So. If you didn’t know you were hungry for full-bodied alternate dimension dark fiction reinterpretations of Danzig-era Misfits, Weirdpunk Books is here to correct that failure of imagination with the straight-up surrealist mindfuck of Hybrid Moments: A Literary Tribute to The Misfits, featuring fifteen fun, disquieting, extremely extreme stories that raise the “horror” element of “horror punk” to a completely new (and brutal) level.
“The Misfits were the first band I ever fell in love with, so co-editing a short story tribute to their tunes was a no-brainer for me,” the volume’s co-editor MP Johnson — who we previously chatted with here — tells Decibel. “I’ve listened to the songs so much they are hardwired into my DNA. I know them inside and out, but still want more from them. The stories in this book have helped me look at the songs with fresh eyes, and see something I hadn’t before, thanks to a group of seriously talented authors.
“Case in point is ‘Slice-and-Grab’ by Mark Zirbel,” the Wonderland Book Award-winning author/Freak Tension zine proprietor/Weirdpunk Books founder continues. “Mark is one of these authors who has been toiling away in underground fiction for a decade-plus, never really getting the credit he deserves. His writing is tight, and it shows in his riff on the classic Misfits tune ‘Violent World.’ The dystopia he unleashes builds on the insanity imagined by Glenn Danzig back in the day. It’s brutal, but a quick look at some of the selfish, hateful and horrific acts in the news every day reveals it may not be as fantastic as one would like to believe…”
Here, in its entirety, Decibel is pleased to present “Slice-and-Grab”…
By Mark Zirbel
“‘Man-Shark Attack! Woman Loses Leg after Bite from Genetically Altered Boyfriend.’”
I’m on my final hour of a 12-hour stakeout, and Kyle is skimming through the day’s news on his phone. He rattles off headline after headline, never bothering to read the articles. I guess it doesn’t matter.
“‘Woman in Mexico City Gives Birth to Stillborn, Two-headed Baby.’”
“How does that even qualify as news?” I ask. “When was the last time a normal baby was born down there since the meltdown?”
“Come on. You’re only a couple of years out of high school. Didn’t they teach you anything in history class?”
Kyle shrugs, his eyes never leaving his phone.
It’s been brutal sitting in a van with this kid all day. He’s such a dolt – looks like one, too, with that green and purple Mohawk perched atop his head like a peacock. Plus he’s constantly cutting farts in the passenger seat like he’s the only one in here. But what was I supposed to do – turn down a personal request from Gary Hessler? Gary is the top dog in the slice-and- grab game. His office is bigger than my first apartment. He’s just shy of thirty and I call him sir.
A week ago, I was summoned up to the executive suite at Hessler Harvest Inc. When Gary told me to close his office door behind me, I felt my stomach acid begin to churn. I didn’t think he’d can me just 14 months before my retirement, but you never know. In any case, it had to be something serious for Gary to want a private sit-down with me. Thankfully, he got right to the point:
“I need a favor,” he said, appearing slightly cross-eyed as his pupils struggled to focus on me through the chunk of hair dangling into the middle of his face. (I still can’t get used to this new devil’s lock hairdo that today’s hipster professionals are sporting.) “I want you to go out into the field with some of our new recruits.”
I suddenly wished I was getting fired. After a moment of stunned silence, I said, “Seriously? I’ve been riding a desk in Distribution for 20 years.”
“I know, but I’ve heard all the stories. You used to be the best slice-and-grab man in the business, Frank.”
“Kidneys, sir. All we took back then were kidneys — and only one per mark! We had medical training, too. Seven out of ten times, the mark survived a harvest. It’s a different world out there now. The kids doing S&G today are so damned …”
I trailed off, trying to think of a more delicate way of saying insane.
“Fearless!” Gary declared, finishing my sentence for me. “These kids aren’t afraid of anything, and I love them for it. Hell, if it wasn’t for their audacity, we’d be out of business. Remember when that lightweight body armor first hit the market? I thought we were finished for sure. But those slicers of mine just armed themselves with high-powered recip saws and went back to work like it was nothing.”
“So what do you need me for?”
“Because fearlessness goes hand-in- hand with carelessness. Did you hear that Tim Davidson bit it last week?”
“Did you hear how it happened? He was so eager to get cutting that he didn’t notice the armorsuit his mark was wearing was one of those new self-destruct models. The second his blade hit one of the embedded sensors … KABOOM! They were both blown to pieces — tiny pieces! We couldn’t salvage a single body part from either one of them. Not even a goddamn tissue sample. That’s unacceptable!”
“I understand, sir. I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
“To begin with, I want you to spend some time with Kyle Brooks. Kyle is one of the most talented cutters I’ve ever seen — a regular Jack the Ripper — and he has all the best tools at his disposal. But his brain needs some serious sharpening! The kid never slows down — any opportunity comes, he’s making his move. It’s time for him to learn a little discipline from someone like you, Frank — someone who used to go out there with nothing but his moxie and a scalpel.”
