New prompt from the inestimable, Liane B. on FB. She gave me 3 prompts, but I'm only using two for this story. I'll keep the third for another day.
- an invisible prankster's plan backfires
- scientist runs experiments on an unusual subject
Darrell awoke to a brightly lit room. His head hurt from the night's drinking and all he wanted to do was crawl into a dark hole and sleep off the hangover.
He attempted to raise a hand to cover his face but his arms didn't lift. Darrell groaned and tried to turn over. Something was holding him down.
"How much did I drink?" Darrell's voice came out like a dry crackle.
"Not as much as you think, Mr. Convale." A male voice came from Darrell's right. "It just happens I may have spiked one or four of your drinks. Of course, it was absolutely necessary."
Darrell blinked until he could open his eyes properly. He turned his head until he could make out the person behind the voice.
He was surprised to see a small man with thinning gray hair and wearing a white lab coat. He was holding a digital tablet and using a stylus to write on it. Except for the lab coat and tablet, Darrell recognized the man from the bar the night before. The little man had been sitting not from him at the bar. He had only recognized the man at all because Darrell had knocked the man's drink on to his lap.
"Where am I?" Darrell's lips were thick and he still felt slightly drunk.
"In my lab, Mr. Convale." The little man said, not looking up from his tablet. His tone suggested this was something Darrell shouldn't have to be told.
"Why am I here?" Darrell wasn't yet aware enough to be worried about his situation.
"Don't you know why a scientist would be interested in you? Specifically a geneticist?" The man did look up this time. Darrell could see the man's dark blue eyes staring at him like a specimen in a jar.
The word geneticist registered with Darrell and caused his hangover to disappear instantly. He fought against his restraints but they held tight. The little man obviously knew more about Darrell than he was comfortable with.
The little man walked up to Darrell without looking up from the tablet. He wrote for a few more seconds before checking the computers taking data from the various electrodes hooked to Darrell.
"Why are you doing this?" Darrell croaked. "Why?"
The scientist turned his dark blue eyes on Darrell and he knew who the man was even if he had never met him before last night. The man's eyes told Darrell why he was strapped down to a cold metal table in a sterile room that was probably soundproof.
"You're Marcus Decker, aren't you?" Darrell already knew the answer. "You're Al's father."
"Albrecht was my son." The man admitted.
"It was an accident." Darrell struggled again to sit up, to move his arms or legs. "You know it was an accident. A stupid prank gone wrong."
The man, Dr. Decker, adjusted a setting on one of the machines near Darrell. He started feeling drowsy almost immediately.
"An accident..." Darrell tried to plead his case but he couldn't keep his eyes open.
Al was smiling and laying on Darrell's bed. There was nothing overtly sexual about his roommate laying there, but just seeing Al's smile always made Darrell want to kiss him. He also knew Al was completely aware of his affect on Darrell.
Both 19, sophomores in college going for degrees in biology and madly in love. The world was theirs and no one could tell them differently. For the first time in his life, Darrell felt normal. He felt at ease with Al in a way he'd never felt before.
Darrell collapsed on the narrow bed next to Al. Both lay on their backs and looked up at the uninspiring ceiling. Al turned to put his head on Darrell's chest.
"Halloween is coming up in two weeks." Al said, more to have something to say than anything else. Al was never what you'd call the quiet type. "Do you know what you want to be?"
"A superhero." Darrell laughed at his joke, knowing Al wouldn't get it.
"Which one?" Al asked, sitting up.
"The Invisible Man." Darrell laughed again.
"He wasn't a superhero." Al scoffed and leaned on his elbow. "He wasn't all that good either."
"The best ones never are." Darrell said. "What about you?"
Al scrunched his lips into a smirk as he thought.
"I think being a superhero would fun." Al said. "Though I'm not sure who I'd want to be yet."
"You should go as Carlos from Welcome to Night Vale." Darrell suggested. "You look adorable in your lab coat and have perfect hair."
Al smiled and kissed Darrell deeply.
"Will you be Cecil?" He asked with a teasing tone. "We can make couples' costumes. It would be fun."
Darrell shook his head.
"Nope, I'm definitely going as the invisible man." Darrell said. "Bandages and everything, just like the old movie."
Al frowned and sat up. Darrell wanted to appease his partner but he couldn't get over his own joke. He already knew this was the year he would finally tell someone the truth about himself and the Halloween costume idea was the perfect way.
The two weeks went by without incident. Projects, homework, and part time jobs kept both busy but they made time for each other.
On Halloween night, Al had used his lab gear to make himself over into his version of Carlos. Darrell had a hard time not grinning at Al's obvious excitement about the holiday.
At the last minute, Darrell came out in his best Invisible Man costume. It had taken forever and a ton of bandages appropriated from the college infirmary but he thought it looked great.
