Out of the Shell

"Jimmy, you're going to summer camp!," declared his mother with finality. "It will help you get out of your shell!"

Jimmy really didn't want to go to summer camp, however. Why should he abandon his private room, air conditioning, and computer for the questionable company of a bunch of early adolescent guys in a bug-infested quagmire? They should pay him to go to such a place, not his parents the camp! Jimmy thought that you were supposed to enjoy yourself over summer vacation, not suffer deprivation and hardship.

"But Mom!," protested Jimmy in vain.

"No buts!," snapped his mother. "You should be grateful that we're sending you to Camp El-Wa-Ho. You'll get to do neat crafts and ride horses. Plus you need to get away from home and toughen up a bit. It will do you good to learn how to get along with others!"

Jeez, couldn't she just pull my fingernails out with pliers?, thought Jimmy. He didn't really play well with others, and had a gut feeling that summer camp would be two weeks of unrelenting hell. Time would prove Jimmy all too right. Camp El-Wa-Ho demonstrated itself to be hot, primitive, and staffed by sadistic counselors who hated kids. His fellow campers were no better, tormenting Jimmy as the weakest and most different kid in his cabin. The toilets were primitive outhouses, and the food could barely be stomached.

"Can I come home, please?," pleaded Jimmy during parental visitation day.

His mother shot daggers at Jimmy in reply. "You know the answer to that one!," she shot back roughly. "There are lots of boys and girls your age that would be thrilled for the opportunity to be out in nature like you are!" In reality, Jimmy's mother was glad to be rid of the little wimp for 14 blessed days.

Jimmy glumly continued to lace up a leather bookmark that he was required to make, not that he would ever use it. He resigned himself to endure the primitive conditions and horrendous company for the remainder of the two weeks. His cabin mates short-sheeted his bed, put bugs in his ears as he slept, called him faggot and fairy, and tripped him whenever opportunity presented itself. All of this Jimmy endured with the patience of Job, figuring that his sufferings would in time end. His cabin mates went a bit too far, however, when they pulled his pants down during a visitation by the girls from a sister camp across the late.

It only took Jimmy a few seconds to pull his pants back up, but the damage had been done. His face red with shame and humiliation, Jimmy realized that everyone...the boys, the girls, and even the counselors...were laughing at him! The scene seemed to spin around strangely in Jimmy's head as his eyes passed from one laughing face to another. Even the cute little blonde-haired girl who Jimmy had hoped would talk to him was laughing!

There was a strange, wet tearing sound as Jimmy began a terrible metamorphasis and began to emerge from his shell...his human shell, that is. Skin stretched tight and then split along the length of Jimmy's back, revealing the shiny reddish-black irridescence of a reptilian hide. His mouth gaped wide and cracked open as a lengthy, lizard tongue flicked forth from the ruins of what scarce moments ago had been a boy's face. He thrashed his head violently from side to side, the human face peeling off like a rubber Halloween mask. A strange howling sound emerged from Jimmy's throat as he regarded claws emerging from the tips of his fingers, the flesh of the human appendages rending and parting aside in favor of the emerging new creation.

None of his mockers were laughing now; they had transitioned from stunned disbelief to utter horror at the sight of the transformation occurring before their eyes, one which caused reason to flee as the campers took panicked flight in dozens of different directions. Shedding the remnants of his tattered human skin as a snake does, Jimmy stood on four powerful limbs and leaped on first one and then another of his human tormentors, knocking them down with his weight, claws finding purchase on human flesh as reptilian jaws closed on vulnerable necks and silenced screams. Jimmy was a most efficient predator, targeting only his camp counselor and those of his cabin who had tormented him. Within minutes the carnage was complete, blood mixing with mud as flies buzzed above in the sweltering August heat.

Returning home in his reptilian form, Jimmy was greeted at the door by his father, who far from being surprised at the transformation smiled broadly. "Looks like my little boy has grown up!," he declared.

His mother beckoned him to the dinner table, shoving a jar full of meal worms in his direction. "See, Jimmy, I told you it would be good for you to get out of your shell a bit!," she admonished.

Jimmy scooped up a large mass of the writhing meal worms in his clawed hand and dumped them in his mouth, crunching down happily. He guessed that Mom and Dad weren't really as bad as he had thought after all...