The newest anthology from Weirdpunk Books, Hybrid Moments: A literary tribute to The Misfits, is out in paperback now. My story, Exterminate the Whole Human Race, based on the song Astro Zombies is in it, which I am extremely excited about.
Originally, when Weirdpunk Books put out the submissions call, I chose to write a story based on the song We are 138. I read somewhere that when Glenn Danzig was asked what the song was about, he said it’s about violence. So that was the basis for my story. The problem became that I am a procrastinator. As usual with me I started the story and then let it sit for a while. Eventually the guys at Weirdpunk Books put out a statement saying that were seeing too many submissions based off of certain songs, and of course We are 138 was one of them. They suggested using other songs if you really wanted to be accepted. So I decided I needed to do something different. After listening to countless Misfits songs for a while, I settled on Astro Zombies, which was a good thing since they liked it. I’ll never know if I had finished my We are 138 story in time if they would have liked it, or if i would have been rejected and blew my shot at scoring a spot in this sweet anthology.
But, I did go ahead and finish the story. Here it is to read free of charge, I present you with You Are 138. Read the story if you like, and then look into buying Hybrid Moments: A Literary Tribute to The Misfits on paperback here on amazon.
You Are 138
By: Matthew Vaughn
It was weird enough to Sean when he saw the group of four guys that all looked the same. They looked like the project mayhem people from the movie Fight Club. All of them had shaved heads, were dressed in black, and had on black combat boots.
Sean hoped they didn’t act the same as the guys in the movie, he didn’t want trouble, he just wanted to get home and drink some beer.
Thinking maybe he should cross the street, just to be safe, Sean glanced behind him and saw another group of guys that looked exactly the same as the first group.
Was this some kind of gathering he hadn’t heard about? Sean wondered. He felt even more sure that he should get across the street now, these two groups coming toward him from opposite sides were making him nervous.
Not bothering with going to a crosswalk, Sean tucked some of his stringy long hair behind his ear and looked both ways for cars. He put one foot out to walk when he saw the large group across the street.
There had to be twenty or thirty guys, all identical to the two smaller groups on the same side of the road as him. Shaved heads, dressed all in black, and wearing combat boots.
Sean looked back to the two smaller groups, were they looking at him? He told himself he was just imagining things. They were probably just all meeting up for a march or something.
Not sure what the best thing to do was, Sean decided to take his chances with the smallest group. He figured he could walk right past them and cut right down the nearest side street.
Sean kept his head down, that made him feel the safest.
“Hey,” one of the guys said. Sean ignored him. “Hey man, I wanna talk to you.”
Sean sped up his pace as he passed the group. One of them tried to grab his arm, but Sean shrugged him off and started running. He could hear their footsteps and their shouts behind him. As he rounded the corner of the first street he came to, he glanced back and saw them coming after him, all of them.
Running wasn’t something Sean had done a lot in life, well, since he was a kid anyway. He pumped his arms and legs like crazy, but it sounded like they were gaining on him. It wouldn’t take long before he was hurting too much to keep going, and then they would be all over him.
Chancing another look back, Sean couldn’t believe how big the group was that was chasing him. Was there more than before, if so, where did they keep coming from? He thought to himself. When he turned back around he realized he had made a mistake. There were more in front of him.
He looked for a way around them when an arm came out of nowhere and clothes-lined him. He hit hard, and was flung to the ground, his head hitting the concrete and everything going black.
Sean woke up what he thought was seconds later. He was in pain, and the pain kept coming. He had his eyes closed tight , but he could feel people were punching and kicking him, he thought for sure he was going to die. Everything stopped abruptly. Sean opened his eyes and the sun was blinding him. A face blocked out that sun, a face with a pissed off look and on a shaved head.
“You better get your ass up and start fighting back, or you’re going to get killed!” the face said.
Too much information was being forced on Sean’s just awakened brain and he was having trouble processing it all. He looked all around him, there were people everywhere. He saw a lot of the shaved headed guys, but they weren’t attacking him, they appeared to be fighting a different group of people.
Sean stood up and was immediately punched in the mouth. He tasted blood and spit it out. The guy that punched him swung again and Sean ducked. He barely avoided being hit again. Sean didn’t know how to fight, but his instincts took over and he charged the guy. He speared him in his stomach and they both hit the ground and rolled. The guy flipped them around so he was on top of Sean. Before he could get a punch in, a boot came out of nowhere and connected with the guys skull, sending him tumbling off Sean.
“Come on man, let’s go!”the guy who supplied the kick said. Sean looked at him, another shaved head, and looked at the man’s outstretched hand. Everything was so confusing, wasn’t this one of the guys who were beating him up?
Sean took the man’s hand and the guy lifted him to his feet.
“Thanks,” Sean said. The man nodded, then ran and dove into a group that was a mixture of the shaved head, fight club guys and what looked like random, ordinary people.
