In six seconds he returned. His blackened hairless condition was almost in keeping with the similar state of distress Felix had returned. Max’s eyes were white with the horror of near death in the mask of black he wore over the entire surface of his body. He moved gingerly away from the chair.
Dr. Floyd began powering things down. “You look terrible. I think we’re done for the night. See you in the morning at the usual time.”
Max got dressed. He got a drink from the break room water cooler. He left the building and walked the two kilometers home in the dark in a daze. At home he took a shower very gingerly. As the black washed away, nothing but very tender pink skin lay underneath. Not even his eye lashes had been spared. He moved out of the round shower stall and rolled the door back into place. He dried himself very carefully and put on some sun-block lotion his mother had given him. He looked in the mirror before leaving the bathroom.
A bright pink face with just two black dots for eyes looked back. Even the skin on his lips had been scoured to match the fuchsia of everything else. Even if he’d originally had freckles, he imagined those would have been blasted away.
He tossed his clothes into the fume cleaner under the sink and pulled the movable wall panel over the corner of the room that was his bathroom. His room was rather chill, so he put on some nice fuzzy flannel plaid pajamas. He pulled his bed down from the wall and turned out the lights. He bumped his leg painfully on the edge of the bed in the dark, but was out within two minutes of his head touching the pillow.
Max dreamed of getting to see those freckles again, this time with the smile he imagined she was hiding.