The Invisibility Game
Carefully taking the dropper in my hand, I slowly positioned
it over the open container. I knew I'd only have one shot at completing this batch,
and any mistake would cause another week in setbacks. I couldn't take another
week of this… it'd be too much… I had to get it right this time, or I'd cancel
the project all together.
I stared at the beaker and watched a thin pillar
of steam pour from its opening, as if anticipating my move. The liquid inside
was a thick crimson red and produced a smell that caused me to gag for air whenever
I mistakenly inhaled it, if I forgot to put on my facemask.
With the dropper clutched between my tense fingers,
I lowered it over the bubbling mixture and prepared myself for the worst. I
had to time it just right, and only allow the tiniest drop to fall. Any more
than was needed would cause the liquid to become a grotesque brown shade, but
if I was successful… well, I don't know what would happen. In theory, the liquid
would become clear as water, but have a glossy texture that would shimmer in
Finally, I held my breath and lightly squeezed
the dropper's top, allowing only a speckle of the fluid to leave… and I watched
hopelessly as it fell into the red below. I watched as the mixture continued
to bubble and began to shift to the brown I had seen so many times before. I
could feel tears in my eyes beginning to form and I forced myself to turn around.
Two years… wasted… I had set out to create the
impossible, something Neopia had never seen before. Invisibility? I knew it
was possible… but my colleagues dismissed my ideas completely, save for Jeff.
He was a trusting Gelert, and probably my best friend in the world. When I came
up with the equation for invisibility, only he believed it could be done. Together
we set out to create the paint, and now, two years later, I knew I'd have to
close the project… I'd be the laughingstock of the Neopian Times…
We believed invisibility was possible, using
the principles that already existed in the Laws of Nature. The idea was to create
a paint, so to speak, that Neopets could use to coat themselves in and quite
literally become invisible to the naked eye. Now of course true invisibility
is nearly impossible, but we determined it was achievable to reach near-invisible
status by using a perfect white paint. In theory the paint would not only reflect
sunlight, but all other colors as well, allowing the user to become perceptibly
Using only a hunch and my paperwork of equations,
Jeff and I set out and invested all of our money into the project… only to watch
it slowly go down the drain…
"Ben… what did you do?" I heard Jeff's voice
call from across the lab, and I knew he'd seen my beaker by now.
"I'm sorry, Jeff…" I began as I turned around
to stare at the mess I had created, but stopped short when I glanced at the
beaker, which looked the exact opposite of what I was expecting.
"Sorry for what! You've finally done it!" the
red Gelert exclaimed with a shout and rushed towards me, patting me on the back
in a congratulating manner.
He was right… the beaker looked like someone
had filled it with clean water, yet light seemed to bounce off it, creating
a sparkling gem aura around the beaker. We stood there, speechless for nearly
five minutes before I finally decided if we really had done it.
"Quick!" I called, wasting no time, "go and
fetch a mirror!"
Jeff left the room and hastily returned with
a large full-length mirror as I took the beaker in one hand.
"Aww… why do you get to test it first?" Jeff
feigned an annoyed look with a grin.
"Cause I'm the Neopet who luckily made the right
mistakes," I replied, returning his smile.
I looked over the beaker in my hand and apprehensively
brought my free hand over it. Gradually I lowered my pointer finger into the
beaker and felt the smooth, cool liquid spread over my orange Yurble fur. In
the hand I held the beaker, the jar and liquid felt normal, but my extended
pointer figure felt like I had just dipped it into a cup of ice water. Instinctively
I recoiled in alarm and nearly dropped the beaker in the process, but caught
myself in time before I let the beaker fall.
"Amazing!" Jeff gasped, and I shot my finger
a look, and was equally amazed at what I saw.
It looked as if my hand always had three fingers;
instead of the normal four… and I watched as the icy cool liquid slowly ran
across my outstretched palm, slowly causing an impossible illusion for my eyes
to look at… my hand looked as if it was being cut in half!
Quickly, I clenched my fist and turned back
to the beaker, searching for a paintbrush. Taking the brush in my clean hand
I dipped it into the beaker and without thinking, began to run the brush over
my fur, while I watched myself in the mirror Jeff had brought.
"Amazing…" Jeff continued to stare with his
mouth ajar as I vanished before his eyes, covering my fur entirely with the
paint, until I couldn't see myself in the mirror anymore.
"What does it feel like?" the Gelert anxiously
asked, more to the empty room than to me.
"It… it feels like I've been covered with ice
water… it's cool, yet I know for a fact that it's not. Like my mind's playing
a trick on me… It's amazing!" I replied as I examined my nonexistent reflection,
then asked, "How does it feel to be near me?"
