Larabee still has all of those costumes in a display case in his basement. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. He is absurdly proud of those things even though they are the most unbelievably hideous creations known to man—even before you realize that they’re made of spandex. That just makes it ten times worse. One of these days, I would find a way to destroy that fire resistant case and burn them all. For now, though, I have to pretend that they don’t exist.
I do my best to block out the memories. I think if I thought about them too much, I’d end up blind. Or insane. Or both.
It took a while to get Larabee past the horror show that was the costumes he’d created. I’m skipping over a lot of the details—not just of the costumes that make my brain want to explode—but over the monotony of the days waiting for the discovery of this miracle fabric that would end the torment of a random form shift—believe me, I’d started acquiring some clothes for other ages, but it wasn’t like I could carry them with me all the time.
I really needed something that I could wear whenever.
Something that was not spandex.
“Are you done yet? No more creepy costumes to torture me with, right? I am so done with that. I didn’t want to see them in the first place.”
“Not even the Amazing Boy one? I think that one was great. You would look adorable in it if you shifted to that age,” Larabee said, and Clayton glared at him. Not only that, but the word “adorable” in connection with him from Larabee—it was creepy as hell. He shuddered. “You could at least have tried one of my awesome creations on. Just one. That’s all I’d ask. Really. I promise.”
Clay gave him a hard look. “What have I been saying the entire time? It’s two words, but they do not seem to be getting through your head. How many times do I have to say it, Larabee? Do I need to slow down? Was I not clear enough? I think I enunciate just fine. But, again, no spandex.”
“Who started you on this hatred of spandex anyway?”
“Why do I need a reason to hate spandex? It’s spandex,” Clay said, shrugging. He didn’t see why Larabee loved the damn stuff so much. He probably wore it all the time in his off hours. That would not surprise Clayton one bit. “It’s… Have you ever realized the sheer amount of people in the world who wear spandex that should not wear spandex? It’s a staggering even horrifying number. It really is more of a curse, a blight on society. I cannot believe that they ever thought it was a good idea.”
Larabee shook his head. “I think you must have other issues with the spandex thing, Clayton. Is there some kind of trauma or something? Did you have a bad reaction to the fabric? You do have allergies, after all.”
Clayton grabbed hold of Larabee’s lab coat. “I do not have issues. Your love affair with spandex is more disturbing than my aversion to it. Would you leave the spandex alone already and find something that would actually work?”
“I am so done,” Clayton muttered, getting up. He took a deep breath and shifted himself back into his normal form, readjusting his clothes. His suit fit fine again, and he may as well get back to work now. There was no point in doing this. Larabee wasn’t going to come up with anything. Nothing was going to change. Clay was stuck without clothes that would adapt. He’d just have to get one of those vacuum pack bags and carry an entire wardrobe with him. That was what he’d have to do. There was no other option. He sighed.
“Wait, wait, I’ve got an idea.”
“I’m sick of your ideas. They’re all costumes and spandex, and I don’t need the first and won’t wear the second,” Clay called over his shoulder as he headed toward the door.
Larabee rushed after him. “No, no, I have the perfect thing. Just wait. I have been working on it, too, though you assume that I have nothing but spandex on the brain.”
“That is so unfair.”
“I am telling you, if you’d let me try a blend—”
“It’s still spandex, therefore still a no.”
“No, now I am going,” Clayton insisted, reaching for the door handle. His hand had barely closed over it when something in the other end of the room gurgled. Full on gurgled. It sounded like some kind of giant stomach rumbling. He looked at Larabee. “What was that?”
“I don’t know,” Larabee answered, rushing across the room. Against his better judgment, Clay followed him toward the big mixing vat in the middle of the room. That thing couldn’t be safe. “We may need you for this, Clayton. This could be… bad.”
“What am I supposed to do?” Clay demanded. “Make faces at it? I just changed back into this form after the brilliant allergy test that you made me do. I don’t have a useful ability, you know. I’ve tried and tried to tell you this, but you don’t listen to that any more than you do the no spandex thing. Can’t you just… shut it off?”
“It’s not even supposed to be on.”
“It’s not like it turned itself on, though.”
“Well, it could have, possibly. I mean, it is reactive to certain stimuli—”
“It’s a vat in the middle of a room, Larabee! What are you talking about? How can it respond to stimuli? Unless you set it to explode when someone defames your precious spandex, I fail to see what this could possibly be doing. What is it for?”
“A bit of this, a bit of that.”
Clayton looked at the vat, and then his natural sense of preservation kicked in. He ran for the door again. He wasn’t feeling like dying today in whatever experiment Larabee might have created. He yanked on the door handle and tried to open it even as the container exploded, its contents coating the room in a disgusting smelling slime.
He looked down at his front, not sure how he’d managed to get covered on his front when he’d been facing away from the vat. He wiped off his face with a grimace. “Great, Larabee. Now you’ve wrecked your lab, and we smell.”
Larabee must have been somewhere else under the wreckage, possibly unconscious. Clay sighed and started back for the other man. He picked up a twisted piece of metal and pushed it to the side, checking Larabee’s vitals. Okay, so the man was alive. And not covered in this crap. That was completely unfair.
And then Clay felt the twinge in his fingers and knew that it could get worse.