Craig Sanders hated his biology class, because he had to cross R Hallway in Martin Luther King Jr. High School. When he did he would have to deal with Kensey Waldmeier and his cronies who hung out at the crossing where they would sit ready to pounce on anyone who dared to enter their turf and since the biology classroom was in the middle of this imaginary turf, there was no way he could get out of becoming a victim.
Another fact was Rose Talmer was in his class. She was enchanting to the point he was unable to speak to her without becoming tongue tied. Between Kensey’s gang of juvenile delinquents and the woman of his dreams, Craig would be a wreck when he walked into biology. To make matters worse, Mr. Linkletter was also the uncoolest teacher there was at Martin Luther High. He would have some poor creature dissected on his desk somewhere that made most of the girls squeamish. As far as Craig Sanders was concerned, life at Martin Luther Jr. High School was Hell.
“Hi Craig.” Rose smiled at him, “Are you ready for the lab today?”
He babbled something unintelligible.
“We are partners.” Her face blushed a bit, but Craig blathered out some incomprehensible words.
After class, after spending the entire period by her side, Craig was greeted by Kensey.
“Hey doophis, how about a game of backpack kickball.” Kensey wrenched the backpack from Craig’s hands and for the next half hour he tried to intercept his abused backpack. The real downer was that Rose watched the entire incident. Nobody did anything to stop the brutality Craig endured in an endless twenty minutes that made him late for his next class.
“Are you alright?” Rose asked him at lunch.
“No.” He said emphatically, “I hate him. Sometimes I wish I was invisible.”
The payoff was Rose reached across the table and held his hand, her eyes filled with empathy.
Sitting in the solitude of his room with posters of the Mutant Ninja Turtles, but their intended inspiration did not cover the wounds he had suffered earlier in the day. He had three pages of biology to slough through. None of it made any sense.
“Are you Craig Sanders?” A voice from behind him made him jump out of desk chair.
“Who the heck are you?” Craig asked, but there was some debate about whether he used “heck” or another word.
“I am Milo.” He checked his fingernails. Milo was plump, dressed in just a flimsy toga that revealed too much of his lumpy physique with chubby bare feet that seemed to float in the air.
“Why are you here?” Craig was shaky with Milo’s abrupt appearance.
“Dear boy, I am your fairy godfather.” He tittered.
“My what?” Craig shook his head.
“You were the one who summoned me.” He uncrossed his legs which made Craig look away.
“I summoned you?” Craig shrugged.
“You made a wish. When you do that it’s like an alarm to me.” He tittered again.
“The wish to be invisible.” He raised an eyebrow.
Craig cleared his throat as he recalled what he said to Rose at lunch. “Sure, sure, but it was just something I said to cover my frustration.”
“Not to me.” He reached inside his toga and pulled out a glass vial. “Drink this.”
“Why should I?”
“Because you will possess the power of invisibility.” Milo leaned in as if someone could eavesdrop on their conversation.
“Really?” Craig exhaled, but once again there was some debate on if “really” was really the word he had used.
There was a knock at the door as his mother’s voice carried from the other side of the locked door, “Craig honey, is there someone in there with you?”
“No mom, I was just having a conversation with myself.” He assured her.
“Alright, don’t stay up too late.”
“I won’t mom.” Craig rolled his eyes.
“She sounds wonderful.” Milo shrugged.
“She is, but right now, Kensey has been a pain in my neck.” He sighed, but once again there is some doubt as to whether he used neck in lieu of another body part.
“Drink.” Milo urged him. Craig looked at the small vial in his hand. There was a cork stopper at the top. With a twist, the cork popped off. Craig looked at Milo who nodded encouragement, uttering, “Bottoms up.”
With that, Craig guzzled the contents of the small bottle. It had a bitter aftertaste that made him grimace.
“Now you must decide on a word that you will use to trigger the magic.” Milo instructed.
Craig’s eyes fell on his poster of Bruce Springsteen posing with his guitar from his Born in the USA album.
“Bruce Springsteen.” Craig shrugged.
“So be it.” Milo waved his hands over Craig’s head. “I must be on my way, but I will come back if you need me.”
The next morning as Craig approached the area where Kensey Waldmeier and his thugs had congregated.
“Bruce Springsteen.” He said as they came into view. He walked up to Kensey who was jeering at some of the students who passed.
“Hey, has anyone seen that loser Craig Sanders?” He laughed.
“No, Ken, it seems like he’s become invisible.” Marc Howser laughed just as Kensey doubled over with a deep groan, “What the-”
Marc fell to his knees completely surprised by the blow to his midsection.
