Flight Test

"Just hold still. This might hurt a lot, but I promise it will be worth it."

Crystal used both hands to grip a syringe that was larger than the rat she was injecting. Number Fourteen squirmed against his tiny restraints, but didn't make any sound as the needle plunged into his side. The rat became completely still. 

"Is it dead?" Harry asked over her shoulder. 

Crystal flinched a bit, having been oblivious to Harry's approach. 

"No, he's not dead. He's in a coma while this enzyme rewires his brain. It will take a couple days."

Harry nodded appreciatively. "Ah yes. So exhausting, that brain reconfiguration. You look a bit worn out yourself," he commented.

"Thanks," Crystal replied drily. 

"Should I get you some coffee?" 

Crystal sighed. "No, I should probably take a break. There's not much more I can do to speed up nature... although perhaps I could-"

"Sounds like a plan. Have you had dinner?" Harry interrupted before she could again wander into her elusive land of science.

Crystal shook her head. "Not hungry." Suddenly another idea sparked in her eyes. "But there is something I've been meaning to do. Do you have a moment?"


"I have been designing some training exercises for myself, and I need someone to spot me." She exited through the back door of the lab, deeply inhaling the fresh summer air outside, then took off at a run. Harry followed her to the university's baseball diamond.

Crystal set down her ever-present notebook on the bleachers and casually sauntered up to home plate. 

Harry caught up with her, his breathing a little quick. "What do you need me to do exactly?"

Crystal turned around and gripped the chain-link backstop, as if she was going to climb it. "Just catch me if I fall, or fetch help if things get out of hand." 

"What are you doing?"

Crystal's feet slowly rose into the air, but she maintained her grip on the fence. Soon she was floating completely horizontal, a couple feet off the ground. Her feet continued to rise until they were above her head. She hung upside down, her face starting to turn pink. Then she kicked off the fence and flipped over, landing on her feet again. 

She glanced at Harry, who apparently had lost the use of his vocabulary. 

This time she lifted her feet until she was horizontal again, then gripped a higher link with her right hand. Slowly, she began to climb higher and higher, never completely letting go of the backstop. As she got near the top, the wind whipped at her hair and clothes. She reached the top and pulled herself up to sit on the bar. She scanned the horizon, grinning. 

"How's the weather up there?" Harry called, lamely.

"You can see half the campus from here," she shouted back. 

Slowly, she gathered her feet underneath her and stood on the bar, arms out for balance. It looked like a bit of a gust could knock her down, and Harry moved towards her nervously, but her stance was steadied by her superpower. 

Without warning she jumped.

Harry swore and dove to catch her, but he wasn't even close. 

She dove head first and pulled up just feet from the ground, screaming, eyes tightly shut. She rose into the air, letting her arms fall, laughing as she raced towards the clouds. Then she halted abruptly, mid-air, still laughing. Gradually she began to sink, dropping neatly onto the pitcher's mound. 

Harry ran to her. "Are you completely nuts? I thought you were going to do some carefully controlled tests or something." He swore again. 

Crystal giggled. "I'm sorry. I thought that too. What a thrill! Where's my notebook?" She flew over to the bleachers, then back, scribbling madly, not even bothering to land. 

"Can you hold this?" She offered the notebook to Harry. He took it. 

She shot up to try a couple more tricks - a somersault, spinning, and a crazy eight in the air. She landed, scribbled a few more notes, then tapped her pen on the page thoughtfully, eyeing Harry.

"What?" he asked, not sure he wanted to know the answer.

"Do you mind helping me with one more test?"

Harry swallowed as she stepped right up to him, close enough to smell her breath, then spun around so he was facing her back. "I'd like to see if I can carry passengers," she said. "Piggyback?"



The End

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