"You sent it on?" said Grandad. Grandad had been hunched in the corner, repairing a shutter box in this cramped shed halfway up the tower.
It was my favorite place, why I bought the house after I become Director of Medical Research at SnoDaiz. I had fixed up the shed as my office. Granddad came to hear about my adventures in medical research every Saturday. Why he thought mine were exciting, I don’t know. He had been in the protest that took over the BIA Building in Washington, D.C. He told me that one old Grandfather, a victim of the BIA throughout his life, took a fire ax, jumped up on the BIA commissioner's big mahogany desk and split it in two!
I didn’t have much to report this week. It had snowed and kept a number of our researchers at home. The ones that came in were the more gung-ho types like Tom, who wanted to be invisible. He was already waiting when I arrived on Wednesday.
"Ready to roll?" Tom, covered with snow, was halfway in the front door. "Got a box ready?" He had set up the experiment the day before and I felt the need to be there. I didn’t want him to go off half-cocked and do something stupid, like try his formula on himself.
He was supposed to use a rat. That was the plan. The rat’s name was Jenny and I was rather fond of her. He covered her head with a little hood and shook up his mixture in its aerosol can, the balls rattling around like a precursor to graffiti. He was prepared to spray when Leslie, our resident Drama Queen slammed open the door and shouted -
and started to sob.
Startled, Tom turned halfway around and his finger jerked on the trigger. He was very apologetic about it later but the blast caught me full in the face and I breathed it in. I started to cough, Leslie was sobbing and Tom was in distress. He tried to wipe me down but that merely spread the liquid more evenly on my skin.
By the time Leslie came out from behind her hands and looked up, I was a goner. She looked shocked. “Where are your feet, your shoulders, hands, complexion, Your - all of you? Why not transform me also? She appealed to Tom. “How can I live if you’re all gone? She started to sob again.
“Who are you talking about?” shouted Tom.
“Dick,” she said.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s Harry, I can’t keep track, they keep changing.” At Tom’s still baffled face she shouted, “Our receptionist! Our receptionist! The guy at the front desk! He was in an accident, and his mother called to tell me he wasn’t coming into work. He’s in the hospital - he may not even live!” She wailed and started to sob again.
“Hmmm, excuse me!? Can I get some help here?” I was transparently annoyed about their lack of concern and rather see-through as well. Both pairs of eyes looked right through me, like I wasn’t even there.
“Where are you?” they chorused.
I had moved over to the desk in the corner and sat down. “I’m right here.” I tilted back. Their heads swiveled. “I’m sorry about Harry, remind me when you see me to send flowers.” I addressed that to Leslie, and then asked Tom. “Do you have any idea when this will wear off, if ever?”
After a clearing of the throat and an “er, well” he admitted he wasn’t sure but assured me it should be soon. So while we waited we played poker. I won, since they couldn’t see me when I leaned over and looked at their cards. I figured Tom owed me the $10 bucks.
It did wear off after an hour or so, but gradually, with bones showing first and then the muscles and veins. There was much ooh’ing and aah’ing and pointing of fingers until my skin covered it all. After we feed Jenny and put her back with her own kind we each headed to our own burrows. I left a note about Harry on my admin’s computer.
Back at my home desk in the tower I read over my weekly report.
“It is clear that the small blood vessels of diabetics are subject to accelerated degeneration.” Crystal really, maybe the invisibility spray should be used to show people the damage a poor diet and lack of exercise will do. I nibbled on a chip, my drug of choice in times of stress.
Should I send it on? Would admitting to being invisible hurt my career or make it? Would it help patients or brand me a crazy? Human trials were years away. Could I hide my transparency? Should I?
What would you do?
- "Where are your feet, your shoulders, hands, complexion, Your - all of you? Why not transform me also?" P. Ovidius Naso translated by Rolfe Humfries. Perseus In Metamorphosis. (Indiana U Press, 1983)
- "'You sent it on?' said Grandad. Grandad had been hunched in the corner, repairing a shutter box in this cramped shed halfway up the tower." Terry Pratchett. Going Postal. (HarperCollins, 2004)
- "It is clear that the small blood vessels of diabetics are subject to accelerated degeneration." Jimmy Gutman. Glutathione: Your Key to Health. (kudo.ca, 2008)
- "One old Grandfather, a victim of the BIA throughout his life, took a fire ax, jumped up on the BIA commissioner's big mahogany desk and split it in two!" Leonard Peltier. Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance (St Martin's Griffin, 1999)
- "'Ready to roll?' Tom, covered with snow, was halfway in the front door. 'Got a box ready?'" Diane Mott Davidson. Tough Cookie. (Bantam Books, 2000)