[MISC] Transparent Comics - Mr. Transparent #1: "Origin"
jmturner at fuse.net
Tue Aug 14 22:00:36 PDT 2007
My name is Vincent Solomon. I am a chemistry teacher at the
university. I would like to devote more time to my scientific
experiments, but I have found it necessary to teach at the university
in order to pay my bills. Teaching can be quite rewarding, though.
My current crop of students are among the brightest to ever sit
through one of my lectures, but that's not what I want to tell you
One particular afternoon, I had just finished teaching a morning
class. I was in a hurry to leave the university campus on this day
because I was meeting a friend for lunch. His name was Dr. Carlton
Curtis. We had been roommates in college. Carlton had achieved far
more success as a scientist than I had. In fact, he was working for
the government in some sort of secret work for the military. As we
enjoyed our Italian cuisine, we talked about old times. It was an
enjoyable, light-hearted conversation. When the meal was over, I was
prepared to depart for home, but Carlton stopped me.
"Vincent, is there anywhere that we could speak in total privacy?,"
"My apartment isn't far from here, Carlton," I told him. "We can
speak privately there."
He followed me to my apartment in his car. We went inside, and he
insisted that I lock the door behind us.
"Vincent, I've been doing some work recently that wrestles with my
conscience," he said. "Oh, I suppose the work could serve useful
purposes, but I'm so afraid it might be used for evil. Vincent..."
"What is it, Carlton?," I asked. I was very curious as to what he
was referring to.
"I...I can't tell you, Vincent," he sighed. "I shouldn't have even
come here. I'm not supposed to discuss my work with anyone..."
"I wish I could tell you, Vincent. I wish I could confide in
someone. I know you're an honorable man. I know I can trust you, but
I have my orders. I have to stick to them--not giving into a moment's
We both just sat there for an awkward moment. Then he glanced around
"This is a very nice apartment," he commented.
"It's a bit small, but I like it."
"A small home is a good home," he declared. "So many people think
they have to own a huge house that's too big for their needs, and then
they spend all their money buying things to try and fill it. All
anyone really needs is a comfortable place they can relax in."
"Are you a philosopher as well as a scientist, Carlton?"
We both chuckled.
"Everyone is a philosopher," he smiled. "Whether a man digs ditches
or designs aircraft, he has his ideas and beliefs. Tell me, Vincent.
Did you ever complete the formula for that weight-loss drug you were
"Yes, I did," I said proudly. "It's been finished for quite some
time, but I haven't had a chance to test it."
"Why not test it now?," he asked.
"I don't have a test subject."
"You most certainly do," he said, pointing to his stomach. "You can
test it on me."
"No, Carlton," I protested. "I couldn't do that."
"Of course you can," he said firmly. "I'm alone in the world and
very unhappy with my job. If your formula works on me, at least I can
be happy about my weight. If it doesn't work, then I'll be out of my
misery. You see, Vincent. It's a total situation for me."
He seemed so determined. I wasn't sure what I should do.
"Come on, Vincent," he smiled. "It won't hurt me. I have complete
confidence in your abilities. Don't you want me to be fit as a fiddle
"Okay," I said. "I can have a batch made up for you in about twenty
minutes. I use the bedroom as a lab for my own experiments. I'll
prepare it in there."
"Where do you sleep?," Carlton wondered.
"That couch folds out into a bed," I replied.
"A wise use of space, Vincent," he said approvingly. "I told you a
small home is all you need."
Carlton watched television as I prepared the formula in my mini-
lab. A short time later, I emerged from the bedroom with a small
container of my weight-loss formula.
"If things go as I have calculated, then you should notice a dramatic
loss of weight in just two days," I said. "Still, that is only
according to calculations on paper. This has never been tried before,
and it might not be safe. It should be tested in some other way
before a man or woman takes it..."
"Don't be nervous, Vincent," Carlton told me. "I'm certain it will
work, and I'll be as slim and trim as I was in our college days."
"Okay," I said. "Here it is."
He took the container from me and slowly drank down its contents.
"It has a rather dreadful taste, doesn't it?," he chuckled.
"Something with such a vile flavor has to work, Vincent. You know the
old expression, don't you? The worse the taste, the better the
"I hope it does work," I said. "According to all the newspapers and
studies, this country has a serious weight problem, and..."
I stopped talking right in the middle of what I was saying. All of
the sudden, there was no one to talk to. Carlton was gone!
