Peel by Joachim Heinjdermans

I’m cold. Alone in this room, buck-naked and waiting for it, while two doctors and a rabble of nurses peek at me through a window of darkened glass. Nothing has happened yet. What a gyp. I feel itchy. Why hasn’t it happened yet? When I signed up for this, I hoped that feeling of disgust would finally end. But nope, here I am. Still stuck, feeling like a gross, mucus-filled flesh bag. This skin. These smells. The stupid itchy hair that grows in the worst places. Why can’t I—?


Oh, there it is. Piercing through my skin. It looks like a white hair but feels like a strand of plastic when if place it between my thumb and middle finger. This is it! I squeeze down and pull. There it is! Like a thread from a sweater that’s come loose, unzipping my skin.  I tug at it, and the strand slides through my hide with razor-like finesse, exposing the red flesh beneath it. I keep pulling the strand until it reaches my shoulder. The flayed remains droop from my arm, sliding from my fingers like a silken glove. The first layer falls from my frame. I have to bite through the pain, but I’m hardly done yet. Again, I pull at the strand, but at a faster pace to speed up the process. It slides across my chest, splitting off into other strands that run down towards my stomach and legs, while another runs up my neck and onto my face. Little by little, piece by piece, all the pink and red and anything in between slips from my frame. The smell is something awful, but it’s a small price to pay. Gone is the meat, hair and all the gunk that holds it together, replaced with cold organic metal below the peel. The pain, an agony that I bit through as I stop feeling the air on my person. I feel my organs being sealed in, as the system cuts away any of the meat I don’t need. My face falls to the floor, staring back up at me without eyes in the sockets or teeth in the mouth. I spit my tongue out, no longer needing it as my vocal cords are covered in metal.

I look into the mirror, seeing myself as I am now with lidless eyes nestled inside a metallic skull. Bits of my old self, chunks of reds and dark browns, still cling onto my new chrome-coated frame. By my feet lies a heap of flesh, hair and other crap, finally dead and gone from my person.

For once, I am happy.





About the Author


Joachim Heijndermans is a writer, artist, and active SFWA member. Aphotic Realm published his work, I Am Roar, in 2019. Since then his work has been featured in a great number of publications, websites and podcasts. His short story All Through the House was adapted as an episode of the Netflix animated anthology Love, Death & Robots.