The Life and Times of Frank the Slime
by Wayne Sheeler
©2003 Wayne Sheeler -- all rights reserved
"We've surrounded the building. You're the expert here. What the heck are we supposed to do, doctor?" the grunt asked, his eye never leaving the scope on his rifle, training his eye towards the supermarket entrance.
"I may be the expert, but this is still a first for me. Not everyday you find an alien life form wandering the streets," Dr. Kenson stated from behind the barricade that had been erected. People had fled the supermarket when the creature entered. It had been descried as a puddle of red slime, slurping its way along. If it had not been for the many witnesses and the slime trail, it could have been put off as a hoax easily enough. No one had yet entered the building, though shoppers had fled en masse. Kenson had been brought in as an expert in language, communications, and culture for the alien response team. It was entirely possible the creature wasn't sentient, or even an alien for that matter. Nevertheless, Dr. Kenson was prepared to attempt communication and risk whatever harm the creature might try to visit upon him.
It was fifteen minutes later when the automatic doors opened. Everything went silent for a moment as all those gathered waited to see what would happen. A creaking noise from within the store broke the silence. The red slime was sitting in the basket of a shopping cart, filled with groceries, pushing its way along with a single pseudopod. It stopped a moment after exiting the store.
Dr. Kenson cleared his throat and stepped forward. He would try hand signals, pheromones, and a variety of other means to make contact, but first he decided to see if it understood English.
"Can you understand me?" he asked slowly. At first, the slime showed little response. Then, a thicker pseudopod stretched off and made a gesture... much like a nod. Dr. Kenson shook with excitement.
"You can hear me and understand, I take it? Can you speak?" Dr. Kenson asked, his voice quavering. The pseudopod bent inwards until it looked like a sock puppet. However, though it's jaws moved up and down, no sound emanated from the slime's maw.
"Can you communicate in some other fashion?" Dr. Kenson asked, bewildered by the creature's behavioral mimicry, paired with its seemingly intelligent response. The slime seemed as if it were trying to speak, straining, when a pseudopod reached out and traced upon the ground.
The sidewalk trail gleamed with the message, "I can write". Dr. Kenson did his best to stop from jumping for joy.
"I am Dr. Kenson. Do you also have a name where you come from?" Kenson asked. The pseudopod quickly traced across the ground. Kenson blinked in disbelief when he read the slime on the sidewalk.
"My name is Frank. I'm from Detroit. Why is everybody standing out here?"
Several months later...
Doctor Kenson reviewed all the medical info again. It had become his ritual before dealing with Frank. Frank had been studied and probed to the greatest extent science could manage. The fact bits of him could be removed and studied separately from the main mass of his body made it easy enough to go through almost any medical procedure. Frank weighed about one hundred to two hundred pounds, depending on his eating habits. His slimy body was only able to generate the force of a small child, but his fluid nature had many other worthwhile properties, such as its resistance to casual harm and the fact it could maximize its digestive surface to ingest almost anything. His biological nature was different from all terrestrial organisms, apart from some microbes.
However, it didn't change the way Frank acted.
"So, let me get this straight, Frank. You don't see anything unusual in your reflection?" Dr. Kenson asked.
The red slime sat in its large glass bowl and shifted. It shivered, sending vibrations into a complex apparatus at the bottom of the bowl, which activated a speaker.
"No, not really. Though I could use a shave," the slime's speaker stated, a single pseudopod running along what Kenson could only guess was Frank's 'chin'.
"Listen Frank, you don't have any limbs and you're in a glass bowl. You need to end this delusion. You are not a human being."
"You put me in the bowl and I have limbs," Frank said, waving two pseudopods.
"We've been at this for months. Everyone who sees you has told you the truth. You're not human. Why can't you accept that?"
"Because it's not true! I believe my own eyes. I won't give in to this insane brainwashing regime. I don't know why you people are so set on convincing me of this madness. I'm a human being!!" the speaker blared in triumph. Kenson took a moment to compose himself.
"Let's move on, Frank. We looked into the past you gave us and it checked out. Frank Jefferson has been missing on a time scale close to your arrival. So, you most likely were human at one point..."
"Are human," Frank interrupted.
