It’s not as easy as you might first imagine, skinning someone. Without practice, an excellent blade, and a skillful hand, you’re bound to make a mess of things. Too shallow and you’re leaving behind layers of fatty dermis, too deep and you’re hacking into the flesh, rich with blood vessels and capillaries. It’s not as simple as, say, opening up a flap of skin and ripping it away, accompanied by the sweet shhhhhhht and sucking sounds of adipose fat peeling away from muscle. Perhaps that impression has been left on you by images of Indians scalping their victims—grabbing a fistful of hair, opening a series of gashes with tomahawk or blade and giving a good yank. But the skin on the scalp is attached by a thin layer of connective tissue directly to the skull and is easily removed in one large piece. Most skin is attached to muscle, not bone, and it does not come away so cleanly. The layers of skin may separate from one another, leaving an untidy, oozing amalgam of fat, blood and tissue. A most disappointing result.
One must not undertake such a task lightly. Prepare accordingly. Be sure to have plenty of gauze handy, a cauterization tool, and—obviously—the proper knives. Oh, and a paralytic is an absolute must—the slightest muscle tic (on their part or yours) can ruin what might otherwise have been a work of genius. Do whatever is necessary to steel your hand and nerves—a shot of whiskey, perhaps; though I need no such vices, you may find it helpful. Practice—on animals if you must—but understand that animal hide is not the same as human skin and will not behave in precisely the same manner. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Choose your victim wisely and with due contemplation. I cannot stress this enough. Save this method for the appropriate playmate. The psychological impact of a proper flaying should not be underestimated, and can intensify the experience for both of you exponentially. I, therefore, prefer the beautiful.
Start with a long cut along the hairline and continue it down in front of the ear and along the back of the jaw. It will be bloody. Scalp wounds bleed like a bitch, but this cannot be avoided. You need not fear, however, it will not abbreviate your time together—unless, of course, you nick the jugular or carotid—an amateur blunder. From here, there are a few ways to proceed; I prefer to draw my blade down the center of the brow along the nose, through the septum, philtrum, and lips and end a few inches beyond the point of the chin. I can then work skin from flesh in hemispheres, and slowly lay it open like the leaves of a book, revealing the lovely, hideous art within.
Like the scalp, the skin at the top center of the brow is attached to the skull only by loose areolar tissue and provides an excellent starting point for your blade. On either side, you’ll quickly encounter the frontalis muscles that raise your eyebrows. From there on, a certain amount of finesse is required. You’ll need to apply gentle but constant tension to the slick flap of freed skin while drawing your razor edge along the connective tissue underneath. A steady, skilled hand should be able to shear the hypodermis from muscle a tiny bit at a time, while keeping the facial skin mostly intact.
The eyelids are a consideration. At less than half a millimeter thick, it is rather unlikely that you’ll manage to remove the skin cleanly. My preference? Cut them out before you begin. You’ll want your friend to be able to see the magnificent mask you’ve made of their face in any case. How better than to eliminate the option to close his or her eyes altogether? Let them look upon themselves in horror for every miserable moment of the time they have left. They’ll try to look away, but trust me—their shock and disbelief (and perhaps a perverse curiosity) will keep their eyes flitting back to their visage long after the paralytic has worn off.
The nose is another opportunity for experimentation. But beware. Should you choose to remove it in conjunction with a paralytic, gathering adequate air may become too difficult for your patient, and there is a slight to moderate chance of them drowning in their own blood. Then again, leaving the sinus cavity completely exposed in such a way is a much more visually striking result. But it’s your art. Do as you wish.
Work your way down the face and then across the cheeks toward the ears using short, swift strokes while keeping the skin taut in your grasp. Cauterize the bleeders as you go so they don’t hinder your visibility. Use the gauze to dab away excess blood. You’ll need to see where the sometimes paper-thin yellowish layer of adipose fat meets the lovely red epimysium sheath encasing the muscle fibers within. This is the junction you’ll want to draw your blade along in order to separate them as cleanly as possible.
The entire process, if done properly and with care, should last at least a few hours—hours of exquisite torture for your companion. It may be necessary to administer a maintenance dose of your paralytic of choice. After all, you’ve come so far; you’d not want your efforts ruined by a quivering masseter or twitching buccinator, would you?
I like to wait until they’ve come around a bit. Until they begin to struggle weakly against their restraints. Until they can cry and beg and plead again. Until they can tell me of their pain. Until their lungs are filled to overflowing with screams. That is when I strip them of their vanity. That is when I show them how I have unmade them. That is when I shatter them.
With a mirror.
Just a mirror.
A mirror fogged by the breath of their frantic cries, reflecting a horrified stare back upon their glorious, gruesome countenance. Neither can look away. Red bands of muscle ooze where the blade slipped a millimeter too deep—where too shallow, a thin, yellowish gauzy fat remains. Facial muscles spasm and contract as they scream: two ghouls roaring at one another in terror.
That is my moment of bliss.
With help they might yet survive, but there will be no help—only a mirror with a monster inside, shrieking at them until their minds break or altogether cease to be.
Perhaps the Else will find them beautiful still.