- A Serialized Novel -

This isn't a superpower. It's a curse.

About now, you’re wondering a few things. If you’re at all scientific, you’re saying that none of this is possible—if you haven’t already walked away from sheer disgust at the unlikeliness of any of these events—and you’re probably right. I have done a bit of research myself—and it would seem that it’s more likely that a superpower comes from magic than by any scientific means.

So when I say that Larabee’s lab exploded and accidentally created an ooze that changed the very nature of the fabric of my clothes—and though I deny to this day that it had anything to do with spandex—you don’t believe it.

That is your right. I wouldn’t believe it, either.

I still have moments where I wonder if the last few years have been nothing but a dream. A nightmare. A hallucination. One of these days, I’ll wake up to find myself in some mental hospital, and they’ll tell me, “Oh, look, we finally got your meds right! The hallucinations are gone! You can go home now! You’re cured!”

If it happens, it might just be a relief.

Oh, right. I was supposed to answer the other question. How did we get rid of the smell?

It wasn’t easy. This is my life. Nothing ever is.

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Clayton checked the clock again. Finally. This would be the real test, right? He had to go back into his normal form, and he’d have to see if he split his pants when he did it. If he did, then it was back to the drawing board again—and back to Larabee’s obsession with spandex. Clay really hoped this worked. If it did, other than the smell, he could have a normal wardrobe.

Of course, going everywhere smelling like this would be a real problem. He couldn’t forget that, either. If he smelled, he couldn’t do much of anything. People would know he was there just by scent, and if he had to do a quick duck and hide because he was switching forms involuntarily, they’d realize he was the same person by the smell.

The smell had to go.


Clayton made the switch to his normal form and studied the reflection, checking his sleeves as he did. They were still the right size. “This… is…”

“Amazing, right? I am going to need to do lots of analysis here, but we have hit the jackpot, you know that, right? Oh, the possibilities. I’m going to be rich. And famous.”

“And how, exactly, are you going to prove that this stuff does what you say it does?” Clay countered, folding his arms over his chest. Larabee blinked, absently rubbing a hand on his lab coat. Clay shook his head. “Besides that, you don’t know how you did this. You might not be able to do it again. And… you’ll never be able to market it to anyone if you can’t make it stop smelling.”

Larabee sighed. “You have a point. Why don’t you start by using the hazmat showers while I clean up as much of this as I can? I’ll need to store it so that I have plenty of test samples. And we’re going to need you to do a few more tests with it as well.”

“I am not a lab rat, Larabee. If I wanted to be, I’d go in to the nearest doctor—or, heck, my boss man in the suit—and show them what I can do. Then I’d be experimented on until there was nothing left of me,” Clayton muttered, not liking the idea of a hazmat shower. He didn’t want to stand around here waiting to dry off, and these were the only clothes he had here.

Unless he wanted to put on one of Larabee’s costumes, but that just wasn’t going to happen.

“I’m not trying to make you into a lab rat, Clayton,” Larabee said, frowning as he scooped some of the ooze into a jar. He sighed. “Look, you’re my friend. One of the only ones I’ve got. You actually listen to me, which is more than most people do, and you trusted me with your secret superpower—”

“Actually, I wouldn’t have told you if I hadn’t accidentally shifted.”

Though Larabee looked a bit hurt, he shook his head. “That doesn’t matter. I’m the keeper of your secrets now, and I treat it as an honor. I’m your tech guy. Your scientist that will help you develop cool gadgets that will assist you in saving the world.”

“With what? I have a useless power, remember?”

“You were saying something about spying?”

“Oh, that. Well, that’s not going to work if I smell like this,” Clayton grumbled, going to the hazmat shower. He looked up at the spout and sighed. This would be about as pleasant as getting doused with the ooze. He turned it on, letting the water rush over him. After he was thoroughly soaked, he shut it off again and stepped out.

“I still smell.”

“We’ll work on that.”

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Working on that was a great concept, in theory. It didn’t do Clayton much good, though. He was able to get the smell out of his hair and off his skin, but it lingered in his clothes and every piece of clothing that Larabee tested it on after that point. It wasn’t going to go away. So much for the salvation it had seemed to be at first. It would have been an ideal solution… Only it wasn’t. It couldn’t be.

It stunk.

The smell was a cross between rotten eggs and road kill, and it did not go away.

Those famous odor removers that were always being advertised on television? None of them did a thing. The many brands of laundry detergent could not make the smell disappear. It seemed to get worse, depending on whether or not the detergent had any kind of fragrance in it or not.

They tried drying it in the sun. That sometimes baked smells out of things.

Maybe it baked it into the clothes.

Clayton was starting to believe that it would never come out of the clothes. It would never die. They’d done everything they could think of—they’d even tried absorbing the smell with cat litter. Clay didn’t think they’d ever get that odor to dissipate, and so that left them with nothing. Larabee couldn’t figure out how the stuff had gotten made, either, so that wasn’t much help. They were running out of it to test, though they had at least proven that Clay could be any age and have the clothes fit.

He just couldn’t have clothes that didn’t smell.

“I don’t know what else to do,” Larabee admitted, looking up from his internet search. “We’ve tried everything from carpet cleaners to kitty litter, and I’m not seeing a change. Not smelling one. The clothes still stretch no matter what we do to them, but they don’t stop stinking.”

“Yes. And stinking does not work.”

“We don’t need no stinking clothes!” Larabee misquoted, and Clayton groaned. The other man laughed heartily and smacked Clay in the back, spilling his coffee all over him. Clay looked down and sighed. It wasn’t bad enough that his clothes smelled, and he was exhausted from trying to make the smell go away, but now he’d lost his coffee, too. “Sorry, buddy.”

Clay looked down. “Huh. At least I smell more like coffee now and not road kill.”

“Hey, that gives me an idea,” Larabee said, and Clay shook his head just before he was doused with another coffee.

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