Lethal: A Fanfic from The Purge Universe

“You must be tired,” said the guy in the doorway.

“Yeah.”

“Pretty soon you’ll be back in your house.”

“Yeah.”

“I won’t say no more.”

I don’t answer. The guy creeps me the fuck out.

I unload my clothes from the dryer — hot like they’d been in the desert — stuff them all into the hamper, load them into the backseat of my car and go home.

Tonight’s Purge night. Sun’s almost down. Gotta stay in.

I’ve never participated in Purging before. Never hated anyone enough to do it. I keep a revolver next to my bed, have extra locks on my doors and windows, but that’s it. Everyone has some sort of way to defend themselves, although like everything else it seems like nothing actually happens to me. I hear about things through the screens I look at, but my own reality is just as banal and routine as I am.

This guy at the laundromat is making me consider it. I don’t know his name. He’s just Laundromat guy to me. He’s got an underbite, small beady eyes, broad shoulders, almost like a joke like in that Kanye & Lil Pump video.

He looks weird, stares at you, stares at me, stares at the girls. He’d probably be dismissed as harmless if you ever pointed him out to someone, but I can sense an underlying aggression there. Something sinister. Maybe it’s just me. But I don’t know. I felt it the moment I laid eyes on him.

Maybe he’s just mentally ill or impaired. I try not to judge, but I’ve been going there for months now and every time is the same. He’s always there, and he’s always fucking creepy and it pisses me off.

I can deal with a lot of creepy people. Creepy people are everywhere. But this guy makes my skin crawl. There’s something about him that just makes me want to destroy him.

He tries talking to customers at the laundromat. Small talk. Bullshit. No one wants to talk to him. They give him short, curt answers like I was when he was trying to talk to me earlier while he stood in the doorway. He doesn’t seem to get social cues. Like, we don’t want you to talk to us. Go away. We’re at the fucking laundromat. We just want to wash our clothes and go home.

Earlier, while I was putting my clothes in the washer, I listened to him talk to a guy unloading his own clothes from the dryer. The guy was telling him about this steak restaurant he want to with his girlfriend for their anniversary. He clearly didn’t want to be talking to the guy but was too polite to make that obvious. He was a fat soy boy, with a beard and glasses and everything.

“Did you dress up?” the laundromat guy asks. He licks his lips and his eyes aren’t blinking.

The guy finally has had enough, mumbles, “Uh, no, it’s not that kind of restaurant,” finishes his shit and gets the fuck out of dodge.

Laundromat guy goes back to his desk and sits there, staring at the vending machines.

I know the guy is lonely. I know he probably is just looking for someone to share existence with like the rest of us. But for some reason, my revulsion turns into something else.

I’d be doing this guy a favor, I think. Putting him out of his misery and everyone else’s. Some people just don’t fit.

I’ll go home and think about it.

I drive home and dump my clean clothes into my laundry basket. I might sort and fold them later, I might not.

I watch the new Gorillaz video on YouTube. The chorus goes,

Do you look like me, do you feel like me

Do you turn into your effigy tonight?

I think about how some people are just cool and others are just not. Some are just waste. So much carbon waste, just mucking up the planet and taking up space.

I decide to go down to the laundromat. It’s only a block. In the three years I’ve lived her I’ve never come across anyone trying to purge. But you never know who goes to purge and who doesn’t. I’ve never been invited, never known anyone who talks about it.

I don’t take my car. I walk, sticking to the darkness. I bring the revolver. There is a sick little thrill to all of this. I figure I’ll just go down there and see the lights are off and the guy’s gone and sneak back home. If I hear purgers, I’ll leave.

But as I round the car wash next to the laundromat, I see the lights are still on. The Coin Laundry red letters are still on. It still looks open. The front door is even open.

I see the guy behind the desk. He’s reading a magazine and wearing sunglasses for some reason.

I consider my actions.

Do I want to do this?

It’s legal. The only thing that would suck is if I missed. I fire this thing once a month, gotta keep up on my aim, so I’m confident I can get a shot in. I can’t believe I’m considering this.

I realized I’ve snuck up to the laundromat window, look through. He’s got his back to me. The flourescence of the laundromat seems like its screaming to the world, Here I am, easy target!

There’s something too easy about this. I feel like veteran purgers wouldn’t trust this. In hindsight, I’ll realize the simplest explanation is the most logical — the guy was used to being invisible, so he didn’t think he’d need to do anything to protect himself. He’d probably never really had to.

