Skin-Deep by Lori R. Lopez

Lori R. Lopez

Curt was terrified of Ticks. Not the kind
you heard at night, paranoid a bomb was near
and it was just your clock. The ones with
a head and mouth that drank blood.
The buggy type that carried disease;
that a body might mistake for a mole,
a freckle or other blemish.
They scared a guy who towered above
his friends and family. A man who rippled
with muscles when he was relaxed,
no flexing and posturing required.
The beasties might be small, but they didn’t
stop at a nip. These devils got under your skin
and lived there for days or weeks,
which made them worse than Mosquitoes.
Number One on his list of dreads.
Camping? A hike? The mere suggestion
sparked outrage. And fear.
He kept a safe distance from Nature,
frightened of a dot with legs.
Then he met Della — who exuded
a forest scent, an earthy charm
that robbed his breath. Infected, stricken,
bewitched, caution and self-preservation
failed. His walls caved as she molded,
crafted, summoned him. Come to me.
A whisper on the wind.
Was that a leaf in her hair?
For a change he ignored the signs
of hand-woven fabrics, occult symbols
inked on her flesh, encircling
fingers and wrists forged in Silver.
He forgot to examine her moles,
inspired to abandon all trepidation,
suspicion and sense. Enraptured,
he pledged to die for her. To protect her
from the world of Man, the dangers
and ills of Society: Technology,
Machines, Pollution and Pesticides.
He was her shield,
and she his drink, his drug, his poison.
For Della’s contours and garments housed
a colony. Their Queen, she commanded
a legion of Vampiters. Through her
they found a new host to infest.
While he slept beside her, a “teem” of crawlers
swarmed . . . invading the sturdy frame
to carve a catacomb. A biological fortress.
No ordinary Ticks, her henchmites tunneled.
The pain lasted hours. Then his agony
subsided. The mind of Curt grew numb
like his form. Intelligence altered,
honed and sculpted to a work of devotion.
He must serve his Queen until
the fibers of his strength and tissue
had been depleted. A monument of
human engineering and conception would
sink to the ground, deserted by ranks of
inhabitants. A ghost city of hollow canals,
collapsing chambers. The ruins of a man
whose deepest horror and desire would
eventually consume him.


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