Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dark World: A Pound of Cure

(The story begins here.)

“What now?” Darren asked.

Dr. Fleming caught himself checking the windows and scowled. “We should keep an eye out, but right now I want to know what’s behind this transformation.” He turned to Lassiter. “You only change on the full moon?”

“Normally. The time at the gully or ravine was different.”

“Then we should have plenty of time to prepare. You aren’t allergic to silver, are you?”

“Not in this form.”

“Then I’m going to put you on a regimen of silver to see whether it will stop or weaken the transformation.”

“I wonder why silver?” Darren mused.

“Because it has proved effective. If you mean why silver works, I have no idea so far. It has a few unique properties; any one of them or a combination of them could explain the effect. It is an antiseptic—it seems to block infection, though no one knows why yet. That’s the most probable explanation. Silver is also a good conductor, though I’m not sure how that could play a part. I’d like to have you hooked up to a battery of instruments next time, Lassiter, but if silver can cure you, I’ll be content with that for the moment.”

Lassiter stared at the doctor. “What do you mean, ‘for the moment’?”

“If the transformation could be controlled, think how useful it could be. You were practically invulnerable.”

“So you’re like the guys who kidnapped me.”

“By no means. Invulnerability would have a number of everyday uses. Imagine a workforce practically immune to harm.”

“Or criminals,” Darren muttered.

“All progress carries a risk. In any case, I think I shall confer with some colleagues. There is a gentleman in upstate New York who could probably be of great assistance eventually, but I’d rather begin with someone a bit more traditional. I’ll make some preparations and get Mr. Lassiter started on a silver solution. Then we can make a trip to see an old friend of mine.”

Dr. Fleming went to a safe and removed a small quantity of silver, some of which he set aside for putting in a solution. “I would like to use pure silver, not a compound,” he explained. “A compound might not have the effect we need, but pure silver should. At the same time, I hope to spread it through his system as insurance.”

“You expect trouble, Doctor?” Lassiter asked.

“No, I merely prepare for it. Your mysterious woman apparently changed you off schedule before.”

“Because of the ravine—”

“We don’t know that.”

Darren eyed the second pile of silver suspiciously. “What about the extra silver?”

The doctor cocked an eyebrow and replied matter-of-factly, “That’s for the bullets.”

Next installment: If a Tree Falls

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