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Home / Fan Fiction / Fight Club / Animal Instincts

DISCLAIMER: The following story is a non-profit, amateur effort not intended to infringe on the rights of the original copyright holders, whoever the @#$% the copyright holders of Fight Club actually are. I make no claims on said copyrights. This is all in fun, try not to panic.

Fight Club: Animal Instincts
by: The Brat Queen

Rating: Pretty PG all things considered.
Warning: I'm doing The Narrator's voice as it appears in the book. Do not read if under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It goes without saying he's a bit of a strange bird.
Notes: There's a small homage to Steven Wright and The Young Ones in here. Couldn't help it, it seemed appropriate.

This is how Tyler and I got the dogs.

It was fall which meant that the rain came more often and the lights shorted out every night between 5 and 8 pm.

Tyler was in the living room doing sit-ups. He propped his feet underneath the faded, once-was-paisley couch which jerked up and down every so often because he'd eaten too much pizza last night and was too bloated from it still. That and the couch weighed practically nothing now that it had been torn apart and shredded.

"An appreciation of things," Tyler says, "comes only from not having them. Possessions in the here and now are meaningless."

He says this to me as a dog stares at me from the couch, its big brown eyes bobbing up and down to Tyler's movements.

It was a big dog, as dogs go. Its fur was matted somewhat from the rain and looked blue in the gloom of the smoky light from outside, but I knew it was actually dark brown.

Why a dog?

"Animals are the training wheels of humanity."

Like the space monkeys.

"Yeah." Tyler gasps as one sit-up hits him hard, right in the gut where a fist had connected with his as-yet still digesting pizza last night. "Like space monkeys. We train them to do a task. They do it perfectly and we think we know how the universe works. Push a button, fill a void."

Fill a void?

Tyler swings one arm out to grab the ID tag from the dog's collar which had been lying on the floor. He throws it to me and I read: Jonathan Robert Preston (Jonnie).


The dog wags its tail in response.

"We use animals where we won't use people" Tyler says. "We use them to test everything. Test machines to show they work, test chemicals to show we can touch them, test relationships to prove we can have them."

I watch Tyler as he continues to move up and down. The muscles along his sides catch the light, making shadows play along his abdomen. The frayed elastic of his shorts moves down another notch, exposing a strange lack of hair.

I look at the dog. It chews the armrest. The carpet smells of urine stink.

Tyler says "Animals are our basis for godhood. Because they do what we say we assume we have control. We seek to control everything in our lives, even the things still living. We form our idea of the world based on what these things do and never care if they do it because we ask them to or because they wanted to." Tyler's looking at me now, his blue eyes two points of light in the darkness. "It is only when an independent force steps in that we realize we have no control at all, no idea of anything but ourselves, nothing to trust but our own actions."

How long are we going to keep the dog?

"As long as we have to."

The next night we get another one. This one small and white. Tyler names it Stay.

He finds them in the park, in the evening. They walk with families that talk about the days events or with professionals who wear their red-striped ties and keep a tight hold on their cell phones.

The dogs are off leash, which is how Tyler gets them. The owners don't pay attention, which is why they don't see.

This is also how Tyler got an iguana.

After about a week, he decides if he wants to give them back. Sometimes he does. Sometimes to the right families, sometimes not. The families are always glad to see them, though. Especially the kids.

Tyler makes a point of giving the dogs to kids.

The iguana stays with us, though. It watches me from the kitchen countertop as it chews on the roaches that live in our stove. Tyler tells me that it's named Bully Boy. I don't need to ask if he named it himself.

I get used to the humid smell of animals as they move into the house. Marla comes by and says the place smells like a zoo. I tell her she would know and she leaves in a huff. Tyler tells me I can give her one of the dogs if I want and I tell him I don't want to because they're not mine and they're not his either.

"Do you think they care?" he asks me.

I look at the sea of animal eyes around us and tell him yes, I think they do.

Tyler just nods. I wonder what he's thinking.

Animals follow people places, I tell him. People move and their pets travel all over the country so they can be with them again. Animals care.

