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by MayDay
Rated: E · Fiction · Children's · #2319534
Theresa imagines herself as a scientist, trying to stop the Invisible Criminal.
Nine-year-old Theresa had always been imaginative. Her pretend food danced on her tongue like any well-made food would. Her imaginary injuries hurt as bad as any old wound. Her imaginary scars—even though they could not be seen by others—told of many imaginary battles and adventures. In her imagination, Theresa was not very ladylike at all. Yes, she had tea-parties and wore dresses...when required. But whenever an opportunity came about, she'd be rushing off for her next imaginary adventure. Today, Theresa was a scientist making a serum to turn her invisible so she may beat the Invisible Criminal at his own game. With herself invisible, she'd have as much an advantage as him. Suddenly, after only a few moments of playing it out, she was there, in her lab, wearing her lab coat, holding a vial of her invisibility serum. With her gloved hands, she lifted the vial above her head and drank without giving it a second thought. She stared at her now-transparent hands in excitement. She was quickly turning invisible. She grinned and loaded up on her weapons. Legend was that if you are invisible, you can see other invisible people. Theresa made a few more serums for if her current one wore off, which she expected it to. She looked in her mirror and saw that she was now fully invisible. Time to catch the Invisible Criminal. She hopped into her car and drove to his lair, a dark cave with no lights whatsoever. Theresa shivered. How could anyone live like that? Luckily, she had brought a flashlight. Theresa lifted her flashlight and turned it on, but just as she was about to enter the Cave of the Invisible Criminal, she heard a faint whisper in the wind. The whisper grew louder, and she recognized the voice with an inward groan, “Theresa! Time for dinner!”
It was her mom. The cave immediately vanished, as did her car and the flashlight. They were replaced by her plain old room. Her invisible lab coat and gloves were replaced by her pink tank-top, blue jeans, and bare hands. Theresa sighed and put her arms down. She was visible again. She trudged to the door and when she heard her mom calling again, she replied, “Coming, mom!”
Really, she wished all the time that her imaginations would become reality. That she could really be caught up in facing the Invisible Criminal, and she wouldn't have to go to dinner when her mom called. Theresa sat at the table, where her plate was already full of mashed potatoes and gravy. Theresa smiled a tiny bit and glanced at her mom, who was grinning triumphantly at her daughter's small smile. Zander smacked the back of her head as he walked by and her smile vanished. Her adopted big brother liked to tease her at dinner. Something about the meal seemed to have a negative effect on him, because he was really nice at other times. Zander sat down and grumbled, “What's this? Mashed potatoes? Couldn't you have made it any more disgusting, mom?”
Theresa wrinkled her nose and, like always, argued, “Mashed potatoes are delicious, Zander! You should be thankful you have any food at all. Some people in the world survive on what little food they can find themselves! Some people even starve to death! Think about that before you complain about the perfectly good food mom has prepared so you don't starve.”
Zander pressed his lips together into a straight line. He stayed like that a bit, until he finally dove right into his food, as if he had, in fact, been starving for days. Theresa ate her food slowly, savoring the taste and texture of the mashed potatoes on her tongue. They were better than she ever could have imagined, and that was saying something, for Theresa. She was soon done and excused herself from the table. She went back to her room, to the exact spot she had been before she had been interrupted for dinner. She raised her arm as if wielding a flashlight. And then, suddenly, she was. The cave was right in front of her, her car beside her. She glanced quickly at her arm. Transparent. Excitement coursed through her veins, and she took a step forward, into the pitch-black cave. The light from her flashlight barely made a dent in the darkness around her. She continued forward, shakily holding up the flashlight. She wondered in anticipation what the Invisible Criminal would look like. Would he be ugly or handsome? Young or old? Nice or mean? Theresa saw, in the light from her flashlight, a door. She silently turned the handle and pushed the door open. She looked around and saw someone walking in a long hall. He was walking straight toward her. She took a deep breath and charged toward him. He leaped back in surprise—which meant he had seen her, which led to the fact that he must be invisible—and held up his hands. Theresa felt the thrill in her bones. That is, until she saw who she was running toward. Theresa stopped mid-run and asked shakily, “Zander? You're the Invisible Criminal? But...but how?”
