"Skin Deep" drabbles by Neville Hunt

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What a drag

Skin Deep #98

Here was a problem, With power sockets some twelve feet across the room, and the machine's cable only four feet long, something must be done.

Whilst Rufus had been farsighted with packing the contents of his 'box of tricks', a mains extension cable hadn't been included. That meant that things must be moved. Two things, in fact, the machine... and Marcus!

Moving the machine was easy after he'd untaped the electrodes. Moving Marcus's deadweight was troublesome. However, Rufus was tough. He lifted the body with difficulty out of the drawer, dropped it on the floor and dragged it across. Sorted!

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Out of limbo

Skin Deep #97

The burning question was whether the contents of Marcus's brain were wiped out completely, or whether the refrigerated conditions might have preserved something of the genius of the old man. With Rufus, it was possible to 'undelete' his dormant 'files' due to his hibernative state. Marcus wasn't in hibernation though, nothing was pumping through his veins anymore.

The machine realised that the brain is a series of electrical impulses. Perhaps the brain's electronics we're now in limbo, as the decay process had been delayed.

Maybe all it needed was a surge of power, to delimboise them! This required mains electricity!

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Skin Deep #96

Rufus connected the machine's terminals to Marcus's head any way he could. In order to get maximum contact with flesh, such as there now was, he'd thought to bring some sticky tape to secure the electrodes in place.

He'd fully charged the machine back at Marcus's house, so now he switched it on, to perform its monster download. And Marcus was that monster! All Rufus had to do was to sit, patiently, with the headphones on. He wasn't sure why he needed the headphones, but was driven by instinct.

Would it, could it work? Or was Marcus's brain truly empty?

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A pound of flesh

Skin Deep #95

Rufus almost forgot the main purpose of his mission when he saw Marcus's muslin-clad body, or rather his muslin-clad erection. He was transfixed by the bandaged erect member.

He shook his head firmly, then collected his thoughts. He must connect the machine's terminals to Marcus's exposed flesh...but it wasn't exposed! He must expose it, but how? He hadn't thought he would need scissors! Enter the carving knife, which, for someone who'd been very composed up until now, Rufus wielded like a Dervish!

Hacking the muslin bands away, Marcus's flesh came too.

But not as much as a pound!

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Mummy, mummy!

Skin Deep #94

Inside the undertakers, Rufus was smart not to switch on any lights. He'd taken a torch from Marcus's house, affording sufficient light for his purposes.

First, find the cadaver. Not difficult. The refrigerated room dedicated to keeping corpses from decay was easy to spot. Opening the sealed door, Rufus spotted a bank of large polished wood fronted drawers, each displaying the occupant's name. He found one marked M. Branthwaite and realised that this was probably Marcus. He would open and see.

The body he saw was not what he'd expected.

It was bound like an Egyptian mummy, with an erection!

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Breaking...and entering

Skin Deep #93

Opening the gates proved remarkably easy. The padlock was large, strong and difficult to break. However, the chain snapped like a crocodile when Rufus applied the jemmy with a sharp twist. Crazy really!

Inside, he closed the gates and headed towards the rear entrance to the premises. Stopping short, he suddenly realised that there was another camera he'd not noticed covering the doors. Hoping he'd not been caught on camera, he got out the catapult and did his best to smash the camera. He failed.

With jacket over his head for cover, he pressed on and jemmied the doors open.

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Lights, camera, action!

Skin Deep #92

Midnight; time for action. It was a dark, overcast night. Perfect.

It was a fifteen minute walk from Marcus's house. Box with machine under left arm, bag of tricks in his right hand. Rufus looked relatively unsuspicious as he walked confidently towards his destination. He didn't hesitate as he walked along the service road to the rear of the undertakers.

Having done a recce of the compound, he'd seen a cctv camera trained on the gates. He had trained too with a homemade catapult. It took three tries before a dead hit on the camera with a glass marble.


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Tools of his trade

Skin Deep #91

Rufus didn't waste the time before his planned break-in at the undertakers. He needed to collect things to prepare himself. Marcus had obviously been a resourceful chap and a quick scout around his kitchen, cellar and outside shed unearthed things Rufus could find useful.

Marcus had a box of giant rubber bands; perfect for a catapult! He had a long-handled pole for cleaning upstairs windows; perfect, with a little water-based black paint mixed with wallpaper paste, for incapacitating cctv cameras. A jemmy plus selected kitchen knives, and Rufus was all set.

Carefully packed in a hold-all.

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Resources dwindling

Skin Deep #90

Gaining illicit entry to the undertakers would have to be under cover of darkness. At that time of year there was still quite a lot of daylight, so Rufus decided that it must be after midnight the next night when he made his move.

He'd been squatting in Marcus's house for about a week before deciding the time was right. Local takeaways and shops provided his sustenance, although his £50 cash was dwindling. He engaged in a small amount of shoplifting, but if any shop staff spotted this, they didn't dare challenge him.

There was something very menacing about him.

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Skin Deep #89

Knowing the location, and resigned to performing a surreptitious break-in, it was time to recce the undertakers. It wouldn't be easy, that was for sure. The premises were quite substantial, but were in a parade of shops on the continuously busy Finchley Road, the main northern exit route out of Central London.