“What the heck is going on?” Kensey groaned from his knees. Everyone by now knows “heck” was not the word Kensey used. He no sooner said what he said, his head snapped back as he collapsed to the floor. He did not move.
Milo appeared that night in Craig’s room.
“You should have seen it. He had no idea what hit him.” Craig was animated as he told Milo about the encounter. Milo did not appear thrilled by Craig’s account of his invisible revenge.
“I have made a grave error.” Milo said once Craigh had finished with his story.
“What error?” Craig seemed bewildered by Milo’s less than enthusiastic reaction.
“It seems the elixir has a flaw.” He tried to smile, but failed in his attempt.
“What flaw? What error?” Craig swallowed hard.
“If you use it to become invisible, eventually you will find yourself wandering through Limbo.” He shrugged.
“What? What are you saying?” Craig swallowed hard again.
“It is a one-way ticket.” Milo could not meet Craig’s baffled gaze.
“How many times?” Craig asked.
“Once.” Milo held up one finger. “And it seems you are already at the limit.”
“Are you kidding me?” Craig blurted out with some doubt as to whether he used “kidding” or not.
“I wish I were, dear boy, I wish I were.” Milo let out a heavy sigh.
“So if I decide to become invisible, I end up in Limbo?” Craig flopped on his bed deflated.
“About sums it up.” Milo nodded as a crooked smile crossed his face, “You see, I am really just an apprentice. I was remanded for giving you that elixir. My mentor has revoked my powers as your fairy godfather.”
“What the heck am I supposed to do now? You know Kensey will be pissed off and he’s going to take it out on me.” Craig heard his mother at the locked door.
“I’d better go.” Milo bowed his head.
“Craig, I hear that strange voice again.” She spoke through his door.
“It’s alright mom, I was just watching a video.” He lay on his bed as Milo waved and vanished.
“You and your videos.” She laughed.
The next morning as he walked to his first class, Kensey stepped in front of him preventing Craig from getting to his class.
“Punk, somebody put a hurting on me.” He put his hands on his hips.
“Did you see who it was?” Craig’s knees were shaking.
“No. The fool was too scared to show his ugly face.” He breathed on Craig. His breath was rank enough to make Craig gag.
“I don’t know a thing about this, Kensey.” He shook his head hoping Kensey would step aside, but the bully did not budge.
“I need to get even.” He growled, “I figure you are as good as any.”
“Bruce Springsteen.” Craig whispered as he saw Kensey’s fist aimed like a missile toward his face.
“Where did he go?” Marc could not believe his eyes as Craig vanished right before his eyes.
Kensey appeared as if he had seen a ghost. His face bled white as his jaw dropped open. “I don’t know.”
Craig stumbled through the dense undergrowth of a forest where the sun struggled through the canopy to draw shadows on the ground. What little sky managed to get through was a dull monochrome gray. There was not a single clue of a sun hiding somewhere among the thick clouds.
“Where am I?” Craig asked, but he really did not want to hear the answer.
A cold wind made him shiver. Hidden between the dense woods was a cabin. Craig reasoned that he would need shelter from the wind. He began to walk toward the cabin. It made him feel better seeing a small ribbon of smoke coming from the chimney. A creature howled from some unseen hiding place, making his journey toward the cabin even more dire. Arriving at the door, Craig knocked on the uneven wooden door.
“Enter.” A voice rang out from inside the cabin. Craig opened the door where he saw a man sitting at a desk. The man did not even turn around to see who had entered the cabin. “Make yourself at home. Please close the door as the weather has been dreadful.”
Craig did as requested by the man at the desk.
“Who might I say has entered my humble domicile?” He turned in his wooden swivel chair. Wearing a pair of glasses and a bushy mustache, the man examined his visitor closely, “Do you have a name?”
“Craig. Craig Sanders.” Craig mumbled.
“Well Craig, this is certainly an unexpected pleasure. It has been a very long time since I had a visitor.” He moved his chair closer to the raggedy couch pushing his heels against the uneven wooden floor. His lenses were thick which magnified his brown eyes. He blinked a couple of times and then said, “My name is DB Cooper. I’ve been here a long time. Some fairy godfather dude told me about his formula. It was a magical potion. He told me, iIf I drank it, I could become invisible, but he failed to tell me about this.”
The cabin was quite Spartan with only a few sparse bare essentials visible including the small desk he was sitting at when Craig entered the cabin.
“I had wanted to become invisible when I parachuted out of that airplane with a briefcase full of money. When I landed, I found this cabin. There was this guy. What was his name?” He put his hand to his head assuming a thinking posture, “Jimmy. Jimmy. That’s it, Jimmy Hoffa.”