"What's wrong, Vincent?," I heard Carlton's voice ask. "You look as
though you've seen a ghost."
Carlton wasn't gone after all. Apparently, he was invisible!
"Carlton, it...it is like seeing a ghost," I stammered. "I mean...I
can't see you, Carlton...I think my formula has made...It's made you
"What?," he gasped. "That certainly isn't the fashion in which I
wanted my pounds to disappear, Vincent! This is unbelievable! I
would be rather excited about this if it wasn't happening to me. What...
What should we do, Vincent?"
"Do you feel okay?"
"Yes, I suppose I do. I still feel like myself. You...You really
can't see me at all?"
"No, I can't," I confirmed.
Carlton felt fine, and he was able to do all the things he had always
been able to do. The only difference was that no one was able to see
him doing them. After four hours, he became visible again.
"Thank goodness," Carlton sighed. "Being seen and not heard can be a
good thing, but it certainly isn't fun going through daily activities
being heard and not seen."
"I am so relieved," I confessed. "I was afraid that you might be
invisible forever because of me...I'm so sorry, Carlton. Now that
you're okay, I'm going to destroy that formula. Then we'll never have
to go through anything like that again."
"Hold on, Vincent," Carlton said. "Now that we know its effects are
temporary, there could be some useful applications for that formula of
yours. Tomorrow night, come over to my house. I have a much nicer
lab set up in my basement. Let's work with this formula, study it,
and see what we come up with."
"Do you think it's a good idea to keep it?," I asked.
"I certainly do," he said firmly. "You may have stumbled upon a
modern marvel, Vincent. I'll see you tomorrow evening. I need to go
get some sleep. This development was rather stressful for me. I'm
sure it was for you as well. You should rest, too. We'll resume this
study at seven o'clock."
I agreed. I had to teach a morning and afternoon class the next day,
but my mind wasn't on my work at all. Whenever a student asked a
question, I had to ask them to repeat it several times. My mind
wandered. All I could think of was the invisibility formula that I
had created by accident.
Carlton took the formula for a second time that night. After he did,
we began discussing ways to increase or decrease the length of time
one could remain invisible. Was their a way to change that? As we
discussed the possibilities, Carlton suddenly became visible again.
"Carlton, I can see you!," I exclaimed. "You only became invisible
ten minutes ago...Is it possible that someone's body becomes tolerant to
this formula so fast that it significantly decreases the invisibility
time upon each use?"
"This is going to sound utterly ridiculous to you, Vincent, but I
believe I was able to become visible again simply by thinking about
it," Carlton said. "It seems the body does adjust rather quickly to
this formula of yours, but it's not in the manner you suggested."
"Unbelievable!," I cried. "A person can control the invisibility
after one usage. Can you become invisible again?"
We both just stood there for a moment.
"It would not seem so," Carlton said. "I suppose it provides one
period of invisibility per dose. I wonder if I can remain invisible
for more than four hours with another dose if I wish to."
Carlton took the formula for a third time; however, he could still
only remain invisible for four hours. He seemed disappointed by this.
"Unfortunately, there does appear to be a limitation of four hours
with this formula," he concluded. "Come back again tomorrow night,
Vincent, and we'll explore your marvelous formula further."
On our third night of working with the formula, I proposed a theory.
"We discovered that you could only remain invisible for four hours
last night," I said. "Perhaps each individual has a different rate of
invisibility determined by their body mass."
"That is entirely possible, Vincent," Carlton agreed. "Since I am
overweight and far heavier than you, you might not be able to stay
invisible for as long by using the formula. We'll have to see.
Tonight, you will take the formula, Vincent."
"That's what I was thinking," I told him. "By the way, this formula
was originally intended to aid in weight-loss. Have you lost any
"I'm afraid not," he chuckled. "In fact, I don't believe I've shed
an ounce, but there are already countless methods for losing weight.
This is the first method ever for becoming invisible. Swallow the
formula, old friend, but brace yourself for the taste. It's hideous."
The flavor of the formula was indeed hideous as it came into my
mouth. I became invisible almost instantly after swallowing it.
"Amazing," said Carlton. "Do you feel okay, Vincent?"
"I'm fine," I replied. "I need to relieve myself, and we can study
the formula's effects on me after that."
