Voodoo die td 33, p.1

Voodoo Die td-33, page 1

 part  #33 of  The Destroyer Series

 

Voodoo Die td-33
 


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Voodoo Die td-33


  Voodoo Die

  ( The Destroyer - 33 )

  Warren Murphy

  Richard Sapir

  Under the Communist President-for-Life, a voodoo priest named Generalissimo Sacrist Corazon, the natives of the Caribbean Isle Baqia aren't complaining, thanks to a delicious drug they call "mung." When shot through with radiation, however, mung becomes a powerful weapon: it literally liquefies the opposition, and Generalissimo Corazon has no qualms about using it. After an innocent missionary becomes the latest victim of Corazon's mung machine, the world is alarmed, and deadly forces are inspired. The Chinese, the Russians, and the CIA all vie to control the mung machine, while CURE's own powerful weapons, Remo and Chiun, make their way to Baqia and further discover nuclear warheads aimed at the United States. Sacrist Corazon must be stopped, but has the Destroyer met his deadly voodoo match?

  DESTROYER #33: VOODOO DIE

  Copyright (c) 1978 by Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy

  CHAPTER ONE

  Nothing in Rev. Prescott Plumber's past prepared him for making death so easy for anyone who wanted to die, and if someone had told Plumber he would devise a prized war weapon, he would have smiled benevolently.

  "Me? War? I am against war. I am against suffering. That is why I became a medical doctor, to use my skills for God and mankind." That is what he would have told people if he had not ended his life as a puddle on a palace floor.

  When he left for the small jungle and volcanic rock island of Baqia, south of Cuba and north of Aruba, just off the sea lanes where British pirates had robbed Spanish treasure ships and called it war, the Rev. Dr. Plumber explained to another graduating student at medical school that serving God and mankind was the only worthwhile medical practice.

  "Bulldooky," said his classmate in disgust. "Derma-

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  tology, and I'll tell you why. Unlike surgery, your insurance premiums aren't out of sight, And nobody ever woke a dermatologist up at four A.M. for an emergency acne operation. Your nights are your own, your days are your own, and anybody who thinks they ought to have a face as smooth as surgical rubber is always good pickings."

  "I want to go where there is suffering, where there is pain and disease," said Plumber.

  "That's sick," said the classmate. "You need a psychiatrist. Look, dermatology. Take my advice. The money's in skin, not God."

  At the Baqian National Airport, Rev. Plumber was met by the mission staff in an old Ford station wagon. He was the only one who perspired. He was taken to the offices of the Ministry of Health. He waited in a room, whose walls were covered with impressive charts about ending infant mortality, upgrading nutrition, and providing effective home care. When he looked closer, he saw the charts were bilingual advertisements for the city of Austin, Texas, with Baqia stickers pasted over Austin's name.

  The minister for health had one important question for this new doctor serving the mission in the hills:

  "You got uppers, senor?"

  "What?" asked Dr. Plumber, shocked.

  "Reds. You got reds? You got greens? I'll take greenies."

  "Those are narcotics."

  "I need them for my health. And if I don't get them for my health, back you go to the States, gringo. You hear? Eh? Now, what you prescribe for my bad nights, Doctor, greens or reds? And my bad mornings, too."

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  "I guess you could call them greens and reds," said Dr. Plumber.

  "Good. A pickup truck of reds and a pickup truck of greens."

  "But that's dealing in drugs."

  "We poor emerging nation. Now what you do here, eh?"

  "I want to save babies."

  "Dollar a kid, senor."

  "Pay you a dollar for every child I save?" Dr. Plumber shook his head as if to make sure he was hearing right.

  "This our country. These our ways. You laugh at our culture, sefior?" ,

  The Rev. Dr. Prescott Plumber certainly didn't want to do that. He came to save souls and lives.

  "You get the souls free and because I like sefior and because you are my brother from way up north, and because we are all part of the great American family we let you save the babies for twenty-five cents apiece, five for a dollar. Now where else you get a deal like that? Nowhere, yes?"

