Halminotrin. Street name – huff. That stuff will grow hair on your chest and turn it curly, let me tell you. I kept a slab of it in a plastic bag in the glove compartment. I broke off a small pebble, crushed it into the tray of my vape-o-matic inhalator, mixed in some bottled water and presto, put the mask on my face, hit the on button and presto, I was ready to trip balls.
The inhalator chugged away. I sniffed in the goodness. It made me feel light. Airy. Happy even.
“You’re really going to do that now?” Jones asked.
“I can’t think of a better time to do it,” I said, my voice muffled by my apparatus. “I’ve got an edge that needs to be taken off, my friend.”
“You couldn’t just do some jumping jacks?”
I pulled the mask up, just a bit off my mouth so I can speak more clearly. I mocked my pilot, talking in a high pitched, girlish tone, which really isn’t fair, as Jonesy actually speaks in a deep, bass filled baritone, not unlock Barry White, the classical musician from the late Twentieth Century. You should listen to him sometime. You can download ten thousand songs dating back from 1900-2300 for the low, low price of fifty credits.
“‘You couldn’t just do some jumping jacks?’ God, you’re like a tiny green version of my mother.”
“Whatever,” Jones said. “That mask, you think its a cool look for you?”
“Maybe,” I said as I let it drop back on my face, which muffled my voice again. “What’s it to you?”
“You look like a space fighter pilot with sleep apnea,” Jones quipped.
A middle finger was the only response I could muster as I reclined the front passenger’s seat and closed my eyes. I needed a nap.
But it wasn’t going to happen. Our new friend was crying.
We both looked back to the jump seat, where she sat, coiled up into a ball, her face buried in her knees as she rocked back and forth.
“She’s fine,” I said as I popped the mask upwards, letting it rest on my head, the huff vapor making a warm spot on my forehead.
“She’s not fine,” Jones replied. “Go talk to her.”
“Me?” I asked. “Didn’t you used to be a diplomat?”
“I used to be a lot of things,” Jones said. “But right now she needs someone who looks like she does. Another human.”
“That’s speciesist!” I said. “Something you accuse ME of all the time!”
“It’s not speciesist,” Jones said. “It’s just common sense.”
I switched the inhalator off and removed my mask entirely.
“Fine,” I said as I walked over to the woman. “Jesus Christ, I have to do everything around here. Hello ma’am.”
She didn’t budge.
“Ma’am?” I asked as I poked her. She looked up at me and recoiled defensively.
I put both hands up. “Whoa,” I said. “It’s ok. What’s your name?”
She cocked her head and looked at me with the same expression a puppy uses when its confused by what a human just said.
I repeated myself. For some reason, I thought saying it louder would help. “YOUR NAME?”
“My name?” she asked.
“Yes, your name.”
She pointed at me. “Your name.”
“No, your name,” I said.
“Your name,” she repeated.
I slapped my warm forehead.
“Jonesy, she must be a mongo or something,” I said.
“Nah,” Jones said. “She’d be drooling all over the place if she were a mongo.”
The mongos. Humans who were subjected to illegal mind control experiments from 2745- 2801. They and their offspring have been bringing down humanity’s collective test scores ever since.
I checked her for drool. I didn’t see any.
“Let’s try this again,” I said. I put my hand on my chest. “MY NAME IS ROMAN.”
“Your name is Roman,” the woman repeated.
“Right,” I said. “There’s no flies on you, kiddo.”
“There’s no flies on me, kiddo,” she repeated. She had a very sweet voice.
I pointed at the pilot. “The little green man is Jonesy.”
Jones swiveled around in his chair, waved a three fingered hand and said a polite, “Hello.”
The woman perked up a bit. She stopped crying.
“The little green man is Jonesy,” she said between sniffles.
“Good,” I said. I pointed my finger at her. “And your name is…”
She got excited, smiled and clapped her hands. She pointed her finger at me and emitted a big, loud, triumphant, “YOUR NAME!”
Whoever she was, she stared at me with a pair of baby blues with all the enthusiasm of a game show contestant who was certain she’d just won a big prize by figuring out a complex puzzle.
Jones laughed. I hanged my head in defeat. “Oh for the love of…”