"On an intellectual, moral, and maybe even a legal level, yes. Biologically, however, you most certainly are not. You have what appears to be human DNA in your cells, but not enough to constitute a human form," Kenson stated. It had been this way ever since they had made the communications breakthrough. Frank had held to the delusion that he was physically human since day one, despite all the proof brought against him.
"Wait! That's it!" Frank exclaimed.
"What's it?" Dr. Kenson asked.
"Uh, you're right, I'm a slime!" Frank admitted.
"You're just trying to make me happy," Dr. Kenson replied incredulously.
"No, really! I... realize that so many people can't be wrong. I must really be a slime."
"You can't trick me."
"Listen. How bad can this really be? You say it's dangerous for me to believe I'm still human. Do you really think it would be better for me to think of myself as a monster?" Frank reasoned. Dr. Kenson scratched his chin and considered. Since the discovery of Frank, it was rather amazing how quickly the political landscape exploded with an array of different laws. Since Frank showed all the intelligence of a normal person, an extra-human species act had been passed. Frank was considered human under the law as long as he showed an intelligence quotient above 90. It was odd that some humans wouldn't have been considered humans under this act, but the intelligence quotient was kept to the stricter minimum to be sure that it wasn't a gorilla, dolphin, or some other animal.
"Okay. I'll try. If I can't convince them you're not a danger, we'll be back here tomorrow. " Dr. Kenson said. Frank was a nice enough creature, deserving of respect and freedom. He just hoped he wasn't making a big mistake.
Two weeks later...
Frank was in a pipe. He said he just had his arm in there, but a good portion of his mass was shoved right down a sink. The rest of his body rested in a bowl connected to some mechanical legs and a speaker rig. It had been bought for him on the same kind of money one might get for a wheelchair.
"Almost got it... there." Frank said as his pseudopod pulled out of the drain, with bits of organic matter stuck to it. The bits dissolved before he wiped them off.
"Thanks, Frank. You might be the best plumber I've ever hired!" Miss Yarrow said as she put the money into the side pocket of his special walker. Frank tipped his half-digested hat and walked off to his car. He vibrated in an approximation of humming.
He had only been working for two days but had gotten more business then he ever had before. Everyone wanted the alien plumber to fix their faucet. He was scheduled to appear on a few television programs and was even invited to a few 'a-list' parties. Despite all the attention and the oddity, inside, Frank knew he was human. It was the witch's fault that everyone thought otherwise.
Well, he was pretty sure it was a witch. He had seen her in glimpses while talking about the blank spot in his memory, though it wasn't too clear. She was attractive, about his age. There were glowing lights and anger. It was obvious to Frank that some sort of massive mind control was being perpetrated to convince people he was a monster. So, as she was the only piece of his missing memory he could find, and since her hands were glowing, he was pretty sure she was a witch -- or maybe a psychic or something.
So, he planned on taking advantage of his celebrity status until he found a way to track down the witch.
A bit of his fire was stolen when a handful of creatures revealed themselves to the world. A good deal of these creatures were frauds, people willing to radically alter themselves for a grab at stardom. However at least a few were genuine. It caused a minor panic to see creatures coming out of the woodwork as it were, but the media spin kept the creatures in a good light. The nymph was already negotiating rights for her talk show.
Frank walked up to his apartment after a long days work. People in his apartment stopped him for small talk, asking him what he was up to. He nodded and chit chatted, answering inane questions of a slime's life.
"Are you planning on dating?"
"How much you eat in a day?"
"Are you sure you need showers?"
It was always embarrassing to make up answers to such stupid questions, but he had to. If he started acting up, he knew he was going to be hauled back to some personal asylum. Although they hid well, he had almost as many bodyguards as the president, just following him around to keep him from harm and to keep tabs on him.
Frank jiggled and giggled as he watched the Saturday Night Live tape. The skits they had put him in were so stereotypical. The blob, a Frank playing Frank, and a skit where he fell in love with Mango. However, the funny one, was the one he proposed. The one where the slime insisted it was human. Most people found it funny, but he and Dr. Kenson were the only ones who could really appreciate the irony. He was getting a bit hungry when his doorbell rang. Oozing along, he used a tentacle to open the door.
It was the girl -- the girl he couldn't quite remember -- and she looked angry.
