A huge number of video and tabletop games incorporate the Healing Potion. It’s an item that does exactly what it says on the tin: Drink this, and be healed. It doesn’t, of course, matter what your injuries are. If they’re grievous enough, a healing potion might only heal them partially — but of course, a second potion will fix you right up. The Healing Potion comes in various strengths, but only one type, because there’s only one type of injury the game bothers to keep track of (the abstract “health bar” or “hit points”). Needless to say, the idea is more than a little absurd when applied to real life.
I have a partially written story that I do not think I shall ever complete, based on this idea. It concerns a third-year college student named Mike, which is a name I use when I want something generic (sorry, any real Mikes out there). Here’s the tale, in sans-dialogue, sans-detail summary format.
One fine day, in the school dining hall, Mike comes across a discarded but full flask of slightly glowing green liquid sitting on a table, marked “Healing Potion”. He assumes it’s some kind of energy drink, and, laughing to himself, takes an experimental sip. Before his eyes, the nasty bruise from getting his hand caught in a closing door vanishes, as does a mosquito bite that had been bothering him. Startled, he realizes that he’s got a hold of something magical, and starts wondering what the hell he’s going to do with it.
On his way out of the dining hall, he meets this jerk (let’s call him Roger, a name I got from a Nickelodeon), who has been pestering him about this biochem student named Rebecca. Now Rebecca and Mike are cousins, and Roger, who is a not-that-bright hockey player, mistakenly thinks both that Rebecca is into him, and that Mike is his buddy. Roger insists that Mike set him up with his cousin, which Mike flatly refuses to do. Roger follows Mike around, pestering him and making lewd comments about his cousin, until Mike finds an RA for the dorm and Roger backs off.
Mike asks the RA if he can put up a lost and found poster about the potion. The RA, who also happens to sit on the student council, launches into an explanation that anyone wishing to put up a poster on the notice board needs approval from both the university student life council and the student-run activities committee, unless he represents an officially recognized organization, which must sanctioned by some other ridiculous student committee or other, and there are several other rules that the student council has implemented that Mike chooses not to listen to, instead going back to his apartment.
On his way back, he encounters Roger again. Roger, still assuming (despite all signs to the contrary) that Mike is his buddy, asks him some very personal questions about his non-existent love life. Roger, who happens to be a TA, offers to set him up on a date with a girl the class Roger is grading for, if Mike gives him Rebecca’s phone number. This strikes Mike as particularly scummy. Roger even offers to pay him, making jibes about how little cash Mike has, but Mike just walks off.
He really does need money, though, and thinks that maybe he can get some from this healing potion. He goes on eBay and lists the potion there, feeling absolutely ridiculous as he does so. Of course, eBay staff takes down the auction in a matter of hours, saying that joke auctions are against their terms of service. Mike considers listing it on Craigslist instead, but realizes he’ll only attract kooks. The only way to really make money off of it, he realizes, would be to approach someone known for their wealth, offer them a demonstration that it’s real, and then ask for a huge price. This leaves a bad taste in Mike’s mouth, because now that he thinks about it, why should this miraculous potion be wasted on some rich guy? It should be used for the good of all, shouldn’t it?
Perhaps the potion could be studied, leading to new breakthroughs in modern medicine. Of course, Mike knows nothing about medicine, but his cousin is a biochem student, so he goes to talk to Rebecca. When he gets to her apartment, she listens to his situation with incredulity. She knows that Mike isn’t crazy, so if he says the potion healed him, she has to believe him. But it sounds like magic, not science. Even if it is real, there’s no way Rebecca or anyone else could analyze or duplicate the potion.
At that moment, Roger knocks on the door, having followed Mike. Roger asks Rebecca to go clubbing with him and some friends later that evening, and refuses to go away until she says yes. Rebecca explains to Mike that she plans to leave after an hour, and hopefully that will shut Roger up.
The next day, Roger tells everyone who will listen that he took Rebecca back to her apartment, wink wink, nudge nudge, and that she couldn’t keep her hands off him. She tells Mike that he’s lying, of course; after an hour of listening to him talk about hockey, she walked away. This is just his way of getting even. Roger manages to spread the rumor fast, though, and gets his friends in on the act, trying to ruin her reputation.
Mike finally gets an idea. That night, he hangs out outside Roger’s apartment. On his way home, Roger sees him and asks why his cousin is such a bitch, laughing. He turns away from Mike and, hockey stick over his shoulder, heads towards his apartment. Mike grabs the hockey stick away from Roger and whacks him on the head with it. Roger tries to fight back, but Mike has the stick, and he hits him several times until the hockey player is lying on the ground, bloodied and bruised. Just as Roger is passing out, Mike force feeds him the healing potion, and all evidence of the attack fades away from Roger’s body, leaving him good as new. Mike leaves Roger with a warning not to show his face again, and walks away, leaving Roger on the ground. The next day, Roger tells people, including the campus police, that Mike beat him up with a hockey stick. But nobody believes him, since he is without a scratch, and they conclude that he was lying about Rebecca, too.
Mike doesn’t see Roger in the dining hall any more. He leaves the empty flask of potion on the same table he found it on. He has gained satisfaction.
As he walks away and some freshmen come to take his table, the flask refills itself.