Experiment #257

Infusion Book 1, Part 1

Wilbur Cranford Dibbs lay sprawled in a hospital bed, dying. Three rounds of chemo and two extreme diets hadn’t fixed his problem, but a new fresh-faced doctor had just come in with one final plan.

“You’re sure this will work?” Mrs. Watkins, Wilbur’s sister asked.

“Very little is certain in medicine,” Dr. Smite said. “There are always complications with new medications, but all the research says it’s promising. Human trials have been mixed, though.” Dr. Smite smiled. “He may end up growing a horn out of his forehead, but with cancer this advanced and a pallor that white, he’s got maybe twelve hours. Twenty-four if he’s lucky.”

“Did you say he’d grow a horn?” Mrs. Watkins asked.

“That was a joke.”

“What’s the worst case scenario?”

“His body rejects it and he dies.”

“What’s the best case?”

“He wakes up tomorrow.”

Mrs. Watkins sat down on the chair behind her. She reached over and touched the hand of her brother in the hospital bed.

Wilbur was well past middle-aged and had the paunch and hair loss to prove it. He’d done construction in his early years, but settled down as a postal worker in his thirties. Despite the whine and whizz in his ears from the hospital monitors, he had heard every word of the conversation.

“And this is safe?” Mrs. Watkins asked.

“Tomorrow is no guarantee either way. But the preliminary results are promising. It might just give your brother a new life.”

“He might die from it, though?”

“Mrs. Watkins, this is your brother’s last chance. He’s too far gone for any other treatment. We have done all that modern medicine can. This is his last hope.”

Wilbur raised his hand. Mrs. Watkins and Dr. Smite stopped. “Do it,” he said in a harsh whisper.

“But, Wilbur, you might die,” Mrs. Watkins said.

“That happened a long time ago,” he said in the same hard tones.

His sister tried to protest further, but Wilbur’s eyes rolled back in his head. His heart stopped beating. Alarms sounded.

“What have you done?” Mrs. Watkins shouted. She stood up and smacked at her brother’s chest in a futile and rather violent attempt to wake him.

“I haven’t yet begun,” Dr. Smite said. He pulled a syringe of purple, shimmering liquid from the case in his hand. With practiced skill he sunk the needle into Wilbur’s veins. He placed the syringe back in the case just as nurses flooded the room attending to the whining heart monitor. A doctor followed.

The doctor took one look at Dr. Smite and said, “Who is this guy? Gloria, you bring in a consult?”

“No clue,” a nurse responded. Her real name was Bridget, but the doctor had forgotten that long ago.

“Gloria, Get him out of here,” the Doctor said.

Another nurse (also not named Gloria) moved to usher him out as Mrs. Watkins turned in horror to Dr. Smite, but neither found their quarry. He had already left. Mrs. Watkins sat down in the chair and wept.

The doctor, Dr. Pompous as the nurses called him, did his best to save Wilbur’s life, but his body gave out. Dr. Pompous pronounced Wilbur Cranford Dibbs dead thirty minutes later.

Experiment #258

Infusion Book 1, Part 2

Wilbur awoke in a dark, cold room. At first he thought he’d been placed in a coffin, but further inspection revealed cold metal sides. When his fingers explored the panel above his head, pushing lightly, a crack of light opened at his feet. When he pushed further he realized he lay in some kind of drawer. As he pushed his way out he found himself in a stark white room with cold metal accents all around. When he had pushed himself far enough out he sat up.

A guy in a lab coat cowered against the far wall. Wilbur looked back at the wall from which he had just pushed himself. Similar metal cabinets stood in neat rows and covered the entire row.

“The morgue,” Wilbur said.

The morgue attendant gave a yelp. “Who said that?” he called in a shaky voice.

Wilbur looked back at the attendant then around the small room. “Is there anybody else here?” Wilbur asked.

The attendant shook. “Yes,” he said, then latching onto the words like a life-preserver, continued, “Yes, lots of people. There’s people outside the door and lots of witnesses. They’ll find you if you kill me.”

Wilbur looked around to see where the camera crew might pop out. “Why would I kill you?” Wilbur asked.

“I don’t know…” the attendant said. “Don’t ghosts normally kill people? Revenge on the living and all?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Wilbur said. He sat there for a minute looking at the fear in the eyes of the attendant. “Where are my clothes?” Wilbur finally asked.

“I didn’t think ghosts needed clothes.”

