Go, Mutants!: A Novel
By Larry Doyle
Hardback, 368 pages
List price: $23.99
Language Advisory: There is language in this excerpt that some readers may find offensive.
his lids opened, vertically then horizontally, unveiling eyes many shades bluer than his skin.
J!m Anderson lay in bed contemplating another day, another dolor, as a teenage alien on planet Earth.
Inside the orb at his bedside, Brian Wilson sang:
It's the end of the summer
Here comes a hard rain
They nuked the oceans
The waves are insane
The boy's face wasn't half so monstrous in color. His dusky blue-gray skin muted the ridges and spurs protruding here and there, in patterns beautiful only to mathematicians, and his features were humanoid, if a little more oidy in spots:
his eyes were ultramarine, deep seas of whatever one wished to believe they were deep seas of, and kept in perpetual squint, which reduced their disturbing circumferences and made intimations of a soul;
delicate respiratory slits suggested a vestigial cute nose, and his pouty lips were possibly kissable, if situated on another head, and not periwinkle;
his ears were independently rotational, and highly emotional;
his forehead was quite high, approximately ten inches, and bulging with brains, but even this evoked the slick upswept hairstyle favored by singers and delinquents, without the hair.
A girl with enough imagination might have found him attractive in a rugged, sun-dried sort of way.
The girls at J!m's school did not possess that much imagination.
Not just the end of the summer
Looks like the end of the world
J!m sat at the edge of the bed, the great mass of his head bowing his spine into a posture most adolescent males assumed voluntarily. This kyphosis, though mechanical, neatly expressed his ineffable burden, the worldview he carried on his shoulders.
Armageddon's a bummer
Looks like the end of the world
The singer faded from the orb, replaced by the K-BOM logo, which fissioned, leaving behind a pair of piggy eyes stuck in a slab of pea green fat. "Shiiii-nee!" the eyes squealed. "That was an H-Blast from the Past from the Rays, and this is," with maximum reverb, "Marshall the Martian!"
In the morning!
the Martianettes sang, to which the orb jockey appended his catch ejaculation: "Neep neep!"
J!m squinted his first hate of the day. With a pass of his hand, the orb muted. The newer models would have automatically skipped the cretin, but there were no newer models in this house. The walls around J!m were paint, not PLEX; the movie posters were physically present, artifacts from another era. The floor below him was fixed, and he would once again have to walk to the bathroom.
J!m's nasal slits rippled. His day was about to become fifty percent more self-loathsome.
He was alone, a small comfort. It could have happened later at school, in gym, and that would be fun, or the cafeteria, like last spring, when Sally Fraser screamed and vomited on Hazel Court, triggering a chain regurgitation that got lasagna removed from the lunch menu permanently.
Best to get it over with.
J!m twisted his neck, down and to the right. The seam between his cerebral hemispheres ruptured, revealing his next skin: silvery cyan, bright and shiny, unmissable.
His before skin retracted with a viscous crinkle, peeling back over two glistening humps of cerebrum, blatant beneath the fresh membrane that clung to every nook and sulcus. All his thoughts were on public view, synaptic bursts twinkling across his cranium, the area currently most active being his basal ganglia, or profanity center.
His dead face fell away, leaving one that only wished it was, coated with a clear oil similar to petroleum jelly but highly reflective and thirty times as aromatic. It did not wash, wipe, rub, scrape, scrub or boil off. Gradually the sebum would work into his new skin, darkening and dimming it to the pleathery exterior J!m could almost abide, but until then, J!m would be the Greasy Kid, subject to the customary names and jocularities, offering sweet respite to Bobby Harvey, an oil-producing human who was said to give girls blackheads simply by staring at them.
The molt moved on, shuddering over J!m's sloped shoulders and sloughing off his sinewy arms, crawling down his angular, occasionally pointed, torso, down, down his long, long legs and pooling, in underpants, at his feet.
J!m kicked off his old sleeve. It skittered under the bed.
Shit, J!m thought, meaning himself, and began his morning shuffle, teen beast slouching toward Armageddon, another day strewn with the idiocies and indignities he lived for, the petty evidence that he was right and they were human.
A shame he didn't know he would be dead before the weekend was out. It might have spared him some anguish.
Excerpted from Go, Mutants!: A Novel by Larry Doyle. Copyright 2010 by Larry Doyle. Excerpted by permission of Ecco Books.