SilverGryphin and I have the same English teacher, so here's my "price of progress" myth. My friend, let's call her SHMO, came up with the name, Bob (I changed his name to Albert), for a character when I was begging her for a plot idea, then I came up with Carl, then she said something like, "And Bob gives Carl a..." then I said, "Magical Snowball!" and it just kinda went from there. So, yeah, I guess I took her two sentences then twisted them into this story. Enjoy.

The Magical Snowball
By Nodjmet

"That's it, just push a little more," the doctor urged the gasping woman on the hospital bed. "It's almost out, just a little more."

With a scream, the baby was expelled from the warmth of the womb and lay still in a lump of flesh and blood. A nurse came forward, scooped the child up and wiped the grime from the tiny face. At this, the infant began to wail robustly.

"Congratulations," the nurse smiled at the mother and father, "it's a boy."

Three days later, the new parents returned and their son was diagnosed with a virus, which left him crippled with supersensitive vision and muscles that would never fully develop. The boy grew up never knowing anything outside of his dimly lit room.

"Master Karsky," the nurse cracked the door open slightly, "your new tutor has arrived."

"Show him in," Carl replied lifelessly, as was his usual way. He placed his pair of sunglasses on the bridge of his nose to protect his sensitive eyes from the bright light and awaited the guest.

"Mr. Karsky," a middle aged man entered, "I am Albert Everett and I will be your calculus and chemistry tutor."

"Albert?" Carl blinked. "Can I call you Allie?"

"Allie?" the tutor raised an eyebrow. "No, you may not call me Allie."

"Aww, too bad," Carl mocked. "Allie!"

"No! You may not call me Allie!"

"Allie! Allie Allie Allie!" Carl laughed, taking pleasure in the teacher's suffering. After all, this was the only thing to look forward to when one is confined to his bed all the time.

Grrr… Allie inwardly growled, Just my luck. Another snotty rich brat. This is going to be difficult.

And so it was. For the next four years, Allie and Carl were student and teacher, Allie attempting to force Carl into playing by the rules and Carl torturing the unfortunate man endlessly. However, Carl exceeded in both math and chemistry and despite his lack of respect, became one of Allie's superior pupils.

"What was the atom used in the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima?"

"Uranium."

"Good. Now I want you to read pages 563-573 in your textbook and take notes, and don't forget that your essay on the chemical reactions that occur when burning a candle opposed to wood." Allie rose, "That concludes our lesson for today."

"Ok," Carl replied as he scribbled the homework assignment into his notebook. "Bye, Allie."

"Don't call me Allie," Albert responded out of habit. He paused at the door and looked back. "Carl, how old are you now?"

Carl blinked at the random question. "Twenty-two. Why?" he answered suspiciously.

"How would you like to be a test subject for something I've been working on in the lab?" Allie explained, "It's something I've been working on for ten years and I think it's ready to be tried on people now. You're also old enough to fill out the forms by yourself without any parent signatures required."

"Really?" the younger man's eyes brightened behind his dark shades, "What kind of something is it?"

"A snowball," Allie replied matter-of-factly.

"A snowball?" Carl asked incredulously.

"Yes, a snowball," Allie rolled his eyes. I just don't understand this generation. "It's made with special chemical components that will fight any disease, including cancer. It might even be able to repair your vision and strengthen your arms and legs. Of course, there is a downside to it. Would you like to have a form?"

The eager nod told him all he needed to know. "Just one question," Carl put in before his tutor could leave, "Why a snowball?"

"Because the chemicals can separate and become poisonous when in a liquid state," Allie replied, "See you tomorrow, Carl."

A week later, Carl received the forms stating all the facts that he needed to know. Scanning them quickly, he signed returned them. A month later, he received his very own snowball.

"Yay!" he shouted, throwing his skinny arms up cheerfully as he tore away at the careful packaging, "My very first snowball! Oh, I can't wait!"

"Do you know how odd that sounds?" the nurse asked the butler.

He nodded. Of course, neither of them knew what the snowball was for.

Carl made sure that he was completely alone before carefully picking out a single snowflake. "Remember," Allie's voice rang clear in his head, "don't overdose yourself. Just take one snowflake at a time and don't eat it too often, only for serious illnesses. It'll overwhelm your mental and physical capacity and I'm not sure what the side effects are specifically." Sticking his tongue out, the snowflake found its place to melt harmlessly.

It was what he imagined and more. Not only did his body feel exhilarated with extra power, but also his mind seemed sharper, clearer, and more focused. Trembling, he steered himself so that his legs hung over the side of the bed and took his first wobbly steps. Slowly, he stumbled to the edge of the room and flicked the light switch to on and removed the protective dark shades. Nothing. No burning, no watering, no itching. The room, for the first time, illuminated and not hidden by the dark or the tinted glasses displayed bright colors he had never dreamed of and boasted his family's true wealth. It was absolutely wonderful.

Taking the cold, wet snowball into his arms, he made his way down the red-carpeted floor to the kitchen, passing many a shocked maid or butler as he stopped to ask for directions. Once in the kitchen he hugged the object in his arms closely. "I love you, my lovely snowball!" he exclaimed, rubbing his cheek against it the way a cat does when searching for affection. Like a parent afraid to part with their child on its first day of school, he placed it in the freezer and closed the door.

"So, how was it?" Allie asked the next day both apprehensively and excitedly. "Did it work? Were you able to walk? How do you feel?"

"Like I lost ten years of sleep," Carl grumbled groggily. "Go away, I'm tired."

"Is it the physical tired, or the sleepy tired?"

