Coffeebreak Thrillers

A Second Chance

by Joe DiMino who retains all rights.


Since Ponce De Leon, many have sought the elusive "Fountain of Youth." And all have failed; later to be ridiculed as foolish dreamers, believing in childish fable. But with modern science, and a long list of achievements, mankind has begun a change of attitude, to one convinced that anything is possible. If the desire is great enough, with sustained will and God given time, dreams of relentless souls will eventually become realities.
Dwelling on this subject and the fact that I had a rare blood disease whose prognosis at best gave me two years to live, I took up an alliance with Dr. Von Yonph. I was first attracted to the prominent physician by an article in the March Science News explaining his experiments with a de-aging factor, DNA Modifier, so he called it.
When first we met, he was vague as to the details surrounding the production of his Elixir. I could understand this, seeing how there was so much scientific thievery, and here was a lifetime of work to be protected. Therefore, it took many lengthy meetings over the course of several months, and a mutual hobby, philately, before the Doctor felt certain of my sincerity, whereupon he proceeded to explain in detail his entire process.
When he spoke in length, as if a dam burst within him a river of enthusiasm gushed forth, which made me immediately aware of several rather peculiar physical defects: When approaching a pertinent point in his discourse, his right ear would wiggle wildly. Quite larger than the left, this made it all the more obvious. And as the right ear wiggled, the left eye rolled and bounced in its socket. Though amused by what seemed harmless, physical quirks, at the same time I was sympathetic toward his swollen, arthritic fingers...wheezing breaths and pale complexion. In short, he was a man well on in years, and little time left to perfect his treatment. Nevertheless, that was all the better reason for my confidence in him. Surely, if anyone was to seriously seek a way back to youth, it would be an aging seeker such as he, tormented by frailties.
On that same day, as the afternoon moved unnoticed toward evening...and then late night...I found myself on a guided tour of his Laboratory, a privilege that had thus far been denied me.
"See this Dalmatian?" he proudly questioned, paused in front of the domestic creature's cage. "Sixteen years old...the equivalent to 112 year old man."
It was incredible, the animal behaved as one of its species when in its prime.
Interested in my reaction, he curiously searched my eyes.
"And this," he went on as we paused briefly before the next exhibit, a solitary egg, is the perennial "Thorn in my side!" After which he grew pensively silent.
Refusing to elaborate further on the troublesome subject, he excitedly brought my attention to a youthful chimpanzee, who was busy executing pull-ups with vigorous tenacity, upon a bar placed in his cage for just that energetic purpose. Again he boasted, "Equal in chronological age to a very old human--had several, terminal illnesses associated with primates of advanced years!" He boasted with an air of omnipotence.
Well, after the several moments it took me to digest all that I had taken in...I was impressed, to say the least. And hopeful that the Grim Reaper might yet have to postpone our meeting. What's more, if the Doctor wasn't a fraud or a madman, which my instincts assured me neither was the case, Death might have to wait for this thirty-year-old indefinitely.
Over a glass of brandy, and I must confess I needed several, the Doctor informed me that he has given considerable thought to using a human instead of an animal for furthering his experiment; but at present, there were too many unanswered questions. "What if something was to go wrong?" he stated sullenly. Not that he feared death, but if he was to die, while so close to discovering what men have sought since time immemorial, the thought left him with great reservation.
At this time, I offered myself, seeing how I had a short time to live as it was.
But he resisted, due to my youthful appearance. Again I reminded him of my illness. And yet he would not accept. But after several more brandies, once again I had been led through the laboratory and over to the caged chicken egg.
By now the egg had shrunk to a tiny, jelly-like dot that was barely visible.
The process is unpredictable. You could be rejuvenated into oblivion...or you may prefer to say, that "dark mystery which all creation springs from."
After agreeing I would take the chance, the next morning we began the long process of preparation. Cells from my body were cultured in a special solution. It is far beyond my expertise to explain the details, but let it suffice to say, it was a long and complicated procedure, that the Doctor exclusively attended to himself. Days passed quickly into weeks…and weeks soon became months. My time was rapidly slipping away.
"Now?" I began to ask, at regular intervals…at first with urgency in my voice…and then, pleading!
"Not yet!" was the reply. "Not yet...we must be absolutely certain to have left nothing unchecked. Should something go wrong...I must know in my mind, all that is humanly possible had been done to protect you" And his voice trailed off to a mumble, as he sank back into a system of checking and double checking what I was convinced he had already checked a hundred times before. Had he changed his mind...and didn't know how to tell me?
And as the days passed, I grew certain Dr. Von Yomph, was convinced that a human experiment was premature. The fact that a genuine fondness had developed between us was not helping matters.
Nevertheless, I tried to be patient…and would have continued to be so had I not been awakened last night, from a sound sleep, by agonizing spasms in my legs. To my horror, when I tried rise from bed, thinking I could relieve the attack by standing and stretching, I discover I was paralyzed from the waist down. After lying helpless for several hours, fortunately the conditioned passed, but I was warned to expect such things as the end grew dangerously near.
With that grave thought in mind, before leaving the laboratory the following evening, I snitched a bottle of the elixir with intentions of proceeding on my own.
It is June 15th--1979. The time is 12:30 am; and I am about to orally take one fifth bottle of the elixir, then settle back in an easy chair to wait. The Doctor is resting...and has no knowledge as to what I am doing. His laboratory and his own bedroom nearby, are in a distant part of the large house, far from eye and ear.
Time 12:40 am. The elixir was bitter but tolerable. Tolerable…not brandy...but tolerable!
Time 4AM. In the laboratory subjects, within one hour after ingesting the serum, there was some sort of noticeable physical change. But, with my eyes transfixed on the mirror, I have yet to see a difference.
Time 4:30am. Perhaps the Doctor was right to wait?
Time 5am. I feel a slight tingling sensation throughout my body. Electric! Alive! Youthful! And if mirrors don't lie, the couple of strands of gray hair at my temples have turned, once again, a youthful brown.
Time 5:10 am. In the past ten minutes I've miraculously gotten 10 years younger. The urge to shoot hoops and dash for touchdowns consumes my mind. Oh! And Mandy, the girl-next-door! If she were hear now I would tell her what I always had feared to say before. How I loved in silence...till too late to do anything about it!
Time 5:30am. I just completed 70 pushups. Haven't been able to do that since I was seventeen.