"You ruined my life, you stupid slime!" she hissed.
"Look who's talking. I'm the one everybody thinks is a slime," Frank replied. She walked in as if she were invited and sat on his couch. She motioned with her finger for Frank to sit down next to her. Frank looked at her and thought of how sexy she was -- maybe she was his ex-girlfriend? Frank extended a pseudopod to the couch and moved closer until he could pull the rest of his mass up. She leaned close and whispered to him.
"Because of you, I can't do any magic."
"Why not?" Frank asked. He didn't care if the guards in the room heard him or not.
"Well, you started a revolution in law. Now, magical creatures are wandering into the light of society," she explained.
"So what? It's a definite improvement for civil rights, especially if those creatures were hiding all those years," Frank replied. Her eyes narrowed as she leaned close.
"I could get away with anything when nobody was looking. But people have gotten so open-minded that magic is no longer laughed at when brought up in court. Most people would just wander away and hide when they realized they were a monster, but you just blunder out of a supermarket," she growled. Frank felt a little queasy.
"You just said -- I really am a monster? It's not an illusion?" Frank asked, quivering.
"Of course not! I turned you into a slime so you could eat my jerk of an ex-boyfriend," she replied as quietly as she could. Frank's mind was snapping. He had completely denied the experience since the start, but now, confronted by the source of his transformation, he couldn't deny it any longer. He was a gooey little red monstrosity. His speaker gave a cry of anguish as the memories flooded in.
"My friend... you made me eat my friend..." he whimpered. She merely smirked.
"What, you didn't remember? Most people wouldn't forget something that important. Well, it doesn't matter. I never thought I would have to get revenge on such a pathetic creature as yourself, but it appears I was wrong," she said as energy flowed over her hands and she began to chant.
The guards in the room found themselves unable to move as the paralysis charm froze them to the spot.
"You've been a lot of trouble. No more creative urge for me, just good old blasts of hellfire from now on," she said with a smirk before starting another chant. However, her chant stopped almost as soon as it began. A single pseudopod had shot into her mouth.
"It's almost like plumbing. I just reach in and look for the problem..." Frank sputtered as he forced more and more of himself into her throat. He was only as strong as a child, but his shape was a perfect fit to the cavity and far too slippery to remove. Digestive juices started to eat away at her throat as Frank held himself in place. It was only a few minutes before she passed out.
Nearly a year later...
Frank had been through way more legal entanglements than any sentient creature should have to. A self-defense case, a murder trial, manslaughter, as well as the issue of the legal nature of magic had been keeping him busy for months. Frank had come through a lot worse for wear, and had needed a lot more psychiatric counseling, but he was getting better.
Dr. Kenson had come to see him after the last case was closed and Frank was able to return to work.
"So, any luck finding some magician to change you back?" Dr. Kenson asked, setting the cake he had brought next to the table where Frank was currently pooled. He oozed over the cake, box and all, and started to digest it. The little pseudopod he had been learning to speak with shook the strings it extended as it waved around to force air past them.
"No... they can't undo her spell." Frank managed to say in his strange whistling voice.
"It is horrid luck you managed to scar her vocal cords." Dr. Kenson said. Frank jiggled the way he usually did when he was laughing.
"I'm glad. If I hadn't, she would have killed me," Frank said.
"You're right, of course. I'm sure you never thought you would be an accidental revolutionary to sentient beings that none of us thought existed. What do you plan to do now?" Dr. Kenson asked.
"Oh, just the same old thing I guess. A bit of plumbing, maybe some gardening. You know, I really am sad that there aren't any other slimes out there. I... I'm really lonely," Frank said, drooping a little.
"Well, there are more strange beings coming out of the closet everyday. Maybe the one you're looking for is just around the corner?" Dr. Kenson suggested. Frank shrugged as best he could.
"Maybe you're right, Doc," Frank answered. "Maybe." He mused about all that had happened to him and how a lot of it would never have happened if he hadn't gone insane after being transformed. The irony of his delusion of humanity leading to the acceptance of the non-human wasn't lost on him. The sadness he held in his heart over his friend's death still hung with him. However, in the end, Frank realized that the only way for him to go on, was just to go on. Putting on his half-digested hat, Frank climbed into his harness and headed off to work.