"As in the I-sprinted-eighty-miles-yesterday-and-I've-got-a-hangover-so-don't-bother-me kind of tired," he murmured in the pillow grouchily. "Now leave me alone!"

"Sorry, can't. You signed the forms, now you have to answer my questions," Allie squealed, dancing around the bedroom.

"Fine," Carl grumbled, "Whaddaya want?"

"Well," Allie ceased his hyper dance, "how did you feel while you were on the drug?"

"It was a drug?" Carl regained enough energy to scream.

"A prescribed drug," Allie corrected. "No different from Tylenol or Advil."

"It's a snowball," Carl gave his insane tutor a flat look.

"Well, yes, besides that fact," Allie waved the comment away. "Anyway, what was it like?"

"I didn't have to use these," Carl indicated the shades once again covering his eyes. "I got lost in my own house for the first time, I could walk for the first time, and I saw how big this place is," he listed almost dreamily though he was still clearly fatigued. "There were so many colors."

"That's great!" Allie clapped his hands together, satisfied. "Just a few more slight adjustments and we'll be able to put the snowball on the market!"

"What are you gonna call it?"

"Uh…." Allie's cheerful expression became false, "The Magical… Cure-All… Snowball?" His confidence dissipated with each word.

"That's so uncreative," Carl remarked dryly.

"I'm a scientist!" Allie defended, "Not a writer!"

"Well, you better come up with a catchy name fast."

"Easy for you to say," Allie grumbled, "I've been trying to come of with a name for three years."

"That's sad, man."

"Oh, shut up."

A month later, Carl graduated from his home-college and said his last farewells to Allie.

"So, what's my graduation present?" He asked eagerly once his tutors gave the diploma to him.

"Ah," his Spanish teacher smiled. "Su profesor de las ciencias y matemáticas tiene el regalo."

Allie stepped forward and presented to him… the snowball. "I got it out of the freezer for you," he grinned. "Remember not to overdose or take it too often."

Gratefully, Carl held the snowball lovingly and lifted a snowflake to his tongue. The reaction was instant and he was standing next to his parents as everybody packed in his bedroom applauded.

"Oh, I'm so proud of you, honey!" his mother exclaimed, hugging him fiercely, "My little baby can walk!"

"Yes, Mom, I can walk."

The celebration moved to the dining room below and after an hour or two, the tutors departed. "It was a pleasure tutoring you, Carl," Allie shook hands with the young man. "I hope you'll be able to pursue your dream career. Do you want to know a secret?"

Carl inched his ear closer, indicating he wanted to know.

"My aunt started the snowball project," Allie whispered, "I just inherited her notes and polished her formula." He winked jokingly. "Don't tell."

"I can't promise that," Carl smirked.

Giving his student a mock glare, Allie exited.

"Honey?" Carl's mother tapped him on the shoulder, "I believe one of your tutors left something here." She handed him a small sky-blue notebook with tulip stickers decorating opened it and on the inside cover:

Anna Seglias
Albert Everett

"Heh," he chuckled, "I knew he had bad taste."

"I hope you'll be able to pursue your dream career."

Sure, once I figure out what my dream career is, Carl contemplated in bed, being unable to sleep. He turned on his side and noticed the notebook.

"Just a few more slight adjustments and we'll be able to put the snowball on the market!"

Hmmm….

"It really works! I was so sick with the cold and I ate one snowflake and a miracle! I was instantly cured!

"You heard it, straight from the consumers! Buy this Magical Cure-All Snowball now!"

"Oh, honey, I'm so proud!" Carl's mother hugged her son. "The Magical Cure-All Snowball is on the market and you can walk!"

"Yes, mother, I can walk." Carl licked yet another snowflake off from the snowball. "You've been saying that every day since I graduated from college."

"Of course!" his mother exclaimed. "It's not every day that a boy who's been stuck in his bed for 22 years suddenly is able to walk like normal. It's strange for me."

"I know," he smiled comfortingly up at her, "but I'm better now. As long as I take a snowflake each day, I'm fine."

"But dear, isn't it bad for you to take it so often?"

"Well, nothing has happened to me yet, so I think I'm fine."

Nothing has happened to me yet, bull, he growled to himself as he sat in his room, licking his fifth snowflake of the day. The effects are shorter and the side effects are getting worse and longer. I think I'm addicted. He glared at the snowball. It's all your fault. If you'd been smaller, you'd be gone by now.

But if it was smaller, you only would have made another bigger one.

He didn't respond. He knew it was true, and he knew that without the snowflakes, he'd be stuck with those… clowns. He shuddered. Yes, clowns were definitely the most frightening things in the world… besides elevators. "Argh! I can't take this! I'm going to bed!" he declared aloud and stomped over to his bed, leaving the greatly shrunken snowball on his chair.

That night, his dreams took place in an elevator stuck between floors 514 and 515 with open doors, a broken emergency button, and filled with white-faced, big-shoed clowns with juggling balls.

He awoke around 2:53 in the morning and glanced around, the now painfully familiar fatigue plaguing his beaten body. Snowflake, he thought desperately, I need a snowflake. He groped about in the darkness until his fingers encountered something wet on his chair. Wide-awake, he kneeled before the piece of furniture, sobbing, "No! No! Not after years of being so careful! It hasn't melted! It hasn't melted!"

He turned to the sound of laughter and once again he was in the elevator between floors 514 and 515, but this time, the elevator was moving up and up and up, and the clowns were getting bigger, and juggling five balls instead of three. The remaining droplets from the melted snowball clung to his clawing hands and he brought them to his lips….

"Why a snowball?"

"Because the chemicals can separate and become poisonous when in a liquid state."