I’ve read enough Batman comics to know that something is afoot in the city by the bay (for some reason, people here don’t like it when it’s called Frisco or San Fran. I’m not sure why; my guess is it’s part of some weird tribal thing). Every night for the past several months, on the exact minute the sun dips below the ocean horizon, I’ve observed men filtering out from their offices, and exchanging words in some weird language that sounds like dog-whimpers. Then they get in a prius or a smart car—always one or the other—and drive west. What the balls is going on?
Tonight, I’ve decided to tail this fleet of arguably emasculated autos. Despite the fact that everything I’ve learned about vehicular surveillance has been gleaned from television, I feel I’ve done a good job as I park several blocks away from the cliffs at Sutro’s, a now-defunct ruin that once utilized the ocean’s waters to flood its swimming pools. It was wrecked by a fire in the middle of the ‘60s, and Satanists have been known to conduct rituals in the nearby caves.
All this is on my mind as I see a legion of mutedly dressed men emerge from their cars and head toward the caves. I trail quietly behind, letting my perception catalogue details about these weirdos. Are they Reptoids? Grays? In the last month I’ve stymied multiple incursion attempts from both races. Based on word off the streets, I don’t think it’s either. This is something new.
These fellas are all men, and they could double as those pasty, gumby-bodied jerkoff hipsters that look right at home in a tech commercial. It’s a bit odd—we all see folks in every day life that edge toward the realm of caricature—but these guys have taken the ball and run with it. I feel as if I’m observing men that would all easily fit within the stifling confines of a kitchenware ad or something along those lines. Unsettling, to put it mildly.
I follow a hundred yards behind the last man, utilizing a custom-modded laser microphone to eavesdrop on these weirdos. They don’t say a thing until they reach the cave; they go to the far back and say one word: “Beta.” Then I hear the same sort of smooth slide you hear when a set of elevator doors open up. After the last pair says it, I wait five minutes and follow behind them.
I walk to the far back, clicking on a mag light and inspecting my surroundings. A little damp from the ocean, which has been known to flood the caves during high tide, but nothing unusual. When I reach the end of the cave, I’m puzzled; nothing there—just a stone wall. None of the men are here either. But maybe…
I say: “Beta.”
Stone slides open, revealing the cave wall to be a cleverly disguised doorway that leads onto a gleaming catwalk. The walkway is ringed by giant, ominous-looking gears and pistons. Bolts of fluorescent light arc through tubes of transparent glass, hissing and spitting. Arcane symbols are writ all across the floors and ceiling.
I make my way forward, carefully assessing my surroundings. At this point the smart thing to do would be to take some pictures and leave so I can figure things out and come back with proper reinforcements, but your favorite author (and perennial Man Child) Kent Wayne has never really been known for being a common sense type o’ guy. I keep moving.
I pass through a series of narrow hallways, clicking my mag light off as I see a flood of illumination from up ahead. There’s a giant open bay, maybe three or four football fields big, with massive stalagmites funneling down from the ceiling. At the opposite end of the bay, there’s a lone figure shouting slogans on a raised platform, which the thousands of men around him repeat with gusto. I slowly walk closer.
The leader is dressed in robes that would make a LARPer proud. Before him is a Great Dane that’s sleeping on its side. The leader places his hands on the dog’s flank, and murmurs something fast and unintelligible. There’s a flash of black light that leaps off his fingers, and the great dane disappears; in its place is a chihuahua. My mouth drops open in horror, and before I can help myself, I yell:
“What the FUCK????”
Thousands of heads turn toward me. After a long second, the leader points a robed arm toward me, index finger extended, and screams, “Beta-males! ATTTTAAAAAAACK!!!”
Holy crow! Beta-males! It all makes sense now!
I turn and start running, chased by a tide of skinny-dicked dorks, all mindlessly intent on trying to come off as awkward fourteen year olds even though some are well into their late thirties or forties. Their demure odes to individuality—a set of hipster-style horn-rimmed glasses, a wonky tie, or that stupid haircut where the sides are shaved and the top is combed and gelled—amass in my eyes as I see the horde reflected off the gleaming surfaces of their inner fortress.
As I race for the cave exit, I see a mechanized blast door descend over the same entrance I’d just used. Curses!
I turn and face a snarling mess of pasty limbs and button-down shirts. They’re screaming at me, throwing a deafening mix of low-grade snark and passive-aggressive political correctness at me. I feel the lack of focus, aggression, and critical thinking shrink my balls into tiny, withered pits. Dark Knight save me, I’m fucking done for…
Only one option left. I open my eReader to Echo. Magic flash.
BOOF. A tub of Optimum Nutrition’s amazingly tasty chocolate-flavored protein arcs through the air and explodes over the heads of the savage nerd-herd. They all start clawing at their skin and voicing hellish, demonic screams. I scrabble out of the cave and punch in a specially-keyed override into my phone that patches me in to the classified Alien Response Strike Team headquartered in Area 51.
“How may I direct your call?”
I breathlessly reply, “I need AC-130 gunships firing on my pos RIGHT NOW!”
“Negative Mr. Wayne; GPS surveillance shows that you’re danger-close. If we start firing, then you could easily be hit by a stray—”
I hold the phone a few inches from my face while I’m running and scream, “THERE ARE BETA-MALES AFTER ME!!!”
On the other end there’s a harsh intake of breath, and I hear the operator say, “Understood. Gun-ships inbound.”
I crawl under a rocky overhang, cover my ears with my palms and open my mouth. A second later, as the horde of beta-males emerge from the cave, they all look up as the drone of engines fills the sky. CHOOM CHOOM CHOOM CHOOM! M61 Vulcan cannons chew up dirt and rock as forearm-sized rounds lace into my attackers. Under-muscled limbs and unnecessarily-spectacled heads go flying everywhere.
Overkill? No F’n way! Beta-males have been known to hoard their aggression and, upon failing to masturbate it away, build inhumane, oppressive regimes that set back the course of human development!
Don’t get caught with your pants down if you end up on the wrong side of a beta-male horde. Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle Vol. 3 on Kindle here: Vol. 3 on Kindle