  Dr. Plumber smiled.

  The mission was in the hills that ringed the northern half of the island. The mission hospital was cinderblock and tin roofed with its own generator for electricity. Only one Baqian city had electricity and that was the capital, Ciudad Natividado, named for the Nativity of Christ by a Spanish nobleman, in gratitude for five successful years of rape and pillage between 1681 and 1686.

  When he had first arrived at the mission, Dr. Plumber was amused to hear drums thumping in the distance. He decided it was probably the natives' signal system to alert everyone that a new doctor had ar-

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  rived. But the drums never stopped. From morning till night, they sounded out, forty beats a minute, never stopping, never varying, steadily insinuating their sound into Dr. Plumber's brain.

  He was there alone for a week, without a patient, without a visitor, when one high noon the drums stopped. They had already become such a part of his life that, for a moment, Dr. Plumber did not realize what had happened, what strange new factor had intruded itself into his environment. And then he realized what it was. Silence.

  Dr. Plumber heard another unusual sound. The sound of feet. He looked up from his seat at an outdoor table where he had been going over the mission's medical records. An old man with black trousers, no shirt, and a top hat, was approaching him. The man was small and hard-looking, with skin the color of a chestnut.

  Plumber jumped to his feet and extended his hand. "Nice to see you. What can I do for you?"

  "Nothing," the old man said. "But I can do for you. I am called Samedi." He was, he explained, the hun-gan, the holy man of the hills, and he had come to see Dr. Plumber before he would allow his people to visit the mission hospital.

  "All I want is to save their bodies and their souls," said Dr. Plumber.

  "That is a very big all-I-want," the old man said with a faint smile. "You may have their bodies to treat, but their souls belong to me."

  And because that was the only way he would ever get any patients, Dr. Plumber agreed. At least for the time being, he would not try to convert anybody to any religion.

  "Fine," Samedi said. "They have a very good reli-

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  gion of their own. Your patients will begin to arrive tomorrow."

  Without another word, the old man got up and walked away. As he left the mission compound, the drums began again.

  The patients arrived the next day, first a trickle, then a flood, and Plumber threw himself into the work he knew God had meant him to do. He treated and he healed.

  Soon he installed an operating room with his own hands. He was a bit of an electrician, too. He rebuilt an X-ray machine.

  He saved the life of the minister of justice and was thereafter allowed to save babies for nothing, although the minister of justice pointed out that if he saved just two good-looking female babies, he could put them to work in fourteen or fifteen years at the good hotels, and if they didn't get diseased, they would be good for at least $200 a week apiece, which was a fortune.

  "That's white slavery," said Dr. Plumber, shocked.

  "No. Brown is the lighest color you get. You don't get white ones. Black ones, they don't make too much. If you get blonde white one by some accident, you made, yes? Send her to me. We make money, no?"

  "Absolutely not. I have come here to save lives and to save souls, not to pander to lust."

  And the look the Rev. Dr. Plumber got was the same as the one given him by the m
edical student who planned on dermatology. The look said he was crazy. But Dr. Plumber didn't mind. Didn't the Bible tell him he should be a fool for Christ, which meant that others would think him a fool, but they were those who had not been blessed with the vision of salvation.

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  The dermatologist was the fool. The minister for health had been the fool, for right here in the Lord's dark brown earth was a substance, called "mung" by the villagers, which when packed against the forehead relieved depression. How foolish it was, thought Dr. Plumber, to deal in narcotics when the earth itself gave so much.

  For several years, as he rebuilt the mission clinic into a full-fledged hospital, Dr. Plumber thought about the earth called mung. He made experiments and determined to his satisfaction that the mung did not seep through skin and therefore it had to affect the brain by rays. A young assistant, Sister Beatrice-unmarried, like the doctor himself-arrived at the mission one day with the distinction of being the first white woman to pass through Ciudad Natividado without being propositioned. Her stringy brown hair, thick glasses and teeth, which looked as if they had collided beyond the ability of modern orthodontics to straighten them out, had more to do with her freedom from pesty men than her virtue.