"It feels creepy, almost," Jeff shuddered, "I
know you're near, as I can hear you, but my mind is trying to grasp the fact
you're invisible. It's almost as if I can sense your presence, but because I
can't see you, it feels awkward; there's this disturbing sense that I'm not
alone. It's hard to explain."
I looked over my arms and legs, and held my
hand out in front of my face. I knew it was there from the muscles I had to
use to position it there, and I could sense my fingers and hand bending and
moving, even if I couldn't see it… it was absolutely amazing.
Suddenly, I felt a chill run over my body and
I turned to see if the door was open.
"Did you feel a breeze?" I asked Jeff, who shook
his head no.
I looked around the room and noted all the windows
were closed as well as the door itself. I continued to look for the source of
the chill until my eyes rested on the mirror. I nearly fell over when I saw
a hint of Orange near the edge of the Zen mirror, and I spun around to see another
orange Yurble standing near the door.
"Who-who are you?" I stuttered at the stranger.
"Whom are you talking to?" Jeff asked, suddenly
The orange Yurble stared at me with empty, expressionless
eyes, and didn't reply. Instead he began to walk towards me, slowly at first,
and then began to pick up speed. I felt frozen in place. Between the icy cool
paint that covered my body and the ghost like look on the Yurble's face, it
was like I was paralyzed.
He continued his approach with his hands extended
before him and when he was no more than a few yards from where I stood, I felt
another sudden chill run over me. Panicking I turned to see Jeff had thrown
a bucket of water over my body and I saw myself reappear in the mirror as the
paint washed off onto the floor and into a drain on the floor.
"Ben! Ben what the heck happened?" Jeff grabbed
my shoulder as soon as he could see it and shook me. "What did you see?"
"I… I don't know… it was like I was looking
at myself," I replied, my voice shaking, "except this Yurble had vacant eyes…
"It's ok, Ben, you were only experiencing the
effects of the paint. If you recall, you went over this feeling in your notes.
Because your body has never experienced something like this before, your mind
was filling in the blanks that you created with your eyes. That Yurble you saw
wasn't real, only a figment of your imagination. But this is pretty dangerous
stuff we're dealing with… we'll have to be more careful from now on," the Gelert
I nodded in agreement.
"It was a good thing you had that bucket of
water lying around… thanks, Jeff." I sighed and shook my head, trying to lose
the sense that still haunted my eyes.
"It's what I'm here for, Ben, don't worry about
it. Ok, now it's my turn!"
We spent the next few days practicing with the
paint and taking turns becoming invisible, only for short periods of time.
Jeff saw his mind's figment as well, except
he told me it talked back to him, after Jeff asked it a question.
"You've got to be kidding me," I exclaimed,
thinking it was a poor excuse for a joke.
"I'm not kidding," Jeff replied from somewhere
in the room. "He says the Yurble you met was only fooling around with you, and
he didn't mean to scare you."
"I'm sure he said that… why can't I hear him?"
"Because you're not in their 'plane' or something,"
Jeff answered. "He can hear you, though; in fact, he's standing next to you."
I jumped forward and turned around, half expecting
to see a ghostly figure of Jeff standing next to me, but wasn't surprised to
see nothing. Jeff began to laugh seeing that.
"He says you should come join us."
I looked at the beaker that rested on a neighboring
table and played with the idea for becoming invisible again. I hadn't seen the
Yurble the last time I had worn the paint, but it'd be interesting to see Jeff's
invisible friend, so to speak.
"Fine," I announced and walked to the table
and took out the paintbrush.
Carefully I began to spread the paint over my
fur and felt the chill once more cover my body. We had started to get used to
it, as the feeling was easy to cover after awhile, but that first time I put
it on for a new test always caused me to shiver regardless of how much I had
Before I finished coating my fur, I made sure
to note the locations of the buckets of water we had placed around the laboratory
in case of an emergency. They sat in their corners, untouched since my first
encounter with the unseen, filled to their brims.
At last I was completely invisible, and was
suddenly astonished to see not only Jeff's other self, but the real red Gelert
"Whoa! I can see you!" Jeff announced with some
shock as I faded into view from the visible world.
"Hello there," Jeff's other self welcomed and
held out his hand.
Hesitantly I took the hand and found it felt
as if I was shaking the hand of Jeff himself.
"So let me get this straight." I began trying
to piece together these newest facts in our project. "You're part of the unseen
world, but what does that make you? Jeff's unseen side?"
