Author: Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Slow Jim Parker. That’s me, friend. Please to make your acquaintance.

Nasty accident you had there, friend. Nas-teee accident. And I’ve seen some! And this shack of a hospital won’t do you any good, either, no offense.

Well, I’m here to help you out. Yes sir. Let me tell the how and the why.

I lived on WP286-Kestrel, or ‘286’ as we used to call it, for nigh-on 18 years.

I still don’t know why we didn’t just call it Kestrel but I always figured it was because a kestrel is a beautiful bird whereas this was a stinking cesspool that no one should have to endure.

Y’see, WP2886-Kestrel was a waste planet. Most systems have one planet devoted to waste collection and sorting as you know, to keep the planets from developing a ring of their own refuse, like Saturn in the old country.

Mountains of garbage poured in by starbarge and sky portal day and night.

Goes without sayin’ that 286 was toxic. Most of my fellow 286ers were prison labour. I was that rare breed of stupid. A volunteer. An entrepreneur.

Of course it’s not the place I call home now but 286 stays with you. Some of it’s the hereditary cancer you develop from the pollution but mostly it’s the mutations. And the memories.

That rock had developed its own Aurora borealis. Somewhere between a heat-mirage made of raw chemical stink and an electrical field from all the discarded appliances. Colors I never seen before or since.

Quite a motley community of scavengers we were. Toxicity suits all patched. Bright yellow on day one but after years of spot repairs with available materials and experimental upgrades from discarded equipment, most of us had a unique setup. Ray had those powerful vise-hands. Joe had those radio goggles for seeking out antennas.

Gradually, you develop a specialty there in the junkpile. A lot of us were inventors, looking for ways to build new weapons or technological shortcuts.

I myself was looking for biological patents.

You see the rodents in the landfill were horribly mutated. They might have been rats at one point but generations of radiation and very fast inbreeding had changed them. Bear-sized in some cases. Hive-mind swarms in others. To the point that they’d sometimes evolve new organs to fight the poison and in some rare cases, actually get smart enough to use tools to protect and augment themselves.

Course we all ran the risk of mutating as well.

I mean, I have that small clutch of eyes growing on one shoulder. They blink and look around but whoever’s using them to see, it isn’t me. And of course, if I use my fingers I can count to fourteen now. I suppose I should be grateful for the tail. I just wish it wasn’t coming out of my ankle.

But I’m successful. So there’s that. Doing well off the very things I came here to sell you today in light of your nasty accident. I’ve got a whole batch of little organs here that’ll put a smile right on to that terminal face. I can double your liver capacity, give your heart eight minutes of flatline capability with no harm to yourself, even got a little generator here that’ll let you alternate left and right brain so that you can stay up for weeks with no loss in productivity. Heck, I even got some accelerated stem cells here to regrow that limb.

What’ll it be, friend?


Dang it. I always talk too much. He’s off with the angels now.

Slow Jim Parker is right.