"Right," Carlton said. "The restroom is the second door on the
I went into the bathroom. I was extremely excited about being
invisible for the first time, but my pleasant thoughts were
interrupted by unexpected noises outside. I heard footsteps come
rushing into Carlton's lab.
"Get your hands up, chubby!," an unfamiliar voice growled.
"Who are you?," Carlton asked nervously. "What do you want?"
"Shut up!," the unfamiliar voice growled. "I'll ask the questions.
There was another car parked out front. Do you have company? Is
somebody else in this house?"
Carlton didn't answer.
"Is there anybody else here?," the voice angrily asked again.
"No, there isn't," answered Carlton.
"You better not be lying, fats," the voice warned. "Take a look
around, Lamar. Make sure he's telling the truth."
I heard someone walking around. I heard a few doors open and close.
The sounds were coming closer and closer to my location. I quickly
finished my business and unlocked the bathroom door. Shortly after I
unlocked it, the door opened. A muscular man took a quick glance
around before closing the door back.
"There's nobody here, Skitch," the muscular man said.
He hadn't seen me. Carlton knew they wouldn't, so he denied my being
there to protect me. Who were these men? With Carlton being involved
in government experiments, these men might well be terrorists. It was
clear to me what I needed to do.
"Good," the voice I now knew as Skitch said. "With nobody else here,
that makes it a lot easier on us. Tie Dr. Curtis' hands behind his
back, Lamar. Then we'll take him home with us."
I slipped out of the bathroom as I heard them leaving. I quickly
grabbed something from the lab before following them outside. I
caught my first glimpse of Skitch. He was muscular like Lamar, but
his face had two ugly scars on it. He was perhaps the only man who
could make his friend Lamar look handsome. Lamar kept a gun in
Carlton's back while Skitch opened the passenger's door of the car.
Skitch pulled out a gun of his on and pointed it at Carlton.
"Get in, Lamar," Skitch said. "I've got the rolly poley doctor
Lamar entered the car. Then they had Carlton sit in the front seat.
When Skitch opened the driver's door, I tripped him. He cursed as he
fell down on one knee to the concrete driveway. I quickly squeezed
into the back next to Lamar, but he didn't know I was there.
"Don't know what made me trip," Skitch grumbled as he started the
We drove to the outskirts of town to an old, abandoned warehouse.
"Welcome to our home, doc," Skitch said. "Now it's going to be your
I couldn't get out of the car with them without attracting attention
to myself, so I waited until they were all in the warehouse. I
quickly got out of the car and rushed into the building. I heard
Skitch's voice off in the distance, so I tried to follow the sound. I
must have made a wrong step. Metal bars unexpectedly shot up from the
floor and down from the ceiling around me. I was trapped in a cage.
There was no way for me to get out. I could hear Skitch talking to
Carlton off in the distance. I could hear their voices, but I
couldn't tell what was being said. I stayed helpless in that cage for
about fifteen minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. I could hear
people walking around. Lamar came across me in the cage.
"What is it?," Skitch asked as he came into view.
"One of the security traps went off," Lamar said.
"Aw, the rats must have ran across here to set it off," Skitch
muttered. "This place is crawling with them. I'll reset it."
Skitch flipped some switches on the wall. The metal bars around me
slid back into the ceiling and floor. My captors had unknowingly
"There," said Skitch. "Knox is watching the doc. You can relax.
I'm going to go get us something to eat. What do you want?"
"A cheeseburger and fries."
"That makes it unanimous," Skitch laughed. "That's what Knox and I
wanted, too. I'll get three combo meals. I'll be back soon."
Skitch left. Lamar sat down to listen to an old, battered radio. I
walked down to where I had heard Carlton's voice before. I soon saw
another man. He must have been Knox. He was standing guard in front
of a door. It was locked from the outside. Carlton must have been
held prisoner inside. I just stood looking at Knox. I wasn't sure
what to do next. Carlton started banging on the door.
"It won't do any good!," Knox yelled in at Carlton. "You won't get
out of there with me out here!"
"I only wanted to get your attention," Carlton said through the
door. "Sir, I need to use your toilet facilities is you don't mind."
"Sure," Knox laughed. "We wouldn't want you stinking up your cage."
Knox unlocked the door. He put the gun in Carlton's back and walked
him down to a small bathroom.
"Don't get any bright ideas," Knox said. "There aren't any windows
in there to escape through. Go on in, and I'll be waiting right here
when you're done."
"Very well," Carlton said.