Zander stared at her in confusion for a moment, and he asked, “Theresa? What are you talking about? The Invisible Criminal? Who or what is that?”
Understanding hit Theresa like a bullet. She had exited her room and accidentally joined Zander into her imagination. Theresa smacked her face and the darkness around her was consumed by the light of the hallway. She became fully visible, and her flashlight vanished. Theresa let out a grunt of frustration and muttered, “Why can't I just stay in my room when I'm imagining?”
And then Zander seemed to understand, and he asked, “Are you playing another one of your games, Theresa?”
“Imaginations,” Theresa mumbled.
Zander shrugged and asked, “So what are you today?”
Theresa stared him in the eye and explained, “I'm a scientist who invented an invisibility serum. I drank it and now I'm using it to find and capture the Invisible Criminal, a dangerous criminal who's been invisible since anyone can remember!”
Zander whistled, clearly impressed, “That sounds dangerous. You need any help?”
Theresa grinned and replied, “Sure. You can be my assistant. Take a serum of invisibility and grab a flashlight. We're in a really dark cave, okay?”
Zander nodded and Theresa held her hand out to hold her flashlight again. The cave reappeared around her, and Zander in a lab coat. Theresa handed him an invisibility serum and he gulped it down with no hesitation. He looked at his hands and said, “I can see it working...”
Theresa, with a bit of alarm, realized that she could, too. But her fears evaporated when the instant he became fully invisible, she was able to see his faint outline. Theresa nodded approvingly and they continued down the long hallway. At the end was another door. Theresa opened it and saw a giant pile of gold. She gasped as Zander followed her in. Unfortunately, his imagination was very weak, and he could not see what she saw, so he asked in a whisper, “What is it? What's the gasp about?”
Theresa was unable to speak, so instead she just pointed. Zander squinted at the gold, unable to see what she could see.
“I wish you could see it, Zander. It... it's beautiful!” Theresa gasped. Zander blinked. In that moment, a tall, skinny man Theresa could barely see appeared on the pile of gold. The man on the pile had dim brown hair and blue eyes. His face had barely noticeable freckles covering it. He looked absolutely charming. Theresa stumbled back at the sight of the man. He had the same ghostly tinge to him that Zander—and she was sure she herself—had. This was the Invisible Criminal. At the sight of the two children, the man slid down the pile and started toward them. Theresa backed away a little, but Zander just looked confused. The man's gaze drifted over them and back to Theresa. Finally, he uttered his first sound, “Hello, strangers. Welcome to my treasure trove. Young girl, you look perplexed.”
Theresa felt perplexed herself. She was staring at the most wanted criminal in the world, she had every right to be. She was sure if she hadn't been able to see him, his voice would sound eerie and spooky, but now it only sounded nice and charming. Theresa shifted on her feet and Zander asked, “What's wrong Terry? Do you have to go to the bathroom?”
Theresa shook her head no and Zander shrugged. The Invisible Criminal glanced at Zander and asked, “He's not too bright, is he, ma'am?”
Theresa frowned and replied, “He actually is very smart, he just doesn't have a very active or strong imagination, like me. No offense, Zander.”
Zander shrugged and said, “It's okay. I don't even know what's going on here.”
The Invisible Criminal chuckled and said, “Okay, not very imaginative. I get it. You brought him into this because you wanted to have someone to play with?”
Theresa tried to look offended as she exclaimed, “Uh! No way! He wanted to join in, I didn't force him! Isn't that right, Zander?”
Zander shrugged and asked, “Before I answer that, would you please tell me what I'm answering? Who are you even talking to?”
Theresa sighed, taking a quick glance at the Invisible Criminal before she reported what was happening. Zander turned to where Theresa gestured and said, “Look, Mr. Invisible Dude, I did want to join in. If my sister wants to imagine, as she calls it, I'm all for that and would like to join in, whether she's battling pirates, rescuing kittens, or fighting invisible guys like you. Got that?”
