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Prologue

He put his hand on the bartender’s wrist as she moved the open bottle towards his glass to refill.

“That’s going to be it for me, I’ve got an early morning.” He removed his hand from her wrist and watched as she pulled her slender hand away, noting the bright red of her nails. He remembered seeing red nails like that before. It was the same red as the cherry that topped the ice cream sundae you took your girl out for on a hot summer night. It was the same red as the Ruby stone that sat in a high school ring.

It had been more than eight years since he had seen that high school ring. She had been wearing it on a gold chain around her neck as she kissed him and told him she’d see him later. He waved as she got into the car with her friends and they drove off. Even though it had been a girls’ outing, he was supposed to drive them that day. One of her friends was planning to move into the dorm at the university in Syracuse later that summer and they all had wanted to help her make purchases for her room. But the restaurant manager had a last minute opening and he was grabbing all the work he could. So he stayed behind. He stayed behind and worked so they would be a little bit closer to being able to afford getting married.

His high school ring was never supposed to replace her engagement ring. He had been planning on buying one. But they wanted to move the wedding date up. They needed the money so buying the diamond was put on hold. Tom was still working the busboy job that had carried him through his senior year of high school. He had applications in at lots of other places for full time jobs, but the summer wasn’t the best time to get hired. His dad had wanted him to go on to college, but college wasn’t in his plans. Not anymore. He proposed to Joyce on their high school graduation day.

Joyce’s parents tried to convince them each to go to the local community college. They kept telling them that a two year engagement wasn’t all that long after all. Tom and Joyce knew they couldn’t wait the two years. So he worked as many hours as he could as a busboy. He managed to pick up a few extra hours pumping gas at the local station also. Joyce babysat and she was going to start selling plastic kitchen containers to all the area housewives. She wasn’t planning to buy anything that day. She was just going along for the ride. She was just going to enjoy the day with her girlfriends. He wanted her to have fun.

He was dead on his feet after the shift at the restaurant and he just wanted to go home and watch TV. His mom called him before he left work. His fifteen-year old cousin had run away again, something she did an average of twice a week since coming to live with them when she was twelve. Tom always knew where to find her and he picked her up on his way home that night. They were sitting in his car while he once again lectured her about her behavior when the police car pulled up. Tom knew that his world was about to end when he saw Joyce’s father get out of the back seat.

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He bent over her and picked her up, cradling her in his arms. Adam tried to memorize every feeling, the scent from her hair, her weight in his arms, and the way she opened her eyes and smiled just before she wound her arms around his neck.

“Hmmm… what time is it?” Her voice was sleepy.

“After three.”

“How are you ever going to get up in the morning?”

He was amused by the way her words slurred. “I’ll go in late.” He walked into their bedroom and placed her gently on the bed.

Adam helped her while she fumbled into a night shirt and crawled under the blankets. Then he went to his side of the bed and stripped, leaving his clothing on the floor. He got under the covers and pulled her body up against his, he kissed her on the top of her head and whispered “G’night.” Before he reached to turn out his night table lamp, he stopped to watch her sleeping in their bed… another memory for him to store.

Surprisingly Adam had woken early after all. He quietly got out of bed without disturbing her, took the folded paper from his pocket and took a pair of pants with him to put on after he left the room. In the kitchen he plugged in the pot of coffee that Davie had left prepared and leaned against the counter to read the report. In all test groups, ‘589APPLE’ had significantly improved the healthy development of the fetus in-utero by directing nutrients and necessary vitamins to the growing embryo. Various laboratory animals were used throughout the stages. Thanks to the administration of ‘589APPLE’ hundreds of healthy baby rats were born during this testing period with an improvement of nearly seventy-five-percent in overall development, survival and general health over the control group which did not receive ‘589APPLE’. Many more test groups were used in the studies, most of them showed extremely high neo-natal success rates.

However, Adam noted, the more complex the animal in the test group, another statistic registered. By the time pregnant laboratory monkeys were given the drug, while most of the babies were born healthy, the maternal health began to suffer with one fatality attributed to malnutrition. The human test group consisted of twenty-five pregnant females who were given the drug; four mothers died within twenty-four hours of birth, two died prior to birth and their healthy babies were delivered by Cesarean section, seven more were hospitalized suffering the effects of starvation and one more died within six months after. The summary at the bottom of the report cited the fifty-percent of human mothers who suffered illness or fatality after taking ‘589APPLE’ during at least five months of the gestation period.

Autopsy results of the fatalities showed that not only did the drug direct more of the ingested nutrients to the fetus, but it also ‘attached’ itself to the digestive track and prohibited any significant nourishment from being absorbed into the mother’s body. A recommendation was made to Dr. Bryan Chapman, the Vice President of Regularity Affairs of the pharmaceutical company, that the formulation of the drug be examined and altered to reduce this risk to the mothers. The author of the summary, who signed only his initials, proposed that production of ‘589APPLE’ be postponed indefinitely.

Adam was dismayed that this supposedly beneficent drug could have such devastating effects. He also was aware that he had made it possible for this drug, with its current potentially lethal formulation, to be manufactured and distributed in third-world countries and on the black market everywhere. This drug had the potential to turn a growing baby into an insidious parasite that could kill its mother. There was no choice left, he had to stop it.


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