  Dr. Plumber fell instantly in love. All his life he had saved himself for the right woman and he realized that Sister Beatrice must have been sent to him by the Lord.

  More cynical Baqians might have pointed out that Caucasians working among the natives for three months tended to fall in love with their own kind within five seconds. Two minutes was an all-time record of composure for a white working among Baqians.

  "Sister Beatrice, do you feel what I feel?" asked Dr. Plumber, his long bony hands wet and cold, his heart beating with anxious joy.

  "If you feel deeply depressed, yes," said Sister

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  Beatrice. She had been willing to suffer all manner of discomfort for Jesus, but somehow suffering discomfort seemed more religious while friends and relatives were singing hymns in the Chillicothe First Church of Christianity. Here in Baqia, the drum sounds twenty-four hours a day pounded at her temples like hammer thuds, and cockroaches were cockroaches, and not a bit of grace about them.

  "Depression, my dear?" said Dr. Plumber. "The Lord has provided from his earth."

  And in a small laboratory he had built with his own hands, Dr. Plumber pressed the greenish black mung to Sister Beatrice's forehead and temples.

  "That is wonderful," said Sister Beatrice. She blinked and blinked again. She had taken tranquilizers at times in her h'fe and to a degree they had always made her drowsy. This substance just snapped you out of it, like a rubber band. It didn't make you overly happy, to be followed by a trough of unhappiness. It didn't make you excited and edgy. It just made you undepressed.

  "This is wonderful. You must share this," said Sister Beatrice.

  "Can't. Drug companies were interested for a while, but a handful of mung lasts forever and there's no way they can put it in expensive pills for people to take over and over again. As a matter of fact, I believe they might kill anyone trying to bring it into the country. It would ruin their tranquilizer and antidepressant market. Put thousands out of work. The way they explained it, I'd be robbing people of jobs."

  "What about medical journals? They could get word to the world."

  "I haven't done enough experiments."

  "We'll do them now," said Sister Beatrice, her eyes

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  lit like furnaces in a winter storm. She saw herself as assistant to the great missionary scientist, the Rev. Dr. Prescott Plumber, discoverer of depression relief. She saw herself appearing at church halls, telling about the heat and the drums and the cockroaches and the filth of missionary work.

  That,would be so much nicer than working in Baqia, which was the pits.

  Dr. Plumber blushed. There was an experiment he had been planning. It had to do with rays.

  "If we shoot electrons through the mung, which I believe is actually a glycolpolyaminosilicilate, we should be able to demonstrate its effect on cell structure."

  "Wonderful," said Sister Beatrice, who had not understood one word he had said.

  She insisted he use her. She insisted he do it now. She insisted that he use full force. She sat down in a wicker chair.

  Dr. Plumber put the mung in a box over a heavy little gas generator that provided electricity for the tubes that emitted electrons, smiled at Sister Beatrice, and then fried her to a gloppy stain seeping through the wicker.

  "Oh," said Dr. Plumber.

  The stain was burnt umber and the consistency of molasses. It seeped through what had been a plain white blouse with a denim skirt. The thick-soled plastic shoes were filled up to the top with the slop.

  It smelled like pork fried rice left out in the tropical sun for a day. Dr. Plumber lifted the edge of the blouse with a tweezer. He saw she had worn a little opal on a chain. That was untouched. The bra and snaps were untouched. A cellophane bag that had

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  held peanuts in her shirt pocket was safe, but the peanuts were gone.

  Quite obviously, shooting electrons through the substance destroyed living matter. It probably rearranged the cell structure.

  Dr. Plumber, a man who had found his one true love only to lose her immediately, made his way in a daze to the capital city of Ciudad Natividado.

  He turned himself into the minister of justice.

  "I have just committed murder," he said.

  The minister of justice, whose life Dr. Plumber had saved, embraced the weeping missionary.

