This story is by Abraham del Toro and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Wednesday, 6:12 am
“The grey ones?”
“No, those are already dying, you want the translucent ones?”
Brock sighed. Maybe this was a bad idea.
“The ones that are almost clear. See through. Like a car window with a really light tint.”
“Ohhh, now I understand. Hey, here’s one!”
Brock stood and followed the sound of Joey’s voice to see his friend holding his clenched hand up, full of green plants. He sighed and walked over.
“Hey, guys, listen. Remember those cool experiments in Mrs. Keaton’s science class last year?”
A chorus of agreement echoed from Joey, Saul, and Tony.
“Well, if we can find the right flowers, I guarantee this will be even cooler than when we swiped that big box of potassium chloride and that five-gallon bucket of hand sanitizer and set off that ten-foot high purple flame at the back of the auditorium during assembly.”
A wave of ‘yeahs’ and grins let Brock know he had their attention now.
“Ok, so what we need is to find this exact plant that Joey found…”
Joey held out an open hand, grinning like a fool as Brock plucked the leaves from his hand.
“…except we don’t want to crush them, because now they are useless!” Brock glared at his friend.
Joey lowered his hand and mumbled a response.
“Hey, look, over here!” Saul shouted, pointing to a patch of green behind Joey. The boys crouched around the foot high plant, staring intently as Brock carefully teased out four individual petals and pulled them ever so gently, removing them from their stalks and gathering them with the same care a mother gives her newborn.
Rising up, they watched as Brock gingerly placed one in his mouth.
“Now, the trick is, you have to grind it up with your teeth really well, and then let the pieces sort of just lay on your tongue for a minute or so. Try not to swallow them or you’ll have to find another flower and start over.”
They watched as Brock chewed. “Oh, I forgot. Before, well, before…here, put out your hands, let me give all of you one. Just be really careful, don’t crush it.”
Brock placed a flower petal gently in each of their palms. Each stared down, intently focusing on babying it, carefully preventing the wind from blowing it away.
“Dude! Brock, where are you?”
They spun in circles, looking everywhere around them. There was nowhere for their friend to disappear in this open field, and yet when they looked up from their hands, he had suddenly vanished.
They heard his laughter right in front of them. Their heads swiveled, looking in vain for Brock.
“Guys, guys! You can’t see me, but you can join me. Put the flower petal in your mouth and slowly chew it. This is gonna change your life.”
Thursday, 11:56 pm
Brock’s phone buzzed and he fumbled for it in the darkness of his bedroom, finding it under his super hero themed bedspread. He swiped on the screen and saw it was a group text from his friends:
Joey: Bruh, you won’t believe how dope this is. After we split up yesterday, I took one of the petals and went into the girls’ locker room at school!.
Saul: OMG, you did not?!?!
Joey: Hell, yeah I did. Just like yesterday, makes you invisible for about an hour. It was epic! What about you guys?
Saul: Sheesh, I just used it to sneak some of my dad’s liquor. I walked right past him sitting there in his LazyBoy watching some dumb news channel and yelling at the TV, he didn’t see me at all!
Saul: What about you, Tony?
Tony: Well…you know my dad’s a chemist?
Tony: He and my step-mom went out last night, so I went into the lab he has out back and tried running some tests on a flower petal.
Brock: You did what?
Joey: What a loser, you didn’t even use it? At least I got to see Tiffany Krandall naked!
Brock: Dude, what were you thinking? You’re dad’s not just some chemist, he works for the Ministry of Defense! What if he finds out you were messing around with his equipment? What if they found out how the flowers make you temporarily invisible?
Tony: Relax, my dude. I wiped everything down after. Besides, my dad taught me how to use all of that stuff, he wants me to major in chemistry next year when I go to University.
Saul: So, what did you find out?
Tony: Hell if I know, I printed out all of the stuff from the analysis, I’ll bring them to school tomorrow and we can Google it during class.
Brock: OK, but I just think we should be pretty low key about using this. What if someone finds out?
Saul: Yeah, we gotta be chill. How about if we get some more of the petals and hoist some snacks and beers for this weekend?
Joey: Forget that, let’s use them to boost a car and go driving!
Brock: OK, OK, we’ll get some more and do something fun this weekend. But, nothing that gets us in trouble.
Saul: Yeah. Truth. Very chill.
Joey: I guess. Losers.
Tony: See you all in school.
Brock, Joey, Saul: Night, Peace, Out!
Three Weeks Later
The next few weeks passed in a blur, as the four friends used their newly found ability to temporarily disappear to their advantage. Harmless teenage lusts were indulged, petty crimes were committed, most of them culminating late at night, on the beach, around a bonfire. Brock had seen enough movies to know that sooner or later, one of them would slip up and get caught, he hoped that none of them would get in serious trouble.
As the four friends ate lunch, Tony spoke up.
“I’ve been experimenting,” he said casually. “It turns out if you take two of the petals, you can stay invisible for longer. Long enough to scope out City Hospital on the other side of the river.”
Three faces looked at him quizzically.
“Where,” he continued, “there is a ginormous pharmacy inside, stocked with every kind of pain pill and muscle relaxant you can imagine.”
Tony reached into his pocket and pulled out several medicine bottles.
“Dude, you stole those from the hospital?” Brock asked incredulously.
“I prefer to say borrowed.” Tony replied. “There’s so much waste and corruption in the industry, a few missing bottles here and there won’t matter.”
Joey grabbed the bottles out of Tony’s hands and danced feverishly. “We’re gonna par..tay, we’re gonna…par-tay!”
“Or, we could sell them…” ventured Saul.
“Exactly!” Tony said, pointing to Saul. “Guys, we’re at our prime. Instead of wasting away for four years in college, think about what we can do with this ability. We can get whatever we want. Think of the possibilities!”
“I don’t know,” Brock said apprehensively.
A chorus of pleading from his friends worked on his emotions.
“OK, well, I guess. But we have to keep this very low key,” he relented.
Later That Night
The four teens huddled in the City Hospital parking lot.
Tony held out his hand. “We take two each, wait two minutes to make sure we’re all invisible, and then we go in.”
“Just a second, boys.”
They whirled around, looking in vain for a body to attach to the voice.
“Dad?” Tony asked.
In front of them, Tony’s dad materialized. They all recoiled in confusion.
“Tony, you know my lab is connected to the Ministry of Defense. What you didn’t know is that everything that happens in it is recorded and instantly uploaded to the servers, ensuring that no data is ever lost in an experiment. You young men have stumbled upon a great discovery and something that our country will be able to use quite well. In fact, we’ve already synthesized it and can reproduce it chemically. The result is not quite as good as the pure organic flower, but we’ll get there. And we reverse-engineered it so we have a solution to make you visible again. It works very well. Most of the time.”
Tony’s dad snapped his fingers and four huge military policemen materialized beside him.
“These gentlemen will escort you all home, where I trust you will enjoy the rest of your night, safely, in bed!”
As the boys complained, the military policeman firmly started hustling them away.
Tony’s dad turned, “Oh, and one more thing. That field of flowers? We dug it up, so..there are no more flowers, and no more shenanigans. Enjoy the rest of your senior year.”
A Few Hours Later
Brock settled into his bed, commiserating over text with his friends, when a private message from Tony appeared. He swiped on it and saw a single potted flower with translucent petals.