“You expect me to walk around like this?”

The attendant couldn’t see what “this” meant, but he pointed a shaky finger across the room to a second set of smaller drawers.

Wilbur swung his legs around and padded over to the drawers. “Which one’s mine?”

The attendant gave a fresh yelp and turned his attention indiscriminately in Wilbur’s direction.

Wilbur looked back at the attendant, the wild fear in his eyes, pointed somewhere in his direction, but not at him. Wilbur waved his hands. The attendant didn’t move. Wilbur did a little dance. No sign of recognition crossed the attendant’s face. Wilbur walked up close to the attendant and said, “Boo.” The attendant yelped and fainted. Wilbur chuckled to himself, but then he felt shame. The young attendant lay splayed out on the floor in the most pitiful manner, innocent of anything but fear.

Wilbur matched his toe tag to the numbers on one of the drawers and pulled out his clothes and got dressed. He smiled. “It’s high time,” he said, “I came back from the dead.”

#

He could not figure out how to do it, though. He had few friends and no family beyond his sister, and his ex certainly wouldn’t care one way or the other. If he showed up at his sister’s house he might cause more than a faint, and then he’d really be alone.

He went to the park down the street from his apartment and sat on the bench. He sat there thinking through the options. He finally decided to find his brother-in-law and approach him first. Before he could move, however, an old lady walked up with a bag full of bread crumbs for the pigeons and sat on him.

The old woman screamed upon the contact and hurriedly stood up.

“Hey,” he called, mostly out of bewilderment.

“Oh, oh, oh,” she said, “I’m so sorry, I-” She stopped and looked this way and that, seemingly uncertain of what just happened.

“It’s alright,” Wilbur said.

A strange look came into the woman’s eye.  “Who said that?”

“Who do you think?” Wilbur asked.

The lady’s eyes widened. She checked her pulse and then placed the back of her hand on her temple.  “No fever it seems…” she said to herself, then, steeling herself against what might come she crossed herself and said, “Whoever you are, I want you to leave.”

Wilbur shrugged. “Fine,” he said. He got up and went off to find his brother-in-law.

The woman sat down cautiously on the next bench over and tossed breadcrumbs on the sidewalk.

Experiment #259

Infusion Book 1, Part 3

Across town Jim Watkins finished loading the truck and triple checked the paperwork as it drove off to do its round of deliveries. He’d worked his way up from being a loader at the furniture store to the loading dock manager. He stood by himself while the loading men went for a smoke break or to cool off with a soda from the machine.

Wilbur ambled up the drive toward the loading dock. He took his time. He hoped Jim would have a chance to spot him and thus lessen the shock. But Jim stayed absorbed in his checklist. When Wilbur came up to the edge of the dock, he looked up at Jim. He coughed.

Jim didn’t move.

Wilbur coughed louder.

Jim looked up, but his eye never fell on Wilbur. He turned back to his sheet.

“Jim?” Wilbur asked.

Jim looked up once again, but he didn’t seem to see anyone.

“Jim?” Wilbur said again.

“Who’s there? Who said that?” Jim asked.

Wilbur stepped directly in Jim’s vision. He stared into Jim’s eyes, but Jim’s eyes never focused on him. They looked far out to the road. And that’s when Wilbur knew the attendant was right. He really had died and, like so many lost souls before him, had been cursed to walk the earth for the rest of eternity.

#

That night Wilbur got hungry. At first he dismissed it as a phantom of the past, his mind, used to the rhythms of life, inserting hunger as a way to make the experience familiar.

He slept through it the first night. Another oddity, sleep. He would have thought that those condemned to walk the earth wouldn’t need sleep. Perhaps that was part of the curse, forever forced to see everything you knew, to feel everything you used to feel and never be able to participate. He carried on like this for three days. By then he could think of nothing but the cavernous hole in his stomach. He saw a convenience store a block ahead. He walked in, grabbed three hot dogs and five tacquitos off the grill, filled up a large cup with soda and walked out. He passed a man in a ski mask on his way out. Shouts erupted from behind him, but he couldn’t do anything, so he walked around the corner and kept walking. The food tasted so good.

A police car pulled up in front of Wilbur. A young officer got out and trained his weapon in Wilbur’s direction. He said, “Freeze!”

Wilbur turned to look behind him then sidestepped to the wall thinking he’d get a front row seat of the showdown between the officer and the man in the ski mask. But when he looked no one was behind him.

