I welcomed the first rays of sun with enthusiastic cheer. After a long trip – full of obstacles, spiritual slumber, and excessive heat – I felt like a bear, awake and moving in the direction of the dawning light.
We arrived at the east riverbank of Gunung Kinabalu, closer to the lunch. Three cars, one of which was a beautiful Bentley R-Type Continental from 1952, were already waiting for us. The second car, a Buick Roadmaster Skylark, had flowers and fruit carved on each side of the doors: it gleamed with a deep red light. All I could think of was how much I’d like to slide inside that Buick, to be carried away from Hamilton’s madness, from my new professional responsibilities, somewhere far away, to a stylish house with a proper bath and, of course, a bedroom with crispy Egyptian sheets.
Near the third car, a Model V Stuffy, an electric giant of 21 century, stood a sunburnt Arcadio. He was dressed in an ivory-colored linen shirt, beige beach trousers, and a wide, welcoming smile. He ran down to our tired procession, put his strong arm around King Hamilton’s waist, trying to steer her to his car.
“My darling, all is arranged for your arrival,” Said Arcadio Hardstone.
Then he barked something to her three sisters, who didn’t look very pleased by his order, but did what they’d been told: they tied Martha and me to the roof of grey Bentley. Lucky Ms. Downhill Tasty got a spare place inside, between two soft pillows, where the famous armadillo, Jack, already snored.
To my surprise, the driver of our vehicle was Ms. Glorious. She was dressed in blue swimming shorts with a yellow kaftan. The other lady near her was wrapped in a green towel and looked like an angry mosquito. The third woman, who sat at the back, glanced coldly at me; she held a bulk sketchbook, a pencil, and a phone in her hands.
“Are you ready for some whoopee-trip, Doctor Harmless?” Ms. Glorious knocked on the ceiling and started the engine.
Our destination, the so-called ‘Warrior Farm,’ was seventeen miles away. The road was bumpy and dusty; the sky was too dazzling to look at, turning from turquoise to pink, from yellow to red. The closer we came to the Farm, the noisier our environment grew. Ginger-colored exotic birds – silent, hateful, persistent – followed our journey on the sandy track. Finally, the road ended abruptly: the cars stopped near the narrow tunnel with a golden gate – the entrance into the green hill where hid the famous town of Gunung Kinabalu.
After the arrival, the crowd’s eyes inspected my aching body and face, covered in rolls of insects, the tissue of luxurious cigarettes, brown fur, and orange feathers in various sizes. Ms. Glorious, covering her mouth with her hand, chuckled: “What has happened to you, Doc?”
“I fell from the roof… a couple of times. Martha helped me up, though. Nothing to worry about.”
Life is not fair: I dreamed of impressing the ladies of the Warrior Farm, but I failed, again.
The place was surprisingly modern: tall towers, polished streets with electric lamps and vehicles, soft music from balconies and laughter at the steps of the bar – the rhythm of civilization, so different from what I’d experienced during the past week. Warrior Farm was a vast, unpredictable, grand town in the middle of nowhere.
The woman with a sheriff’s badge hugged me without any introduction. I stopped breathing: she could easily have been the most beautiful Sheriff I’d ever seen – on the screen or in reality – dressed in a silky purple kimono with an ample décolletage.
“I can’t believe this is the man who is going to cure eleven thousand of our sick warriors! Does he know anything about the dangerous virus LKED? He looks like a rat…” whispered women in the crowd.
“Rat? I beg your pardon!” I turned around, trying to find the offender between unfamiliar faces.
“They might mean the guinea pig,” Ms. Downhill Tasty giggled.
The group dissolved: some women went to the saloon, others to the hairdresser, bar, or spa. They didn’t look too sick. My eyes traveled with satisfaction around this little perfect kingdom. I breathed in all the sounds and smells of the Warrior Land, convincing myself that this is the place I was meant to be now, at this precise moment of my life. The gentle jolt on my back woke me up from my deep thoughts.
“There’s a party on the Dope yacht tonight, to celebrate your arrival at Screw Quarter,” the stunning Sheriff informed me.
“Screw Quarter? I thought this is a Warrior Farm.” I blinked.
“Honey, Warrior Farm is seven miles away, behind the thirty meters high, made of steel walls, surrounded by the cold river from one side and the deadly forest from the other. Your lovely but mad patients are locked in there,” Sheriff paused to make a sickening clicking sound. “And tomorrow, you’ll be delivered inside, together with your cook Martha – for a closer inspection and, hopefully, the right diagnosis and careful treatment. You’ll find the necessary weapons and new clothes in the room above Death-Watch Tower, in far south of Screw Quarter, behind the drug store of Ms. Sedative.”
“Weapons?! I’m a doctor!” I shouted.
“Well, Warrior Farm is a dangerous place. Every night – more and more violence…” Sheriff instinctively dropped her voice and leaned closer.
“What kind of violence?”
The widening eyes of the Sheriff and the fluffy rings from her luxury cigarette said that all.
“Can I use a phone? I saw a phone in the car during the trip to Screw Quarter.” I begged.
“Ah, that… Sure, but it doesn’t work. Only Beluga Clan has a direct satellite connection, and they rarely share access with us. We are in the middle of a war, as you know… I heard your friend, Arcadio, is trying to negotiate better terms.”
The realization of my current situation came as a shock. I went to the saloon, slowly moving my wadded feet to the stimulating drug of whatever was served.
Next post – The Story of Harmless Bullet. Day 14 – One percent.