This is Part 4 of 5, of Executive Fear, from my book, Go West or Go Weird. For earlier Parts, click on the links below:
Executive Fear (Continued)
He went sleepless that night pondering over his amazing discovery. He didn’t know why the slurry had made the plant invisible, but he reasoned that it probably had to do with the uranium in the yellowcake. The uranium might have changed into some substance that produced a kind of powerful x-ray effect. And this powerful x-ray effect might have made it possible for him to see right through the plant like it was invisible.
It was a major discovery, he finally concluded.
A discovery that could change the entire world.
But Otis Felp wasn’t thinking as much about the world as he was thinking of himself. He had tried to invent gold so he could amass a personal fortune. He had failed at that, but now he realized he had discovered something that could help him even better to acquire a fortune.
If he could use that slurry to make himself invisible, he could gain free and easy access to every bank and gold vault in the world. And that could make him a rich and powerful man. That could even make him the most powerful man on the planet. And then, with all that power, he’d have no reason to ever fear again.
Otis Felp liked to live safely. So first he had to experiment. He got some more yellowcake and quicklime from the president of Loplite Mines. Offered him a refinanced loan at stunningly low rates, with an unwritten understanding that he could have more yellowcake and quicklime in the future, whenever he wanted.
Now it was time for more experiments.
He used his cauldron and produced more of the slurry, the same way he had done before.
He had a pet canary named Fernandez, so he decided he would experiment with this bird, first. Then, if the slurry was safe and effective, he would try it out on himself.
He put a drop of it into the canary’s water tube.
A few minutes later the bird took a drink.
And a few minutes after that it began to slowly fade away.
When the bird had completely disappeared it began chirping loudly and flying into the bars of the cage. Otis could easily track its movements, because everywhere it went the cage bars and other surrounding areas disappeared.
It seemed the bird was getting confused. It seemed that it was trying to fly through the cage bars, not knowing that they were still there, but invisible.
Otis spread some of the slurry on his own finger. It had no effect. He spread the slurry on plastic, on metal, and on wood. Again there was no effect. So apparently it had to be ingested by a living organism for it to take effect.
It seemed that for some reason, the x-rays could not be released until the slurry had mixed with the cells of a living organism. But then the x-rays were powerful. So powerful that everything even in the vicinity of the living organism disappeared.
It took almost 48 hours for the slurry to wear off, and for Fernandez to reappear. He looked like he had been beaten with a stick. Most of his larger canary feathers had been torn off as a result of his flying up against the bars of his cage. And he was bleeding in several spots from the wounds he had inflicted upon himself while doing this.
One thing that was kind of unusual, and that bothered Otis a little, was that during the entire time Fernandez had been invisible he had never once sat on his perch. Instead, he seemed to prefer sitting on the cage floor. And that was something Fernandez had rarely done before.
Otis concluded that maybe it was because the perch would become invisible when the bird would fly close to it. Therefore, the canary could not see it to perch upon it.
And Otis speculated this might cause a slight handicap when he robbed bank vaults, because the money would disappear as soon as he started to grab it. On the other hand, that could also cause a great advantage. After all, the money would remain invisible as long as he held it close by. Like in a large sack, up against his body.
He had no doubt in his mind as to this being what he would do. He would rob banks using his secret power of invisibility. Using the slurry. It would be so very easy to do.
But first he had to experiment on himself to make sure it would work. Oh, he was pretty sure the slurry would work, but he felt it was always safest to experiment first anyway. Safety always came first with Otis Felp, for he was a careful, cautious man—what with all the fear he had been born with.
But he wondered how he could conduct the experiment without arousing suspicion. He had gotten away with the canary experiment by telling his maid to take a few days off. Now he would need her to take at least another few days off while he experimented on himself. And maybe he might want to do more than just one experiment.
She already was suspecting that something was going on, especially after she came back to work and saw the condition Fernandez was in. And she was kind of nosy as it was, and had a way of occasionally dropping in on him unexpectedly, even on her days off.
The bank was no problem. He had all kinds of vacation time coming to him, due to his aversion to leaving his home. They wouldn’t suspect a thing. It was a slow time of year anyway, so the bank’s president would no doubt approve of his request to take a leave of absence.
The problem was the maid, and he could only think of one solution. He had to rent a motel room in the city. He cringed at the thought.
The city. The jungle. The place of terror. The crowds. Death. Instant, horrible death. But on the other hand, he thought, if he became invisible what power could the city have over him? It would be as safe as being in his office at work. He would be just as invisible, if not more. Nothing could see him. So nothing could harm him, either.
When a man is invisible he is perfectly safe. The outside world has no power over him. In fact, the man instead has power over the outside world. Great power. He could be an invisible, anonymous, and powerful force. He could do anything he desired, and without fear.
His vacation was approved. Now he must choose the motel. This would be no problem.
The Loaded Gourd Inn was having difficulties paying back its loan to his bank. So they would be very, very accommodating to the bank manager if he were their customer. The owners would be worried. Their voices would tremble with worry. And they would make him feel very secure in their subservience.
The drive to the motel made his palms and forehead run with sweat. What was out there? What wanted to get him? What horrors did the world have to offer on this day? He drove slowly and carefully, but steadily toward the motel, taking the most direct route possible.
When he arrived he almost couldn’t get out of the car. He hadn’t done something like this in such a long time. Here he was, in a foreign place. With foreign dangers. Foreign terrors. It was only a few blocks from where he worked at the bank, but it may as well have been across the ocean. It was a strange, new foreign place. The first such he’d been to in a very long time.
He feared he might have a panic attack.
He almost ran to the lobby, but managed to control himself. Inside, he had trouble speaking.
“I . . . I . . . I’m M . . . M . . . Mister . . . F . . . Felp.”
He said it as a statement. Like he expected something.
The face on the other side smiled with slight amusement and said, “Well how can I help you Mr. , uh, what was that? Felt? Felp? Oh, oh, Mr. Felp! Oh, I’m sorry, I- I didn’t recognize you. Y- yes, how can I, uh, help you, uh, sir?”
His confidence returned a little. “I- I want a room. I want a private room. One week. No disturbances. Not even maid service. A private room.”
It was all “yes sir,” “right away sir,” “no problem sir,” from there on out. He got his room. Having someone walk with him and show him to the room helped out a lot, but that walk was still pretty scary for Otis Felp.
But then he was in his private room. Privacy. Safety. He would have meals brought to him whenever he requested. He would have towels brought to him whenever he asked. He would have anything brought to him that he so desired. All he had to do was pick up the phone and make his wishes known. He would never once have to leave the room for any reason if he didn’t want to.
But of course he did want to leave the room, once he succeeded at making himself invisible. But as an invisible man it would be easy for him to venture into the outside world. Nothing could see him, so nothing could get him. It would be perfectly safe. He would have nothing to fear.
Categories: Series (Stories): Go West Or Go Weird