In books and movies you have men described as tall, dark and mysterious…the strong silent type. A Heathcliff standing on the moors squinting into a setting sun, the wind in his hair…maybe the hint of a tear in one eye to show he’s got a big heart capable of love under his doom and gloom exterior.
We ride the subway together.
I admit he’s pretty damn attractive. Hat pulled low, that perfected I-don’t-care stubble on his chin. Holding an old, beat-up paperback in his lap.
Everyone that walks by, men and women, turn to look at him. They gawk and stumble. Some say good morning. Others nod their greetings.
He never responds. Just turns the page and keeps on reading.
I can hear whispers flooding the train car, running into one long, hushed sentence. Everyone is talking about him. The air is thick with envy and lust and mystery.
He has a strange allure. Something akin to a magnetism about him, it draws you in and holds your attention. A strong pheromone, maybe.
People reluctantly leave the train at each stop. It’s a slow process, like they have to physically tear themselves away from his presence.
We are nearing the end of the line. It’s just the two of us now. He startles me when he shifts in his seat- the first time I’ve seen him move other than to turn a page.
I say hello, and try to ask him questions. He shrugs in response and closes his book, accidentally dropping it to the floor.
Feeling the need to help the man, I jump from my seat and reach for the book.
We reach for it at the same time and our hands touch.
His skin is warm, really warm, and feels strange.
That hat on his head shudders, his body begins to convulse and bulge, mini seizures rack his body.
The hat falls off, revealing droopy synthetic skin without eyes – just two holes where his nose should be and a fake beard.
I hear screeching. Panicked noises coming from the mouthless man-thing.
Something is pushing against his skin from the inside. He’s shrinking but growing fatter. Things the size of tennis balls move around under his shirt and pants.
I’m beginning to panic. I’m overcome by an uncontrollable anxiety.
Holes begin to form in his skin.
Another loud screech.
Hundreds of squirrels and two rabbits come pouring from what is now a rubbery skin husk. They run along the floor of the train and out the door before it closes on them.
I stare out the window, not sure what to do, how to react.
One of the rabbits stops on the platform, turns around, and waves at me as the subway begins to move again.