The officer said, “Don’t move again or I’ll shoot.”

Wilbur looked back at the officer to see the gun pointed straight at him. “Me?” Wilbur asked. “You can see me?”

Experiment #260

Infusion Book 1, Part 4

Wilbur spent a confusing night in jail. Periodically an officer would run in and look bewildered to find Wilbur sitting in the same spot as last time.

The next morning another officer came in,  “Pack your bags, Grandpa, you’re gettin’ outta here.”

“What?” Wilbur asked. “Why?”

“You can ask the Who, When, and How once you’re outta here, c’mon get movin’,” the officer said.

After he let Wilbur out of the cell he lead him to a desk where another officer sat in front of a large metal cage. Wilbur gave his name and an officer went to get his personal items.

Wilbur looked at the officer’s badge. Peretti. “Umm… Uhhh… Officer Peretti? Is their anything you can tell me?”

Officer Peretti shook his head. “I think the Sarge said something about your son payin’ your bail,” he said.

“I don’t have a son,” Wilbur said

Officer Peretti shrugged. “Maybe you should adopt this guy then,” he said.

The man waiting for him at the front desk broke into a smile as Wilbur approached. “Let’s get you home, Dad.”

Wilbur looked back at him with bewilderment. He’d seen the man before, but he couldn’t place him. The man looked from one officer to another, his foot started to tap.  “Sorry to bother you officers. My dad has Alzheimer’s and wanders off sometimes. Most days he forgets small things like which episodes of the game shows he’s seen. He’ll watch the same show thirty times and never realize it was a rerun unless he saw it before 1978, but the doctor just put him on a new kind of medicine…” The man laughed and trailed off. “It’s good to see you,” the man said addressing Wilbur and stepping forward to wrap Wilbur in a big hug. “Play along,” he whispered in Wilbur’s ear while they were close.

“Do you know this man?” the sergeant at the front desk asked Wilbur. Care somehow seeped into the voice of this tough, thirty-year veteran.  “You don’t have to go with him.”

Wilbur sort of shrugged and looked at the man. After the last few days, he almost believed the Alzheimer’s story, but the harsh whisper in his ear had an edge to it that Wilbur wasn’t sure he liked.

“Dad, don’t you remember getting discharged from the hospital? The doctor was trying a new kind of medicine?” The man said.

Suddenly Wilbur’s brain clicked and he recognized the man. “Son!” He said loudly then threw out his arms and barreled toward the man for a second hug.

“You sure you know this guy?” The sergeant asked Wilbur.

Wilbur smiled too widely and nodded his head too vigorously. “He’s my son,” Wilbur said. “Besides, I’m sure you have his address if anything happens.”

The sergeant frowned. “You sure you want to go with him? He’s bailed you out, but I can call you a cab.”

“That’s okay. I’ll be fine.”

The sergeant handed Wilbur his card. “You need anything, you call the desk and ask for me, Sergeant Kowalski,” he said.

“I’m sure we’ll manage,” the man said.

Sergeant Kowalski gave the man a firm stare then helped Wilbur out to the man’s waiting car. “Take care,” Kowalski said. “I don’t want you disappearing on us.”

#

“You’re the doctor?” Wilbur asked the man once they had closed the car doors. “From the hospital?”

“You certainly met me at the hospital,” Dr. Smite replied.

“What did you give me? Why can’t people see me sometimes? Am I dead?”

Dr. Smite remained calm and lucid as he turned on the car and put the engine in gear. “You’re not dead, not yet. I will answer all of your questions, but not here. Not now. For the time being you must trust me.”

Experiment #261

Infusion Book 1, Part 5

They drove to a run down Italian restaurant on the outskirts of the city. They walked in and took a table in the far back. Dr. Smite positioned himself to watch the door, while Wilbur slid into the seat across from him.

“What are we doing here?” Wilbur asked.

“The pancakes are delicious here,” Dr. Smite said. He studied his menu.

“This is an Italian restaurant.”

“Their nationality has no impact on the quality of their food.”

“Why are we here?”

“The pancakes.”

Wilbur didn’t like pancakes.

Dr. Smite put down his menu and looked over folded hands at Wilbur. “Do you know how you survived?”

Before Wilbur could answer a waitress walked up. Without shifting his piercing gaze from Wilbur, Dr. Smite said, “Two orders of pancakes, Myra.

