Too long to go in a cracker
Or, what to do if you find yourself trapped by an evil inventor with a passion for marine life
“Behold!” cried the Evil Villain Scientist, his voice screeching and cracking with excitement. “My latest invention, the invention which will let me take over the WORLD! They thought I was mad! They said it couldn’t be done! They said it would break the laws of physics! But here I have it! The Marine Life Invisibility Ray!!!”
“They’ll never let you take over the world, Evil Villain,” I mumbled around my poorly-attached gag. “The Marine Life Academy just won’t allow it. You’ll never get away with your ridiculous plan.” Secretly, though, I was worried. Any evil invention worthy of that many exclamation marks was going to be tough to beat.
“They’ll never have a chance to stop me!” he chortled gleefully. “They’ll never see me coming! And you, miss, are never going to escape from here, so I may as well tell you all the details of just what this invention can do. The Marine Life Invisibility Ray can prevent anyone from seeing any sort of aquatic animal life! It becomes completely invisible to the eye. Before the week is out, I will command a whole school of invisible trained dolphins, and the Academy simply won’t be able to see what’s coming for them. In a few days, I will control the world!”
I was in a sticky situation, I could see, but if only I could keep him distracted and talking I might be able to come up with a chance to escape. “It’ll never work,” I shouted. “Your gadget is never going to handle that. It’ll burn out after one trained dolphin at most, if it even works at all.”
“You doubt me, you stupid girl?” he screamed. “My little gadget? My machine works perfectly! Let me show you!!!”
One wall of the Evil Lair was entirely of thick, smooth plate glass, a window into the Villain’s main aquarium. Every imaginable type of marine life swam peacefully across his window, one side to the other, then circling to pass back again. Octopuses scuttled along the sandy bottom, and catfish clamped themselves to rocks. The villain swung the Invisibility Ray around on its mount, twiddled knobs, and closed a large, well-polished brass knife switch with a sharp electrical crack. A quiet hum rose from bass notes to treble pitch, and I felt the hairs on my arms stand on end as every atom in the air became highly charged. A warning lamp on the gun itself started to blink, and the Villain flipped the safety catch away from the firing switch.
“What shall we show you first, you silly little spy,” he said, panning the raygun side to side. “Look! A clownfish! One button press and…” he pushed the firing switch. I felt a disconcerting leap, as if the universe had suddenly jumped a groove. “…you can’t see any clownfish now!” The hum from the device rose back from bass to treble again.
“A clownfish is one thing, Villain,” I said, “but that won’t convince the Academy.”
“You think that’s all it can do!?” he shouted. “Look! A sailfin tang!” He fired again, and the small striped fish disappeared. “A yellow wrasse!” That jolt again, and the wrasse had disappeared. “A marble batfish!” Again the strange jolt, as if I had jumped from one world to a parallel one. “It’s completely foolproof! It will have no effect, no effect at all on land life, whilst making any sea life completely unseen!”
“Any sea life at all?” I asked. “Really?”
“Really. Any. You can’t trick me!” He cackled. “You really, really can’t trick me!”
“How about…” I said, trying to sound as casual as I could, as if I was picking something at random, “…how about that there?”
“That? That seahorse? Is a seahorse marine life? Is this the Marine Life Invisibility Ray? Of course it will make it unseen!”
“I don’t believe you,” I said, trying to stay calm. “Show me. Please?”
“Why, my dear,” he said, with a wicked grin, “it would be a pleasure.” He pressed the button.
With a terrible cracking sound, the thick glass of the tank shattered into large, jagged pieces, as the foamy salt water of the tank burst from it. Through the foam, I made out a large, dark shape. A loud “NEIGHHHHHH!” filled my ears. It sounded angry and enraged, and with very good reason. Without stopping to see if the Villain survived his trampling, I fled.