Malcolm was a sweet kid.

he was 13 and a fairly popular boy in his junior high.

being one of the oldest kids in the school normally helps with these things, but Malcolm even protected the outsiders, so he was a bit different that the rest of the “cool” kids.

Malcolm lives a, what has become “normal,” normal life and sometimes this made him sad.

Malcolm enjoyed all of his friends and excelled at every sport and activity that he tried, but he often wondered if he did these activities as a way to try and distract himself from the underlying feeling that he was living a lie.

Malcolm never felt right in his own skin. To call this a metaphor would be a slight exaggeration because Malcolm literally never felt right in his own skin. He scratched himself until he bled. He picked at his nails. He rubbed his head and was always examining his flesh. It was as if he wasn’t supposed to be a human and didn’t comprehend what he was doing in this body and desperately tried to get it off of him, or at least find out what existed underneath.

Malcolm was a smart kid though. One of the smartest in his grade. Being this smart meant that he had a slightly higher level of thinking than his peers and this always raised another question in his head. Why am I so damn popular when I have scabs all over my body from fucking with my skin all the time? And this was a rather smart thing to think. Most people with weird skin issues weren’t popular. Most nerds weren’t popular at all either. Malcolm always wondered what the conspiracy was. But then Malcolm knew better to believe in that stuff because people who believed in that stuff were crazy.

And Malcolm wasn’t crazy.

He just didn’t like his skin.

And was rather smart for a 13 year old.

One day Malcolm was sitting in his algebra class and scratching the back of his neck like he often did while sitting in the ammonia scented classroom in C-17. He was picking and scratching and mumbling to himself about the Collatz Conjecture. The rest of the class had long since learned to ignore Malcolm’s weird traits and focus on their work, but the sweet Chloe who sat behind him became a little unnerved when she looked up and saw blood beginning to trickle down the back of his neck.

Chloe stopped working on her math and stared in disgust for a moment and then gasped loud enough for the entire class to look at her while her face turned a sickly pale white.

The back of Malcolm’s shirt was rich in crimson blood from a tear at the base of his neck which was torn up and leaking fluids all over. The rest of the class began rumbling and the noise level raised in commotion. Malcolm was unaware of what was going on around him. He kept muttering to himself, “If the number is even, divide it by two. If the number is odd, triple it and add one” while picking at the open flesh on the back of his neck.

Chloe screamed a screech that could be heard throughout the school. Malcolm heard it too. He realized that he was picking at the back of his neck and stopped. But he left his hand on the wound. He lightly felt around and then gave the class, all looking at him in horror and confusion, a glance. He turned around and smiled at Chloe. She just stared an empty stare back at him. Malcolm paused, hand still on the wound, and then Malcolm smiled a smile that he had never smiled before.

This isn’t to say that Malcolm never smiled, far from it. Malcolm definitely smiled, but this was a new smile. A deep smile. A rich smile. A smile of discovery. A smile of true un-denying happiness. Malcolm smiled. Malcolm smiled right at Chloe as he looked her in her eyes. And as Malcolm smiled at Chloe and held her attention, while the rest of the class sat silently and watched, he dug his fingers deep into his neck, gripped the flesh of his neck and pulled up with a jerk.

The sound, which wouldn’t have been heard in a normal loud classroom, was entirely audible that afternoon as everyone sat and stared. A sound much like that of the tearing of duct tape blended with the sound of a raw meatloaf being prepared in a bowl. After the skin from the back of his head was separated from his skull, with his eyes still locked into Chloe’s eyes, he then began pulling down, slowly removing the flesh from the top of his forehead down to his chin. While still smiling.

Some of the students covered their eyes. Some vomited. Some kept staring. Some got up and ran for the door. Chloe didn’t move. She was frozen like ice.

Once the flesh was removed from Malcolm’s head, the blood began to turn from crimson to a deep purple. Then from purple to a blue. Soon, what was once Malcolm’s face was now a rich teal in color. Malcolm was still staring at Chloe. Chloe was still staring at Malcolm. His smile turned to a smirk. He stood up from his desk. His teal face began looking as if it had scales. His left eye twitched. He turned away from Chloe, pushed in his chair, gave the classroom a ocular pat-down, and his smirk turned into a snarl. He walked towards the door, opened it, walked out, and turned back to the class who was all staring at him in silence. He smiled at them with his bright, rich scaly teal face, with eyes that have turned more ovular like cat’s eyes and he flicked his tongue at them. A tongue which seemed too thin and too quick to be a human tongue, and then he turned and walked down the hall.

The hall was filled with other classes that had heard the screams, gossip, rumors, and stories from others. Malcolm walked past them all with his head held high. No longer feeling that he was living a lie.

The end.

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