So here I am, hiding behind the tinted windows of a van parked on Main Street. The vehicle is basically a high-tech operating room on wheels, but you’d never know from looking at it. The exterior has been disguised to look like a rusted clunker that wouldn’t be worth anyone’s time to steal. Just a precaution – it’s not like there’s anybody around. We’re nearly finished with our stakeout and have yet to see a soul.
People just don’t venture outside that much anymore – especially not in this part of town. There’s nothing to do but watch and wait.
“‘Teenage Experimentation with Cannibalism on the Rise, Study Suggests,’” Kyle says, reciting another headline.
“Christ. Back in my day, they’d lock you in the looney bin for shit like that.”
“How old are you, anyway, Frank?”
“None of your business.”
“You can tell me.”
“I’ll tell you what I tell everybody. I’m old enough to remember when S&G didn’t exist.”
This catches Kyle’s attention, enough so that he actually looks up from his phone.
“What do you mean, didn’t exist?”
“I mean when I was a little kid, there was no slice-and- grab business. Nobody was doing it.”
“But people needed organs back then, didn’t they?”
“Sure. The waiting lists for transplants were miles long.”
“There must’ve been marks walking around all over the place! Nobody sliced them open?”
I let out a heavy sigh. “I don’t know, kid. They just didn’t.”
“That’s the most retarded thing I’ve ever heard,” Kyle says, returning his attention to his phone. Apparently he’s had enough of this conversation. And that’s fine with me because something up the road has caught my eye.
It’s not easy to see with only a handful of functioning streetlights on Main Street. But there’s a full moon out tonight, casting a pale glow over the boarded-up businesses and gangland graffiti, illuminating things just enough for me to spot a pack of Nazi teens three blocks up. They’re heading in our direction, sauntering right down the middle of the empty street.
“Look alive,” I tell Kyle.
“‘Sixth Grade Class Commits Mass Suicide for School Talent Show,’” he replies, lost in the day’s headlines once again.
I give him a rap on the leg to get his attention.
“What the fuck?” he says, glaring at me.
“We’ve got company.”
Kyle turns and looks out the windshield. It takes him a second but then he spots them. “Holy shit!”
We both pull out our night vision binoculars from our flak jackets for a closer look. There are five of them — three guys and two girls — all with shaved heads, of course. The guys are wearing replica SS dress uniforms, their dark suits perfectly starched and pressed. The girls look like demon sluts from hell, gigantic breast implants stretching the limits of their skintight latex bodysuits. They tower over the boys by several inches thanks to their thigh-high platform boots with massive heels.
“No armor – can you believe this?” Kyle asks. “Ready to roll?”
“There’s too many of them.”
“Too many? They’re teenagers, for fuck’s sake!”
I shake my head. “They’re wolverines in suits. Fancy clothes and feral as all get-out. Plus the boys are packing.”
“I don’t see anything.”
“Trust me, they’re packing.”
“Fine, so they have guns. We do too.”
“A shootout, Kyle? Is that really what you want? How many healthy organs are going to be left to harvest if the bullets start flying?”
“There’s no way I’m passing up five marks with no armor. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”
“If you tangle with these punks, you’re not going to live, period. Come on — think for a minute, Kyle! Who walks around at night without carrying pounds? They’re doing all they can to make this look like an easy harvest. They’re trying to draw us into something.”
“Maybe. Or maybe they’re just young, cocky and stupid.”
“Young, cocky and stupid, huh? Are you sure you’re not describing yourself?”
“Fuck you, Frank! Look, you can sit in here like a scared old man if you want — me, I’m going for it.”
Kyle turns away from me and tugs the door handle. Nothing happens. He gives it a harder yank. And then another. Still nothing. He swings around to face me again and I smile.
“Child-safety locks,” I tell him.
“Open the door, Frank.”
The Nazi youths are getting close. We need to be quiet or they’ll hear us. “Zip it,” I tell Kyle.
“Open the goddamned door, Frank!” he shouts.
They’re less than a block away now. Another outburst like that and it’s over. I reach into my coat pocket, pull out my .38 and press its snub nose right against Kyle’s nose. The anger — as well as the color — instantly drains from his face as I cock the hammer. “Shush,” I whisper.
They’re passing right alongside our van, talking and laughing, jostling amongst one another like they’re in a mini mosh pit. I keep my gun mashed into Kyle’s snout while turning to watch them through the driver’s side window. I hold my breath as they move past us. Going … going …
One of the boys stops in his tracks.
He’s staring in my direction … staring hard … staring like he can see me right through the van’s window. But that’s not possible, right? The tint on the glass is 100 percent!
Tinting fades over time, dummy.
“Why the judder, Beanie? You see something you like?” one of the other boys asks.
The one called Beanie continues to look right at me. A smile spreads across his face, revealing a gleaming mouthful of silver-plated teeth. “Fuck yeah! I see something real shivvy!”
