Red Dahlia by Ross Simon
“I give up,” muttered Cliff in chagrin, and just placed the ever- crying Alise back in her crib. He just decided that the crying would stop soon. In whimsy, he thought, hopefully, it’ll stop, period.
Clifford turned away from the crib to try and go sit back down in exhaustion—but when he did, the crying stopped.
Puzzled, Clifford looked back at little Alise. She just lay there in her crib, on her back, the tears under her eyes already drying away. She was even smiling a tad, it seemed.
Then Cliff heard the cracking, splitting noise.
He looked around quickly, but then—looking back at the baby— he realized it was coming from Alise’s head. What?
Suddenly, to his horror, Cliff indubitably saw that the skin on the top of the baby’s head was splitting open, and coming off, all by itself.
He gasped, choking—and yet, he couldn’t help but watch.
The entire skin of Alise’s head slipped off, with a loud sliding noise, starting to reveal something wet, dark and indistinguish- able beneath. Then the skin came down around her shoulders, just shucking off in wrinkling folds, and as Cliff looked on in mind-bending mortal terror, the dark, wet form slithered out of the skin of his baby daughter.
Next came the skin of the little arms, the torso, and the legs, all in one huge, wrinkling mass. Alise was shedding her skin just like a snake would. Out from the skin was coming this huge, dark, wet lump...
The lump uncurled...and there was Alise herself.
She was now naked, as opposed to the skin that had just come off, which still at least bore a diaper. Alise—now in a fresh skin, while the old one moldered in a heap—just looked up at her father, and smiled.
In a jolt, Clifford suddenly backed away from the crib, hyper- ventilating, going seemingly mad right then and there. With one deep breath in the midst of his hyperventilation, Cliff stopped--
The discarded skin in the crib disintegrated, and melted down into a liquid rather quickly.
Little Alise went peacefully back to sleep.
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