Coming soon ...

storyline for 'PHARMACIDE'


Inside, the complex of the Phoenix Tent City was made up of the abandoned department stores that used to anchor the once thriving Park Central shopping mall. The inmates and their dependents used these huge emptied structures to erect their individual dwellings.
Tent City was reminiscent of African or Haitian shanty towns but only indoors. These dwellings were constructed with whatever materials could be gathered and thrown together. There were no fires, cooking, or smoking allowed inside the mall buildings of any kind. Other than those fire-code restrictions (because the fire dept. would not respond) it was pretty much a free-for-all.
Electricity and running water were provided for Tent City by the city of Phoenix. The juice as it was called by the inmates was controlled by the Peacekeepers from inside their full-sized station. Because of this control riots by the inmates were extremely rare. If one was in the offing, all the Peacekeepers had to do to exert their authority is to shut off the juice. They would do this for even the slightest infractions. The inmates did not want that. They all got very used to having the juice.
The Peacekeepers station was manned around the clock. It sat right up against the high wall where the outer parking lot of the mall used to be. The station was as far away from the stench and mayhem of the main buildings as it could possibly be and still be on the grounds of the City.
Nutrition for the inmates was provided for once a day, delivered via big-bellied helicopters. The great gray machines would hover to within a few feet of the asphalt. The doors would open and the food would be dumped out. It was simple fare such as pre-packaged sandwiches, burritos, corn dogs, pudding, gelatin, breakfast bars, toaster-pastries. Pretty much anything that was slow to rot.
The Peacekeepers used to stand by during the food drops, but it was far too dangerous now. They used to sit outside their station, not to preserve order, but for their amusement. It was entertaining for them to see inmates beating the crap out of each other for stale bags of chips and greasy beef sticks.
It all changed in one day a while back. A teenager made the horrible decision to rush the helicopter as soon as the drop began. A mob of hungry inmates joined the pursuit as they too rushed the helicopter. The big machine veered out of control, its blades tilting toward the asphalt of the parking lot. As it struck the hungry horde, the shimmering blades sliced cleanly through a few dozen bodies before barely managing to level off and escape.
The carnage left behind on the ground was grotesque. Some of the bigger body parts were still spurting hot arcs of arterial red. That stopped no one.
Without missing nary a beat, the hungry inmates searched the immediate area for food. The helicopter had departed and the drop was terminated. The brave crowd turned to a raging mob. When the few bits of packaged food that made it off the helicopter were consumed, that’s when shit turned real ugly.
Inmates over-turned the still bleeding body parts. When no more food could be had, they turned opportunistic. They fought over the warm body parts, even the bloody strands of clothing. Their faces were crimson and their eyes were mad. Those that were trampled were turned on as well. Shivs of all types came from all points. They cut into the flesh of both the quick and the dead.
The feeding frenzy was finally halted when the Peacekeepers fired a .50 cal tri-mounted rifle into the crowd.
When the riot was over, the dead were everywhere. Most of the fallen had been chewed on, the diners slipping back inside with their prizes of rent flesh. Some of the bones were picked completely clean. The Peacekeepers were stunned and taken aback by the sheer ferocity of the hungry inmates. That’s when the cops were approached by the Peoples Defense League.
The PDL was a well organized crew within the walls of Tent City. They masqueraded as a voice for the illegals. In truth, the PDL was a ruthless bunch of criminals who were in constant pursuit of Notes and power. They shared muscle with El Oso’s LCM, one of the oldest street gangs in Phoenix. Their combined membership was imposing, both in raw numbers as well as the ruthlessness of the rank and file. Members of both the PDL and LCM were jumped-in for life. They were hardcore, loyal to a fault, and armed to the teeth.
The Tent City inmates feared the PDL, almost as much as they feared the Peacekeepers themselves. Together, with their street-gang LCM ties from outside, the cops and the thugs from the PDL were unstoppable.
The PDL was strong enough to put up a good fight against the Peacekeepers, but that would never happen. It wouldn’t be cost-effective.
