Transplanted Life
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Called in sick today
Which is sort of a lie, but I guess a reasonable one, see as I haven't missed a day of work or taken a vacation in eight months because I might miss something I needed to know which might help me figure out what was going on. I got quite enough knowledge last night.

In short: I was right. Maggie called me at the office, asked me to swing by her office after work, and when I got there she basically confirmed what I was thinking. The stuff in Carter's "Cologne" is actually freaky cutting-edge biochemistry - it's chemically intert until it hits certain receptors on my cells, the kind of things my immune system uses to recognize one type of cell as "me" (like the cultures she took from me last week) and another as "disease". What it does then, though, is break up and release certain enzymes which stimulate dopamine, serotonin, and aphrodisiac production. The amounts created aren't big enough for me to notice a sudden feeling of euphoria unless I take a deep breath of it. But, if I sit in a room long enough with someone wearing it, I'll feel happier, more content, a little hornier. There have been studies linking elevated levels of these chemicals to people in love. Think Pavlov and it's not unexpected that a person could get stimulus and response mixed up - if my brain starts producing happy chemicals when I'm around someone because they're wearing this stuff, it will eventually act like the person, and not the chemicals, are the cause.

It was at that point Mags directed me to the ladies' room so I could vomit.

When I get out, Maggie is talking about how scary this is, because it could be adapted to use as a weapon. Imagine a neurotoxin keyed to Osama Bin Laden; you could saturate the Middle East with that stuff and have no ill effects other than one dead terrorist. Well, probably more than that; I'd have to think people with the same tissue types would be susceptible, too. We're not talking about something that targets you right down to the DNA. And I admit that that's awful and scary, but what we've got right now is a solution that makes me think I love Carter... No, scratch that, I say, it makes me actually love him, without his having to do anything to earn this love. It makes me into a fucking puppy, I practically yell. Then I take the adjective literally and I ask Mags if, aside from making me happy and horny, it does anything else.

She says we don't know that much about how the human brain works, but there have been some studies saying that serotonin is related to the "reward" stimulus in our brains, and that this stuff does act like sort of a natural high. It might, she says, make me somewhat eager-to-please. I want to puke again, but there's nothing left, and I feel a bit dizzy. She asks what's wrong and I just tell her I'd done some things I otherwise wouldn't have, and then I see my reflection in her glasses and I remember that the blonde hair was Carter's idea, too. Maggie can see that it's starting to come in dark at the roots, and she asks just how long I've been exposed to this stuff. I say I've been dating Carter for nearly four months, but it hasn't always been smooth. I was snapping at him just a couple weeks ago, I said, but I had this monster cold...

Maggie's turn to look really horrified; we put together that having that stuffed-up nose probably shielded me from this stuff at about the same time. It's like she suddenly realizes that I'm a real person who's been jerked around, and she starts to get angry. She thinks she barely knows me, but she's no longer coming off as mostly impressed with the science. She starts really targetting her questions like she's a doctor. I actually have to use her computer to check the blog for some of them. The "phantom smell" interests her - she thinks that might have been the first time Carter used this, but it wasn't made right and made me nauseous instead of lovey-dovey. Then he or whatever partner he has refined it.

And he must have had a partner, mustn't he? He's an IS guy, and while that may make him smart, this is cutting-edge biochemistry. Heck, Maggie doesn't have a great grasp on it, being as she mostly works on genetics; she was up late Monday night reading abstracts so she could understand what she was explaining to the blonde receptionist girl.

I know one thing, though. I can't let this go on. Tomorrow, I'm going to break up with him. This is no kind of relationship.

But first, I'm heading over to his apartment and swiping the big bottle of "cologne". I've got a key, fortunately, and there's no way I'm going to let him use it any more. Hell, I might not be able to break up with him if I don't. Besides, Maggie wants more to analyze, and she wants to show it to one of her old professors at MIT. I'm not sure I'm ready to let other people see this, though.

Anyway, I'd better get going before Carter gets back from work.

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