A Godlike character by Jack Norris, (c) 2002.
(With a major nod to Ralph Ellison and H.G. Wells)
So many people say that when you become a Talent, things change. They say you can do incredible things. People look up to you as an example of what humanity can be, if we can only recognize our true potential. It’s like President Roosevelt said: Talents are like gods.
But that’s not the way it happened with me. I didn’t get the ability to walk through walls or punch through armor plate. I can’t make things move with my mind or soar above the clouds. No life-changing transformation swept over me. It just wasn’t that impressive.
But I am a Talent, and I do have a power… I can become truly invisible. I cannot be seen, heard, or even smelled. People avoid me without ever truly realizing I exist in their world. The same goes for anything I touch. Food, clothes, and anything else becomes unseen and unwanted once I take it as my own. It’s a state I can maintain indefinitely, even while I sleep. Some of the eggheads who examined me think I could stay this way for the rest of my life, if I wanted.
Of course, there is a catch. It only works on certain types of people. White people, to be precise. My name is Griffith Wells, and I do not exist to those whose skin color is of a shade lighter than my own. In other words, nothing much has changed for me.
No, that’s not entirely true. I did get to meet President Roosevelt, just before being sent on this “mission”. It was in the White House, with the President and his staff.. while a pair of armed guards darker than me looked on.
President Roosevelt spoke to me of duty and honor and being a credit to my race, while I stood flanked by two of my own kind, ready to shoot me down if the thought of hurting our nation’s leader and escaping unseen crossed my violent Negro brain.
‘Course that’s a bit funny, seeing as how that’s exactly what they want me to do. But then again, I guess it’s different when the white man in charge you’re supposed to kill is on the other side.
I sure hope so, because where I come from, the story of a black man who’s murdered a powerful white man never ends well. And I doubt that would change even if that black man did it “to save the free world and end this terrible conflict,” like President Roosevelt said. It was that fear, that doubt which almost made me refuse this assignment. But then it was the realization that if they might lynch me for doing what they want, they’d probably lynch me for saying no, too. As long as I was their secret weapon, I was safe from them. And unless the Krauts started recruiting from Mississippi, I was safe there too.
I suppose I could just not go home after all this is done. They can’t find me unless I slip up, and if I do this thing for them, maybe they won’t look too hard. Maybe they’ll just ignore me and cease to consider a world where I exist. But that’s for after. Now it’s steal some food, get some rest, and try to make another 30 miles towards Berlin. Afterwards, maybe the world will just let me stay unseen and unheard.
They’ve done it before.