Scales of Fayt:
"What the hell is that?" He repeated himself. I looked blankly at my cousin, my mouth opened, closed opened again, and I found that I had no words. I shook my head slowly.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you, I'm not sure I believe it myself." I tried to shrug past him, but he blocked the path quite efficiently, he used to play football and it showed, his frame filled the doorway, even as thin as I was I couldn't slip by him.
"Huh-uh," He said shaking his head. "It looks like a great big infection spread across your back, and you're not worried at all?"
I sighed, "It's not a rash, and it's spreading a lot faster than I thought it would."
"What is it then?"
I shrugged, "Scales, I think."
He gawked, and I pushed past him. "Scales? What the hell?"
He followed me into the living room where I flopped unceremoniously into a chair. I motioned for him to sit as well. "I'm not really sure, I had a weird dream and it said that this was going to happen, but I don't put any stock in my dreams as it is, so this is kinda weird for me." I sat forward, and started scratching my back enthusiastically, it was itchy, and only getting worse.
He looked at me concernedly, "You okay man?" I held out a hand and waved off his concern, not slowing in my now frantically paced scratching.
"I'm fine, it just really itches!" I hissed out between my teeth. I ripped off my shirt and flopped onto the ground, using the abrasive carpet to scratch my back, and it worked really well, until I noticed that I was leaving a trail. I sat up and looked, Henry had a look of disgust on his face, there were dried up flakes of skin that I was leaving all over the place. I groaned, but at least my back didn't itch any more.
"That's really gross dude." He made a gagging noise and acted like he was going to hurl.
"Get over it you big baby." I retorted, he grinned at me, and gagged again, mockingly. I rolled my eyes at him. I stood up and went to go get my vacuum so that I could clean the mess I had made up.
"Whoa." I turned to look at him, his face was one of wonder.
"Your back man, that's crazy."
"My back can wait, I've got to get this off of the floor before someone sees it and asks a really awkward question about it."
He threw my shirt at me, "Throw this on at least man, the skin on the floor will raise less questions than your back."
I caught it and slipped it back on, and resumed the task at hand cleaning the floor quickly, forcing my curiosity to wait to be sated. I put the vacuum away hastily and retreated back into my bathroom, using my mirror and some awkward angles I saw that my back was covered with lush, deep green scales and running down my spine was a small ridge of darker, and I figured tougher scales. I walked out and sat down next to Henry.
"How am I supposed to live like this? People don't just grow scales, imagine the public outcry to see me, either dead, locked up for safekeeping or-" I shuddered, "-studied."
He nodded, "I'll keep quiet about this man, you don't have to worry about some SWAT team busting open your door because of me."
I smiled meekly, "I figured that man, but I can't exactly go out like this."
"You're lucky that you're thin blooded and winter's coming on, just wear a hoody, and pull it up over your head, that should allow you some freedom."
I nodded, "That's true, hey, getting cold easy actually helps for once!" I flashed a half-hearted grin at him, that was the near future taken care of, but if these scales spread as fast as they had overnight, I was in for a rough ride. I went back to my room and grabbed a hoody throwing it on rather than the T-shirt I had been wearing. I walked back out, "So, can you see anything from back there?"
Henry shook his head, "Naw man, you're fine."
I nodded, "Good, so now that I've got the short term figured out what now?"
Henry's face lit up with an evil grin, "How about I knock you out and sell you to the circus?"
I gave him a disapproving stare, "How about you stop talking?"
He looked at me with a hurt expression, "But if I sold you-"
I flipped him off, "That's enough of that."
He grinned at me, "Aw come on, they could teach you to do tricks too!"
I threw my hands up in exasperation. "You're impossible you know that right?"
He grinned wider, "I know, I try."
I turned and walked to the door, motioning for him to follow, "Come on, I've got things to do today, who knows how long before I can't go out easily anymore."
He stood up and followed me outside, "So where're we going?"
"Out, I've got some things that I need to get from the store, and I want to see if I can't have a brainstorm to figure out what the hell's going on with my back-" I paused, and he opened his mouth to say something, I quickly cut him off, "Aside from the obvious, I mean."
We hopped in my car and sped off to the store. I spent as little time in the store as I could, my back was itching where my scales ended, and I figured that it was spreading, I didn't want to start a panic, especially with me in the middle of it. We made it back out to my car and Henry gave me a confused look.
"It's spreading man, my whole back and parts of my neck and sides are going nuts."
He nodded, "Alright, let's go."
I put the car in gear and we sped off, we sat there in silence, I was trying to figure out what to do, I would have to tell the family just in case I changed too much for them to recognize me, I would have to deal with the media and public at some point, but I couldn't decide when would be a good time, before or after whatever was going on finished.
"I'VE GOT IT!"
I nearly jumped out of my skin. "Shit dude! Don't do that to me! Especially while I'm driving."
"Dude, head to the mall."
I shot him a confused look, "What's at the mall?"
I sighed, he usually knew what he was talking about and I started for the mall. "You're not going to tell me are you?"
He grinned happily, "Nope, I'll just let you sit there and wonder."
I groaned, I didn't need another thing to worry about. We drove in silence again, I guessed that he was letting me stew in worry, but the nonchalant attitude that he had was really infuriating. I scratched at my neck where I felt my skin peeling to reveal more scales and flicked what came off out the window. I pulled into the mall's massive parking lot and looked at him.
"Alright, so where are we headed?"
He pointed in a manner to suggest going around the mall to the offset in the back. "Head around back."
I drove slowly past the buildings, until he pointed, "That's the place."
I looked at it, it was a pet shop. I looked at him and cocked an eyebrow. "What?"
"My bro deals with this guy a lot, he specializes in reptiles."
