(continued from Fled)
High up in the mountains, Dan was peeling his navel. The small knife had teeth a plenty and had bitten into Dan’s fingers on so many occasion that, at night, he kept it under a heavy rock – just in case. Now, holding the knife just so in one hand, and pinching his navel tight in the other, he began the delicate spiral incision. Round and around, fluid spurting at every turn, he dug into the tender flesh. The thick skin yielded easily under the knife and Dan was extra careful not to dig too deep. If he slipped through into something vital, it would cause problems in the next stage.
Placing the knife carefully on the counter, Dan considered washing his hands. He decided to leave it this time. Besides – he was going to get messed up soon, anyway. Carefully, he dug his nails into the edges of the skin and began pulling it back from the layer beneath. He winced slightly as he missed his mark and had to double back and get his nails in a little deeper. Although the flesh was tender, it still took patience to get it right. Round and around he went, following the incision carefully. Oh so carefully. The taste and texture would be exquisite if he did this properly.
As he pulled back away the last of the outer dermis, revealing the mutant twin, he smiled. This was one of the tricky parts. Too often the flesh was too tight and his fingers too blunt and tool – crushing the twin irretrievably. Resolutely, he dug his fingers deep into the navel and carefully, tenderly prised the tiny duplicate out of its burrow. This one looked like it had some substance to it. So often, they were dry and dead and could only be discarded. He raised it to his mouth and began to bite into the tender innards. It was quick meal. Soon done. But so satisfying.
As he finished, he glanced up towards the window, taking in the distant lights sparkling on the plain down below like a basket of jewels. He never failed to be impressed by the view – day or night. Switching focus, he caught his reflection in the glass – big, burly and bearded – his chin glistening from what had dripped down into the hairs of his chin. He nodded to himself, and himself nodded back companionably.
Looking down again to make sure that his navel was behaving, he took the knife and began to scrape away the tiny slivers of skin that adhered to the inner layer. He liked to get it clean before he moved on to the final, delicious phase. He mouth watered involuntarily as he thought of the pleasure to come . He took his time – making sure he kept the fluid loss to a minimum. The more he could retain, the more he would have later. The more to savour.
Finally, he was ready. Carefully, he pulled his navel apart with both hands, all eight fingers digging deeply, strongly inside. Ripping. Tearing. A faint noise as the two halves separated reluctantly. Then, tragedy, the flesh tore against the grain and a spurt of fluid arced away. He watched it go, as if in slow motion, as the orange juice sped towards the window, getting brighter and brighter as it moved.
He blinked and his perception flipped. Not from the inside! Something was racing towards him from the outside! An orange flare streaking out of the flatlands. Growing by the second. Closer and closer – a monstrous bolt of searing light, heading up the mountain towards him. Huge and unstoppable, it was half way from the city in seconds.
Dan looked down at his navel. It was juicy beyond words, and he knew, from eating its baby brother, that it was the sweetest he had tasted since forever. Breaking off a peg, he slipped it into his mouth and began to leisurely chew. As the juice flowed into his mouth – cold and sweet, the orange flare flowed up the mountain. As he broke off another orange peg and popped it into his mouth – it arrived.
(continued in Layers)