I'm fine..." George looked into the bathroom mirror; even to his own eye's his face was a mask of fear and misery.
Gahsac Part 3