"That's correct," the figure announced, "so
no, we're not creations of your mind or illusions of your eyes, but real beings,
just the unseen ones. Everyone has two parts of themselves and you only see
one of those sides at a time. I'm surprised to see Jeff here, as much as I'm
sure he is to see me, because, well, this technically is impossible. I don't
really understand it yet myself, but somehow both sides have found a way to
be in the same place at one time."
"So how are you different than Jeff, like a
major difference," I asked, glancing at Jeff.
"While talking with Jeff, I found I have different
phrases or word combinations that I might use instead of Jeff for things he
uses every day. Such as Jeff might say, 'no worries,' when replying apathetically,
while I've never heard myself say that. On the other hand I sometimes say, 'five-by-five'
when replying how I'm feeling, or doing, and Jeff told me he's never even heard
of that saying before," Jeff's unseen side finished.
"Interesting…" I played with the thought in
my head as I heard the figure explain his theories.
"Hello Ben," another voice called out and I
turned to see the orange Yurble from before standing against a far wall.
"Hello yourself," I responded with a slight
wave, feeling the sense of uneasiness I was overcome with the first time I saw
him. Why did he want to scare me like that when we first met?
"Well, this sure is interesting, the four of
us here." The real Jeff laughed. "Guess we could play a game of invisible poker
now that we have a fourth person to fill a seat."
I held back a chuckle and felt something just
wasn't right about the situation. Sure we'd stumbled upon some unseen plane
of existence and met our unseen sides… and sure they seemed nice and even welcomed
us in with an equaling curiosity that we shared, but something still wasn't
"What's it like being unseen?" I asked, hoping
to learn more about them.
"Think of a mirror and your reflection. Granted
we aren't your reflection since that is an effect created by the mirror and
the glass. Whenever you look into it, only then do you see your reflection,
and when you leave the mirror's view, your reflection disappears, off to wait
for your return, hoping to be of some importance just one more time. We sit
in the back of existence, and make brief appearances in your character, or your
feelings about events that take place. We're always with you, and you might
sense our presence but you can never see us… that is until now," my unseen half
"But that doesn't answer the question," I noted.
"How does it feel?"
"How do you think your reflection feels, sitting
alone in your mirrors, hoping every day you'll glance at yourself, and stare
into its eyes one more time just to feel alive. You're alive every moment, sure,
but your reflection passes the time hoping for that briefest moment where it
to can share your liveliness and come into the world," Jeff's unseen side answered,
and looked as if he were going to cry.
"It's miserable," my orange Yurble counter added
with a solemn look on his face.
It was then that I felt as if becoming invisible
was the worst thing Jeff and I could have possibly done.
I asked Jeff to swear he'd never become invisible
again, and when he asked why, I tried to explain my theory of the unseen world.
Of course, Jeff thought about it, but in the end, just couldn't accept my view.
"How could the unseen world switch places with
us? That's impossible. They'd have to create some visibility paint and coat
themselves with it just to come into our plane. I never thought I'd ever really
disagree with you, Ben, but I do now," Jeff thought aloud.
"That's fine if you disagree," I replied and
then lowered my voice to a whisper. "Just promise you'll never go invisible
without me around… we don't know what they're capable of."
"Just promise!" I shouted, and realizing how
much I cared about this project, turned around and put my hands on a nearby
"Ben, we've come a long way! We've worked hard
and invested too much to lose on this paint now. We simply need to work out
the kinks and then we can put it out in the market… we'll be rich, Ben, unbelievably
rich. You couldn't even come up with an equation to as how rich we'll be," Jeff
retorted with a serious look on his face, but then lightened up. "But if you
want… I'll promise."
I awoke that night in my bed when I heard a
sudden crashing noise coming from my laboratory. I rushed to the room to just
see a hint of red fur disappear and watch a paintbrush dropped to the ground.
"Jeff!" I yelled and rushed into the room, only
to suddenly fall backwards as an unseen object hit me in the chest.
I collapsed on the floor and realized it was
a fist that had hit me, and it had to have come from Jeff.
"Jeff, what are you doing?" I shouted, hurrying
to my feet and stepping behind a table.
"You want to cancel the project, Ben! I've spent
everything I owned on this project and you just want to cut it off now that
there is a slight problem! I can't let you do that!" Jeff bellowed from
a corner of the room.
"Jeff, you can't call some unseen plane of existence
a small problem! In our attempts to create this miracle paint, we've unlocked
some secret we should never have seen! We've created countless problems and
the fact you were going to go invisible without me around is unbelievable on
"Oh yea! Well-" Jeff began to reply but suddenly
he was cut off.
Suddenly tables and chairs seemed to be falling
over on their own as if Jeff was struggling with something in his unseen form.
