Written by an invisible man (with editorial assistance from Nate John Won)
I suppose that you think it might be fun having my condition. Yes - I say 'condition' because strictly speaking, that's what it is - a medical anomaly. I know - you're thinking what everyone thinks - and I'll tell you straight - no - I've never robbed a bank, or a shop, or a market stall. And no - I haven't inadvertently found myself in a lady's boudoir either. However, being invisible presents more challenges than one might imagine.
I suppose that there are one or two minor advantages. You can wear whatever you like for a start - I mean, contrary to common belief, I don't have to walk about naked - once I put on my clothes - once they touch my body, then they become invisible too. But hey - at least I don't have to worry about wearing a matching jacket and trousers.
So, all in all - well, I guess these days I'm doing fine. I have a good job, and some standing in life. But it wasn't always like this. How did it all start? Well, that's a fair question. As it happens, I wasn't born invisible. I was always a quiet kid though - didn't chat much with the others. I spent most school playtimes just hanging around by myself - just watching the world go by, you might say. And - well - gradually, the world actually did begin to pass me by.
My teacher gradually forgot to call my name during registration, the other kids began to ignore me (although the bullies left me alone too). I could walk past the dinner-time staff into the hall for lunch, and not be questioned, and the after-school bus driver stopped asking me for any fare. People just seemed to forget that I was there. I wasn't sure what to do. But then, even my parents stopped talking to me. I tried to get their attention. I even slapped my Dad across the face once - but other than looking a little surprised, there was no reaction.
I walked through the world unnoticed, unheard. I began to believe that I had somehow died. And then, one morning, I looked into the mirror - and stared. There was no reflection looking back. I had finally disappeared from reality. I was, of course, heartbroken.
After that, I decided to move into the spare bedroom. I made my meals when my parents were asleep, or out. Actually, I helped with the cleaning, the gardening - although I never got thanked. But my condition had its own rewards. For example - I realised that I could also do some good turns for folk around the neighbourhood, without them even knowing.
I'll explain further. About a year ago, I was walking past our local corner shop. Old Mrs Morgan was just stepping out of the door, hobbling along as she always does. Some hooded lout then stormed out of the shop, pushing past her, making her drop her shopping. It was a ruse as you may have guessed. This lad then pretended to pick up her stuff, but actually pocketed her purse. Of course he thought that no-one had noticed.
This was an ideal opportunity to put my condition to some use. I ran after the scallywag, reached into his pocket and grabbed the purse. Then I gave him a boot up the jack-seat for good measure. He turned around angry - looked straight through me. Where are you? He yelled. Then he turned and ran off.
I returned to Mrs Morgan. By this time, the shopkeeper had come to see if she was okay, and so I quietly slipped her purse back into her shopping bag, and watched for a moment, as the shopkeeper helped her back into the shop.
That was nice of you, said a voice. Now it was my turn to be surprised. Had I imagined it? Was it God? Slowly, I peered over my shoulder, then almost fell over. There was a young lady standing there. She was dressed all in black, and was wearing mirrored-sunglasses. I must've looked confused, because her next words were Yes - I can see you.
I couldn't speak for a few seconds. I just keep wondering what on earth made this lady so different from anyone else. It had been so long since anyone had noticed me, that I felt lost. Eventually she laughed. It's my glasses, she said. A unique design.
Well, that was 'Xandra' - Investigative Scout - and my introduction to the Special government group known as XO3 - no, you won't have heard of them. The XO stands for Extra-Ordinary. I'm one of the group now, but I'm not the only one of course. There are many more invisible guys and gals - there's one fellah who can walk through walls, and another who can project his mind across hundreds of miles.
We work while you are sleeping, when you are at the office. XO3 are watching out for you, making sure that you're safe, 24-7. Truly - we patrol the streets, guarding your homes. Often we help those most in need - the homeless, the downhearted. A five-pound note might get slipped into a pocket, or a sandwich might mysteriously appear next to a hungry traveller.
But XO3 are but one part of a larger group - XO5 are out there too. You've seen the 'Keep Smiling' campaign? That was them. And the posters which read 'Help a stranger - make a friend' - them too. All of these special people are doing their best to make the world a better place.
So, in a way, I am glad for my condition. I miss my family, of course - largely because I am not sure if they miss me. But I have some new friends, and a purpose. Yeah, I'm doing fine. An invisible man. That's me. Invisible, but not without purpose.