Trying his best to dodge people and not get hit anymore, Sean made his way to the nearest wall and put his back to it. He watched as what looked like a couple hundred guys tried their best to beat the shit out of each other.
The fighting didn’t last much longer before the random looking people started to run away, and the shaved head guys began to cheer and throw their arms up in victory.
Sirens were coming from not too far away. The guys with the shaved heads began to disperse. Sean was thinking about trying to sneak away when one of the guys grabbed him by his shirt.
“Come on One Thirty Eight, let’s get out of here,” the guy said. He pulled Sean a long behind him, but Sean resisted.
“I’m not going anywhere with you!” Sean said. He fought the guys hand off his shirt.
“Come on man, we have to go!” the guy said to him.
“What’s going on over here Seventy Seven?” another shaved head, black clad man said as he walked up to the two men.
“One Thirty Eight doesn’t want to go, One, he’s resisting me,” Seventy Seven said.
“What’s going on One Thirty Eight? We need to get out of here before the cops show up,” One said.
“Why do you keep calling me One Thirty Eight? My name is Sean!” he screamed at them. “Leave me alone, I don’t belong here!”
“You are one of us now. I am One, and you are One Thirty Eight,” One said to him. He turned to Seventy Seven. “He’s rejecting his programming.”
“My what…?” Sean started to say, when One grabbed him and flipped him around. He slammed Sean’s face into the large window front of the building they were at.
“You are one of us, look for yourself,” One said.
Sean’s face was being smashed into the window, so One let up enough for him to see his reflection. He almost didn’t recognize himself. His long, brown hair was gone, instead his head was shaved like the other two guys. He was dressed identical to them also, all in black with black combat boots, project mayhem style.
“No,” he said.
“Bag him,” One said.
Sean saw the one called Seventy Seven’s reflection appear next to his, and a brown bag come up, then go over his head.
Pain, that was what woke Sean for the second time in what felt like the same day. Pain exploded in his head, again and again. Deep inside himself, Sean realized it wasn’t in his head, but on his head. He opened his eyes, but only the lid to one eye moved. He looked up and saw a fist barreling towards him.
“Stop, he’s awake,” he heard a familiar voice say. The fist stopped before it connected with his face and then disappeared from Sean’s sight. A familiar face replaced it, it was the guy called One.
“I’m glad to see you’re awake One Thirty Eight,” One said. “Tell me, how do you feel?”
Sean’s mouth felt all swollen, and he didn’t think he had the energy to talk, but he tried anyway.
“I feel like somebody has been kicking my ass, what do you think?” Sean was surprised at how good he sounded when he talked.
“Really?” One asked. “Think about it for a second, how do you actually feel?”
What the fuck kind of drugs is this guy on? Sean thought to himself. He started to say something, then realized his mouth wasn’t swollen after all. And was he seeing out of both of his eyes? But one had just been swollen shut, right?
Wanting to touch his face, Sean tried raising his hands but they were stopped by hand cuffs securing him to the chair he sat in.
“Yeah, sorry about the restraints, but there’s a certain level of trust that we need from you and we’re just not there yet,” One said.
“What the fuck is going on here? What do you people want?” Sean said as he pulled against his restraints.
“Well, the second question is an easier answer than the first,” One said. He backed up from Sean and began to pace back and forth in front of him.
“What we want is simple. You, you are what we want. We need you, more specifically we needed a number One Thirty Eight, and we choose you.”
“Chose me? For what, what is all this?” Sean asked.
“This?” One asked as he spread out his arms and turned, slowly, three hundred and sixty degrees. Sean looked around at all the men standing around, they were almost identical. Dressed in all black, their heads shaved to the five O’clock shadow stubble. It’s exactly what Sean looked like in the window reflection. “We are an army of one hundred and thirty eight. When one of us falls, we are replaced. And we are all replaceable. I won’t be here forever, and then there will need to be a new number one.”
“This is freaking insane!” Sean yelled. He fought hard to pull his hands free, but it was pointless. “You kidnapped me and shaved my head to make me look like you all, and for what?”
“You will understand all of it, once your programming is complete.”
“You keep saying programming, it makes me think of robots or something. Are you trying to condition me for something?”
“No, you are one hundred percent right. Programming your robotic mind. We transferred your conscientiousness into an androids body. You are no longer human,” One said.
“That’s absurd!” Sean screamed.
“Is it? Why do you think you can get beat on and not bruise, or swell? You think you do, because the part of your brain that believes you are human and interprets the physical assault on your body into feelings of pain and distress.”
Sean looked at him, and looked around at the others. They were all some insane cult, he thought to himself. They were going to sacrifice him, or force him into a mass suicide or something.
“Still, I don’t understand . Why, what is all this for?” Sean asked. One shrugged.
“It’s all about violence,” he said. He nodded to someone on Sean’s right. Sean turned his head and saw a boot coming for his face. There was nothing he could do but brace for impact.