"Hold on!" I shouted and without thinking took
the paintbrush and ran it over my fur.
The unseen world faded into view and I saw two
red Gelerts wrestling until finally one knocked the other off and turned to
"He… he attacked me!" Jeff blurted out and pointed
to his unseen half.
"Why would he do that?" I asked and approached
Jeff to make sure he was unhurt, but was stopped by an orange Yurble.
"Because we're tired of being in the back of
your lives… we've decided to take control!" the orange Yurble yelled and knocked
me over, his lifeless empty eyes gazing down at me.
Jeff hurried to my side and helped me to my
feet just in time for me to knock over a table in front of the Yurble. He jumped
back as the unknown mixtures of failed experiments fell onto the ground, and
as they mixed together, exploded into a small fire.
"Hurry!" I yelled to Jeff, and we began making
our way around the room and to the exit, but the evil Gelert, who had recovered
from his previous bout, blocked it.
"You think you can just leave…!" He seemed to
spit the words from his mouth as if they left a bad taste, "we've worked too
hard ourselves… planning for this, and now we have you both in our grasps… no
longer will we have to wait around for our brief appearances; it'll be you who
lives your life in this unseen box!"
Panicking, I searched the room for the containers
of water and spotted one near the unseen Gelert's feet.
"Looking for these?" He laughed and turned it
over, allowing the water to splash down the drain in the floor.
"Or this?" the Yurble called and turned over
another, smiling as he did so.
I raced towards the nearest container that had
yet to be poured out and Jeff did the same with the other. I met Jeff's evil
side in the corner, and felt him slam into me with an incredible force and speed.
I collapsed on the ground but sprang to my feet, as I was now fighting for my
life, and felt adrenaline surge through my body.
Quickly, I grasped both of the Gelert's hands,
and forced him onto the ground, falling on top of his body, but was thrown off
as he kicked me backwards with his feet that he had positioned between us.
I stumbled onto my feet, and watched hopelessly
as I was too far away from the water and watch it crash down the drain as the
Gelert turned it over. Turning around I hurried towards Jeff and my dark side
who were also locked in combat in the other corner of the room.
I arrived before the Gelert and grabbed the bucket
with both hands, I turned back to see all three of the other figures watch me,
waiting for my move.
"Let's go, Jeff!" I shouted and grabbed the
red Gelert as he hastily made his way to my side as I shouted his name.
"Nooooo!" the two cried out and the orange Yurble
made one last ditch effort to grab a hold of my fur, as I poured the water over
my body and Jeff's.
The Yurble's hand was only inches from my chest,
and I saw his fingers were outstretched, as if reaching towards me to grasp
a hold of life itself. It was then his expressionless eyes seemed more alive
than ever, but still looked grey and empty as they faded from view. I glanced
at Jeff's unseen half and watched a tear fall down his face, as he then disappeared
"Good riddance," I announced and placed the
beakers into a box marked "Equipment."
"Where do you want your books?" Jeff asked from
across the lab, and held up a dusty old copy of some book I hadn't read in years.
"If they have anything to do with the project,
just toss them." I laughed and he joined in, as he tossed the book into a trash
can. "Nothing like a near death experience to change your mind, eh Jeff?"
"Guess you could call it that," he replied while
he sorted through the pile of books that lay spread out on a desk.
"Two years down the drain… and nothing to show
for it…" I thought aloud and looked sadly down at the box as I sealed it close.
"How about this?" Jeff asked, holding up my
journal, the only copy of the project's experiments and all the formulas we
used. If we destroyed that, there would be no way of recreating any of the paint…
"Toss it," I said finally, looking sadly at
it from where I stood. "It's for the best."
Jeff nodded and looked at it one more time in
his hands, and seemed to look towards me, as if making sure I was making the
right choice. I nodded and finally he let it slip into the trash.
After we had escaped from the unseen world,
we agreed we'd never again talk of the project after we cleaned house and removed
all traces of the experiments, as if removing a part of our lives we had worked
so hard on for two years.
"Jeff, how are you feeling, and I mean really,"
I asked, stacking the boxes in a corner of the room, and beginning to move the
tables to clear up space. "You seem disappointed even though we agreed it's
for the best. Is it about the Neopoints?"
"Neopoints can be replaced; I'm just glad we
made it out. Don't worry about me, Ben… it's just that I have to get used to
not having anything to work on day in and day out. From now on I'll have to
devote my time to something else, you know?"
"But that doesn't answer my question; how do
you feel?" I asked again, as I finished sliding the tables apart, I stopped
and looked in his direction.
"I'm feeling five by five, Ben; don't worry
about it," he said with a smile, and tossed another book in the trash.