Carlton didn't know it, but he wasn't the only one going into that
bathroom. When he closed the door behind him, I tapped him in the
shoulder. It startled him, and he jumped.
"Don't worry, Carlton," I whispered. "It's me."
"Vincent, you're here?," he gasped.
"Yes," I said. "Who are these people, Carlton?"
"I have no idea," Carlton said. "They were apparently hired by
someone to kidnap me."
"Do you have any idea who would want to kidnap you?," I asked.
"I believe someone wishes to pick my brain about my government
projects," Carlton told me. "That dastardly Skitch told me someone
would be picking me up tomorrow morning. I don't think these fellows
will even be in contact with that person until then from the way he
"Well, it's time to get you out of here, my friend."
"How do you propose to do that?," asked Carlton.
"Here," I said, handing him the container of invisibility formula I
had grabbed just before leaving his house. "Take this, and then we
can simply walk out of here."
"You certainly are a clever one, Vincent," Carlton smiled.
Carlton drank the formula down. We were both invisible. We waited
inside the bathroom for a few minutes. Knox banged on the door.
"Did you fall in!," Knox asked. "Hurry it up in there!"
We waited a few more minutes. Finally, Knox opened the door. He
panicked when he found the bathroom empty. It appeared to be empty
anyway. Knox and Lamar began running all over the warehouse. They
were desperately trying to find Carlton, but Carlton and I were
leaving the warehouse right under their noses.
We walked for quite some time. I wound up becoming visible.
"Why did you decide to become visible?," asked Carlton.
"I didn't," I replied. "The formula wore off. It kept me invisible
for three hours, so my theory about size and weight must be correct.
It's just as well anyway. There's a bus stop up ahead, so we can take
the bus back to my apartment. You stay invisible. That way no one
will find you. Besides, I only have enough money to pay for one on
"I don't have any money either," Carlton sighed. "That dreadful
Skitch confiscated my wallet. I suppose that's one of the benefits of
his chosen profession."
Back at my apartment, Carlton contacted the local authorities as well
as his employers to tell them what had happened. Carlton stayed at my
apartment overnight where no one could find him. The next morning, I
took the invisibility formula again. I returned to the warehouse
where Carlton had been taken, but it was gone. Skitch and his
comrades in kidnapping had blown it up. I stayed there for several
hours. I had brought some extra formula with me to remain invisible.
I waited to see if whoever had hired Skitch would show up. A black
sedan did pull up to the site, but it quickly drove away. I guess the
driver knew plans had failed upon seeing the destroyed warehouse. I
wanted to find out who was behind all this, but I didn't. I couldn't
see through the sedan's tinted windows.
I went back to my apartment. Carlton was preparing to leave.
"Three government agents are coming to pick me up, Vincent. They are
going to escort me home to collect some of my personal belongings.
After that, they're supposed to take me to a new home."
"A top secret location?," I asked.
"Yes," he said. "I will also have to assume a new identity, but I
don't know what it will be as of yet. I don't when I'll see you
again, Vincent, but I will keep in touch with you somehow."
"That really must be an important project that you're working on," I
said. "Well, if we're not going to see each other, then what should I
do about the invisibility formula?"
"You should do exactly what you did yesterday," Carlton said
proudly. "Use it to do good and help people. Be an unseen aid to
"You mean I should become some sort of superhero?"
"I suppose you could call it that, Vincent," he smiled. "You proved
just how much you can do when you're invisible. Maybe that's why this
formula came to you in the first place, Vincent. Maybe it's your
"Should I contact the police department about all this?," I asked.
"No," insisted Carlton. "Don't ever affiliate yourself with an
organization like that. Your powers of invisibility should remain a
secret known only to your most trusted friends. Otherwise, the
government will wind up owning you as they do me. They'll want to
take that formula to create a million invisible soldiers. They'll
become power mad with all they could do with the formula. In fact, I
fear that may happen with the project that I'm working on....Anyway,
help uphold the law, Vincent, but don't get too close to any
organizations. Be an independent agent."
"I understand," I said. "Every superhero has a name, though. What
should I call myself?"
"Hmmmmm....," Carlton thought. "I've got it! Remember how I used to
tease you in college? I could always tell what you were thinking just
by looking at your face. Your emotions were always showing whether
you wanted them to or not, so I used to call you..."
"Yes," chuckled Carlton. "Use that as your superhero moniker. It
will be sort of a little joke between the two of us."
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