  "Never," he screamed. "My friends never commit murder, not while I am minister of justice. Who was the communist guerilla you saved your mission from?"

  "A member of my church."

  "While she was strangling a poor native, yes?"

  "No," said Dr. Plumber sadly. "While she was sitting innocently, helping me with an experiment. I didn't expect it to kill her."

  "Better yet, an accident," said the minister of justice, laughing. "She was killed in an accident, yes?" He slapped Dr. Plumber on the back. "I tell you, gringo. Never let it be said of me that one of my friends ever went to jail for murder while I was minister of justice."

  And thus it began. El Presidente himself found out about this wonderful thing you could do with mung.

  "Better than bullets," said his minister of justice.

  Sacristo Juarez Banista Sanchez y Corazon listened intently. He was a big man with dark jowls and a flaring black handlebar mustache, deep black eyes, thick lips, and a flat nose. Only in the last five years had he admitted to having black blood and then he did it with glory, offering his city to the Organization of Af-

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  rican Unity, saying, "Brothers should meet among brothers." Before that, he had explained to all white visitors that he was "Indian-no nigger in this man."

  "Nothing better than bullets," said Corazon. He sucked a guava pit from a cavity in his front tooth. He would have to appear again at the United Nations, representing his country. He always did that when he needed dental work. Anything else could be left to the spirits, but major cavities could only be trusted to a man named Schwartz on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. When Dr. Schwartz found out that Sacristo Juarez Banista Sanchez y Corazon was the Generalissimo Corazon, Butcher of the Caribbean, Papa Corazon, Mad Dog Dictator of Baqia, and one of the most bloodthirsty rulers the world had ever known, he did the only thing a Bronx dentist could. He tripled his prices and made Corazon pay in advance.

  "Better than bullets," the minister of justice insisted. "Zap, and you got nothing."

  "I don't need nothing. I need the dead bodies. How you going to hang a dead body in a village to show they should all love Papa Corazon, with all their minds and hearts, if you don't have no dead body? How you do this thing? How you run a country without bodies? Nothing better tihan bullets. Bullets are sacred."

  Corazon kissed his thick fingertips, then opened his hands like a blossom. He lov
ed bullets. He had shot his first man when he was nine. The man was tied to a post, his wrists bound with white sheets. The man saw the little nine-year-old boy with the big .45-cali-ber pistol and smiled. Little Sacristo shot the smile off the man's face.

  An American from a fruit company came one day

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  to Sacristo's father and said he should no longer be a bandit. He brought a fancy uniform. He brought a box of papers. Sacristo's father became El Presidente and the box of papers became the constitution, the original of which was still in the New York office of the public relations agency that wrote it.

  The American fruit company grew bananas for a while, and hoped to expand into mangoes. The mangoes didn't catch on in America and the fruit company pulled out.

  Whenever anyone asked about human rights after that, Sacristo's father would point to that box over there. "We got every right you can think of and then some. We got the best rights in the world, yes?"

  Sacristo's father would tell people that if they didn't believe him, they could open the box. Everyone believed Sacristo's father.

  One day Sacristo's father heard that someone was planning to assassinate him. Sacristo knew where the assassin lived. Sacristo and his father went to slay the man. They took Sacristo's personal bodyguard of fifty men. Sacristo and the fifty men returned with his father's body. The father had fallen, bravely charging the enemy. He was killed instantly when he led the charge. No one thought it strange that he was killed by a bullet in the back of the head when the enemy was in front of him. Or if anyone thought --it strange he did not mention it to Sacristo, who had been following his father, and was now El Presidente.

  For allowing a potential enemy to kill his father, Sacristo personally shot the generals who were still loyal to his father.

  Sacristo loved the bullet. It had given him everything in his Me.

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  So El Presidente was not about to listen to tales that there were things better than bullets.

  "I swear to you on my life it is better than bullets," said the minister of justice.

  And Sacristo Corazon gave his minister a broad fat smile.

 
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