“You had stage four pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Smite said to Wilbur once Myra had left. “What saved you?”

“Sometimes I wonder if I have been saved.”

Dr. Smite smiled. “Then I think you’re ready to know.”

Myra returned with two heaping plates of pancakes and a bottle of syrup. She set the plates in front of them.

When she left Dr. Smite continued. “Have you ever heard of Unus Equus?”

Wilbur shook his head.

“They were long believed to be a myth, but technological advances allowed us to capture the first images of them about a decade ago.” He poured syrup over his pancakes. “And about six years ago we captured the first one. We don’t know all the ins and outs of how it works yet, but-”

“Why are you telling me this?”

Dr. Smite smiled. “This animal, more commonly known as a unicorn-”

“Wait, What?”

“Mr. Dibbs, if you will allow me to get through a sentence, I will gladly clear up all the details.”

“Alright, Alright.”

“Now as I was saying six weeks ago we captured the formerly mythical creature known as a unicorn. Somehow this animal puts itself out of phase with the rest of reality. It’s like light just passes through them or to be more accurate they reflect it back in a way that cancels out the reflection, making them invisible to the naked eye. I injected you with a special serum of unicorn blood.”

“Why the heck would you do that?”

“You were dying, Mr. Dibbs. Modern medicine had failed you. You were the perfect candidate.”

“But what about testing the stuff? Lab trials? You know, injecting rats and stuff? Why jump to humans?”

“My dear boy, if we had not acted when we did, I dare say you would not have lived. There was no time for trials.”

“Well, why me? Why inject me?”

“Many attributes have been ascribed to the unicorn, illusiveness, flight, healing and prognostication to name a few. It seems that some of these are accurate and some are not.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“We didn’t choose you, the unicorn did. He scratched your name on the wall of his stall before he died. We tried to honor his final choice.”

“How did he die?”

“We aren’t certain. We’ve only studied them a short time. We don’t even know for sure what they eat so keeping one in captivity was bound to cause some fatalities, but how else could we learn?”

“You couldn’t just watch them with your cameras?”

“It would have taken years to gather even the most mundane of information. When the opportunity came to capture one, we took it.”

“PETA didn’t care?”

“Operations like this are outside PETA’s domain.”

“What kind of operation?”

“The kind daunting enough to capture a unicorn.

Experiment #262

Infusion Book 1, Part 6

Wilbur picked up his fork. “It really carved my name? It carved ‘Wilbur Dibbs’?”

“‘Wilbur Cranford Dibbs’ to be exact.  There were actually four of you in the entire world, but you were the only one terminally ill at the time.”

“Why would that make a difference?”

“Technically it didn’t. We gave the serum to all four of you.”

“So there are three other guys like me? Like this?” He motioned to himself.

“No, you were the only one to take the serum willingly. It seems that has something to do with acceptance of the foreign proteins and enzymes. The others are incapacitated.”

“Incapacitated?”

“Yes, well… One’s blood turned acidic and ate through his veins, nasty to watch and I’m certain just as bad to experience. Another’s mind cracked. He had been a university professor beforehand, but now he bites his fingers and mumbles about the number five. The third one grew a horn right out of his forehead. He threw himself off a bridge.

“Eat some of your pancakes, Mr. Dibbs.

“And that brings me to you. Somehow the serum has not corrupted you in the same way as the others.  Though your powers lack control they seem largely to be maintained and your mind seems intact.”

“Don’t ask my sister,” Wilbur said. He chuckled. He raised a bite to his lips, but then stopped. She thought he was dead. He might never see her again.

An image flashed across his mind. An image of himself face down in his pancakes while Dr. Smite looked on, smiling. As suddenly as it appeared it was gone.

Wilbur looked back across the table at Dr. Smite who smiled in the same eerie way he had just seen. He dropped his fork. As he scrambled to pick it up, two large men stepped up to the booth.

“You just had a premonition didn’t you?” Dr. Smite asked.

Before he could reply Dr. Smite’s eyes changed from triumphant to angry.

“He’s disappeared,” one of the large men shouted. Once Wilbur realized the man was talking about him, he lost no time in punching the closest man in the groin. As the man fell Wilbur scrambled to get out of the restaurant. The second man grabbed him, but the man had no way of knowing what he was holding. Wilbur kicked hard with his legs and shoved the man into the bar and his head into the man’s stomach. Wilbur scrambled to his feet. Everyone in the restaurant began to converge on his location, all looking around trying to prepare for his invisible threat. He picked up a chair and threw it at the window next to Dr. Smite’s head. He jumped on the table then slipped off the side of it and underneath.

