“How many of them do you think there are?”
“Probably about twenty or so, they don’t seem to do well in groups that are larger.”
“What do we do?”
“Nothing, wait it out. Back up will be here soon, no point in going in guns blazing and having half of them disappearing.”
Dom rubbed his hands together as another gust of cold wind hit them. “Will they be long?”
“Shouldn’t be. After we should grab some coffee.”
Dom nodded, he just wanted this to be over with. It was his first raid and he didn’t know what to expect. Sure, he had read about them, about how they’d most likely react, but reading about it and experiencing it was not the same thing, not even close. He continued to rub his hands together, partly for warmth and partly so they would have something to do.
“What do they do with them?”
Martin shrugged, “I don’t know the details, they help them though. Probably run some tests and get them detoxed.”
Dom nodded, they hadn’t told them much about what happened once they were captured. He understood the reluctance to go into too much detail, after all they were in it to make money at the end of the day and there were already too many “protection” groups set up to defend the junkies. He didn’t think anything bad was going to happen to them, but he knew that some of the groups would probably freak out if the junkies weren’t set up in five star rooms with endless things to do.
“How do you think it’ll go?”
“Well enough I hope. They’ll be peaceful so the only real danger is them running. If they were violent we’d already know about it. They get very territorial once that sets in. A few of them would have come out to see who we were and what we wanted. It’s still early days for this group. They’ll be too caught up in the high.”
Dom nodded again, he read about that. The longer they were on the drug the more they acclimated to its effects. Once that started happening they got aggressive. No one had quite figured out why they kept themselves to smaller numbers, Dom wondered if it was some genetic call-back to when we all lived in tribes, perhaps their brains were so swamped with chemicals they couldn’t follow higher thought functions.
Dom shoved his hands into his pockets as four large white vans pulled up. Five men got out of the back of each of them, the drivers didn’t bother getting out. Dom envied them. That was the cushy job. All you had to do was drive around a van of nutters all day, no standing in the cold, no dangers. The back of the vans were completely sealed off from the front. He took a deep breath, everything was going to be fine, Martin said it himself, they were all probably quite docile, but still, what if they weren’t? He’d heard of cases where people were stabbed with needles. What if that happened to him? Not only was there the danger of blood-borne illnesses, what if there was still a bit of it left in the syringe? A few drops and you were hooked. He had seen what detoxing looked like in his training manual, there was no way he wanted to go through that.
“Everyone ready, you all know what to do?”
Everyone nodded, Dom nodded along, trying to look like he knew what he was doing.
Martin put his hand on Dom’s shoulder, “you should hang back, go in last. You’ll get a sense of how everything works if you’re not in the thick of it.”
Dom nodded and smiled, then he let his face relax, “Ok. Cool.” He didn’t want to seem too eager to hang back, didn’t want anyone thinking he wasn’t able do the job.
The door was kicked in with a loud boom, much louder than Dom had expected, he didn’t even think the damn thing was locked, most likely just intimidation tactics. The men flooded in with Dom bringing up the rear. There was a startled yell from inside, but it had a strange quality to it, almost like it was too long and too low to be real, like someone had recorded a yelp and slowed it down. By the time Dom got into the warehouse most of the suspects had been subdued. He waded in past the people weakly struggling as they were handcuffed and scanned the room. The place was filthy, not that he would have expected much better. They had dragged in stained mattresses and rotting couches at some point, though obviously there was not enough for everyone, judging by the thick cardboard mats they had created. He shined his light around, looking for anyone that was missed. Some of them had used the corners for their toilets but others hadn’t bothered. The smell in the room hit him, unwashed bodies, waste, rotting couches. It was getting to be too much when he spotted her huddled in a corner, his eyes had almost slid right over her. She was small, young. No older than ten. Maybe she was just the kid of one of the junkies. He stepped closer and felt a heavy sinking in his gut. Her eyes were wide and black, she was completely out of it. He approached her slowly, hands raised to show he meant no harm, “Are you ok honey? C’mon, we’ll get you something warm to drink and some hot food, ok?” She didn’t react. He gestured for her to step forward, “It’s ok, we’re not going to hurt you.” He sighed, there was nothing going on in there, he could see it, she was frightened, but either she couldn’t or wouldn’t understand his words. She was probably fairly new to the drug. He kept moving forward slowly, trying to ignore the smell of her. Finally when he was close enough he reached out and grabbed her, she didn’t struggle, didn’t even really react. As gently as he could he turned her around and cuffed her. He stood again and looked around, everyone else seemed to have been cuffed, a group of ten moved around the warehouse looking for anyone they had missed the first time. Martin was walking towards him, “Damn shame when they’re young. We’ll probably find her mother or father here at the very least.”
Dom nodded, “I don’t think she’s been on it for long.”
“Poor thing. Probably didn’t even have a choice.”
“I thought you said they weren’t violent.”
“They’re not, they don’t like normal people living with them. Probably wore her down over a few days to take it. If you’re that young it wouldn’t take much convincing from mom or dad before you’d agree. They don’t force anyone, not outright, but they’ll convince them, one way or the other.”
Dom shook his head, “I don’t know why they even bother with that choice bullshit.”
Martin just shrugged.
They loaded up the vans carefully, trying as much as possible to get the filthy ones in with as little contact as they could. Once they vans were locked up they drove off leaving Dom and Martin. “Where to next?”
“Coffee first. Then we figure out where we’re going. Let’s hope the next one is this easy. They were here long enough to have turned hostile. I don’t know why they hadn’t, make sure to note it in your report later. Could be important, might not. No harm.”
Dom nodded, “What happens to them, after treatment?”
“They’re sent back out into the world again. Those of them that survive the detox at least.”
“What about that girl? What if her parents don’t make it?”
“Doesn’t matter whether they survive or not, she won’t be going back with them. There’s government facilities for the young ones, to make sure they don’t relapse and to treat any mental conditions they develop.”
Dom shook his head, poor thing, even if she survived she’d be plagued by mental illness for the rest of her life. Martin opened the car door, “C’mon, let’s go, I’m freezing here.” Dom got into the car and closed the door. He watched the warehouse in the mirror as Martin drove away. He knew he was helping those people, after all they had already destroyed their lives, he had read about the side effects, but seeing it up close like that, knowing that most of them would be dead by next week. He closed his eyes and let out a sigh. He hoped it became easier, he just had to remember he was helping them.