“This word has a few interesting meanings. It connotes a leather covering that conceals or protects something. Esoterically, this refers to the human skin, or human body, that conceals the soul. In Greek the word apoko, means ‘peel away’ or ‘remove,’ as in apoko olemo, or ‘I peel a fruit.’” -Michael Tsarion
The wizard watched a black spot appear on the back of his hand. It spread as if someone had dropped ink. A wisp of smoke untangled itself from the blackened skin and rose toward the mildewed ceiling.
The wizard watched with detachment. Sometimes his magic scraped and sparked along the guardrails. That’s what happened when you pushed things harder, further. Or perhaps he had become imprecise. Either way, he had become more powerful.
He leaned his back against the damp stone wall and closed his eyes. He inhaled sharply, as if from a joint that was about to go out, and his system lit up like the city streets. His feet knocked together. His knobby knees shook. He wore only a pair of soft old trousers, but he didn’t feel the cold room.
“It smells like something’s cooking.” His pupil crouched in front of him, dirty hair hanging in her face.
Students always thought in terms of food. “I’m old,” the wizard told her, without opening his eyes. “Wizards are not at our best when we’re old. We don’t take to it well.”
The pupil watched bubbles run up his exposed calves. His face became a black mask. She didn’t think this was right, but he didn’t like it when she talked. She leaned closer.
The wizard had begun to buzz like a trapped hornet. She did not notice that his hand had become a charred husk so when it exploded, she jumped.
The magic had become visible now. She had never seen it like this, pouring from the stump that had been her master’s arm, spreading and jumping along the floor like half-invisible flame.
This story is part of the Flash Fiction Faction project. You can read the other stories here.