top of page

๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—š๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ณ๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ข๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ถ

๐˜ฃ๐˜บ ๐˜™๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฌ ๐˜š๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ



He was around my age and he had gorgeous skin, like chestnuts. It would be worth quite a bit on the open market. I myself was non-exotic, a standard caucasoid and my flensing time was approaching faster than I liked to think. Locking eyes with Jorge on that first day there was an immediate recognition. We both just knew.


He arrived on a Tuesday. I remember, because that was the day Wendy first showed signs of psoriasis. All these years of waiting, hoping for a comfortable life post-grafting, dashed. Sheโ€™d only be able to sell her skin in patches and the percentage of the sale she was entitled to would be miniscule. On that horrible day, Jorge shined like a beacon.


He was ushered in by two matrons, their plasticine semi-transparent RealSkinยฉ glistened in the warm simulated sunlight of the creche where we skin-sheep dwelled. The beauty of his unvarnished derma clashed with the ugliness of the synthetic skin that enveloped them, protecting and containing their viscera. He scanned the enclave taking in the little ones and then the lone teenager. Me. When he smiled I got the warmest, squirrelly feeling.


I smiled back.


The next morning we had our faces buried in our tablets doing our schoolwork. I was wrangling a polynomial when I got an unidentified text. โ€œMade you lookโ€ was all it said.ย 


Everyone was glued to their screens. Well, almost everyone. Jorge was looking right at me, grinning a dopey grin. At that moment I knew where all this was going.ย 


We sat together at lunch that day. He didnโ€™t really want to talk about where he was before he arrived. All that would come out later. Now, we were verbally exploring one another. I joked about the gross taste of our cafeteria food. โ€œYes,โ€ he agreed, โ€œand such small portions.โ€ That was the first laugh we shared. Far from the last.ย 


He was four months younger than I and when my time to be shorn finally arrived I would be taken from him. That made our time together all the more precious. Falling in love was easy. Like learning to ride a bike, sometimes we seemed on the verge of falling on our faces but once we got the hang of it, it seemed like second nature.ย 


Days passed. My thoughts upon waking were always some variation on โ€œOhmigod. I get to see Jorge today.โ€ And the warm feeling that accompanied it.ย 


We were looking for a place to hide. Someplace away from the prying eyes of the matrons where we could finally act on our feelings in privacy. The door to the janitorโ€™s supply closet had been left ajar. Inside there was a window reachable by standing on a desk. It led to the outside world. And it was unlocked.ย 


If we ran away we would be considered criminals, runaway chattel owned by the Farm that raised us. The only way free was to buy off your own skin. And that would cost millions.

ย 

There was a waiting list to get the skin of a purebred, sixteen year old skin-sheep. Even the ultra-rich had to wait their turn, the winners picked by lottery.ย 


Searching the supply room we found an extra set of keys, one for each of us. Hiding them in our underpants, we went back to the socialization chambers and blended in with the rest.


That night as I lay awake in the dark I knew what I had to do. My flensing time was approaching and not long after that, Jorgeโ€™s. So, undercover of the dark, I snuck out of the farm.


The world outside was overwhelming. People everywhere, all glistening in the moonlight in their grotesque RealSkinยฉ. I attracted many probing stares. Was I obviously an escapee? Was I passing as an elite who had bought a full body graft? To the eye of someone who knew what to look for, I was obviously on the run. And for precisely that reason I was able to find the black market.


A middle aged man approached me on the street.

โ€œYou shouldnโ€™t be walking out in the open like this. There are some desperate people on the streets. Come with me and I will help you out.โ€


I trusted him because I had to. He took me to another man who laid it all out to me.


โ€œThere are some extremely wealthy people who would be willing to pay triple the asking fee for a full body graft. I take my two thirds; you are entitled to the rest.โ€


I stood in front of the full length mirror staring unbelievingly. In the RealSkinยฉ covering my body I didnโ€™t even recognize myself. In that moment I realized that I used to be beautiful. Not anymore. But still. Skin-sheep were allowed one privilege. If they had the money (on the rare occasion someone received a large inheritance) they had the priority to buy their own freedom and keep the skin they were born in.


I made my way back to the place I had fled. Standing in the Head Matronโ€™s office I opened the large sack of cash.ย 


โ€œI am purchasing the freedom of Jorge Avilar and then I am turning myself over to the police for running away and selling my skin.โ€


โ€œOne moment.โ€ย 


I sat in the office listening to the clock tick. Finally the door opened.


In the doorway stood Jorge. He looked gross in his RealSkinยฉ.ย 


โ€œI did it, Serena, I sold my skin to pay for your freedom. I was going to be sent to jail, but now you, youโ€ฆโ€ย 


As we gazed into each otherโ€™s eyes I felt immense gratitude and something I didnโ€™t expect. Without his beautiful skin he lookedโ€ฆugly. I knew he felt the same about me. Then he smiled at me. That smile. I got that squirrelly feeling and my heart knew itโ€™s complement. I would get to live my life with Jorge.ย 


I smiled back. โœฆ



ย 

Rick Shermanย is a retired award winning Magician/Mentalist living in the manicured suburbs of Long Island, New York. Finding himself with a surfeit of free time he has turned to writing with varying degrees of success. He lives with his wife and five children (only three of which have four legs and a tail).


Speculative fiction & POETRY ZINE
bottom of page