Marine biology isn’t exactly a magnet for government financing, especially from the military-industrial complex. But Harcrest’s signature CBE (crude-but-effective) presentation style had secured full funding for the Bio-Invisibility Project. “We’re not talking the usual cloaking device foreplay here,” Harcrest had smarmed. “We’ve found the freaking G-spot. We’re talking invisibility!”
It was Rez (Dr. Marcus Rezdin) who had to deliver on Harcrest’s claims. But he hadn’t fused the seventh layer of the lenses yet. And without the seventh layer, the goggles couldn’t “see” the nano-changes in Henry’s skin. Henry was the mimic octopus the Institute had accidentally captured two years ago, the only cephalopod ever to exhibit complete undetectability to all five senses. And observing the process was the key to duplicating it.
But without that final layer they were (literally) dead in the water. Hydrogenous polymers were the key. But the hermetic casing they’d built to keep corrosive seawater out also kept oxygen out, and without oxygen the polymers disintegrated.
Rez read his wife Livy’s latest “final text”: “I’m not your domestic appendage!” (How did she get “appendage” past autocorrect?) “No, of course you’re not!” he thumbed back. “But if our funding gets cut—”
“Cut!” Before his shout had stopped rattling the lab cabinets, he’d run to the tray that contained the polymers and shoved it under the microscope. He dropped a spec of diatomite on the sample. Micro-cuts appeared in the polymer’s surface, then instantly healed themselves, producing and exhaling oxygen in the process!
By Thursday afternoon they’d fused the seven layers, encased them in the goggle housing, and applied a protective sealant. Then Rez had sent Claire and Chance home, promising that they’d test the goggles together first thing in the morning.
He lied. The sealant was dry in an hour. There was something intimate about this moment. “It’s my G-spot,” he chuckled.
Henry was nestled in his usual hollow amid the faux coral when Rez hit the button that caused the fake eel to pop out. Henry disappeared in a flurry.
Rez inhaled deeply and put on the goggles. “To see the unseen,” he whispered. Then he looked into the tank: Henry was completely visible.
“G-spot!” Rez laughed. He danced like a maniac for fifteen minutes. Then rode up and down in the Institute’s elevators singing “Rock Lobster” for another half hour.
He couldn’t bear to leave the goggles in the lab. Half afraid, half in love, he slipped them into his raincoat pocket. He’d show Livy that all the tension and alienation had been worth it!
Rez lurched to a halt in his driveway. Before entering the house he pulled the goggles out of his pocket. “To see the unseen,” he muttered. Impulsively, he slipped the goggles on. The moment he did, he felt something brush against him. Something cold and alien. A gelatinous body glided past just inches away. To his left, three immense multi-lensed eyes lowered themselves into view. Claw-like hairs brushed his leg, shredding his pants.
Livy could hear the scream from the shower. A minute later, wrapped in a towel and dripping like one of Rez’s sea animals, she ran to the front door. Just in time to see Rez’s car screeching away.
Seven hours later, Livy sat holding Rez’s hand in his private ICU room. There was an IV connected to one arm, and handcuffs connected to the other. The charge was arson. Rez had detonated a fire bomb in the main lab, they said. Little was left of the $3 ½ billion Harcrest Institute when the firetrucks arrived. They’d found Rez in his car nearby, weeping, a small aquarium on his lap.
Just moments before Rez opened his eyes, Henry re-appeared in the aquarium next to his bed; Rez had refused to let them take him away.
Livy touched his hand, her lips quivering. “Honey, why…?”
“They’re everywhere,” he said in an agonized whisper unlike any she’d ever heard, “The world. It’s full of monsters.”