I first saw the great Morgan Globus when he upstaged me at a party in Montreal. His little routine was making Halloween animals to impress the guests — only he didn’t use balloons or origami paper. He used his skin.
“Look at me,” he yelped like a silly British schoolboy. “I’m arachnid.” His fingers extended into long black spider legs and his thumb sprouted eight eyes and a pair of pincers.
His father was a derma-morph too, although his powers were less dramatic. He extended his arm which grew into a bat with two inch wings. “Morgan, catch.”
The bat appeared to fly off his arm and onto Morgan’s. This was only illusion, of course. Morphs cannot actually leave the skin. Some contact, however tiny, must be maintained at least until another derma-morph can assume the shape.
Morgan enacted a mock battle between his spider right hand and his bat left. The spider was the eventual victor, wrapping up its prey in a cocoon and then consuming it to the groans of disgust from the audience. But that was not the end of Morgan’s little show. The spider grew six inches and stabbed one of its legs directly through the center of Morgan’s skull. The leg emerged on the back of his head and wiggled. This too was illusion, rather like the arrow through the head routine. Nevertheless, it was an unsettling apparition, complete with real blood and gray ooze. Some women screamed, one fainted, and one man vomited.
The spastic movements of the dermal layer, which would have been merely a twitch to ordinary humans, was much more to someone of Morgan’s unique genetic make-up. Morgan was able to manipulate surface muscles, change skin tone and even burst surface skin cells to create spontaneous bleeding, a phenomenon which has been commonly documented and which is referred to as “the wounds of Christ” when it occurs on the palms and feet. You’d think that a freak of nature such as he was would be locked up and exploited or probed for science. But the truth of the matter was, after people saw his act a few times, they forgot about him. So there were derma-morphs. Big deal. I heard that he spent some time traveling with a bearded lady in a two-bit circus, hooked up with Buffalo Bill’s Rodeo as the “man-beast”, and performed on-stage transformations in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as the understudy of Lon Chaney (who was also a derma-morph). But just before the war, the stories stopped and the great Morgan Globus vanished into obscurity, or so we thought.
The next time I saw Morgan Globus, he was deep inside German territory. I’d parachuted down in the night, made my way through the Black Forest in the darkness to the lush garden of a rustic chalet. After breaking the neck of the rear guard and borrowing his German issue Luger (you can’t beat German craftsmanship), I crouched and waited. It was a suicide mission. No way back home and almost certain death if I succeeded, but many Canadians, both paratroopers and spies, had already given their lives just to get me where I was already.
I was there for about two hours, my body covered in resin to throw off the dogs. I was beginning to think I’d missed my chance when the porch doors opened and a short man sporting an ornate German uniform and a square-cropped Chaplin mustache stepped out and took a deep breath. I was on him before he could exhale, the Luger pressed up against his neck.
“Good morning, my Fuhrer,” I whispered menacingly.