Great job. I always like Twilight Zone inspired or _style_ stories. Very cool seeing you two collaborate!
It almost inspired me to try and do a story I've had brewing for years that had the stolen youth formula setup, but then I realized I still have the same problem I've always had with it... the ending! I can't figure out a pay off for it.
I've even started writing it hoping something would hit me as I was typing it out but the wheels still came off.
The setup is this:
Middleaged married couple. Husband works at some kind of facility/lab. Could be government. Contractual. Mysterious. Who knows? ...And may not even be important exactly who runs the place. Or maybe my ending lies in figuring that part out?
So, the guy (apparently.. allegedly?) steals some of the formula and brings it home to keep where he has a home office/lab/study in the _base_ment. The effects are temporary (24 hours?) and he doesn't use it but always wants his wife to use. De-aging her to early 20's. So the story picks up not at the start, but instead from the wife's point of view after using it a few times at her husband's urging. And she's came to view it as more of an illicit drug. She's also gotten a little weary of him wanting her to be younger for him (wondering if that means he doesn't like her as she is?).
Just as someone who has decided they are an alcoholic or drug addict might decide they don't like what alcohol does to them, or what drugs do to them, she decides she doesn't like what the youth potion does to her. Besides making her look younger, it makes her act and feel younger. Which at first she really liked. But then she began to realize she made bad decisions being so young. Her passions sometimes overran her patience. She didn't like being so vain about her looks but when she took the formula, she suddenly found herself not just wanting to look 'nice' but to 'flaunt' her youth and good looks. She liked to flirt and tease. She wanted to be sexy. Issues with jealousy. And ultimately, she felt being 20 again was turning her into someone she no longer is and someone she doesn't want to be again. She just wasn't comfortable once she returned to her real age remembering the things she'd done and said and how immature she'd been. It's not that she loses her memories necessarily, it's just that her mind regresses into a younger, intoxicating persona.
So she decides she's not doing the formula again. And the story is picking up on this point and so it begins with her reflecting on why she doesn't want to do it again.
But of course, it's the weekend and the husband wants her to do it again. So there's a long discussion. She's adamantly against it. The husband keeps trying to sweet talk her. Ultimately, explaining the formula is almost gone. He's always refused to use it himself arguing that he could be called in to his job at any time and so would be found out if he was 20 years younger then (and in fact, even when the wife has used it, they either have to stay home or go far away so nobody will recognize her or see him with a 20ish year old and start asking questions).
So with him still refusing to use it himself, even with her trying to make a deal about splitting it, and the fact he says this will be the last time because there is no more, she finally agrees.
So he goes downstairs and returns with a portion measured out in a beaker. And she relucantly accepts it and drinks it.
Then the process starts and almost immediately she goes from being hesitant to acceptance and wondering why she was so reluctant in the first place. The younger she gets, the more she thinks the 'old' her was crazy for not wanting to be young again. Totally getting lost in the intoxification of her youth. Time for a clothes change and admiring herself. Etc.
And then with her feeling great, dressed in something sexy, and young again, the phone rings.
It's the lab and they need him there. So he has to leave his young wife and implores her not to let anyone see her like this or else they might recognize her.
He leaves for the lab.
So now she's at home. Young. And now her emotions are getting the better of her. She's equal parts bored, mad, and jealous. She begins to wonder if her husband is having an affair with his lab assistant. Was the call a trick to get them together? And even if the call was legitimate, why didn't he just say no and stay with her? She begins to think selfishly of herself more than his job. And she wonders even more about the lab assistant. She finally convinces herself he's out having an affair and she's stuck at home.
She wanders around the house and ultimately downstairs to his office/lab. And there she notices he's left a normally locked cabinet open. Curious, she opens it and there's plenty more of the youth formula. So now she's even madder because he lied to her about this being the last of it. And then she gets an idea...
She decides if she's a teenager nobody could possibly recognize her and if they did they'd think they were crazy to think it could really be her. At worst she could claim to be a niece. So she measures out enough of the formula to end up 16 or 17 thinking from her early 20's perspective that 16 or 17 isn't really THAT young. She finds something appropriate to wear and heads out for a few hours.
But what she didn't consider or worry about is the formula has made her even more immature at this age. Maybe throw in a bit of problems thinking about her husband as a boyfriend more than or sometimes instead of her husband. Could have a wedding ring falling off scenario in here too.
So now teenage things... Fast food place. Ice Cream place. Mall. Park. Something. And there she meets other teens and ends up interested in one of them.
- So at that point I've got the story pretty well _frame_d. Now it starts going off the rails a bit. One scenario I thought of was the teens using a house they could get into because the owner was out of town, for some late night swimming and drinking in the pool. And the police being called on them by a neighbor. The kids all scattering and her ultimately being caught by one of the policeman, who, seeing her in her bikini (or underwear I suppose) and seeing her 'innocent' act gives her his coat and ultimately takes her 'home' instead of arresting her and calling her 'parents' (when she gives him a story about staying with her 'aunt' who is working late, but she promises never to do this again).
So at this point, being all lovesick and conflicted about this new boy versus her husband, and losing this new boy that she doesn't know how to find thanks to the police, she ultimately decides she wouldn't be so lovesick and confused if she was younger. She she uses more of the formula.
But for some chaos I thought about the boy showing up at her house now after following them. But the boy has to wait until the cop has left. And the cop had sat outside in his car watching until he felt she wasn't just going to leave again. And so now he finally drives off and it's clear for the boy to go to the door.
But now she's 14. And the dude doesn't quite understand because she looked older before, but he wants no part of this. So he's gone. And now it's worse than ever for her. So she drinks more potion feeling that she needs to lose these 'grownup' thoughts.
And now she's 10 or younger. There could even be a way to work the idea into a couple of steps. Maybe she tries to explain what is going on to the boy and has him try the formula too before she ends up 10. But then that leaves the problem of how to get him out of the story because I can think of no reason for him to be there then. So I always liked the idea of him just thinking he mistook a 14 year as older or something.
And then I figure somehow maybe the lab assistant does come into the picture. Maybe the wife was right about the affair all along. Or maybe the lab assistant had figured out about the stolen formula and had plans for it herself. Husband could be in on the plans, or in trouble himself? The lab assistant could expect the wife to be younger, but not that young, or totally shocked by it. Maybe it gives her an idea. Or it works perfectly into her 'plan'?
Basically... this is the point I have nothing. Nothing ever hit me to tie a bow around the story and get it to a payoff. I like the setup. But I can't get it anywhere.
Maybe you guys have something?