I pulled into a stall and yanked on the parking brake. "So what? Just let him see my back and poke and prod at me?"
Henry's grin disappeared. "Crap, I hadn't thought about that."
I slapped my forehead. "You idiot!"
He glared at me, then reached over and grabbed me, pushing my head forward, I flailed somewhat uselessly against him, trying to defend myself from the perceived attack, only to feel a sharp pain on my back, not unlike pulling a scab off quickly, then I was let up.
I could feel my face flush, and I started yelling. "What the hell man!? Are you trying to piss me off?"
He held up a hand for me to be quiet and held out what he had taken, a small scale off of my back, it was about half the size of my thumbnail. "Let's see if he can identify what kind of freak you are, and maybe give some stuff for when we 'catch' our reptilian friend so we can keep him as a pet."
I stared at him, it was a pretty solid idea, unless this guy started asking too many questions, then it could get really difficult really fast. I sighed, "Let's see if this works."
We got out and approached the store, there was one person inside that we could see, working the counter. I opened the door, swinging it wide so that it wouldn't hit Henry on his way through, and proceeded in waiting for him to show her our 'find.'
"Can I help you?"
Henry leaned up on the counter, "Yeah, I've got this scale that I've had a lot of trouble identifying. My brother comes here a lot and swears that the guy who runs this place is awesome when it comes to reptiles so I thought I'd ask him to ID it for me."
She nodded, her boss' reputation was widely known it seemed, at least with reptile enthusiasts. "I'll go get Greg for you then, wait here a minute please."
We both nodded, I started nosing around the store, there were pets of a less than common variety floating around. I saw a few iguanas, some snakes and other reptiles that I didn't recognize, he also stocked various birds and fish, and some other species that I had no idea what they were. He seemed to specialize in things that weren't something that you'd see in any regular pet shop, there were no dogs or cats or anything that was more conventional in nature. I tapped on the glass to one of the terrariums that had a lizard species that I didn't recognize, only to have it snap its head around and hiss angrily at me. I growled back at it without thinking and it scurried under a log to hide from me.
I heard Henry snicker, "Dude, did you just growl at that thing?"
I felt my face flush, "Uh, no?"
He started laughing quietly as I stalked off to another part of the store. I busied myself looking at other animals, not noticing the man that walked up behind me.
"Are you the guy that needs an identification done?"
I jumped with a yipe, and Henry spun around giving me a quizzical look. I took a deep breath, calming my now racing heart, "Yeah, my cousin, Henry, has it." I pointed over at Henry as he started walking towards us.
"My brother comes here every so often for his snakes, he said you've got all kinds of reptiles and whatnot in here so we thought you could identify this for us." He handed Greg the scale, who looked it over intensely.
He turned to me, "You found this in your apartment you say?"
"Yeah, what of it?" I asked, his tone making me more nervous than I already was.
"Come with me would you both, I need to run some tests to make sure of what this is in back, we can talk more there."
I looked at Henry, who shrugged at me as if to say 'Don't ask me man, let's see what he has to say though.' I sighed, and followed the other man in back, worry gnawing at my gut. Henry followed behind me, we were both at least curious enough to see what this guy had to say about my scale. I couldn't help the feeling that I was walking into a trap, and I heard a nervous whine escape my mouth as I passed through the doorway. The others either didn't hear or pretended not to have. Greg shut the door behind us and started digging through what could only be described as a haphazard lab, there were papers with notes scribbled on them everywhere, equipment that had half finished concoctions in them, and jars and flasks of chemical compounds that I had no idea the function. Greg let out a triumphant cry and pulled out a small box. I cocked my head at him in confusion, and looked at Henry, who looked just as confused as I did.
"I can never find theses when I need them..." I heard him mutter amusedly. I watched him in confusion until he pulled out a slide and cover piece to use with a microscope. He placed the scale on the slide and dripped some solution on it before covering it up with a cover slip. He slid the scale under his microscope and studied it for a few minutes in silence, I nervously adjusted my balance from one foot to the other while we waited for him to finish his analysis.
"Well, gentlemen, I can tell you that this is of no species that I recognize, not readily anyways, it's from something that I've only read about." I jumped slightly at the sudden announcement. "You found this in your apartment you say?"
I nodded, my mouth felt to dry to talk at all and I wasn't feeling all that confident that I wouldn't simply stutter enough to raise his suspicions. He looked me over skeptically, as if sizing me up, or to see if he could detect a lie in what I had proposed to him. He wasn't an imposing figure, that much was sure, he was a scientific type, thin, short scruffy black hair, and no hint of a tan on his skin, he seemed more at home exercising his brain over his body. He was about as thin as I was, no muscle mass to him, but he had no hint of fat either, I was unsure I could take him if it came to a fight, but the after effects were more terrifying than the thought of him beating me silly. I doubted that a beating would keep his mouth shut if he discovered that I was the source of the scale.
He smirked after a minute, "I don't doubt that." He commented, dryly. He pulled the scale off of the slide and held it with some forceps, "After all, you'd be hard pressed to find scales like this just lying around, you'd have to know exactly who you pulled it off of."
Henry held up a hand, "We'd have to know who we pulled it off of? First, we found it, second it came off of a thing not somebody. And-" He was cut off abruptly by a sharp gesture by Greg.
"Don't bullshit me, a scale doesn't come off by itself, unless you pull it off, and I doubt that any standard species' scale could do this!" He turned on a bunsen burner and torched my scale for a few seconds, any other species' scale would have been burnt to cinders, but when he pulled mine out it simply shined with a new brilliance. "This is a rare find, and not just any dragon will let you have one of their scales."
I felt my jaw drop, Henry snapped his head at me, and looked back over at Greg, the jig was up.