You can’t see them, but they’re everywhere: they’re invisible.
One might be breathing on your shoulder this very moment. The man sitting next to you or the pretty girl behind the cash register could be one of them, the mailman, the policeman, the gas station attendant, any one of them, but you would never know. You can’t see them. They’re invisible.
I can though. I can see them everywhere: lurking under the porches, prowling the day-lit streets. Yesterday I saw one riding shotgun in an ice cream truck. The foreign guy at the 7-11 is one of them and so’s my teacher Mr. Rodolfo. I can tell.
I call them Sentient Extra-Dimensional Plasmic Entities – or just “Imps” for short. They’re cruel and wicked, devious and nefarious, but spectacular to behold. Like living light, like drops of lambent plasma spilled from the sun; their substance is the hot, glowing stuff of stars. They’re children of light – sentient fusion reactions. And they’ve come to earth with one objective: global domination.
Now you know why I’m so worried, some might say obsessed. There’s a war going on beneath what you can see and the stakes are the very highest. Single-mindedness – obsession – is necessary in war. In war there is no time to wonder if others believe me nor a moment to consider whether I’m making a fool of myself fighting “invisible monsters.” In war there is only action and reaction, attack and counterattack. There is only the sharpened instinct of a warrior – etched on my grey-matter – instinct commanding my thoughts and actions.
You see, I’m special. Important. Destined even. I’ve got the Immunity.
You ask, “What is the Immunity?”
Well, I can’t tell you.
I don’t really know myself. It’s something about me – something special, something different, something you don’t have.
How did I get it? Well, I don’t know that either; I was born special, ok?
The Immunity is the key. It allows me to see into the extra dimensions they occupy, to know their nefarious stratagems. The Immunity is the key to victory in this war but I alone have it. So I’m working night and day to isolate its origin; if I can pin it down by its roots, I just might be able to pass it to others. The Imps are a virus – enslaving human minds with their lambent plasmic infection. The Immunity, once I isolate it, will be the cure.
My laboratory is in my room, on the second floor of my parents’ house. I would have preferred the basement for its darkness – darkness is the best way to combat beings of living light – but my dad insisted on putting a bar and pool table down there. He’s not worried about extra-dimensional conspiracies: he doesn’t have the Immunity either.
In my room I blacked the windows with Rustoleum and rolled a heavy blanket over the door. The Imps – beings of living light, lambent childlings of solar plasma – abhor the dark. So in my room – my laboratory – there is implacable darkness. Only there am I truly safe.
There I slave away the hours experimenting on the Immunity. I personally designed all my apparatus: fifth-dimensional photometers, electro-magnetic wave inverters, anti-electron microscopes. Most of these I built using parts of my bicycle, an old barbecue grill, and some broken VCR’s. I’m always on the lookout for a good, broken VCR.
Lately I’ve been examining my blood under the anti-electron microscope. I believe the origin of the Immunity is in my pre-natal development. I’ve tried to learn the secrets of my past from my mother, but she’s no help, someone’s bought her silence – or altered her memory. All she ever says is she sure did a lot of drugs back then.
One morning I woke early to finish some experiments; the earth’s magnetic field is most conducive to my work in the pre-dawn hours.
The anti-electron microscope is hand operated. I turn a bike pedal, which spins two steel cylinders, which grind against a wooden board, which spits out twin jets of anti-electrons, plumes of wood shavings, and a high-decibel squeal. The twin jets of anti-electrons, incident on a glass slide, highlight the presence and structure of any anti-photonic particles. The squealing, incident on my dad’s ears, pisses him off to no end.
I observed small vials of my own blood under varying pedal speeds for twenty minutes that morning, turning the pedal and grinding out the anti-electrons – a disembodied squeal lost in the darkness.
Suddenly, a banging against the wall.
I shot out of my seat and reached for my weapon.
But it was only my dad. He banged on the wall and shouted from the next room over. “Cut that noisy shit out – it’s four in the morning.”
At least once a week I explain to him that sacrifices, like sleep, must be made in the name of scientific progress. He says, “Sacrifice all you want in your own room. Downstairs, the pool table stays.” Philistine.
An hour later I let the microscope wind down to rest. Between the banging on the wall and the shouting, I couldn’t concentrate. How I’m supposed to win a war under these conditions is beyond understanding.
The work of a soldier is never finished, though. I stood and reaped the sweat from my brown
I’ve become quite adapted to the darkness in my room; I hardly ever trip over things anymore. In that darkness I am a clot, a coalescion, a thickened knot of shadows. I felt my way to an exercise bench in the corner. Aside it I keep weights marked in Braille; did I mention I taught myself Braille? When one lives in total darkness most of the day, it’s necessary.
My exercise routine is strenuous. For two hours I had the weights crashing into each other; the room became a dungeon of sweaty grunts and animal growls and ringing steel.
My dad stopped complaining about the noise around 7 AM; I would like to accommodate his sleep schedule, but a soldier must maintain peak physical condition at all times.
At 7:30 precisely I washed myself in a basin I keep for the purpose, even in the dark I could tell the water needed changing. Then I got my Photonic Containment Suit ready.
The suit is the only way to maintain integrity of darkness outside my room. I highly recommend it to anyone without the Immunity – which is everyone but me. I even made some suits for my parents but they refused to wear them. Philistines.
Its manufacture is simple. Use a heavy black carpet and form a shirt, long-sleeves, and a ground sweeping skirt with needle and thread – black thread, of course. Onto the sleeves sew thick rubber gloves. Finally, fashion a helmet from the same carpet material with loose flaps to be overlapped by the suit proper. For the eyes, cut holes and fit them with tinted glass. Simple and sensible.
The darkness inside the suit is rated against a category 4 imp – highly effective! I keep three such suits in my closet and I wear them everywhere outside the room. I recommend you do too.
That morning, I put on the suit carefully as always – checking all its photon seals by shining a flashlight on it. Satisfied, I hitched up my backpack and stowed my weapon inside.
You ask, “What weapon?” And I see you are alarmed.
I call it the anti-flashlight. It emits a concentrated beam of anti-photons – it’s the most useful advance to come from my researches. Pull the trigger and any Imp in front of the anti-flashlight is toast. Well, not toast – they’re already toast being sentient fusion reactions and all. The opposite of toast, then – cold bread, let’s say. Pull the trigger and any imp in front of it is cold bread.
Suit on, pack strapped, I was ready for the daylight. I flung the door open and stood silhouetted in the glare: an emissary of the night, a harbinger of darkness, mankind’s champion in the hidden war – on his way to high school. A steam of glory blew off my shoulders.
Crossing through the kitchen, I saw my parents fix a jaded shock on their faces.
My dad whispered to my mom, “Man, that kid is weird.”
I’m not sure who he was talking about and I didn’t have time to wonder: the day was upon me. The battle was new every morning.