Thursday, September 26, 2019

Therapeutic Skin Jobs #25

Chapter 25
Getting Away With It All

“Are you okay?” asked Max as Dr Skin hobbled around to the driver’s side, blood still pouring from his ruined face. “Are you sure you don’t want me to drive?”

Stopping just short of the door, Skin actually managed to look a little offended. “What are you saying?”

“You look like shit, man.”

“There’s no need to get personal,” said Skin, shaking his head. “No, I’ll be all right. This is nothing. I’ll be good as new before you know it.”

He opened the car door and slid behind the wheel. “Now let’s go! There has been far too much fucking about and I’m damn keen to get straight to the point! Come on!”

“Whatever you say, pal,” muttered Max, reaching for the door handle. But as she opened it, she was suddenly hit by an overwhelming sense of deja-vu, the stench of pure, unbridled nostalgia welling up from deep within him. She had done something like this before.

No, she thought. Not something like this. Something exactly like this, She had done this very action before, getting into a car she didn’t recognize that was standing in the middle of a vast wasteland as Dr Skin waited patiently. It was all so familiar because she had been here before. Her breath caught in her throat and a sinking feeling threatened to overwhelm her as she realized she would always be here, doing the same thing, over and over and over again.

“Get a fucking move on!” barked Skin as he kicked the engine into life, snapping Max out of her panic. She began to breathe normally again, already over her fear. As she got into the passenger seat and began to close the door behind her, she had already forgotten what it was that had panicked her in the first place.

“That was weird,” she mumbled, just as Skin hit the accelerator, the car surging forward before Max even had a chance to close the door. It slammed shut anyway with the sudden start, almost closing on Max’s leg.

Dr Skin shifted through the gears in an instant and soon had the car at top speed, roaring across the wasteland. He took his eyes off where they were going to look at Max mockingly. “That was weird? I must say, you’re taking it all very well.”

“What do you mean?” asked Max. She wondered if she should bother putting the seatbelt on, but there was nothing around them they could hit, so she let it slide.

Skin grinned. “I mean I’m used to strangeness. It’s always been a part of me and I’ve had a lifetime to adapt to it, but I’ve dragged you from your mundane life and thrown you right into the deep end of the weird. Shit, look at my face.” He pointed at his head, which showed few of the signs of the beating he had taken. “I’m almost completely healed. You’ve never seen anything like that before, have you? Frankly, I’m surprised you haven’t curled up into a whimpering ball and wished it all went away.”

“Not really my style,” shrugged Max. “This is pretty fucked up and I never expected to end up in a place like this with someone like you, but there ain’t much use in trying to hide from it.”

Max paused as a thought finally occurred to her. “Although…”

Skin still didn’t bother looking at their path. “Although what?”

“Although, I guess there is always the possibility that I have actually just gone totally bugfuck mental. That I’m really sitting on my sofa, shitting in my pants and rocking back and forth as I fall further and further into a fantasy where I get into epic fights and travel between worlds with the snap of a finger.”

Max snapped a finger, then smiled and tapped the dashboard in front of her. “Nah, feels real enough. Guess I’m not crazy.”

“Well,” said Skin, “not as crazy as anybody else.”

“Heh,” laughed Max weakly, just as she noticed there was something at her feet. She reached down to lift it up. “Hey, look at this.”

She pulled up a small hamper and opened it up. It was full to the brim with old comic books, chocolate bars, bottles of cheap wine and a large handgun.

“Wow,” said Max, flicking through a couple of the comics, but handing the gun over to Skin. “Here, you better have this. I’m no good with guns.”

Skin distastefully took the gun between two fingers and opened the window beside him. “I don’t need guns anymore. We’ve gone right past that.”

He blinked and spoke to himself in a tiny whisper. “It’s funny. I thought this was more a Die Hard type of thing, but it turned out to be more 2001 than anything. I guess even fictional characters get the chance to evolve…”

“What’s that?” said Max as she stuffed her face with one of the chocolate bars, spraying crumbs all over the car floor.

“Nothing,” said Skin. He began to toss the gun out the window, but something made him look up and he hesitated.

“Hey,” he said, tapping Max on the shoulder and pointing up. “Check that out.”

Max looked up. The dark clouds that had covered the sky ever since they arrived in the wasteland had disappeared, but they revealed something that looked like no sky Max had ever seen.

“What is that?” she asked Skin.

“It looks like…. bone,” he replied.

Max realized that Skin had picked it right. Hovering over them, only a couple of hundreds meters up, a huge expanse of pure white bone stretched across the sky, curving slightly downwards over the horizon ahead.

“What the fuck is all that about?” said Max

“Let’s find out,” said Skin, spinning the gun around on his finger until the handle slapped securely into his palm, taking aim and firing three shots up at the bone sky.

The bullets bounced harmlessly off the bone, but both Max and Dr Skin screamed in agony and clutched their heads as pain sliced right through their skulls. Skin slammed on the brakes and the car skidded to a halt as they both waited for the pain to slowly subside.

As soon as it had degenerated into a dull throb, Max punched Skin in the arm. “Don’t ever fucking do anything like that again!”

“Yeah,” agreed Skin breathlessly. Realizing he was still clutching the gun, he finally tossed it out the window, put the car into first gear and took off again.

“Jesus,” groaned Max as she opened up one of the bottles of wine. “That was some harsh shit.”

“Did you feel it?” asked Skin.

It took a moment for Max to realize Skin was talking seriously. “Uh, yeah.”

“No, did you feel it? There were three distinct bursts of pain.”

Max considered it for a minute. “Yeah, I guess. Just like the three shots, right? But so what?”

“Nothing,” said Skin, shaking his head. He reached over and snatched the wine bottle out of Max’s grasp. “Here. Give me some of that.”

“Drink driving isn’t big or clever,” said Max in a scolding tone.

“I’ve never been accused of either,” replied Skin, draining the bottle in one huge gulp.

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