"Why haven't these guys left then?"

I don't know, I say.

Tyler says "Animals can be trained by giving them a reward. They'll jump for a cookie again and again no matter what. If you take the cookie away, though, they'll still jump. They'll jump more when you don't give them the cookie than when you gave it to them all the time. They'll do it because they figure you'll give them that cookie eventually, it's just a matter of time. It'll take them longer to forget the cookie than it did to learn about it in the first place."

This is another of Tyler's metaphors for life, I can tell.

"Animals are the training wheels of humanity," he reminds me.

Which part of humanity? I ask him. The owners or us?

"I never had a pet," Tyler says to me.

Neither did I.

"I know."

I wonder about this.

Tyler takes his time with the dogs. He feeds them and walks them and sometimes even takes them with him to work at the restaurants in the hotels. They stay in the kitchen and eat the food and piss in the soup. I wonder if Tyler trains them to do this before he sends them back home.

"Kick a dog," Tyler says, "and it comes back for more. But if the dog kicks you it gets sent to the pound."

Dogs can't kick people, I say.

"You know what I mean."

This is why we keep some of the dogs. Like Stay, who sleeps in Tyler's bed and drools on his pillow. Tyler says it's us or the pound. At least with us, Tyler says, the dogs have an option.

"Animals know what they're doing," Tyler says. "You're either useful or you're not. You're not defined by what you are but what you bring to the community. With animals either you know how to survive or you're gone. You get eaten by the rest of the herd. Animals know what they're doing. Humans are fucked up. Only humans would let the stupid and wasteful live."

I think of my boss at work and tell Tyler that he's got a point.

"Everyone is supposed to serve a function," Tyler says. "But humans have removed most of the functionality of human life. Most of human life is superfluous. The problem is, most people don't want to know that they are the superfluous ones. We define ourselves by our job and our income tax returns and think that if we died the world would miss us. The truth is that if most people died no one would care."

I think about Tyler dying. I think about which one of us is the useless one.

"If the end of the world happened," Tyler says, "how many people could survive? How many people could build a fire? Hunt a deer? Live off the land? If every Starbucks, McDonald's and Home Depot dropped off the face of the earth, how many people could function? Humanity spends its life in the endless pursuit of material goods in order to forget the fundamental truth that without plastic tools most life is meaningless."

Tyler knows three different ways to make napalm.

Tyler knows how to pick locks, fix cars and rewire hardware.

Tyler knows how to catch animals.

I know these things only because Tyler knows them.

Tyler says, "Only those who can define themselves with absolutely nothing have anything at all. Everyone else is just a shell."

What about people? I ask. What about people who are defined by other people? Mothers who are defined by the love of their children, husbands who are defined by the love of their wives. Sometimes who you are to someone else is just as important as who you are to yourself. Isn't it?

Tyler thinks about this for a long time before he says "I don't know."

Think about the dogs, I say. They need us to feed them. So we're useful to them because without us they couldn't survive.

"But the dogs could feed themselves if we weren't here," Tyler says. "They would just have to hunt. They already know how to hunt. They already know how to live if we weren't here. We just make it easier on them. Animals can always live without humans. It's humans who can't always live without them. Or without each other."

But should someone die just because they can't live without someone else? I ask Tyler. Is that fair?

"Nothing's fair," Tyler says. He doesn't look at me, even though I want him to. I want him to look at me and say he would live with me because I need plastic things all around me and could not survive if he wasn't there. He knows how to live without anything. I don't know how to live without Tyler. Not anymore. Not with my split lip and bloody business suits and burned out mind that can only barely remember the color of a lime green futon with elegant wicker backing.

So who decides who lives and who dies? I ask. When the world ends, who decides this?

"The guy who's in control," Tyler says.

Who's that? I ask.

"The guy who wants to be."

And what if he can't live without somebody?

Only now does Tyler look at me. "Then he'd have to live. And the rest of the herd would have to deal with it."

Oh, I say.

We're quiet for a while.

Tyler seems to be satisfied with that.

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