The Molt

Prompt Day #298: Describe a massage gone terribly wrong.

In case you’re following closely, I skipped Prompt Day 297. It’s been a long day at work and #297 will require some in depth thought and planning. I’ll do it this weekend, meanwhile I will skip to the next one and so on. Hope you understand.

The Molt

                There are creatures that walk among us; things that wear our skin and look like we do, but still, they are not human. I have known this for many years. I was twenty-five when the first one showed itself to me. For the last sixty years, they’ve come to me and I provided my services. In exchange for this, I was promised that my family would always be safe from their kind; as long as I kept their secret. I have kept it. Now, I am dying, my children are grown and gone and their children are grown. I fear for the future of our kind and for that reason, I have decided to tell my story.

The man walked into my massage parlor one half hour before closing. He didn’t have an appointment, but I was free.

“Do you have time for a deep tissue massage?” He asked. I told him yes, he was lucky, I had a half hour free.

“I would like to pay you up front in cash and I will need one hour.” He said without emotion.

“Well, I close in one half an hour. I don’t think I can accommodate you today, I’m sorry. Would you like to make an appointment?”

“No. Today. It must be today. I will pay.” He insisted. The cash would be nice, I was trying to run my own business. I agreed.

I took him back to the massage room, gave him the required sheets, instructions and stepped out. When I came back he’d assumed the position.

“No lotion.” He said as I walked over to the lotion warmer.

“Mr.…uh…I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name, but I cannot do a deep tissue massage without lotion. It would be quite painful.” I waited for him to respond. I was regretting agreeing to this but it was much too late now.

“No Lotion.” He said again and then “One half hour of massage and then I will require use of the room for one half hour after that. The timer does not start until you do.”

Well, that was it as far as I was concerned. Fine. He wanted a dep tissue massage without lotion, Ok. He can have it. I was going to make him sorry for disrupting my early evening. I began to work on his back. His skin was dry, it really could have used some lotion, but I worked anyways. As I worked, light pressure at first and then harder, I could feel the skin sort of give way from the tissues beneath. It began to slide around with my hands. Such an odd sensation. I stopped and lifted my hands up off him.

“Continue. You are doing it right.” He said.

“But, something is wrong with your skin. Am I hurting you?” I asked

“No. Continue.”

I did, I felt his skin tearing. It began to slide off his back in sheets. Underneath it, was a pink, gelatinous coating. I gasped

“Don’t touch anything but skin. Keep rubbing. It must all come off.” He said

I did. I rubbed off every bit of his skin. The money was good. Really good. I would have agreed to a happy ending if he would have asked. (At least up until I saw his gooey underneath). When he as nothing more than a vague human shape of soft rubbery goo, he told me to leave him.

“You may return in one half hour. I will go then and you can lock up.”

I did as I was told. When I returned, he looked human again, the same as he had when I had first met him.

“You will keep this between us. Should word get out about what you saw or did for me tonight, it would be very bad for you or your children.” I could only nod. I was so taken aback by the whole experience, I couldn’t even open my mouth to question him further. “There may be others like me who make the same request of you. Agree and you will have nothing further to worry about. You and your family will be safe. Should you change your mind at any time, please understand, women and children go missing every day. Many will never be found. I know this. Do you know what I am saying?” He chomped his teeth together three times and grinned. It was eerie and I swear his teeth were not human. They were all sharp and pointed.

There have been many since then. Men and women. They come to me and I help them with their molting. Then, I suppose they need safety while their real skin forms the protective coating of human skin. Or perhaps they need shelter while they put their costumes back on. I don’t know, I have never questioned them.

This is what I have noticed over the years: just prior to one of them showing up for a special massage, I see an increase in the reports of missing persons. I think they go through growth spurts, and I think they eat us. They eat until they have to molt, that’s where I come in. I help them and in exchange they don’t eat me or my family. But every time I see a new missing child or woman poster, I cringe. I know soon I will have a new customer. And I have kept my mouth shut all these years and allowed other families to lose loved ones while I selfishly stayed quiet. No more.

They are out there, folks. They look like us, but I believe that every once in a while, they let their guard down. A grin flashes their true teeth or a wink exposes the black matte eyes for a split second. Watch for it. Watch for a cluster of missing persons. Remember, they are at their most vulnerable just after gorging on humans. I don’t know how many there are, I don’t know how long they live, but I know there are many and they walk among us. I know we cannot afford to stay quiet any longer. We must act before our species has been replaced.

God forgive me for not acting sooner.