The Invisible Criminal raised his eyebrows and commented, “The mighty Zander speaks to me? Oh, I guess you were right little Terry. He does care enough about you to play with you willingly.”
Theresa's face reddened and she felt herself going hot as she exclaimed, “My name is not Terry! That is my brother's nickname for me! You can't call me that, Invisible Criminal!”
Zander winced and the Invisible Criminal took a surprised step back. Then he asked, “Well, what do I call you, then? Little girl? Imaginative one?”
Theresa clenched her fists and growled, “Theresa. My name is Theresa. And for the record, I don't think I like everything about how this imagination thing works. It's not fair that Zander can't see what I see, or hear what I hear, or taste what I taste!”
Zander nodded with a confused frown and the Invisible Criminal shouted furiously, “Well have you ever thought that the imaginations don't like it either? You stop imagining and what do you think happens? You think we enjoy it? Well, we don't! Think on that for a while, Theresa!”
Theresa's eyes widened and she exclaimed apologetically, “Oh, I'm sorry! I never thought about that. How miserable you must feel! But...it's not my fault! I can't stay in my imagination forever!”
The Invisible Criminal sat down sadly and said quietly, “Well, we shouldn't even be talking about it. Imagination Rules. Anyway, we'd better get back to what was happening...what were we talking about?”
Theresa blinked.
“I don't think there was a real, solid foundation of conversation before this...” she began.
The Invisible Criminal shrugged and said, “Okay, fine. Let's just get to the point. The only thing I ever wanted in life was to be visible. I was born invisible, abandoned at birth for my parents didn't even know where or that I was. I grew up—I'm not sure if that was lucky or unlucky—and lived here ever since I can remember. I've always wished I could be visible, normal, but I don't see any way.”
Theresa felt bad for the Invisible Criminal, she wanted to help him. And she knew how. She stared at his face and said, “I can help you. I'm a scientist. I made a serum that could make me invisible, I bet I can make one to make someone visible again.”
The Invisible Criminal looked into her eyes hopefully and Theresa said, “Come on, my car is outside the cave. Follow me!”
And so, Theresa ran out of the treasure trove and through the cave, Zander and the Invisible Criminal scrambling to follow. She ran to her car and Zander got in the passenger seat. The Invisible Criminal got in the back, and they all buckled up. Theresa started up the car and drove at high speed all the way to the lab. Her hands were becoming visible again, and she sped up. Zander should have some more time, but that was no use. He couldn't see or hear anything. At the lab, Theresa led the way into the building, her invisibility fading fast. She ran to the empty beakers and vials, and then ran to the cabinet of chemicals and juices and grabbed everything she could think of to make a man visible. She put them in beakers and mixed them together. She poured the invisibility serum on a napkin, turning it invisible, and then poured a drop of visibility serum on it. The napkin reappeared. Theresa turned to where she expected the Invisible Criminal to be and announced, “It's done. Invisible Criminal. Drink this serum and you should become visible.”
The vial was lifted from her hand and tilted over, the contents spilling out and becoming invisible before they could hit the floor. Theresa waited eagerly...and saw a man becoming visible, hands and feet first. Soon, the whole man was visible. Theresa held out her hand and the Now-Visible Criminal shook it. She looked him up and down and asked, “What's your name, mister? You can't go around claiming to me the Invisible Criminal when you're clearly not invisible anymore.”
The man thought for a moment and said, “I've never had a real name before. But I can be called Rick.”
Theresa nodded and murmured the name to herself, “Rick.”
Rick perked up at the name. He thanked Theresa and went on his way to get a new home and give the treasure (that he'd evidently stolen) back to its rightful owners. It would take a while, he'd admitted, but he wanted to right a wrong. Theresa agreed that the owners would be grateful, and Rick left. The lab faded away and Theresa was left staring at her room door. She turned to Zander and said, “It's over. He left.”
She explained what had happened and he seemed very pleased that it had turned out that way.
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