Author: Chloe Beckett

“There you go sweetheart! All fitted up. How does that feel?” Steam erupted from the gaping holes of the nurse’s nostrils like belching geysers, moistening his cheek as she tightened and clipped.

The prosthetic bulged off the back of his skull, like a tumor weighing his aching head down. He stared at her dully.

She looked over at his case worker. “Doesn’t say much, does he?”

Nancy smiled and shook her head.

The nurse dropped her voice. “Is this the one who thinks…he’s, you know…booga-booga?” she giggled nervously and made a caveman gesture.

Nancy’s smile widened. “It’s just a defense mechanism.”

“Sure, sure.” Her gaze lingered on the back of his skull. “But it is kinda odd, he has almost no occipital bun at all…”

“Malnutrition,” said Nancy.

The nurse nodded curtly and addressed her attention back to the patient. “Your neck muscles may need a little adjustment to the weight, but it’s hollow so it shouldn’t take long.”

His eyes remained far away but she thought she could see a tear forming.

“Well, we’ll check back in a few weeks! You look wonderful, you’re gonna love the new you.”


The new him. The old him had been a normal guy. A normal *Homo sapien*, anyway.

“NORMAL. MAN.” He said pointing at himself. “Work in ‘IT’ at school. Normal. Man.”

Either the Neanderthal dialect was too divergent for her to comprehend, or she didn’t believe someone with such a small cranial capacity could hold down that kind of a job. Either way, she called him Norman, assigned him a position as a bellboy, and granted him a trial period in an assisted independent living facility. Pretty generous, all things considered.

Nancy said his speech shouldn’t be a problem for the job (*so maybe it was his pronunciation*), but he would need to look the part. The pinhead look was too disturbing for people.


He buttoned up his uniform, let out a deep sigh, and clipped on the prosthetic. Immediately his skull dipped backward, and the molded occipital bun ballooned out. He looked in the mirror and was surprised to see a new angle to his expression. It seemed that the bun dipping down made his nose dip up, resulting in a daring look he wasn’t used to in himself. As the IT guy, he had spent most of his time trying not to make eye contact with anyone. *Where did that get me, anyway? Forty-two and still on step three of the pay scale, single and too broke to ask out anyone worth a damn.*


The hotel was surprisingly upscale, and the people surprisingly adorned. Maybe natural selection had gone a different route here, but evidently gold and gems were valuable nonetheless.

He called the old ladies “madame” and they beamed. He offered to bring their bags to their rooms and they cowed. A little eye contact, a flash of the hand, a kiss on the cheek. Maybe he could use the back door to the pay scale this time around.

“Norman! We’re ready for you.”

He smiled at the nurse and stood up. He felt the diamond bracelet from Room 302 tinkle in his prosthetic – *damn, forgot to empty it after my shift.* He held up a finger and glided into the bathroom, depositing the trinket into his pocket. He slipped back out and into the exam room.

“Well hello again, how are you?”

“I’m doing lovely, and you seem to be the same.” There was a sleek sexiness to the curve of her nostrils leading back to her bun that he hadn’t noticed before.