The Skin Man – a short story

Good afternoon all!

I hope you are well and not too hungover with the happenings of the U.K. 

On to this post. Last week, the title that won the vote was The Skin Man. I had no idea what this would consist of when I started it and halfway through I thought I had backed myself into a corner. Turns out, the character knew better than I did and turned things around.

I’m fascinated with the main character of this story and has opened up some potential developments with it. So please let me know what you think of this unedited entry πŸ™‚

From this post I should be taking a hiatus but I will look forward to reading and answering comments and reading blog posts soon. Take care everyone.

                                 The Skin Man

“Yo, bruv, heads up.”

A bottle smashed against the brick walk inches from Damien Lotto’s head. The abuse continued as he walked along Bridge Park footpath and all the way across the field. The derogative remarks stepped up a pace to filthy and explicit, words that you wouldn’t expect teenagers to use yet were becoming increasingly common.

Damien had been called some things over the years as he flirted from town to town. There were the common ones; Freak Man, Freakazoid, Scar Face, Weirdo. But then there were other and more deliberate offensive slurs that were less off the cuff; Burns Unit, Frizzle Frazzle, Freddy Krueger and the one that this particular town had named him, The Skin Man.

It was quite an original name considering the disfigurement that had transformed him from a legible thirty year old bachelor to the scarred being he was now. 

Burn marks covered his face with raised blisters that never healed and cuts and grazes that looked fresh. The rest of his body was just as disfigured, with jeans and hoodies covering the most noticeable marks. But they still saw and mocked him, no matter what town he travelled too. But he was okay with that. It was the burden he was willing to bear.

He continued along the path and made it to the bed and breakfast with minimal hassle. He had been staying at the Hedgegrow B&B for a week and it suited just fine. It held the basics; a single bed, a reading lamp and an en suite bathroom that meant little mingling with other guests. The room had floral green wall paper and salmon pink carpeting that did little to welcome guests but the finer details were not of interest to Damien. He just needed a bed to lay his head until it was time to move on.

Damien placed the contents of his pocket on to the quilted bed sheet and stared at the them. A packet of gum he had brought from the shop, a golden coin with a thumb print engraved on either side and a pass card for the local hospital. He had attained that from Simon Barlow, a paediatrician that frequented the Grocer Store after his shift finished at around 17:15. 

Damien had scouted Hedgegrow Hospital for Children for the last week since entering the town and out of all the candidates, Simon Barlow was the ideal person to target. He had he same routine everyday. He left the hospital at 17:15, walked along the high street towards the cross field path where he would hang his badge on his back pocket and light up a cigarette when he was out of view from the hospital. Once he reached the shop, he would mull over what liquor or spirit to purchase but always settling on vodka. This was when Damien would strike, walking past and lifting the chewing gum from the racking close to the alcohol section whilst his other hand pilfered the badge from the trousers. And that is how it played out, to which pleased Damien Lotto. There had been times where even the easiest task was foiled and scraps and tussles ensued. 

He packed away the contents and settled on the bed to drift into a sleep before the evening festivities would begin.

Damien woke with a start. He had no memory of his dreams, he rarely did anymore, but knew they were more nightmare than anything else. He checked his watch. 22:25. He had been asleep for over four hours and that was enough to get him through. He felt refreshed but it took a few moments for him to gain his bearings. With a wash of the face and a toilet stop, he was ready and out of the door in no time. 

The hospital was not far from the B&B and he made it in good time. He remained surreptitious in black apparel with a hood covering his features. The evening had now turned to night and along the streets there was little lighting allowing Damien to keep within the shadows.

As he reached the automatic double doors of the hospital, Damien Lotto pulled out the badge that he pick pocketed earlier in the day and clipped it to his chest. He took a deep breath and stepped in to the hospital. 

The smell of antiseptic filled his nostrils and his stomach rumbled. He was never a fan of the hospital despite his chosen profession but knew the queasiness may have had something to do with his body shifting. As Damien walked past the reception, he caught his own reflection in a perspex display. But it wasn’t his own scarred face that looked back at him. It was the eyes and features of Simon Barlow. 

Damien walked on in the guise of a man that he had never conversed with but had studied for longer than most. He knew his walk and attitude but hopefully he wouldn’t need to put that to the test. The hospital was quiet and Damien managed to manoeuvre around the halls without being seen and found his way to the Oncology ward with ease.

He needed to rest against the wall before entering. Damien had so long until his powers would wane and the badge would be nothing but an unwanted accessory. The gift of using a persons possession and transforming into them for a brief spell was a burden that Damien carried with him every day. He fought through it day in and day out and would never exchange his downfall. He deserved to live the life he did and he had no regrets.

Damien walked in the room with confidence, pulling off his hood and scanned over the ward. There were around six sick beds in the room but only five was occupied. Damien scanned the charts trying to make sense of their notes. The diagnosis ranged from liver to lung to bone cancer. The symptoms they were suffering from sent a shiver down his spine. He could not imagine the suffering these child were going through but he had a chance to make a life right. 

He did not choose one in particular, ignoring their names and age and sat down by the child’s side. He placed a hand on the child’s forehead and closed his eyes. 

Pain shot through his body. Screams filled his ears and tears spread through his mind. Anguish and suffering, mental and physical, courses through his veins and left him in a vulnerable state. He needed to hold on, he needed to see the process through. He composed himself in the thought that the child would not feel the process take place. 

His skin was burning, his chest pounded and his pulse sent tremors through his body. Damien’s energy was dwindling and it wouldn’t be long until his body would fail him. He needed to hold on to the last second. To feel that click.

Damien’s body lurched, his back accentuating its curved feature and felt his whole body crunch. His hand fell from the child’s forehead and his body slammed hard against the flooring. The tag that had adorned his chest slid off beneath the bed. He gasped for air as his eyes opened. He felt fresh wounds fester over his skin and inflict more pain on him. 

He scrambled to his feet, eyeing the child who remained fast asleep. His luck carried him so far and he was thankful that the rest of the children remained peaceful. Damien limped through the hallways pulling the hood back over his head and headed out without being noticed. The cool air was refreshing and was soothing against the fresh wounds. He made his way back to the B&B where he would rest.

The next day he left early and sat in the first class carriage of the Southern Bound train heading to Kent. Damien had recovered but still remained in a significant amount of pain. Fresh boils had appeared on his face but the most noticeable was on his back. Each time he rested against the seat, pain soared through his body.

As always, jovial newcomers would board the train, attempt to join Damien in the carriage but once they saw his disfigured form they would about turn and head to another section. That soon changed when a sharp dressed man joined him an hour isn’t the journey. It took another ten minutes until a conversation was sparked.

“Damien Lotto, it is a pleasure to share the train with such a person.”

Damien looked up and studied the man. He wore a three piece suit, with a napkin in his jacket pocket and his shoes shined to the nines. “Do I know you?”

The gentleman suppressed a laugh. “No, but we know an awful lot about you. We know you are disgraced by a mistake you made when you was young and stupid, and now you use your abilities to disfigure and torture yourself. No you do not know about me or my constitutes, but you soon will. We have an offer that you won’t be able to refuse. Are you prepared to listen, Damien Lotto?” 

Damien sighed and flinched as he leaned back in his seat. He had over an hour until his stop and curiosity always got the better of him. “I’m not going anywhere.”


10 thoughts on “The Skin Man – a short story

  1. Ooh! Another brilliant short! I wasn’t sure where you were going to go with this one; as always you take us for a thrilling ride through a character’s journey and leave us wanting more πŸ™‚
    I’m always happy when my characters know better than I what there story is. It helps to listen to them. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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