Following the helicopter incident, the cops and the PDL came together. At the well-guarded pow-wow, the two groups formed a mutually beneficial arrangement concerning the food drops. The PDL would peaceably gather together the daily drop of food. Then it would handle the distribution to the inmates for a price. The PDL split the proceeds of this venture with the Tent City Peacekeeping force.
The food distribution scheme worked out so well for the PDL. Their leadership approached the cops about other valuables such as day-passes, bus passes, food coupons and even the very rare and expensive medical vouchers. The Peacekeepers hated the housekeeping end of their jobs, so the PDL taking those burdens off the cops’ hands was just what the doctor ordered.
The cops still maintained control of the illicit transactions. The gambling, dope, moonshine stills, prostitution and baby and organ trafficking remained under the Peacekeeper’s thumb. That’s still where the real Notes lay.
The Peacekeepers kicked a little back to the PDL. The gang preferred their weekly allowance from the Peacekeepers to be in the form of drink, drugs and access to sex. It was a strong system that worked smoothly with nary a hitch. The ones that suffered the most were the inmates and especially the young ones. However, it still ran well because hungry children make marvelous prostitutes and drug mules.
The cops kept certain areas of the old mall completely off-limits to inmates. That’s were the legal citizens from the outside came to indulge in their red-light district-type desires.
Any drug you can name and a few that you can’t are available. Mules move narcotics in and out. Vicious looking home-made weapons are stock-piled and guarded night and day. There is even a full nursery and play room set-up for customers.
KidzPlay is by appointment only of course.
It’s been said that one could get whatever is desired inside Tent City. From a knob job to a newborn baby with eyes to match yours, you can get whatever your wretched little heart desires.
As with everything else, you must be able to pay.


Sara finally made it to the front of the line waiting to gain entrance. She walked toward the open gate on the east wall of Tent City. The fruits of her robbery and her mother’s medicine were hidden as deep and well as any young girl possible could.
The duty officer was leaning against the wall. He was talking with one of the PDL thugs and smoking a salad bowl. The pungent odor of the Mexican pot and the Afghani desert hash hung to those two clowns like an aura of bad tidings.
The cop eyed her as she approached. He noted, “Been to the library again, young tongue?” The PDL thug chuckled as he reached for the ceramic pipe.
Sara ignored the both of them, as per her mother’s wishes. She’d been told, time and time again, that talking back to them would only lead to trouble. And trouble, she knew only too well, they can do without.
“She’s growing up good,” she heard the cop remark as she was cleared for re-entry back into the land of the lost.
“Yes, sir,” replied the thug from the PDL, “Put a couple more years on her and she’ll be ready to gobble tricks like no one’s business.”
Sara began walking faster now, trying to get away from their voices.
“Why wait, that tight little ass will command a premium,” was the last thing she heard them say.
“Just you try it,” she whispered to herself. She turned a corner and their foul words were drowned out by the inmates. She was home.
Oh, goody, goody gum-fucking-drops…
Sara used a well worn mental path through the City to her mother’s tatty camping tent. She began by going through the wide entrance to her building. The former store still had the smudged faint outlines of Robinson’s-May above it. The smell assaulted her. Sara instinctively began breathing through her mouth.
Inmates were everywhere. Kids and dogs and even a few feral cats were running wild. The adults were scattered about in various stages of inebriation. Sara had to negotiate clumps of trash (some still moving) and around a seven year old child. She was dragging her legless stumps along the cold floor.
“Outta my way, muthafuck,” she said to Sara who gladly obliged.
Sara turned to watch the child dragging her stumps. Her duct-taped palms were slapping the cement floor.
Sara almost fell over a crazy, toothless man who was desperately trying to holler at a rigid store mannequin. He was drooling, foul smelling and trying to convince the mannequin that she should date him by counting off his attributes. There weren’t many, so it didn’t take long. Sara had the misfortune to witness the old coot mounting the mannequin.
All kinds of love in the City…
Sara found the escalator. She rode it unmolested to the second floor. Their dwelling was located in an area that was reserved for the sick.
