This is the 35th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Eyes of the Galaxy, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 5th January 2012
Word count: 964
Theme: fountain of youth, desperation, ageing, life
“So, the last ingredient is…” the man in the white coat said looking for a piece of paper.
“Ground diamond,” an old man said, reading the piece of paper.
“Oh there you are sir,” the white coat said, “I’m just putting the finishing touches to it, and then it can go in the machine.”
“Well since you’re on the last ingredient I guessed it’d be something like that, how long will it take though?”
“About an hour in the machine, and then an hour setting time.”
“Good, I have invested several fortunes in this for it go wrong, get it right, and get it right fast,” the old man said. The old man was in his nineties, Carl Anders, a renowned billionaire industrialist who had made a fortune during Earth’s early colonisation of Mars by buying up worthless pockets of land, and then spending money finding resources, or uses for the land. He was dying though, too long in space, too much time in early space transports that didn’t have adequate radiation protection.
“I am doing my best sir, it would be easier if I had someone to help, and a test subject. I’m not happy that it’s going to be used untested,” the white coat, a young and brilliant scientist called Liam Wickes, who had been recruited from a petrochemical company.
“No,” Carl said adamantly, “I explained all this already. I’m dying anyway, consider me your test subject. Just get the damn thing made, I’ll be back in two hours.”
Near exactly two hours later Carl walked into the small lab at his Industrial Research and Development Complex near Olpymus Mons.
“Is it ready?” he asked as he caught his breath.
The scientist paused, considering very carefully, “I’ve done everything precisely as dictated in the book. I really can not recommend that you drink it though, sir.”
“As I’ve already explained, eighteen of these ingredients are deadly to humans in these quantities. Not to mention the man who wrote this recipe and supposedly drank this concoction rather publicly and painfully died,” Liam said grabbing wall clipping from the wall and showing it to Carl.
“You have nothing new to offer Doctor Wickes,” Carl said with a wave of his hand, “This concoction as you call it is the fountain of youth. That crazy old coot wasn’t able to handle it, but I’m Carl Anders, I dragged this whole fucking race from the mud pits of Earth to prosperity on Mars. I can handle far more than some bum scientist could.
“And let’s not forget, that scientist died a young man,” Carl said, “Now I’m done debating this. Bring me the formula, and then you can feel free to leave.”
“No, I’ll stick it out to the bitter end, sir,” Liam said reaching for a small vial that was in a rack cooling.
“Thank you,” Carl said, his attitude instantly changing. He carefully removed the stopper. “I just drink it right?”
“According to the notes, all of it. The effect is supposedly instantaneous. I can’t see how, there’s nothing in there that’s all that special.”
“Doesn’t matter, kid,” the industrialist said, “I know it worked. Even if only badly, I’ll be dead this side of the new year. I’ll take my chances.” He put the vial to his lips nervously, took a deep breath feeling the a burning in his throat from the acrid fumes of the draft, then without hesitating further he downed the concoction.
Carl collapsed to one knee, and then as if struck flew backwards, landing on his back.
“Sir! Sir!” Liam called, but to Carl it was like a voice at the end of a long tunnel. He was far too distracted by every particle of his being vibrating energetically at once.
Liam watched as Carl seemed to shimmer before him, his flesh rippled, but to his credit, Carl never screamed. As Liam as regretted not having more equipment to monitor the reaction, but Carl wasn’t doing this as some experiment, he just wanted to live again. The reaction seemed to be slowing.
“Sir?” Liam asked.
“H-h-help me up,” he said, his voice struggling.
Liam reached down to help the man up. The old man struggled to his feet, and as Liam looked he wasn’t old any more. He wasn’t young either, his skin was smooth like it had been heavily polished, his hair had gone from grey to completely clear, his eyes were all black, there was no colour, not even white.
“That feels better,” the black eyed man said.
“What does it feel like?” the young scientist asked amazed. There was nothing in the recipe that indicated how this was happening or even what was happening.
“It feels like I can see the whole universe in one glance,” Carl said his voice getting stronger.
Something clicked in Liam’s mind, and he scrambled for the notebook, he realised now what the strange warning meant. “Don’t look in the black hole,” he read out.
“What?” Carl asked.
“The man who wrote this recipe, he gave a warning, don’t look into the blackhole,” Liam clarified.
“Black hole?” Carl said, and his face went slack. Then suddenly he screamed, and started tearing at his face, at his eyes.
Liam grabbed a syringe from the medikit, and injected it into the strange figure. Carl gave one last scream before he passed out. Liam grabbed the old man and put him on a stretcher. He then proceeded to start taking blood samples, and hair samples, and any other sample he could think of, while he had the chance.
He sighed and looked down at the billionaire industrialist, he hoped he’d be okay, but in the meantime, he had found something that would make him rich, the formula for the Eyes of the Galaxy.