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.”
“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.
To Be Continued…