Faulty Fizzles17 June 2019
For the record, Pleasures and Passion isn’t a BDSM shop. The only desire Jesmintha’s ever harboured here is the desire to flee. Don’t be mistaken, it’s an honest business. Nothing that actually deserves Jesmintha’s sentiments, but Jesmintha is currently at that stage in life where every turn of event feels like a personal attack on her pride. In other words, she’s fifteen. And her aunt Rita owns a bits-and-bobs store with a title that couldn’t have better suited a trashy erotica. So Jesmintha figures her dramatics are warranted. Still, despite the flush of embarrassment that races down her spine whenever she reads the storefront sign, she never turns back. One, because she hasn’t yet mastered the art of disobeying her mother, and if her mother says that she’s to visit Aunt Rita then Jesmintha will be there, smiling like she has nothing better to do than model her aunt’s latest line of shawls. And two, because Pleasures and Passion houses a fix that Jesmintha can’t get anywhere else.
Specifically, Aunt Rita’s handcrafted, organically- sourced bath bombs. Infused with floral scents and available in an array of colours that really shouldn’t get a fifteen-year-old’s heart rate soaring, any one of these bath bombs will work like a treat. But Jesmintha has her sight set on one in particular. Her aunt had called the day before and announced that she’d come up with a new flavour, and the promise of a pear and cinnamon heaven had her through the bead curtains and into the incense- heavy store.
“Is it ready?”
“Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a niece who loved me enough to say hello?” Aunt Rita sighed longingly.
“Oh, right. Hi Aunty! Is it ready?”
“Yes, yes. It’s in the workshop. I would’ve brought it out front had Freckles not caused a mess. Long story short the fat lump jumped on the workbench, knocked over some chemicals and sent them spilling into the new batch. Wasn’t a big deal though. I salvaged what I could.”
During Aunt Rita’s recount of the incident, and Freckles’ subsequent yowling at being called out, Jesmintha had made her way to the back of the store and was holding the pale green creation. She could see little shards of cinnamon housed in the ball.
“It’s glowing! None of your others did that…”
“Hmm?” Aunt Rita had become preoccupied with berating Freckles for being a very bad boy, yes you are, which was just as good since Jesmintha’s bathtub was calling to her.
“Aunty, can I head off? I wanna try it out!”
Her aunt mumbled an affirmative against Freckles’ fur before Jesmintha raced home.
The bath bomb had been a delight for about five minutes. The walls became soaked in the scents of pear and cinnamon as the bomb fizzled into a pool of green. With her classical playlist serenading her, Jesmintha enjoyed her muscles sighing and her thoughts slowing their buzzing wings. Then the twitching began. It started with her left toe. The appendage jerked as a tingling sensation washed over it, as if someone were sprinkling pepper on exposed nerves. Jesmintha didn’t open her eyes though, dismissing the sensation as a case of ill- timed pins and needles. But the twitching persisted and within minutes her whole body was terrorised with little spasms shooting up and down, all around her form. Her eyes snapped open to the sight of a gelatinous body of liquid encasing her. She wasn’t sure it was water anymore, what with it now glowing a toxic green. Jesmintha gasped in alarm and straightened to exit the tub, only for her feet to slip. The goo swallowed her head with a resounding pop!
“I don’t know! I was in the bath just you know, enjoying myself and then my body was tingling—”
“Are you calling me about a…sexual awakening?” “WHAT? No! Why would you—”
“You told me you were enjoying yourself and then there was tingling. I thought you were talking about touching yours—”
“Oh my god, Steph.”
“Okay, let’s just calm down. Tell me what happened. From the start.”
Jesmintha’s stutters and abrupt inhales littered her explanation of the incident. She recounted picking up the bath bomb at Pleasures and Passion, the twitches, and the water turning to goo.
“It must be the bath bomb. Your aunt mentioned an accident with chemicals, right? The bath bomb probably had like, traces of some chemical or something. Something that changed the water and reacted with your skin?”
When Steph didn’t hear a response, she felt unease coil at her temples. When she didn’t even hear breathing, she whispered a plea.
“…not the worst part.”
“The goo and the twitching. It’s not the worst part.” Steph knew, somehow, that if she asked, there was no turning back. They could stop here, and all Steph would remember of this incident would be a bathtub of goo. A weird story to tell at parties. An occurrence with no lasting effects.
“What do you mean?”
“I slipped and my head went under. When I came back up, ten minutes had passed but I couldn’t recall what happened in that time. I thought that was it, until I was getting ready for bed and saw something in the mirror. Figured it was a stain at first but it was me. I was green.”
“Green? I don’t get it.”
“My skin, Steph. It’s green now. And the texture! I don’t—I—it’s like goo. My body’s turning into goo! I can’t—“
“Hey, it’s okay. We’ll, uh, we’ll figure something out, yeah?”
“I couldn’t—I can’t do this. I can’t. Had to go.” “Wait, go? Steph, where are you?”
“Can’t—don’t know what’s happening. Have to go.” “No, Steph! Don’t hang—”
Incoming Call: Steph
The door slammed open. Steph jumped in fright, dropping her phone. Her brother greeted her with a grin.
“Did you hear about what’s happening in the city?” Steph, still reeling from the phone call, couldn’t even utter the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that would’ve sufficed.
“Galaxy-Man! He’s fighting some goo thing in the city! Right now! It’s on the news. I’m gonna put the TV on!”
All at once, the string holding her muscles tense snapped. In its wake, dread ran the circuit of her body. Steph stumbled to the living room, meeting the rest of her awakened family. Her brother sat cross-legged on the floor, his grin a ghostly white in the light of the TV.
And there, on the screen, was a figure of green goo stumbling around an intersection, flinching away from the crowd forming around them. They were wailing, throwing globs of goo at any who dared to get closer. Steph’s parents gasped as they watched the goo corrode cement footpaths, light poles, anything it touched. People were running from the goo figure now.
“Look, look! There’s Galaxy-Man!”
There he was. The city’s beloved superhero shooting lasers around the wailing figure, trying to contain it and keep its attention away from civilians.
“Yeah! Go Galaxy-Man!”
Steph couldn’t echo her brother’s enthusiasm. She could only stare, face contorted, brittle, frozen in horror as the camera zoomed in on the green figure.
On the latest threat to the city.
On the newest addition to Galaxy-Man’s gallery of superpowered foes.
A hysterical laugh punched its way up Steph’s throat. Jes had always wanted to be on TV.