Their home was little more than a camping tent attached to a thin scrap wood frame. Cardboard boxes made the walls and being indoors, there was no need for a roof besides a sheet. And that was to keep the flying feces from hitting you while sleeping.
Inside the ten by ten foot structure was everything Sara and her mother owned in this world. It wasn’t much. It consisted of a couple changes of clothes, two smelly sleeping bags, a tiny brown and white Chihuahua named ‘Beto’ and a few paperbacks books from the library.
Even with so little in the way of worldly possessions, either Sara’s mother or herself had to be in the shack at all times. Or else their very little would become someone else’s very little.
Sara came to the dirty sheet they used as a door. She saw Beto poking its nose through the bottom corner of the door. The tiny dog sniffed the air carefully. When he caught the scent of his master, he went through the sheet and sat at Sara’s feet. Beto was facing the wrong way.
“Hiya, Beto,” Sara said. The sound of his master’s voice allowed him to turn and face her. The dog put up one paw and with his head tilted slightly back he shivered with excitement. Beto looked like a cicada attempting to mate with a porch light. Then the little dog peed on itself. “Aw, poor Beto,” Sara said and picked up her little blind dog. She lovingly scratched his head and spoke to him, “Momma’s home now little one. Momma loves you, yes I do.”


Sara had found Beto when the blind dog was trying to cross a busy street. He heard the cars passing on either side of him and became confused. So, he put a tiny paw up to protect himself and peed.
Sara was ten years old when she saw the pitiful creature sitting in the middle of the street. She dodged the traffic to get to him. The cars honked their horns at her. She responded with vigorous one finger salutes at rear windows.
She let the small animal sniff her, before attempting to pick it up. The dog’s eyes on quick inspection looked so weird, but she was standing in the middle of a busy street. She needed to get out of harm’s way.
People in Phoenix can’t drive for shit!
Sara left the surface street and found a small, shady park nearby. They sat and rested at an empty picnic bench. Sara placed the dog on the table. She eyed it carefully. The dog sat fearfully, but it didn’t snap at her. Sara looked at the dog’s face. It was shaking from fear, but Sara’s used a soft, calming voice to reassure him.
The dog had its eyelids pushed all the way back into the ocular cavity. The dog’s eyes were huge, bulbous and poking out. The eyes had tiny holes instead of pupils. They opened and closed, looking every bit like they were smacking kisses at Sara.
Sara noticed how the dog’s huge eyes had tiny black spines when she peered in for an even closer inspection. They also moved independently of each while quivering about. When Sara reached out with a tentative touch, the dog’s crazy eye burrowed deeper into the socket. The little dog yelped with pain as the eye dug in, heading for the brain it seemed.
The pupil winked at Sara rapidly and brownish yellow pus oozed out around the eye and down the dog’s shivering face. Still he didn’t bite, but Sara got goose bumps all over her body.
Shit, I know what this is. It was in a journal at the library. Oh, God, this is so gross…
Sara removed a bit of cloth and a pair of tweezers from her backpack. The little dog had mature botfly larvae wedged in its ocular cavity, instead of eyeballs. Poor little dude. They had to come out.
Talking continuously to the little dog, Sara got a firm grip on the larvae’s kissing hole. Keeping the black spikes in mind, Sara pulled the little monster slowly out. The tweezers slipped briefly. The larvae tunneled fast, trying to tuck up its tail, but Sara grasped the alien beastie before it could disappear inside.
Centimeter by centimeter Sara pulled on the botfly, fighting against the brave little dog’s fear and pain and Sara’s own repulsion. The fattest part of the parasite larvae was deep inside, the black spikes digging in for purchase.
With a grunt, Sara pulled the botfly larvae all the way out. There was an explosion of pus, blood and the digested dog eye the botfly had been feeding on. The ocular cavity kept leaking foul-smelling infectious fluid, while Sara put the botfly on the table. It cringed at the bright light. The botfly spread its brand new wings to dry the gunk, preparing for departure. Sara trapped it. The extracted botfly was both longer and thicker than her thumb.