But something about him just makes me want to cease his existence. Something tells me it’s what he wants, too. The revulsion is there, bubbling at the base of my brain. It turns lethal.

I click the hammer back. The noise is louder than I expected.

The guy whips around so fast the sunglasses fly off his head. I hear them clatter to the floor.

He drops his magazine — an Entertainment Weekly — and stands up.

I stay crouching, but I’m caught.

He comes out the door, sees me.

I point the gun and fire at him. I don’t even think about it.

The bullet blows a chunk of his shoulder off. I see it go flying. I use hollow points.

He claps a hand to it, looks at me surprised and I’m shocked to find that my inner human instinct has kicked in because I feel terrible. That awful gut-feeling of, “Oh no, you’re really hurt,” followed by, “Oh, no, you’re really hurt because of me.”

He just stands there with his hand over his shoulder and blood is soaking his shirt now. Neither of us say anything.

I don’t know what to do. So I shoot him again. Twice. In the chest.

The gun roars.

As soon as the echoes from my shots dissipate, I can hear yipping in the distance, revving motors. Purgers. They’re attracted by the gunfire. They want to join the party.

I should’ve thought this through.

The laundromat guy goes to his knees to the sidewalk. Blood trickles on the pavement like an oil leak.

He’s looking at me and to my utter surprise he doesn’t look angry or defiant like when a villain in a movie dies. He doesn’t make me feel relieved that I got rid of something dangerous and evil. He looks both shocked and sad. He’s got this, Why would you do that? look on his face. It reminds me of a child. I’ve never been hurt before, why would you hurt me?

I don’t know why, I think. Something about you just creeps me out.

He falls forward, faceplants on the cement and the sound is the worst thing I’ve ever heard.

All at once it hits me.

I just fucked up.

This feels awful. I feel awful right now.

The guy’s grey hair is bristling up off his skull. I feel high, almost like I’m tripping. I feel like I can count every grey hair on the guy’s head, every little pebble in the cement.

I run home, and the night invades my lungs and turns my blood to freezing ink.

I hear the purgers go by in their joyrides seconds after I lock my door. They don’t stop. They must not see the guy’s body. Or maybe they don’t care.

I put the gun away in the drawer next to my bed and sob myself to sleep. I keep seeing the guy’s sad child eyes. Why would you do this?

Something about you just creeps me out, I think, and it’s not an adequate answer.

The gun was so fucking loud. My head rings with adrenaline and I can’t sleep or stop crying. I think about the soy boy from earlier, how I’d taken in his fat gut and his math teacher glasses and his scruffy, untrimmed beard and listened to him talk in a church voice about his probably-boring marriage. Who the fuck was I to judge that guy? Who was I to judge anyone?

The chorus to that Gorillaz song burns into every crevice of my brain.

Do you look like me, do you feel like me

Do you turn into your effigy tonight?

A lot of people purge because of jealousy or envy or wrath or just because they like the idea of power. I’m an average person. I don’t care about any of that. I’m very aware of my unworthiness and my unimportance. I just want to get through life with as little hassle as possible.

I think about the visceral reaction I had to the old guy who was now lying dead on the sidewalk in front of the laundromat. I’d see him and just feel this deep internal revulsion. Utterly repellent. I can’t even compare it to when I see a rat or a snake or a wasp’s nest or something. At least with those things they’re animals. This was deeper. Maybe it’s because the guy is (was) a human and self-aware. He should’ve sensed the response he got from people and done something to change it. But he didn’t, for whatever reason. Instead I’d killed him. I could never change that.

That’s what struck me, the permanence of it. The instant, “Oh, I’m sorry!” feeling I got when he clapped his hand over his shoulder and I saw the chunk of shoulder-meat go flying off to splat on the parking lot somewhere. The trippy headbuzz I got when I finished him off and blew two more holes in his ribcage. Despite my outer feelings of repulsion and irrational hate, my deeper feelings were still ones of connection as a fellow living, sentient being.

Do you look like me, do you feel like me

Do you turn into your effigy?

I’ll think about this forever. I’ll live with this whim forever.

I finally drift off around one or two in the morning. I dream about fluorescent lights and distant roars, and a lonely figure sitting on a bench alongside a night road, as if waiting for something or someone to come take them away.