"Claude Raines has nothing on you." Al laughed when he saw Darrell's costume. "You should have asked me to help!"
Darrell lifted his wrapped arms straight out and groaned as he advanced on Al. This put Al into a fit of laughter.
"Now you're the Invisible Zombie?" Al asked. "You're a mess."
Darrell laughed too.
"Yes, but I'm your mess." Darrell countered. "We're going to be late if we don't head out soon."
They went to three parties that night, drinking too much and having just enough fun. Al had to explain his costume to everyone but those who listened to the podcast were in awe. More than one chided Darrell for not being the podcast's radio host but ultimately forgave him in the spirit of the holiday.
The walk home took the pair over a secluded spot overlooking the town. It was a make out spot, to be sure, but it was strangely empty that night.
"Let's stop here for a minute." Darrell suggested. The alcohol in his system was telling him the moonlit hill was the perfect spot for his Halloween joke.
"If you're trying to make out with me here, I will decline." Al laughed. "You will take me home and bed me like a gentleman."
Darrell shook his head and held Al's hand.
"I have something to tell you." Darrell said, trying to stay solemn and barely managing to keep the smirk off his face. "Something you should know."
Al stopped and looked at Darrell. He was trying to look into the other man's eyes but it was impossible with the dark sunglasses.
"What is it?" Al sounded worried.
"I...I have a condition." Darrell choked back the laughter trying to bubble over. It came out like a choked sob.
Al leaned in, truly becoming worried.
"A condition?" Al was nearly trembling. "Please, Darrell, tell me what's wrong."
"I think it has something to do with the lab experiment I've been working on." Darrell said. "I thought I found the breakthrough of a lifetime. So...I took the elixir and..."
"What the hell are your trying to tell me, Darrell?" Al was getting frantic. "What elixir? What's wrong with you?"
"I'm trying to tell you." Darrell said. "I created an elixir of invisibility but I can't reverse it. I just can't reverse it!"
With his final words, Darrell released the bandages on his face and let them fall. He knew what Al would see. Al would be able to see straight through Darrell's head into the dark woods beyond. Al would see nothing.
Darrell had never told anyone about his powers. His parents knew, of course, but he had been told his entire life he had to keep it a secret. He knew he had to tell Al if he ever hoped for them to have a real future together.
What he didn't expect in his intoxicated state, was Al's reaction. Al back away from Darrell, a scream caught in his throat.
"Wh...wha..." Al backed away further, putting as much distance between him and Darrell as he could. Darrell could see real fear in Al's face.
"No, you don't understand." Darrell got serious, his great joke no longer seeming the least bit funny. "It's real...it's something--"
Darrell reached out a hand for Al, but he pushed away. Darrell, still too drunk to realize he hadn't yet turned visible, kept pushing forward, reaching for the man he loved.
Neither was paying attention to how close they had moved towards the edge of the overhang. Darrell watched helplessly as Al's blue eyes grew wider with a different kind of fear than what he had shown moments before. Al fell backwards over the cliff and Darrell had to watch the white lab coat fall into the darkness below.
The darkness around Darrell dissipated into the white of the lab room. He saw a man in a lab coat and called out, still in the dream he had so recently vacated.
"Al, please, it's me." Darrell's words came out slurred.
The lab coat turned to show, not Al, but Dr. Decker. The blue eyes were the same and the tilt of the head as the man studied him.
"Albrecht is dead." The man said unemotionally. "You killed him."
Darrell's vision blurred as tears came to his eyes.
"I didn't mean to." Darrell said. "I loved him. I just wanted him to know about me. The real me."
"The real you killed my son." Dr. Decker continued in the same flat tone. "And I am going to study the real you. It will hurt."
Darrell cried for real. He wasn't worried about himself. He had known this day would come. He had known he would have to pay for what happened to Al.
"Did you know Albrecht spent over a year in the hospital before he died?" Dr. Decker asked as he picked up a scalpel from a nearby tray. "He was in constant agony from the fall. Constant agony for a year until he finally passed."
Darrell let out a cry as the scalpel bit into his upper arm.
"I know you were there that day." Dr. Decker said. "I saw the pressure on the bed. I know what you did."
"It was an accident!" Darrell yelled through the pain.
"The fall, maybe." Decker continued to remove bits of Darrell's skin and place them in small plastic tubes. "Do you deny you suffocated my son?"
The pain was so intense that Darrell couldn't form coherent words. He couldn't tell this man how he hadn't been able to stand the life Al was forced in to because of him. He couldn't tell Decker how he did it out of love.
"Don't worry, Mr. Convale." Decker said, as if knowing what Darrell was trying to say. "I consider what you did at the end an act of charity. Something I was not brave enough to do myself. For that, I will only keep you in pain one year before I do the same for you."
My lofty dreams of being a famous & brilliant writer were literally smacked out of my head. Now I plan to fill the void with copious amounts of subpar writing!