Carl loved his job.

His fascination with the parahuman condition when he was at MIT didn’t get him many girls. Even his classmates thought he was a little whacked. He used to shake his head in amusement and mutter, “Fools. Someday they’ll all see the truth.” Carl’s dry sense of humour didn’t get him much of anywhere with the girls department either.

Today was particularly interesting. A 12-year-old boy had the peculiar affliction of his skin molting every three to five days. The process usually took about an hour, and most of the time, young Andrew’s epidermis would come off in large pieces, although occasionally he would have to squirm his way out of it like an old shell. Once emerged, his newly exposed skin was always something different from the time before: pebbly stone, or wooden scales, or overlapping layers of gold foil. One time, Andrew’s skin looked and smelled just like raspberry Jello. By the time it had sloughed off, though, it was crumbly and dry and coloured like the bottom of a coffee cup in desperate need of washing.