Strange weather brought strange vibes. The air was caustic and the heat was extra intense. Wind scorched the skin. Purple rains fell for days. The Scarien food stash was running low. Nobody felt like going out and scrounging around for food as the dark swirling clouds filled the skies and the rains poured. Even the sun had become despondent struggling to shine through the purple haze.

It was Kareem's turn to take the vaporizer and go into the real world. Real whirl. A bands got to eat. He planned on raiding an Arien compound on the outskirts of town. He would vaporize the evil mutants and take any food they had.

As Kareem approached the Arien compound, he observed a skirmish. He climbed up in a treetop and watched. Some men had already raided the compound. He waited and watched as the men overtook the Arien guards and tied them up. The men entered the Arien building while Kareem waited patiently. As the group of invaders exited with Arien provisions, Kareem climbed down from his perch. He pulled out the vaporizer and approached the men, who were unaware of his presence.

"Freeze or vanish!"

The men froze

"I just want some food. Please, let's not have any trouble here."

"Kareem, is that you?" a familiar voice asked.


"Kareem! What are you doing here?"

"The same thing you are."

"Kareem, don't take this food. This food is destined for a camp of children who have lost their families. They need this food."

"If that is true, I'll come with you to help insure safe delivery. This vaporizer might come in handy if any Ariens hassle us."

"OK, Kareem, come with us."

On the way to the children's camp, in a stolen Arien truck, Ahab told Kareem what had been going down since they had last worked together to remove the Shah of Iran back in the seventies. Ahab told of the group that he and the other invaders belonged to. They called themselves the Karmic Equalizers, as translated into english. Sort of a Lions Club with balls. Postmodern Robin Hoods. Kareem was interested.

It was rare to meet people who were willing to stand up to the Ariens. The average person feared the Ariens and went along with them, at least publicly. But the Equalizers were out there doing something. Kareem suggested that they stop by Scarien headquarters and pick up Huk, Jabbah, and Dusty. Kareem knew they would be interested also.

"The more the merrier," Ahab announced as the truck jostled down the dirt road.

Jabbah and Huk had gone out to search for some batteries just before the Equalizers arrived. Kareem told Dusty the scoop and he was in. They all took off for the children's camp. The food delivery went smoothly, but the kids were pitiful. Malnutrition and sickness hung over the camp like a black fog. Grateful faces and tears of joy greeted the Equalizers. No Ariens were in sight and they were safe, for the time being. The leader of the group, an eleven year old girl, thanked the men politely for the food.

Dusty looked into a latrine and spotted an infant lying in it with maggots crawling out of the child's empty eye sockets. It was too much. He thought that there was no reason for the Ariens to cause this much suffering. Walking away with the setting sun behind him, Dusty's shadow preceded him. The shadow stretched across the ground, larger than Dusty. He never saw the world in exactly the same way from that point on.

Ahab explained the Equalizers next mission to Kareem and Dusty. The plan involved a remote prison where the Ariens were holding political prisoners. Ahab understood that the prison had little security, making it an easy target. They were going to raid the prison and free the prisoners. Ahab hoped that they could recruit some of the prisoners.

Kareem and Dusty agreed to go with the Equalizers and help them. They wanted to go. Their MK-Ultra wheels and the vaporizer might make the difference on this mission. This kind of work was old hat to Kareem anyway.

It reminded Kareem of his first mission as a freelancer. A pimp named Ira hired him to free some political prisoners in North Korea. Ira, or Ike to his friends, liked to party. He drank like a fish and always had some whores around for his pleasure. He always made sure his friends had a full cocktail and at least one hooker. Ike also liked to put strange experimental drugs in his guests' drinks, to "enhance climax" with his bimbos.

Kareem flew from Egypt to South Korea to meet with Ike about the mercenary gig and wound up on a two week drunk with Ike and a stable of Mexican whores from New York. Ike always said that Kareem was the only man who could keep up with him. Kareem drank Ike's strange cocktails and enjoyed the company of more than one of Ike's whores. But, things were a little different on this mission. There was a lot more at stake than a mercenary fee.

The Equalizers had been on the road for several hours when they reached the vicinity of their destination. They parked the truck and set off on foot to the corrugated metal building that was allegedly used to house the political prisoners. There appeared to be no guards outside the building.

They walked around the building. There was total silence but the vibes were intense, like death. The odor surrounding the building turned everyone's stomach. There were no windows and only two doors, which were both padlocked. The place seemed to be more like a warehouse than a prison. There was no sign of life.

It looked like Ahab's information about this place wasn't right. However, there was enough curiosity about the contents of the building to motivate the men to break in. They brought the truck to the building and drove it through the back door.

Kareem and Dusty entered the building first. They discovered a warehouse of horror. The smell of rancid human waste burned their eyes. They saw hundreds of men, many naked, sitting and laying on the cold concrete floor covered with excrement.

"Jesus, what is this hell?"

The building was silent except for a man at the opposite end of the room who sobbed. The rest of the men were like zombies. Depression to the third power.

"Catatonia, catatonia, what makes your big head so hard."

Dusty and Kareem walked towards the man unaware that the others had left the building. As they walked past these human vegetables, not one of them even looked up. Their blank faces stared into space.

"What is this place?" Dusty asked the sobbing man.

"Home for those who feed the hungriest Ariens," the pitiful wretch sobbed, "I am their keeper."

The man pointed to buckets of pellets that looked like rabbit food.

"I feed them to keep them alive. The Ariens come to feed upon their souls. I have a deal with them. I stay here and feed these men and the Ariens don't feed on my soul. But I think they may be cheating. I suspect that they have been nibbling away at my soul when I sleep. So, I stay awake most of the time. I'm a loser. Why don't you kill me. I need killing and I know it."

"We came to rescue you," Kareem told the man.

"Rescue me?"

The man started to cry uncontrollably. He fell over and his body convulsed. Then he placed his hands over his face. As Dusty reached over to help him up, the man gouged out his own eyeballs.

"I've seen enough," the man screamed as he stumbled across the room.

He would slip and fall down then get up and stumble again.

"I've seen enough," Kareem mumbled.

Dusty and Kareem left the building feeling empty. They felt like the Ariens had taken a little bite out of their souls. The Equalizers were in the truck waiting. Nobody said anything. There was nothing left to say.