Still recovering from surgery yesterday. Doing a blast from the past because it’s what I have the energy for right now. The story was first published September 15, 2014.
The Masks We Wear
“We all wear masks,” Carl said. Dr. Carl Sanderson started the lecture the same way every semester. He set the mask on its stand and looked back at the students in the room. “Can anyone tell me the masks I refer too?”
A few of them raised their hands. Statistically it didn’t change. The few with their hands up actually read the material before they came to class. One of them aimed specifically to please him. The rest took the class as part of their requirements.
He pointed at a young blonde in the second row. She bounced from her seat in her excitement. He ignored her response as he scanned the rest of the room.
She sat down when she finished speaking. “What do we think of miss…” He glanced in her direction.
“Stacy, Stacy Osborne.”
“What do we think of Miss Osborne’s assessment?” He asked. Hands rose, a few more this time. He picked a young man toward the back and ignored his response as well. “Most of the psychobabble you hear about man and masks is crap.”
Silence, the eyes of the entire class followed him as he paced in front of the white board. “Take this mask.” He removed the mask from its stand. “By the look of it, you might assume a native tribe, possibly head hunters. On the surface you might even be right.” He glared at Stacy. “What Miss Osborne and her other classmate have missed though is the inherent truth of the skin mask.”
Hands shot into the air again. He loved this part. This part of the presentation always floored the majority of the class, worked out great for his reputation as well. This presentation kept most of the weak willed ones out of his classes.
“The discovery of the skin mask changed mental identity entirely,” he said. “Let me demonstrate.” He placed his hands behind his head. A sound similar to an opening zipper cut through the silent room.
From the back of his head he peeled the skin forward and over the top of his skull. Meat and bone exposed as he scanned the room for reactions. No screams, but he heard gagging as well as puking from several directions among the students. Miss Osborne let out a loud whimper as she fell out of her chair.
“As you can see the ideas we know of masks are wrong,” he said. “The skin mask supersedes these fraudulent ideas of who and what we are. I need a volunteer.”
A girl from the back stepped forward. “Face the group if you would please,” he said. “The first time is painful, though after that first time it becomes much easier.” He picked up a long thin dagger from the table, then sliced along the back of her neck. “The hardest moment is the initial pull from the base. She screamed as he slid his fingers under her skin and yanked it loose from her skull.
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