Dr. Smite and the two men jumped on the table and ran out the window. The patrons of the restaurant either followed Dr. Smite out the window or headed out the front door to find Wilbur.

When everyone had left the restaurant, Wilbur breathed a sigh of relief.

A weapon clicked behind his ear.  “You’re invisible not inaudible,” a voice said from behind him.

Wilbur raised his hands, though the weapon holder would have no way of knowing it. “Please don’t shoot,” he said.

“Wow, stealth just ain’t your thing is it?”

Wilbur shivered.

“Alright,” the voice said. “I think they’re far enough away. Did you eat any of the pancakes?”

“What?”

“The pancakes, did you eat any of the pancakes?”

“No.”

“Good, now turn around.”

Wilbur dutifully turned and materialized. After he took in the Glock 22 in his face, he looked up at a burly man with a long, twisted horn poking out of his forehead.

“I expect you’re Wilbur Cranford Dibbs,” the man said.

“And so are you,” Wilbur said. “Wait, he said you jumped off a bridge?”

“Wasn’t the first time.” He holstered his gun and stuck out his hand. “Call me Cran. I figure we’re in this together.” He looked out the shattered window the people hunched over with their arms out searching every inch of ground by feel. “Come on Willy, old boy, we’ve got to get ourselves out of here before they find us.”

Wilbur and Cran went out the back of the restaurant. They walked a few blocks before Cran found an unlocked car and hot wired it. They drove out of town for nearly an hour. Wilbur pumped Cran with questions, but Cran just put his finger to his lips and said nothing. Finally they turned onto a barely visible dirt road leading at the end to what could only be described as a tree fort.

“Welcome to the Deathtrap,” Cran said.

“Funny, that’s what I would have named it too,” Wilbur thought.

Experiment #263

Infusion Book 1, Part 7

After Cran had disabled all of the booby traps. He and Wilbur entered the single, dirty room that served as both armory and living space. “Make yourself at home,” Cran said as he reset the booby traps.

Cran offered him a cup of tea, which Wilbur hesitantly accepted. Wilbur moved two grenades and an automatic rifle to make space on the couch, and sat down.

Cran handed Wilbur an exquisite china saucer and cup while he took his own tea from a battered tin cup. Cran moved a stack of ammunition and three mortar cannons and sat down in the ragged armchair next to Wilbur.

“You’re lucky,” Cran said.

“How so?” Wilbur asked after taking a sip of tea.

“Your adaptation’s invisible. Ha!” Cran laughed at his little joke, though Wilbur didn’t get it. “Because nobody can see your adaptation when it’s not in use and no one can see you when it is.” Cran laughed again. Wilbur, not wishing to offend a man who keeps grenades on his couch, laughed too.

Cran pointed to the twisted horn growing out of is forehead. “I’ve tried hacksaws, diamond tipped rotary saws, acid, and explosives just trying to get the thing down far enough to wear a hat, but it’s nigh indestructible.”

“How long have you been this way?”

“About six months.”

“How’d they get you?” Wilbur motioned to the guns, ammunition, and explosives covering the floors and surfaces of the room. “I mean, with all of this, how’d they inject you with the serum?”

Cran looked away. “They tricked me. Apparently the woman I loved didn’t love me back. We went to dinner one night. She insisted I have the pancakes at that same restaurant I found you in. I’ve always loved pancakes so I ordered them. After I polished off the plate, I stood up to use the restroom, fell to the floor and woke up with this sucker growing out of my forehead. Haven’t seen the lady since.”

“You think the pancakes were drugged?”

“That or her cherry red lips.”

Wilbur looked away as emotion began to cut through Cran’s exterior. “Quite a collection you’ve got here,” Wilbur said, hoping to change the subject.

After a moment Cran said, “Yeah, I was in delta force for a while. Been a civilian for a year now, since they wouldn’t let me do another tour.”

“You seem to be adjusting well,” Wilbur said, looking at the claymores, handguns, grenades, automatic weapons, and sniper rifles that littered the room.

“What do you know about this organization, the one hunting us?” Wilbur asked.