Entry from the front was therefore impossible. It would have to be approached from the rear. Fortunately, given the nature of the business, a service road provided access for a fleet of hearses in a compound at the back.

Access relatively easy. 24hour lighting a significant problem.

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Chilling thoughts

Skin Deep #88

The machine was doing a good job in balancing Rufus's two sides. It needed him to have that savage determination, whilst thinking things through. Rufus was convinced that he had to try and achieve the brain dump before exacting any revenge he felt must be administered.

The machine inculcated in Rufus the belief that since Marcus had been kept refrigerated, then there would have been no serious decay in the brain tissue. Thus he believed that his first objective wasn't pointless.

Exacting subsequent revenge was of course pointless, but the sheer satisfaction to be derived from it was certainly not!

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Break in instinct

Skin Deep #87

Back in the house, connected to the machine, Rufus decided he must research Marcus. He found an unlocked laptop and interrogated search engines. Lots from The Goss popped up until he found what he wanted, the location of Marcus's body.

Marcus was lying in refrigerated conditions at the premises of one of London's leading funeral directors.

Breaking in was Rufus's next objective. His normal frontal attack approach to such problems would not do. Breaking in wasn't enough. He had to do so surreptitiously in order that he would have sufficient time for the brain download.

But Marcus's brain was dead!

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Skin Deep #86

Rational Rufus was thoughtful. He realised that whilst the disposal of one body was under control, there was still the matter of the dead woman in Maida Vale which could trip him up.

Deciding to go back to dispose of her, he grabbed a hold-all of Marcus's, stuffed it with bin bags and the axe and walked the several miles to Maida Vale.

He stopped short of her building, seeing a policeman standing outside the front door. Rufus turned on his heel. The discovery of her demise would have to run its course.

He would run his course too!

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Touching base

Skin Deep #85

Rufus had been disconnected from the machine for quite some time. However, as he was thinking about his strategy to find Marcus, he suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to touch base with the black box which was, for some unknown reason, a source of comfort to him. It helped him to get his thoughts straight. This was the effect of the 'drug' that was implanted in his brain.

This was the machine's opportunity to rebalance Rufus, to try to direct his instincts towards the achievement of a total brain dump of Marcus.

The machine hadn't reckoned on Marcus being dead!

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Hard news

Skin Deep #84

"The bastard's got my cock!" was the first thing Rufus uttered when he read in The Goss about the large erection that was out of place on Marcus.

This erection, or Rufus's lack of, had really got to him. He'd had plenty of desire with the recent woman, but was found to be short in the penile department.

Rufus didn't seem bothered that Marcus was dead, or that there was a national hunt for his relatives. It was the perceived theft of Rufus's manhood that bugged him... and had caused the woman's death.

He decided he would get it back!

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Catching up

Skin Deep #83

Rufus didn't need the machine's help to dismember and 'joint' Clive's cold body. Had he been studying butchery, he would get an A+ in this practical. Bagged and secured, Clive's next trip was to the freezer, to be deposited in stages at the local refuse dump, but only when Rufus was ready.

Rufus decided to take up residence at the house as resident squatter until he worked out how to find Marcus. He needed some time.

In the meantime, he found a pile of recent The Goss newspapers which Clive had kept.

Somewhat alarmed, he read all the details...

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Getting cold

Skin Deep #82

Rufus lifted Clive as easily as packing foam and carried it downstairs. Dropping the corpse on the floor, he checked if the house had a cellar; it did. Next stop for Clive, the cellar.

Rufus needed the body cold with rigour mortis firmly in charge before the next part of his mission. He was fully rational, but had temporarily dispensed with the machine, having left it on charge upstairs.

He needed strong rubbish sacks which he found in Marcus's utility room.

Next stop, the garden shed for the axe he'd chopped those logs with. This was all so easy.


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Skin Deep #81

In Marcus's house, following the explosion of anger which left Clive Dollis dead, the rational Rufus realised it'd not been sensible to slaughter the stranger. He'd have been the key to finding Marcus!

Rufus's rationality was the machine's contribution. In that sense, the machine had been brilliant, excepting its inability to tame Rufus's impetuosity. The boy was a split personality, but both elements were starting to feel constrained by the need to stay connected to the machine; like an adolescent starting to challenge its father.

But father had been canny. Deep down, embedded in Rufus's cortex was a dependency drug.

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Skin Deep #80

If the machine had been human, this would have been its first argument with Rufus.

This was not the way the machine had programmed the young man to behave. Now there were hurdles to achieving its key objective of downloading the brain contents of its creator, Marcus. It seemed that whilst the machine could control Rufus's rational thought processes, it couldn't have any impact on the boy's impetuous irrational instincts. And this was proving to be quite a limitation.

Nonetheless, onwards and upwards. Despite Rufus being rather a 'loose canon', he was the only canon available to it.

Press on...!

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Strike out

Skin Deep #79

Rufus struck out at the girl on a whim. She didn't see that coming!

A young man in peak physical condition can do a lot of damage, particularly to an unsuspecting woman. He made quick work of giving her a savage beating. Then what? The newly rational Rufus had to think about the consequences of his irrational physical outburst. He would be arrested for sure. Might as well silence the evidence. So, coldly, he strangled the woman, stashed her body in a cupboard and tried to grab some sleep.

Sleep was delayed by the harsh reality that Rufus was impotent!