Phil jumped to his feet, at least he tried to. He was entangled in a blue fern that had grown quite suddenly the night before. As he pulled the free he loosed a large quantity of spores. For a moment after he pulled himself out, he stood there covered in dark blue spots. Then he vanished from sight. He was invisible! before he could revel in this amazing experience, he heard voices approaching.
"I'm telling you Clubnose, I saw someone over here. Look at that fern, it's broken!"
Phil backed away as quietly as possible. His heart was beating a tattoo in his chest. Two slimy creatures squelched their way to the fern. The two beings were disgusting beyond reason. They were thin and snake-like, but were also covered by an extremely thick layer of mucous. They stood about six feet tall. One was vivid green and the other was bright fuchsia. The resultant effect was like a snake and slug had produced gigantic offspring.
The fuchsia thing' saw Phil's backpack and exclaimed, "Look at that! The king would like that bag!" The acidy green one slithered-or slid, Phil was never quite sure which-to the bag and absorbed it into it's slightly transparent mucous layer.
"Hey Clubnose, what say we go back and torment the prisoners?" Fuchsia said excitedly.
"Good idea, Flarftulum. They'll be coming around soon and I want to scare them before they're stewed!" Clubnose replied.
Phil tried to follow the two monstrosities but all he managed to do was fall in a pit of their slime. He started to pull free but the organisms heard his grunts of exertion. He froze. As he lay, sliding deeper and deeper into the mucous he saw with a shock that the mucous was washing the spores away leaving parts of his body visible. He sunk in the goo as Flarftulum pulled back his lips revealing venomous six-inch fangs. He sunk until only his nose and mouth were above the surface After a while both slug-like entities left Phil alone on the plains. Fully-visible now, he pulled himself from the glop. He was alone on the moor once more.
Phil washed all of the disgusting stuff off him and found that where it had touched his skin the longest he had begun to get a rash. Obviously this goo was poisonous. He sat on the ground to think and quickly jumped up again. He had sat on something in his pocket. He pulled it out, it was a small acorn Leif had given him back in the glade. It was slick with slime and he promptly dropped it. As he bent to retrieve it, the CRAPPY box fell off his neck as the string broke. He snatched at it. He missed it. It fell.
It landed in a glob of glop. Oh no! Phil thought, I've broken it. However he picked it and the acorn up anyway. He slid the Acorn back into his pocket. Suddenly the CRAPPY box began to shudder it unfolded to handheld size again and displayed a perfect photo of the slug-creature.
"The Slughiss is a strange and evil creature of unknown origins," The voice that radiated from the box was cool, and feminine, like an ancient telyfone operator. "It's slime is fairly poisonous and paralyzing for all life forms. The only antidote are the spores taken from the Cerulean Branched Plant (The plant from the which the safest invisibility serum in derived). These spores must be ingested within two days of coming in contact with the slime. The only period a one-time exposure to the goo is fatal, is if the slime is sprayed by the fangs located on the roof of the oral cavity."
Phil stared at the image and the box. Quite suddenly he remembered the instructions saying that it obeyed verbal orders of it's warder. Phil burst, almost shouting, "Do you know how I can save my friends?"
Verbal orders, Phil thought, not verbal questions. "Tell me how to save my friends." This time the box whirred and unfolded to the size of a small building. Phil walked inside. The machinery covered the walls. It was shivering and shaking and heating up. The great computer was answering his question.
Three hours later Phil noticed that the noise had ceased and a shrill beeping noise directed him to a small slot. With a ding a paper shot out. Shaking hands reached for the bit of paper. He turned it over and read it: Use Serum.
"What! That's all you have to say?" Phil exploded, "Talk to me. Tell me what a Cerulean Branched Plant is. Tell me why it took you so long to process my question."
Ding. Ding. Ding.
Three, small, folded pieces of paper shot like bullets at Phil's head. He ducked. They flew out the door and hit the ground. As Phil ran out the door to snatch them, the CRAPPY box minimized to the size of a small hand-held device. Phil picked up the smoking papers and started to read:
Answer 1: I cannot talk because I am a
machine. I can only play
recorded clips from my memory.
Answer 2: Look in The Plant Atlas Volume 25:
Answer 3: Your command was so vague that I
couldn't process it quickly.
Gritting his teeth pressed Phil pressed a few keys and suddenly a huge directory, like the ones just inside shopping malls, appeared in mid air. He looked down at the list of books and finally found The Plant Atlas Volume 25: caum-cezr. He tapped the tile and a heavy tome floated before him. He said clearly "Cerulean Branched Plant". The book flipped open to a picture of-"The blue fern!" Phil cried triumphantly, "Print out a copy of the recipe for the serum made from the Cerulean Branched Plant." Another two pieces of paper slid out of the top of the CRAPPY box. Phil read:
1 cup spores Cerulean Branched Plant
2/3 cup water
1 oz. Slughiss slime
WARNING: While using serum...
(Here Phil skipped down a bit)
Mix the spores...
Three hours later Phil gathered all of the ingredients needed to make a batch of the serum. He was mixing the items, amazed at how the bottom of the spoon just disappeared when it touched the concoction. Phil grinned as he started to form a plan.
Thirty minutes later, Phil held a cup of the serum before his face. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath , as if it was his last. He gulped. Phil drank all of the serum in one swallow. For a while nothing happened. A few drops of serum ran down his neck and touched his shirt. A moment passed.
A tingling sensation filled his body. As you know from reading other books, when someone becomes invisible, they slowly fade until nothing is left. WRONG! Actually, as Phil discovered, the skin and clothes quite suddenly disappear. This does not mean, as still other authors of Science Fiction portray it as a pop and suddenly the person is gone. No, you can still quite plainly see the muscles and bones and organs underneath the skin until they individually pop out of sight. Each set of tissues just vanishing. Here a bone, there a muscle, and there the front of a kidney. Until nothing is left to sight.
As he watched this, Phil could both feel and see his stomach churning. Soon all that was left was his stomach floating alone in the air. Until unexpectedly a geyser shot out of it and arced to the ground. Then that too was gone.
After Phil had recovered sufficiently he stood and headed in the direction that the slughiss' had gone. After an hour or so of walking he found a valley with a cave near the bottom. The whole area was covered with slime. Phil tried to climb down but he slipped and slid right down into the dark and foreboding hole in which his friends were trapped.