“Not much more than you. They’re from a company called Unquus labs. Why you need all those u’s in a name I’ll never know. Seem to be led in part by Dr. Smite, but I don’t think he’s really in charge.”

“Why?”

“I’ve been staking out the restaurant for weeks now. He’ll often take a phone call in the middle of a meeting. Not quite a boss’s way.”

Wilbur’s eye fell on Cran’s horn. His mind thought back to his invisibility and the premonition he had just before the situation at the restaurant went south.

“Forgive me for asking this,” Wilbur said, “but is the horn the only thing different?”

Cran stood up, turned his back to Wilbur and dropped his pants. After Wilbur got over the initial shock he realized a lock of silver hair grew out of the base of Cran’s spine, much like a horse’s tail.

“You could have just said, ‘No'” Wilbur said.

“Feel it. It’s almost as strong as the horn, but silky smooth. I’ve ruined a dozen pair of scissors and more saws that I can count trying to cut it off or even just trim it.” Cran turned enough to look at Wilbur. “Go on feel it.”

Feeling an obligation to do what a former delta force agent with plenty of weapons and ammunition at his disposal tells you to do, Wilbur reached out and touched Cran’s tail. The tail felt feathery light as if it almost wasn’t there.

“It’s like gossamer had a baby with air,” Cran said.

Wilbur nodded and, to Wilbur’s great relief, Cran pulled up his pants.

Experiment #264

Infusion Book 1, Part 8

“Wish I’d gotten invisibility and you got the horn,” Cran said without even trying to hide his feelings. “I could do a lot with invisibility.”

“If you could control it,” Wilbur said.

“You are surrounded with superior forces and superior weaponry,” called a voice on a loud-speaker.

Wilbur looked at Cran. Panic spread across Wilbur’s face and he suddenly vanished from view.

Cran shook his head, picked up a grenade launcher and walked to the window. He looked out. “Awwww stuff it,” he yelled.  “Just try and come in.”

“You have been found guilty of defilement by the Grand High Council of the Order of the Horn,” the voice said over the loud-speaker. “Exit the premises peacefully. Force has been authorized.”

“What do we do?” Wilbur asked as Cran rushed by him to look out the back window.

“They don’t look like the Unquus Labs people. A couple are wearing armor.”

“Body armor?”

“Medieval armor, but a lot more high-tech.”

Cran opened a foot locker behind the couch.

“What do we do?” Wilbur asked.

Cran pulled out a shoulder mounted grenade launcher. “Say Hi.”

“This is your final warning,” said the voice on the loudspeaker. “Exit the premises within the next ten seconds with your hands raised or we will be forced to intervene.”

Wilbur crept up to the window and looked out. All around the tree house the Order of the Horn had set up barricades, and behind each barricade stood four to five people dressed in hi-tech medieval armor with what Wilbur guessed were laser sighted projectile weapons pointed at the building. Behind them was a cavalry of sorts, heavily armored humvees with souped up versions of the handheld weapons sticking out of the top.

Cran cocked his grenade launcher, aimed and fired at the humvee behind the closest barricade. Knights of the Order of the Horn and their squires scattered out of the blast radius as the humvee exploded into a beautiful fireball.

“Run while you can, Willy,” Cran called over his shoulder as he aimed his grenade launcher and fired at his next target.

“Don’t worry about me,” Cran said. He looked over his shoulder to where Wilbur had been standing, but Wilbur was nowhere to be seen. Cran grumbled about the ingratitude of house guests as he turned his attention back to the threat at hand.

As soon as Cran had hit the first humvee, the Knights of the Order of the Horn had begun firing their weapons at “The Deathtrap.” At first it didn’t seem like the weapons were doing much of anything, but soon Cran’s horn started to sweat, the temperature in the room had gone up ten degrees. Cran kept firing at the humvees and anyone he could see. Suddenly a box of ammo exploded like a pack of firecrackers. They’d been close to a window and had felt the full force of the heat ray. Cran knew it was just a matter of time before the Deathtrap exploded. Cran had just calculated the maximum number of combatants he could take out with that explosion when the air suddenly cooled. Cran peeked out of a window and saw a heat gun floating in the air, turned toward the knights who fired on Cran. “That idiot is good for something,” Cran said.

Wilbur who’d barely incapacitated one of the knights and stolen his heat gun, turned and fired it at the line. The line of knights turned towards Wilbur, more annoyed than hurt, but when they saw the gun floating in the air rage swelled into their faces and they turned there guns on Wilbur. “Defiler!” one shouted.

