On the bright side, if there is such a thing, the coffee smell actually improved the smell of the clothes. I have no idea why. It didn’t make any sense. Nothing did. I had come to the conclusion that I’d eventually wake up and find myself in a small room with a very tight jacket wrapped around me.
In the meantime, we made a giant vat of coffee and started soaking the clothes in that instead.
The day to day thing didn’t get a lot better, though.
Larabee spent all of his spare time trying to repeat the experiment that had resulted in the fabric stretching and shrinking. I had this crazy idea that maybe the ooze made the fabric sentient. It was alive. Like that suit that was actually an alien or something…
“Gonna eat me…”
“Clayton, it’s not going to eat you. It doesn’t even smell anymore.”
“Go away,” Clay muttered, covering his head with his blanket. He didn’t even know how the other man had gotten into his apartment, and he didn’t want to know. He just wanted to sleep, wanted to have a normal life. That would be very nice. He’d like to forget the last few months. The ability, the clothes, the humiliation, it could all go away for a few hours while he slept. “Why are you here, anyway?”
“The clothes finally lost their smell. I thought you’d want to have them.”
“Why? Well, okay, granted, I guess I could figure out part of why, but you came here in the middle of the night and broke into my apartment, came all the way into my bedroom while I was sleeping—none of this seems creepy to you?” Clay asked, looking blearily at Larabee. “It is creepy.”
“You sleep like the dead, you know. Your door is open, and your apartment has been emptied out.”
“Are you kidding?”
Larabee shook his head. “Nope. You really are a lousy superhero, aren’t you?”
“Probably one of the world’s worst,” Clayton agreed, sitting up and looking around the room. His closet was open, all of his clothes were gone. Someone had taken his bedside table and lamp, even the alarm clock. That stuff was all junk—or clothes—and why would anyone take them? They weren’t worth taking. “I don’t even have anything to steal. Why would someone bother? Why would anyone bother? This is stupid. Unbelievably so. I don’t get it. Am I cursed, Larabee? Is that what this is? It has to be, right? That’s all I can think of.”
“You live in a crappy neighborhood where people are apparently desperate,” Larabee said with a shrug as he followed Clayton into the front room. Clay stared at his apartment in complete disbelief. They’d taken… everything. He didn’t have any furniture. No possessions. No clothes. His life had gone from a somewhat unbelievable nightmare to a completely empty void.
“I don’t… understand,” Clayton whispered. “I’m not… Why take any of this? And what do I do now? Report it to the police? It’s only worth—well, the refrigerator might worth something, but anything else? And how could I possibly have slept through this? What am I going to do?”
“Hey, I got an idea,” Larabee began, clapping Clay on the shoulder. “Why don’t you room with me?”
“We’re barely even friends. I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
Larabee shrugged. Nothing really fazed that man. He just sat there, nonplussed, through almost anything. He would argue that it made him the perfect sidekick and or tech and science guy. Maybe it did. Clayton, though, still managed to rank as the worst superhero. He’d slept through his apartment getting wiped out. They’d stolen his refrigerator, and he’d slept through it. He wanted to believe he’d been drugged, but he didn’t think he had been. He hadn’t taken anything himself. Great. Was he… deaf? No one slept through people taking a refrigerator.
“You don’t suppose this is some kind of new type of… eviction, do you?”
Larabee shrugged again. “You want to see my place?”
Clayton looked around. “You… live here?”
“I know you’ve only been down in my lab, but even I have to come out for air every once and a while,” Larabee reminded him, pushing the door to the house open all the way. “Take a look around, make yourself at home.”
“Clayton, you know that… well, I think you should try looking on the bright side.”
“There’s a bright side to this? Where? I have a hard time believing that. This is… probably the worst anyone’s life could get outside of rape, torture, and murder. Or illness. Okay, fine. My life isn’t that bad. I keep thinking it is—I mean, who gets a superpower like mine with all of its drawbacks and then has their entire apartment stolen? That’s just… insane.”
“Unless, of course, it’s all a secret conspiracy where they stole your apartment to discover what might have turned you into… well, you. That could explain why they took your clothes. They’re trying to find out what makes the stretch and shrink with you, just like I am.”
“Right. And they know about any of this… how?” Clay asked, shaking his head. “I almost wish it was, but then… Why not just take me instead of stealing my stuff? That’s not going to give them any real answers, is it? My junk? It was crap. That should have been obvious.”
Larabee shrugged. “It was just a thought. But if you want a real bright side, I’ll give you a discount on the rent. Should end up less than you were paying at the last place, and you know you were complaining about the money situation before.”
“I was,” Clay agreed. He didn’t have the money to pay for much of anything. “It seems like you need to be rich to be a superhero, you know.”
“A lot of them are. Or they have rich benefactors. And they’re geniuses.”
Clay sighed. “Really makes you wonder why I got a special ability, doesn’t it?”