The boot connected square in the center of his face. Sean heard his nose crunch, felt his nose fold over. Then the boot came again, and again. He didn’t care what kind of crazy shit One was telling him, it was painful. He expected to pass out, but another kick never came. He opened his eyes.
In front of him was a man in a business suit. He was on his knees, arms up trying to cover his face, but Sean could tell the man was bleeding form his nose and mouth, and tears were running down his cheeks.
“Hit him again, what are you waiting for?” someone yelled from behind him. That’s when Sean realized he had his arm drawn back, his hand in a fist, ready to bring it down on someone. This man obviously. Then it happened, before he could stop it, his fist flew through the air and in-between the man’s hands.
The man’s nose exploded with blood and his head flew backwards , his body followed suit until he was splayed out on his back.
“Way to go One Thirty Eight!” someone shouted.
Sean turned around and was surprised to see he was in a bank. All the other shaved heads were there. They had people on the ground, people who looked to have been beaten up. Some of the guys had axes and sledge hammers and were destroying desks and counters. It was like chaos. People were screaming and crying, the shaved heads were shouting and acting jacked up.
Looking at the violence, the man in the suit on the ground and in obvious pain, pain that Sean caused. He didn’t understand, how did he get here? What were they doing, robbing this bank?
“Here, take this,” a shaved head said. He was holding out a sledge hammer. “Destroy some shit.”
Sean took the hammer, it was heavier than it looked. He looked at the man, who smiled and nodded at him.
“Are we robbing a bank?” Sean asked the man. The man stopped smiling, a sour expression crept onto his face.
“No, were just destroying it.” He turned away from Sean, who watched him walk over to another man, a man he recognized as One.
“One minute warning!” someone in the room yelled. Sean looked around the room again, unsure exactly what he needed to do. Maybe he should just run for it? These crazy men would probably just chase him down again.
“Use the sledge and smash something,” a voice said from behind Sean, it was so close he could feel the hot breath on the side of his head. Sean turned to face One.
“Do it One Thirty Eight. You’re still fighting the programming. Just open up. Swing the hammer on something, smash and destroy. Let go of everything and just be in the moment,” One said to him.
Lifting the heavy tool up felt both wrong and right to Sean. It’s true, he was fighting it internally. He knew the unnecessary violence and destruction was wrong, it wasn’t who he was. But they had done something to him, made him more than human. He was the eyes of the dragon, and now there was an urge, this itch that needed to be scratched.
He looked at One, his smiling face and nodding head. Finally, Sean let go and swung the hefty sledge hammer. It connected with One, directly in the face. One’s nose exploded, blood and teeth flew from his face as he flew backwards, away from Sean.
One stood up, Sean couldn’t believe it. His face was a distorted mess. He smiled a toothless grin that was the scariest thing Sean had ever seen.
“Thirty second warning!” a voice cried. It was like it was the gun shot at the start of a race. One took off barreling toward Sean. Without realizing he was doing it, Sean had the hammer up and swinging. The tool and One collided, and the man was sent flying back again. This time, Sean didn’t wait for One to get back up. He went to him, and slammed the hammer down, over and over. Sean felt alive, some primal part of him had taken over, and he went where it told him to.
“Time! We’ve got to go!” the voice yelled. All of the shaved heads began to file out of the bank.
Sean stood looking at the mess that used to be One. He was a bloody mess, a pile of hamburger, bruised and mashed on the floor. A hand on Sean’s arm pulled him back to reality.
“One Thirty Eight, let’s go,” the man said. Sean looked at him, then nodded.
Thomas was thrilled to be off work for the weekend. He practically skipped out of the door of work. It was friday afternoon, not quite late enough to say evening. As per his usual routine, Thomas planned on stopping by the bar around the corner.
After turning the first corner, Thomas walked about a block when he saw a guy with a shaved head and dressed in solid black, standing in front of an alley that sat between two buildings. He only noticed the man because he had been seeing more and more people dressed like that recently, like it’s some new fad.
“Hey bud,” the guy said as Thomas got near him. “Can I ask you a question?”
Before either of them said another word, someone grabbed Thomas from behind and pushed him into alley. He was thrown to the ground on his stomach. He wasn’t really a fighter, but he knew enough to know that he was in a vulnerable position. He quickly flipped over and saw that he was surrounded by a ton of guys that looked identical. They were all dressed completely in black, and they had their heads shaved.
“Wha…what is this? What’s going on?” Thomas asked. He scooted backwards across the ground until his back was against a wall.
One of the men reached down and picked him up. He thought it was the one that had wanted to ask him a question. The man had Thomas’ shirt bunched up in his fists as he shoved Thomas against the wall.
“We need a new number one,” the man said.
“What does that even mean?” Thomas asked.
“One Seventeen!” the man shouted, confusing Thomas even more. Another guy, almost identical, stepped forward.
“Yeah One Thirty Eight?” the man asked.
“He’ll do just fine, bag him,” One Thirty Eight said.