They quickly overwhelmed Wilbur, in his fear and confusion he turned visible again. Two of them grabbed him and held him while a third punched him. Before they could do any real damage, though, the Deathtrap exploded in one giant fireball. Wilbur looked up to see the silhouette of a man with a horn jumping at his captors.

Cran made quick work of the knights that held Wilbur, the one who had punched Wilbur and three others who looked on. These knights had not been trained in close hand to hand combat and despite their fancy weapons they went down just as easily as every other force Cran had taken on.

“You ok, Willy?” Cran asked as he hoisted Wilbur to his feet. (He ‘d fallen to his knees as Cran took out his captors.)  Wilbur wiped the blood away from his lips with the back of his hand and nodded. With the hole in the perimeter Cran had just created, Cran and Wilbur set off at a run, deeper into the woods.

Experiment #265

Infusion Book 1, Part 9

They ran as fast as they could through the underbrush, pushing branches aside as they rushed through. Sounds of pursuit began to reach them from trees behind them. Cran fired a few wild shots backwards to discourage those sounds. Then he took the lead as Wilbur’s adrenaline started to wane and the pudge he’d shepherded through years of bad meals and rich desserts began to weigh on him.

Up ahead the trees thinned as the ground rose up to a ridge. Wilbur breathed heavily and a pain pierced his side.

At the top of the ridge Cran stopped. “Awww Crapola,” he said then added some choice words under his breath. When Wilbur got to Cran’s side, his heart sunk. Across the small valley from their position a group of men had fanned out across the ridge.

“Unquus Labs,” Cran said.

“Are you sure?” Wilbur asked.

“Insignia on their arms.”

A twig cracked behind them and brought them out of their reverie. Cran pointed to the right. “We go this way and try to make for the river.”

As he spoke Wilbur caught the faintest shimmer of white in the trees to their left. “No, we go left.”

“That’ll be suicide. The trees run out a half mile up there. We’ll be sitting ducks.”

“I saw something that way. We need to go left.”

“It’ll get us killed.”

“I’m going that way.”

“Suit yourself,” Cran said and took off toward their right.

Wilbur set off toward the shimmer as fast as the pain in his side would let him. As soon as he got to the spot where he’d seen the shimmer, he saw another shimmer of white like the flank of a horse several hundred yards ahead. Behind him he heard shots and Cran screaming in pain.

Wilbur stopped and turned back. The trees blocked his view except for a few flashes of light. He wavered, unsure whether he should go back or not. He looked at his hands and saw them clearly, knowing he’d probably be visible if he headed back. Though he had no idea how to utilize his new power, he had begun to understand how it felt when it was working: the buzz at the back of his brain, the translucent sheen on the parts of his body he could see.

A whinny sounded on the wind behind him. He turned and followed it into the hills.

Wilbur followed the sightings to a small clearing. In the center stood one of the most beautiful things he’d ever seen a stallion unicorn. His hide was white like fresh fallen snow or the light given off by a full moon. His horn was twisted the way Cran’s was, but far more majestic like a wizard’s wand. A deep sadness shone through his eyes. A rush of images crashed through Wilbur’s mind. A child crying. The number four. Spring blossoms. A stall in a barn. A medieval sword. A mouse reaching for the cheese on a lever. As Wilbur reached him, the unicorn vanished.

“There he is!” came a shout from the ring of trees lining the clearing. Wilbur turned to run, but another agent from Unquus labs was behind him. Everywhere he turned he saw the Unquus labs logo, a raised weapon, and no escape. He put up his hands and went down to his knees, wondering why the unicorn had betrayed him.

###

Deep in a corner of the underground complex lay an old man on a hospital bed in a sound proof room. Tubes and wires and bandages covered much of his body. His body had an odd shape, too wide and flat, like a Jello mold left out in the sun. On the floor beside the bed sat a young man with hair deeply in need of a comb, a cross between Einstein and a television antenna. He worked in a notebook that he turned round and round as he added numbers and lines and squiggles and dots and ancient runes. “Bur-sy, Bur-sy lived in Jersey, came to Cray and gave it mercy,” the young man said without looking up. He repeated this again and again in a sing-song manner.

The old man coughed. “Hmm…” He said. “Yes, my jabberwock. He is here or rather, he’s coming.”

***End of Infusion – Book 1***