Robert approached the area with caution, continuously checking to make sure he wasn’t followed. At one point he stopped, sure that he heard the soft sound of footsteps echoing faintly behind him. Listening, hardly daring to breath, he strained his hearing until his head ached with the effort. “Must be my imagination”, he thought to himself.
Entering the room, his eyes were drawn to the containers on the table. Two contained the Substances necessary for the work he was about to perform — inert and non-reactive, looking as harmless as he knew them to be in their separate, isolated state. Combined, however, and they transformed, becoming a Mixture unique in the world, most likely the Universe.
The Crew had chosen straws this year to see who would have the task of making the Mixture, and Robert had chosen the short straw. Looking at the rest of the Crew with suspicion — he always seemed to get the short straw for tasks such as these — he had demanded assistance from the other: they had to keep George away from the mixing area until he, Robert, was finished. George must not be allowed near the Mixture.
In an odd way, George was not unlike the Substances used to make the Mixture. He was friendly and pleasant to be around, totally innocuous. However, let him once be exposed to the Mixture and something seemed to take him over, transforming him as much as the Substances were transformed. He would get an obsessive, mad glint in his eyes and determinedly move towards the Mixture, almost as if the stuff had a mind of its own and called to him in a voice no one but he heard. No matter how hard the Crew tried, nothing they did seemed to be able to stop him in his quest.
Though George’s headlong, mindless flight towards the Mixture was bad enough, the consequences of him actually reaching it was more than anyone wanted to contemplate, or consider. George and the Mixture meeting must be stopped, by any means and at any costs.
Robert shook off his considerations of George and began the process of carefully preparing the Substances. He heated Substance A, slowly, until it lost its solid shape. He also measured and poured Substance B into the Mixture container. Once Substance A reached the appropriate state of liquidity, Robert carefully poured it over Substance B, doing everything possible to make sure none of the Substance or the Mixture got onto him or his clothes. “Now”, he thought to himself. “If I can only get these mixed without George hearing me, we’re out of the woods for this year.”
Robert began to slowly stir the two Substances together, watching as the transformation began to occur. The stirring became more difficult as the effort progressed, but he would rest a moment and then keep on stirring. Stir and rest. Stir and rest.
He tried to keep all noise of his efforts to a minimum, but this was virtually impossible as the Mixture seemed to fight his efforts with each stir, and he began to hit the sides of the container with increasing frequency, wincing at each clang that resulted.
Finally, just as the Mixture looked to be at its final stages of transformation, and an exhausted Robert was beginning to hope that this year, there would be no problems, some sixth sense warned him that he was no longer alone in the room. Turning with a mixed sense of dread and resigned hopelessness, he saw him standing there, in the doorway. George.
George looked curiously at Robert and seemed about ready to speak — until he saw what Robert had in his hands. Then the strange obsessive gleam that Robert feared above all things appeared in George’s eyes. He began to move towards Robert, slowly at first, but more quickly as he got closer.
In sheer terror, Robert screamed out at the top of his lungs for help from the Crew and far off in the distance he could hear multiple footsteps, running towards him as fast as they could. However, he knew they would be too late.
Maintaining his fright-stiffened grasp on the Mixture container, Robert turned away from George, trying to keep his body between the stalker and the stalked. However, George was nimble and quick, and no matter how Robert turned and no matter where he ran in the room, George was there. George was always there. At times it seemed to Robert as if a hundred, then a thousand Georges surrounded him; no matter where he turned, George was always in front of him, always getting closer.
In desperation, Robert dropped a little of the Mixture on the floor, hoping to slow George down and keep him away from the bulk, but no such luck — George wasn’t going to be fooled by a pathetic attempt such as that. He glanced at it with a look of scorn and continued his remorseless progress closer towards Robert. Towards the Mixture.
As happens in times such as this, when Robert next ran over the floor in that area, he actually slipped on the spill and down he fell, him and the container of Mixture clasped so carefully in his arms.
George sensed his chance and sprang for the Container. Robert tried to keep him away, and was astonished when George actually bit him. As he yelled out from the pain, the other Crew members ran into the room, taking in the events at a glance. They also tried to grab at George, and were subjected to bites from George and elbows in the face from each other.
Finally, the inevitable, as inevitable events always go, happened: George and the Mixture met.
The Mixture oozed out of the container under its own volition, and coated George until nothing could be seen of him but his eyes — crazed, demented eyes, no longer recognizable as the eyes of their old friend.
Once coated, George then fled around the room in an insane fury of movement, transferring Mixture to walls, furniture, and floor, anything that George touched.
Robert and the Crew, previously doing everything to capture George, were now fleeing from him just as strenuously… and just as futilely. George would catch them.
George always caught them.
Eventually the Mixture — now tripled in volume, a normal occurrence when it connected with George — soon spread over them just as completely and devastatingly as it did George. In their hair, in their eyes, even up their noses and in their ears; the stuff was literally everywhere.
One of the Crew, in a desperate bid for safety, ran into a closet and George followed. The rest of the Crew shut the door and jammed a chair underneath to keep George and the hapless Crew member inside. Ignoring the screams he could hear on the other side of the door, Robert took a moment to survey the devastation surrounding him. Only one thing to do. Call Doc Bronson.
Robert dialed the doctor’s number and was relieved when the phone was answered on the second ring. “Doc, this is Robert.” he said. “George got into the Mixture again this year. We’re going to need a sedative to calm him until we can get things fixed up.”
“Dammit, Robert! You promised me you’d be more careful this year!”
“Next year you’re going to have to buy your Rice Krispie treats, or get rid of the cat!”