I awoke to nothing but pain. I wanted to scream but could feel the sensors attached to me and I didn’t want to betray my emotions.
I screamed, silently, inside.
I screamed for so long, I don’t know how long, but it was as long as I had ever remembered keeping time.
I began to lose myself.
When I finally got the gumption to get up and look at myself, I was completely different in the mirror. Who was this man? This beast? This magnificent example of humanity all wrapped up into one tasty morsel? I don’t know, exactly, what to say, but it was me.
I saw me in him and I clawed at the mirror and growled. And then I turned away from the hideousness.
I felt it inside me. I felt that same old compulsion ripping up my insides and telling me what to do. Willingly. And I liked it. I liked doing what it told me to do.
Hell, I fucking loved it.
And I looked in that mirror and I smelled fear and I tasted the satiety of fullness. I touched myself in the reflection and stroked myself and licked my lips. Yeah. Me. Yeah.
Who are you to say that I am not whole? Who the fuck do you think you are?
I ripped at my flesh and it felt new and dangerous. It felt sacred and unholy all at once. I ripped against it until I couldn’t feel anymore.
I awoke in new skin, again, and it was itchy and smelled of death. I clawed at it and pulled on it but it was attached too well. It was me. Again. I hate you. I hate me.
Sleep came in fits and starts and the nightmares filled me up. I awoke, angry and alone, sweating, and threw my pillow across the room. “Fuck you!” I yelled at nobody, at everybody.
And I reached down and touched myself. Pleasure. Desire.
“You will desire that which needs no desire,” it told me from inside the dream. And I believed it, for a moment, before I decided that it was full of shit. And I moved on an went away and went away and went away. I’m done and tired. I curled up on the ground and puked on myself.
The next day, and the next, and the next – they are all the same. I did it and I don’t know who I am. I don’t know who I am supposed to be. Where am I? Why am I? Where is it and why am i waking up to the same terror every day?
I claw at the skin and pull on it as I look on in the mirror. Why? Where am I? What the fuck has happened to me? Where is the magi?
I awake again to formlessness. My skin comes alive and the sensations from it tell me fantastic tales that I refuse to believe.
“Fuck you,” I whisper to myself and pull myself up off the floor, looking for him, the demon, begging him to spare me. He doesn’t show. He never fucking shows. My skin, it’s different again. Fuck.
“Where am I? Why does this keep happening to me?” I screamed at the top of my lungs, breaking my voice into a million pieces that fall on the floor in front of me. I bend over and try to pick them up, only to watch them fall between my fingers.
Another day, I think, and my day melds into one and I see the world circle above me as I lie on the floor, motionless and one day closer to death.
I find a piece of glass to use as a mirror. I’m tired and old. I’m ready to die now. Please stop using me. I scratch the mirror fragment over my wrist and fall over, crying.
“Hey, mister, what’s wrong?”
It’s bad. Real bad. Bad when a bum looks at you and thinks you’re in a bad spot.
“Fuck me, not again.” The bum fades into echoes and I reach out into nothingness.
I wonder what I’ve done this time. What I’ve done to my fellow man. What I’ve done. What have I done?
My son had a cool idea that you could shed your skin. A machine would do it and you would look different.
Cool. What if you did it and something nefarious happened? Like it got into you. Or they give you anti-rejection drugs, but they weren’t just that, they were mind control drugs. They used you to commit crimes for their benefit, you were their slave, and you had no memory, and in the morning, you’d molt into new skin.
In our story, our hero couldn’t deal with it. He’s being used. He’s fighting it. As much as he can. And that’s not so much, it seems, and he’s ready to give in. Please. To make it stop. Make it stop. Stop.