“So why am I here?” Craig shook his head.
“I would venture to guess, you are here to take my place.” He chuckles, “One of them fairy fellas told me someone would be here to take my place. I must admit, I was quite pleased to hear the news. There isn’t much to tell you other than you will be comfortable here even if it does not appear to be so.”
“I don’t want to be here.” Craig could feel the tears gather in his eyes.
“Nor did I, but there doesn’t seem to be any choice in the matter.” He held out his arms. “Being invisible seems to come with a price, I’m afraid. Being invisible places you in this bland Limbo. I did not ask to come here. I had visions of grandeur, but the joke's on me. There is no grandeur anywhere to be seen.”
“My mom is going to be worried to death.” Craig let the tears roll down his face.
“Most likely.” He noticed the expression of alarm on his young guest’s face, “I’d like to lie and say otherwise, but you can see for yourself, this place is anything, but exciting. Well, I shall see you around.”
He pauses and shakes his head, as he walks out the door “No, you won’t see me around, I’m afraid.”
Craig watches as DB Cooper disappears into thin air.
The silence fills the room except for Craig’s mournful sobbing.
Kensey sat alone in R Hallway. He was skipping his math class, but it didn’t matter to him at this moment. Craig Sanders had disappeared right in front of his eyes. This really rattled him. How could such a puny punk like Craig simply disappear like some ghost right in front of his eyes. Until Craig vanished a few days ago, Kensey did not believe in ghosts or anything magical. His parents were realists and would not allow their son to believe in such things. There was no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny or some God that lived in the clouds or anything of that nature.
He had seen it. It happened right in front of his eyes, but his upbringing would not allow him to give in to such ridiculousness. Sometimes he wished he did allow himself to believe what his senses could not verify.
“Have you seen him?” Rose awoke him from his daydream.
“Nope.” He shook his head.
“I wish he’d come back.” She sat next to Kensey.
“I don’t know where he went.” Kensey put his hands between his knees. “He just disappeared.”
“Milo!” He heard the boss’ voice call him. With a mournful sigh, Milo went to see what he wanted.
“Cristo, sir, what can I do for you?” Milo asked.
“I have heard about what you did. You knew that elixir was still being tested.” Cristo sat behind a Broddingnagian desk. He was not pleased.
“I did.” Milo’s eyes fell to his feet.
“Now we have this young man sitting in Limbo.” He drummed his fingers on the ivory surface of his desk. “We need to make this right.”
“What do you have in mind?” Milo swung his foot like a golf club.
“I think we should have you take his place since it was not his fault that he is there.” Cristo stroked his van Dyke whiskers with his long painted fingernails.
“No sir, that is not a good idea.” Milo whined.
“I have cleared it up the chain of command. Pack your bags, you leave within the hour.” Crisco smiled.
“I wish to protest.” Milo pouted.
“Protest all you want. You are on the express in less than an hour.” Cristo said.
When Craig heard the knock at the door, he was startled from a dream. Here in Limbo dreams seemed to visit all the time. When he opened the door, Milo stood there with a small suitcase.
“Milo, what are you doing here?” Craig asked.
“I’m here to replace you.” He frowned.
“Come on in.” Craig opened the door wide.
“This will really cut my skin treatment.” He complained as he flopped on the couch.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.” Craig nodded.
“Don’t lie to me.” His sour facial expression spoke volumes.
“Okay this place is a real bummer.” Craig turned his head so Milo would not see his big smile. It is noted that “bummer” was not really the word he used.
When the fog cleared, Craig found himself walking down the street to his home.
His mom opened the door, “Craig! Where have you been? I was worried about half to death.”
Her hug felt so good compared to the place he had just come from.
“It’s so good to be home.” He whispered in her ear like Dorothy Gayle did in that movie so many years ago.
He walked into Martin Luhter King Jr. High School as if he owned the place. He kept his chin up as he came to R Hallway where Kensey Waldmeier and his gang sat in wait.
“Hey Sanders.” Kensey called out.
“What?” He kept his chin up.
“Where have you been?” Kensey looked Craig straight in the eye.
“You know. Been around here and there.” He raised his eyebrow.
“Glad you’re back.” He clasped Craig’s hand.
“What was that all about?” Rose asked him as he walked into class.
“Nothing.” Criag shrugged.
“Where have you been?” She grabbed his hand.
“I had to do some thinking.” He smiled.
“Oh yeah, what did you think about?”
“I learned some lessons about becoming invisible.” He nodded.
“Oh yeah and what did you learn?”
“I found out that being invisible is not always what it’s cracked up to be.” He answered, “Sometimes you have to show up and face your fears.”