Boy Without Skin
by Briar

It is the summer of his worst nightmares. Rains of fire from the sky. The sun obscured. The world left dark. An alien forest, brutal and foreign, but so familiar and real that it must have existed once, somewhere. It exists still. He is there. Beasts of a strange shape, fearsome and terrible- running away from him.

Always, there is blood.

He is called -- he is named...

The Destroyer. In a place called Quar'toth. What language is this? He is in L.A., City of Angels, roaming the streets to break bones- looking to kill- which is ridiculous because he lives in Carmel-by-the-Sea, a quiet little town nestled against cliffs overlooking the ocean. Not some barren, concrete wasteland, thick with thieves and demons-

there is a woman. beautiful, blonde, pleading. Mother? He doesn't recognize her. He pushes her away. There is another, dark-haired and trembling. She needs his protection. She needs his love, and she is so warm and tight, enticing him to surrender with betrayal in her eyes. A secret knowledge which gives way to-


Beautiful daughter of a goddess, with caramel brown skin and a smile so feral it looks as though she could tear apart the fabric of existence with a flash of teeth.

decay, ruin-

Something twists in his guts. He sees a bloody palm print, the dead body of an unwilling sacrifice- a victim, his, theirs-- he sees several other faces.

another woman, so skinny he could break her without a thought -two men, living, talking together in murmurs, a green demon, holding him close, singing him to sleep he is a baby he is so small- and Death picks him up, with face of a monster, so he grows, grows to be strong, strong enough to shove Death in a coffin and bury Him, sinking- sinking away into the bottom of the sea---


Connor, Stephen, Connor wakes.

He is taking deep breathes. Gasping, sheets clutched in fists.

He is covered in sweat.

Quickly, he takes off all of his clothes. Changes into dry ones. Waits for dawn.

When the sun rises, there is only the deep pit of fury and fear in his stomach to remind him of all the faceless demons that escape his memory as they vanish into ether.


"How does this work?" Angel's brow is deeply furrowed. Lilah thinks of a Cro-Magnon, dumb enough to try and touch fire over and over again.

"All his close friends and 'family' either have debt or have family members who enlisted them as collateral. None of them will ever conceive of having their memories altered to fit Connor into their lives. Really, it's one of the sweeter ways for the firm to be repaid in full. Atleast, in this case."

"What about his powers?"

"Angel, we've already gone through this before. When you killed Connor, the spilling of his blood was the necessary offering paying for the obliteration of his essence in the universe as we know it. As far as we know, his powers are gone. "

She lilts her voice mockingly, "He is a real boy."

Angel provides her with a view of his back as though hiding his face.

Lilah continues, "Boringly normal, for vampire spawn. Now I have to go. I'd say it's been fun, but it hasn't."

"Wait," Angel turns and sees himself alone in a white room.


He feels the prickling between his shoulder blades, running up and down his spine. He pivots, fast and hard- to catch no one. The park is empty, no dog-walkers, no other joggers. It is nine pm and Connor decides that five miles is enough to finish his workout.

Cross country and Track were his primary events in high school. That, and the Academic Pentathlon. For fun, since fifth grade, Connor has made his own fireworks for the Fourth of July. Science fairs are also his gig. He loves Physics.

He loves to watch Tracy play in her band, Crevice, but he's really not musically inclined. His dad loves karaoke, which gives Connor hives. He can't carry a tune, but he is very good with computers. And he has a job working as a part-time mechanic at Tracy's uncle's shop.

All in all, Connor thinks life is pretty good.

The only thing he's got to complain about is waking up often lately with the most terrifying nightmares he can't remember.

He jogs in place while turning around to look at the copse of thick bushes behind him. Narrowing his eyes after a minute of finding nothing, Connor turns back in the direction of home, quickening his pace.

A week later, he feels it again. He cannot shake the sensation of being followed, being watched. But every time he whips his head quickly, sure to catch whomever or whatever it is this time, and always there is nothing.


Morning- twilight. Dark. He breathes, nearly chokes.

He gets up quickly, damp thin cotton shirt sticking wetly to his skin. It is 4:12.

Two hours and eighteen minutes to sunrise.

He looks through his desk for a notebook. A pen, moving swiftly.

Urgently, as though chased, he writes it all down.


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