Project Monarch: 404

angelsI was at the high school dance. Waste of an evening. I mean, I wouldn’t have even considered going to something like this. It was embarrassing. But I knew she’d be there. I spent the whole night wishing I could get closer to her. Excuses to brush by, to look just a moment more. I didn’t want to be creepy. I wanted to be her friend.

And then the song started. You know the one. “You spin me right round baby, right round.”

Cheesy shit but we can all dance ironically. That makes it safer somehow.

Yeah I, I got to know your name. Well and I, could trace your private number baby. Amber. That was her name. Different hair color every week it seemed. Different piercings and tattoos. Same eyes. Nothing could change them. I wanted to.

So I stood in the corner. Gibberish numbers were bouncing around in my head, blocking everything else out. They seemed to come from the music but compound themselves, a feedback loop of infinite proportions. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, …

She turned to look at me when the words “Watch out, here I come” seemed to blow the eardrums out of my cheap skull.

21, 34… ACTIVATE LEVEL 5.

Something horrible happened. A snake slithered through my intestines and wrapped its coils like a vice-around my brain, and it squeezed, squeezed, squeezed. The juices in my pineal gland squirted all over my shoes. I fell to the ground, crying, vomiting, shitting myself. Everyone around me looked on in terror, but the music kept playing.

—You keep spinning me right round baby, right round—

I dragged myself to my feet, staggered and convulsed. Reaching out for someone to for FUCK’S SAKE, HELP ME, and froze. Amber stood with her back slightly to me. On her shoulder, a butterfly. She saw what was happening to me but didn’t react like the others. She knew. A monarch butterfly. The music was triggering something in me. I had read about this somewhere. Project Monarch. CIA operatives. Was I a—? No.

Like that the switch flipped. Fzzzzt. Static tingle in my extremities. Click. Splice tape. All rules of reality moved tangentially to themselves, and suddenly I knew exactly who I had to kill and why. In another moment they would have me. Everything I’d believed, who my parents were, where I was raised, all of it was an implanted lie. I was a device, an automaton, with one horrific purpose.

My bladder released, as if heeding the call of whoever had programmed me in the first place. RELEASE, RELEASE, RELEASE, the order echoed through my body as if from a loudspeaker, and every system in my body took it altogether too literally. Release! My eyes screamed, evacuating tears and mucous. Release! My stomach said, disgorging thick splashes of stomach acid. Release! Release!

“You fuckers won’t take me alive!” I screamed, knocking over the punch bowl, bunching up the stained tablecloth and throwing it at the shrieking Field Hockey girls that were clustering in that part of the room like catty, horny squirrels.

I got to my feet, and shambled toward an open window, leaving a trail of shit, semen, and urine behind me. The music stopped when I reached the window. I could hear a commotion behind me—the school authorities had finally realized something wasn’t right. The cool air lingered over my face, a final beatific moment, respite from the sweaty pig pen that had been my invented life.

And I turned to see her, the last face I would see. She gave an indifferent shrug and took a drag on the smoke she had illicitly brought into the auditorium.

My body broke like bird bones in a cat’s mouth.

—-

Did you hear about Jimmy, man?

No, why?

You didn’t hear about fucking Jimmy! Dude! He shat all over himself – this is at the senior dance, too, right, everyone looking right at him as he gets covered in this mess of butt pudding—and he screamed along to the lyrics YOU SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND BABY RIGHT ROUND, I mean every word, screaming along and then-

You’re really freaking me out.

You should have fucking been there. Jimmy soiled himself, and projectile vomited the whole way to the window, and you’re telling me about freaking? At the window he screamed YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE and then? Took a header for the concrete.

It’s only two stories.

Fine, then you jump out the window face first and tell me—

—Whatever. So is that why he wasn’t in Gym today?

Uh, yeah. Dude. He’s fucking dead.

Hm. Guess I don’t have to give back his PSP, then.

Yeah. Anyway, fucked up about Jimmy, huh?

I guess. Come on, let’s get out of here.

 

From the 404 Documents, excerpted from Party At The World’s End with permission. 

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They'll really publish anyone these days won't they?
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