White light, splashes of red: all he remembers in a sea of fluoride yellow lights overhead. A constant pure tone of sound muffles the intruder scrabbling into his consciousness.
"Fucking snap out of it!"
The blur of muted awareness slowly resolves the surrounding image: Stan, hands at ten-and-two, sitting with his teeth almost at twelve on the steering wheel. His feet and legs are pushed into invisibility, presumably because he's shoving on the accelerator with all possible force. A cigarette is clenched by the filter in a pair of teeth that seem on the edge of sawing through it.
His eyes dart to a black shape on the seat between them, back on Jason, back on the road. "Fucking nonce. Fucking little child. Hide like you always do. Plenty of room in that oversized skull of yours to pretend the world has forgotten about you." He snaps his upper body at the passenger seat for a moment, forcefully screaming and ejecting the cigarette from his mouth onto the floorboards as if it was propelled by sound alone, "WELL SURPRISE KIDDO BECAUSE IT FUCKING HASN'T SO SNAP OUT OF IT AND HELP ME."
"You shot him." manages Jason, at last.
"Thanks for joining the rest of us in reality, Professor Leary."
"No, no, no."
"No, obviously, no, but if you're going to go all soap opera on me, at least have the decency to coma-style rather than drama meltdown."
"No, I mean no fucking joking, you shot and killed a man."
"First time in twenty minutes you manage more than three words and you're restating the obvious. Thank-you."
"FUCK YOU! YOU FUCKING SHOT SOMEONE AND THEY'RE DEAD!"
"Genius science boy can't stand natural selection."
"Oh, God, I'm going to be sick."
"Yeah, religious now too. Amazing 180."
"I'm serious, I'm going to throw up."
"I ain't slowing down, and this car ain't getting any cleaner."
"...Cleaner, what are you talking about?"
"The gun, dumbass! Clean and disassemble the fucking gun! When I say 'help me', I'm not just asking you to join in on rhythm guitar! You're not even the fucking drummer, you're the Yoko Ono of my life, you useless prat."
A glance at the gun, that black object on the middle seat. Jason's stomach twirls again. "Oh, fuck."
"Glove compartment! Restaurant towelettes! Clean it!"
It's instinctive, unsurprising given the orders being barked at him. Jason's mind screams with every ethical muscle in it as the pistol is wiped to a lemon-fresh sheen.
"Jesus, I said disassemble it. You do that first otherwise you've got to clean it again."
"You. Murdered. Someone."
"So now I get to deal with it."
"Pretty much, or we're the ones who're fucked."
"WE ARE. BECAUSE YOU SHOT SOMEONE."
"Yeah! And now we're going to take him to a warehouse, put him in a tub, and cover his body with nasty shit we're going to buy from whatever hardware supply store is open at this hour, and we're going to make sure that which is actually discernable from the rest of the human-juice-with-extra-pulp carries so little identifiable material that even identifying him as a member of the human race is going to be a miracle of modern science."
Dry heave, the taste of bile. "No, not... Dammit... He's in the trunk, isn't he. I can't do this."
"Negative nancy here, Jesus." Stan says, transferring a new cigarette into his mouth. "Fucking-we-will because if we don't, then we get to look forward to spending however long 'life minus time off for good behaviour' is in a room with two black guys named Jacques who have six inches and two hundred pounds on you in addition to the two feet of black-in-brown whenever you drop the soap."
"You think you can live with yourself?"
"Uh, yeah? Getting a group-gratuity charged to my ass pretty much pales in comparison to turning a fucker like that guy into soup."
"--Even if I have to put up with your moaning about the human condition."
"You monster. You vile and horrid waste of a human being."
"Yeah, Mother Theresa you are."
"I'm not a murderer!"
"Y'know, I'm not asking you to go for the full colour set, but at least upgrade from black-and-white, and open your eyes. I'll make it easy on you and ignore for the fact that you've got a peddling setup, owned and operated."
"People don't die from pot overdose."
"No, but they die from everything involved in it. Just because we're taking advantage of the low-access high-payoff situation that came with the same brilliant logic as the Prohibition Era, doesn't mean everyone's going to be as business-oriented as us."
"Business-oriented?! You KILLED."
"My fucking reasons are better for keeping the body count low rather than just picking off every fucker with half an ounce, which is what those other animals are doing."
"It's still not business if you're making a body count in the first place. When was the last time Wall Street had a Last Man Standing match at their IPO?"
"Oh, right, capitalism is safe. Nobody's hurt when some Jew sells out the bottom line, moving millions of cash to the trading floor, thousands of jobs to china, and hundreds of domestic workers to the grave."
"You aren't even a communist, yet I hear the same bullshit. What about fucking racism, huh? Worried we didn't get enough Jews the first time around?"
Stan ignores this, "Capitalists kill human decency, Communists kill human rationality."
"Holy God, you're a maniac."
"Look. You wanted to be a doctor, right?"
"Then you of all people should understand what's being done."
"The point of medicine is to save people."
"Fucking dictators in a banana republic that fly to wherever there's white doctors enough to get an actual surgery, so he can go back to getting the job done with machete-based population birth control long after the second trimester? That's medicine."
"Rare cases! You think it's all Charlie Mansons rather than sweet old grannies?"
"Same question, back at you: you think we killed a sweet old grannie?"
"There's not a 'no, but', there's just a no. The reason it's a 'no' is because the sweet old grannies are the rare cases. Same effect, different methods: making the world a better place."
"He wasn't anything close to a serial killer!"
"You saw how far from the grannie side of the spectrum that fuck was. You can't even see that the whole morality scale was tipping when he was putting more than just his hand on the balance. You saw the piece. You knew it was either him or us."
"Yeah, I thought so. Jesus, I have go through an entire Ethics textbook with you."
"Doctors aren't intending to make the world worse, and most of them aren't in the business just for themselves. You're delusional if you're placing them on the same level with the badguys.
"Listen to yourself. Itent is so irrelevant to the process. Look at the results. Hey- You want to think that all life is precious? Fine, go ahead, but you're just going to end up letting the wolves eat you rather than deny the mewling little bitches of a fresh supper. Sometimes you heal your good guys, but sometimes, you just have to kill the bad guys."
Jason's glaring at Stan has become softer, more tired from the unrelenting tirade. "If you really think you're the best guy to tell the difference, Stan..."
"Fucking-A, me and the Pearly Gates fucker. Now, let's go find some lye."