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Today's Story by Steve Toase

The CIA got in on the act, binding the bio-markers to opium coming out of Afghanistan.


Tim blamed the IOC, or the international cycling committee. One of these organisations, trying to find new ways to stamp out doping in sport. Making the substances easier to detect in the body, by attaching bio-markers that kept the drugs in the system for longer. He looked through the curtain at the people gathering, family on one side in black, because for all the departed’s faults that was tradition. Friends on the other wearing whatever they could find to wear, because they had other things on their minds. Some of them were already looking twitchy.

Of course the CIA got in on the act, binding the bio-markers to opium coming out of Afghanistan. Maybe it was the CIA’s fault, he thought to himself. They should definitely take some of the blame.

Mourners walked up and touch the polished wood of the coffin, as if holding hands with the person who lay inside for one last time.

Thing is when you mess with chemicals you get unexpected consequences. Combine the markers with heroin and you get a whole new drug, ten times more euphoric. Ten times more addictive. Made Krokodil look like sugar cubes. Everything needs a name. The street users called it Concrete. Problem was the markers worked too well, building up the drug in a person’s marrow until they overdosed. The friends shuffled into place along the pews as the pastor mounted the stairs to the lecturn.

Tim brushed his hair from his eyes and pulled the curtain shut, pouring himself a glass of water while he listened to the service.

The pastor finished the prayers and Tim flipped the switch, the final hymn covering the sound of the rollers. The body came through in its wooden chrysalis, born into a spiritual afterlife as far as the family were concerned. He pushed the coffin onto the gurney and dragged it across the workshop, stopping by the workbench to take off the metal fittings.

Odd stuff concrete. The other big difference between concrete and heroin is that the new drug stayed potent, though dormant, once consumed.

Face creased with effort Tim heaved the coffin into the incinerator. While the gas jets fired up he filled the urn chosen by the family. He put the carrier bag full of fire ash back in the drawer. Few people knew what human ash looks like, even if they overcame their grief and squeamishness to take the lid off their loved ones vase shaped resting place.

The industrial grinder took care of the larger lumps of bone. Once done Tim poured the fine grey dust onto a metal tray. A cold sweat spreading across his skin he dipped his finger in the powder to test the quality and started to prepare his syringe.


Steve Toase lives in North Yorkshire, England and occasionally Munich, Germany. His stories tend towards the unsettling and unreal, dealing with revenge, loss, faery, chess playing bears and ancient gods. In his writing Steve explores the places where other worlds seep into ours.


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