We’re made. We have to be, goddamn it. He’s coming closer to the window … just a couple of feet away now. For the first time, I notice the long, silver-colored nail extensions on his fingers. No, wait … not extensions. They’re implants. The tips of his fingers are fucking knife blades!
Stay cool. Don’t make a move unless you’re positive the jig is up. Until then, keep your gun trained on Kyle. Keep that fucker quiet.
Beanie is reaching into his coat with one of his razor-sharp claws. I knew they were packing! Okay, this is it … be ready. His hand is coming back out. He’s got …
Jesus Christ. I don’t believe this. He doesn’t see us. The narcissistic little Nazi fucker has been looking at his reflection in the window! He continues to check himself out as he purses his lips and applies a liberal amount of high-gloss color. “Tell me something, boys. Why did I have to be born so damned pretty?” he asks.
His crew bursts out laughing and then they’re all on their way. I watch them through the rearview mirror as they walk another block down Main. When they turn onto a cross street, I finally remove my gun from Kyle’s face. I expect him to go ballistic, but instead, he just stares out the windshield. We sit in silence for nearly five minutes before he speaks. He still doesn’t look at me, though.
“Mr. Hessler is going to hear all about this, Frank. And I’m not just talking about you pulling a gun on me. I’m talking about you blowing our chance at scoring five sets of young, healthy organs.”
“We couldn’t have taken all five of them. Did you see the hooks on that punk? Plus, for all we know, they had guns.”
“Keep telling yourself that, Frank. Maybe you’ll sound a little more convinced after you go over it a few more times.”
He’s right, goddamn it. I was supposed to teach him self-control, but I played it too cautious. We could’ve hauled in the girls, at least — no way they were running very far in those heels. Hell, the boys probably would’ve just given them up and hightailed it out of here. I’ve been sitting behind a desk for too long. I panicked and made the wrong call.
“I bet you get fired for this, Frank. Heck, I bet they take your pension, too. Why don’t we call Mr. Hessler and see what he thinks?” Kyle asks, waving his phone at me as a taunt.
“Turn it off, kid,” I warn him.
“I’ve got his private number, you know. What about you, Frank? You’ve been with the company for a gazillion years. Do you have his private number? I bet not.”
“I mean it, Kyle. Turn off your phone.”
He begins scrolling through his contacts. “Let’s see … Hessler … Hessler … Ah, here he is! Now we’ll find out if he – ”
My scalpel severs Kyle’s carotid artery before he even knows what’s happened.
Kyle’s blood is gushing into his lap as he gasps and clutches at his throat. But me, I’m perfectly calm. Now that the cutting has begun, I’m back in my element. It feels like I never left the field — no more doubts, no more hesitation.
I drag Kyle into the back of the van and lay him down on the operating table. He’s twitching a bit, but most of the life has already drained out of him. I can tell from the ripe stench that he’s shit himself, but it doesn’t faze me. The scalpel feels steady in my hand as I cut away his shirt and get to work. Within 30 minutes, I’ve removed his kidneys, heart, lungs, liver and pancreas. Beautiful choice cuts, all of them. I inject each organ with a preservation solution before packing them into individual, ice- cooled containers. After that, there’s nothing left to do but call Dispatch.
“Agent 10341 reporting in,” I say into the hand-held radio. “Requesting immediate pickup at 8th and Main. One full set of organs. Male, early twenties.”
“Copy that,” comes the static-garbled reply. “Stand by for air med evac. Estimated arrival: 14 minutes.”
The back of the van is a fucking mess – blood gurgling through the metal grates of the kill floor – so I return to the driver’s seat to wait for the chopper. Before it gets here, I should come up with some kind of explanation for all of this. Here’s what I’m thinking: I dozed off during our stakeout and woke up to discover Kyle trying to harvest me. I fought him off and harvested him instead. Yeah, the bozos in Human Resources will probably buy that. But Gary won’t. He’ll see right through any bullshit story I cook up. I’m still better off than I would’ve been returning to the office empty-handed with Kyle blabbing about how I cost us a major payday. But that doesn’t mean I’m out of the woods.
And then I see her.
She’s walking up the block fast — real fast, like she knows she shouldn’t be outside, but she decided to go out anyway for some crazy, stupid reason, and now she’s trying to get where she’s going before something bad happens. She moves with an odd sort of waddle, and I feel a lightheaded rush of adrenaline when I suddenly realize what’s causing her to walk that way. My god … did she seriously think nobody would notice? This broad is no ordinary mark — she’s a fucking jackpot!
This’ll be a big enough score that Gary won’t even care that his golden boy slicer is dead. Hell, I’m going to go down as the best goddamn S&G man this business has ever seen!
I pick up the radio again, forcing myself to speak slowly and clearly despite my excitement.
“This is Agent 10341 calling with a revised status. Please advise air med that I’ll have two sets of organs for pickup. The second set is coming from a female, early thirties. All the usual parts.
“Plus a fetus.”