Bewildering Stories

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All Together Now!

by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

I need sleep. The day has been an endless turmoil of dizziness. Or was it the week? Can’t say with certainty... I never should have agreed to this. I never should have taken the money. But I needed it at the time.

They had me sign my name on some forms before I could get the cash. I never bothered to read the papers. I probably should have. There wasn’t even fine print. I vaguely remember the first lines: “I, undersigned, have agreed to...” yady yady yada... something about disclaiming responsibility for something, and stuff. Complicated. It was a lot of money.

I’m still trying to sleep. Feel funny. In more ways than one. Just to name one thing, I can’t remember having so much callus on my feet. I wore nice shoes. Cheap, but at least I wasn’t barefoot. And that wart on my finger... where does that come from? Oh well.

No sooner had I signed, that I was almost pulled out into a bus. A few people were waiting there. Five, or six. Spoke with one of them. He was somewhat friendly. Gave me a mint. We talked about how it is to be broke. There were three women, I think, or two, and they talked and talked the whole way. I recall them going on and on about injuries that someone either of them knew sustained after being hit by a car. Long, sad story. Her name was Fiona, and she was a beautiful 14-year old girl, and now she’s a paraplegic, and do I care? Not really.

Everything is properly hazy now. I feel sleep coming in... ahhh... I’d sigh with pleasure, but then I’d wake up... sleep... wait. What was that tone I heard? It grew rapidly louder and louder, until it kind of boomed loudly in my ear. The whole thing lasting merely a second. Oh well. Back to sleep...

“Wake up!”

What? I’m up. Well, no, I still lie here, but not sleeping anymore. Who yelled at me? It was a distant voice... sounded like it came... No, it couldn’t be. From the same place as the high pitched beep? Not likely. Probably someone whispering loudly out in the hall. Or on the other side of the wall...

I can’t remember anything since we came to the complex. I seem to remember, the last thing I saw, was entering that large building in the middle of nowhere. After that, things don’t add up. They don’t add up at all.

“Wake up!”

Shut up! I’m trying to sleep here! The voice in my head doesn’t listen to me! How did it get there? And why does it sound so familiar?

“Wake up, you idiot!”

And it called me an idiot. How is that for a voice in your head? Why can’t I have one of these voices that just tells me to kill the president? Why do I get the impolite one?

“Wake up, now! Don’t make me come in there!”

“What do you want from me?”

“Get up, and check if the door is closed.”

“What door?”

“There is only one door. Just check.”

Why argue? My voice just wants me to check on this door. So I get up. Ooohh! This feels weird! Dizzy... the room is spinning... where is that door? Ahh, there it is! I better sit down before I vomit. That was awful. I think I got my money’s worth of displeasure right about now. Give me a minute... Okay. Let’s try this again. I don’t feel anything close to fine now.

Okay. I am opening the door. It’s not locked. Goody. Back to bed then for me.

“Do not lie down again!”

“Shut up. Go away.”

“You asked for this!”

Suddenly I feel worse. It’s like... I can’t see... but I can see, simultaneously! Uhhm? How should I explain this? The room is there... but not. Not the room I’m in. Or really, I am lying now, on my side, looking at the wall, yet I really am sitting here, staring at that same wall! Weird! And I feel like I’m lying on my back... Eerie... Oh. Now it stopped...

“Stand up and walk.”


“Do as I say or I’ll do that thing to you again.”

I open the door and peek out. Just an empty hallway. Well lit, green linoleum on the floor, doors lining each side. I’d take a walk, but I seem to be improperly attired...


I walk. I hope nobody sees me. Where is the bathroom? I have to take a leak... here it is... Let’s see... the mirror... OH BLOODY HELL!!!

“Okay, idiot, what were you expecting? Right, you don’t remember, do you? And don’t lie there in the piss. That’s my body you’re wearing, you know. Stand up.”

I stand up. That has got to be the most disturbing experience of my life!

“Someone is coming. Hide.”

I can hear the footfall too, you know... I hide in the stall.

A man enters. He is wearing a white robe, jeans, a shirt. Just what I need. I open the stall, and...

Hm. Unusual. Why do I get the feeling I am dreaming? Yet, somehow, I know I’m not. I think I’ll roll on my belly, I believe it’s a more comfortable position. It’s not. Something is wrong. Very wrong. I seem to have developed... let me just look at this... OH BLOODY .... Ahhwww! Can’t believe this! I definitely do not get paid enough for this! I used to be, just a few seconds ago, this ordinary looking guy, and now... I’m a woman! Hmm. If I think about it, not just a woman. A lesbian. Now how about that! And I am stuck in this room again! What now? I don’t think I can get to sleep anytime this week after this. Wow, do I have long hair or what? Mmm. Tastes like shampoo.

Let me think about this. When I woke up, I wasn’t myself, but somebody else. And now, I am somebody all together different. Who am I? Aeh... I have to sit down. Soft... My skin was never that soft... I think... but... what if... this has always been me? As I recollect, I have never been... like this. But I don’t remember how I got here, now, do I? I may have dreamt the whole thing... I might be an amnesiac. Maybe I got hit in the head, somehow, and got wheeled to a hospital, and I am just now waking up. And I really don’t remember a thing? I just dreamt I was this guy, taking part in an experiment. Makes sense.

The door opens. And I am sitting here, naked, talking to myself. Where has my modesty gone? Wait... YOU!

“You might wanna get dressed...”

Where am I now? I don’t care. I am lying down, and quite sleepy. On second thought... I need to check this out... ahh. I may not be me, but I’m not a woman. That feels more familiar. No more speculating. This is far too real to be a dream. Probably an acid trip. I’m not taking any more of that stuff. I quit. That is, if I ever took any, I’m not taking any more. Yeah.

Now I hear noises from outside. What in hell is happening out there? Are they shooting at each other? Sounds like it. And yelling. It sounds like a war out there. - Whow! That was big. What was that? A grenade? More shooting. I am so happy I’m in here, in my comfy comfy bed, just lying around... yes. It’s good to be... whoever I am now. I wonder where my body is? If it’s been shot up, I am going to have to have a long and hard talk to whoever did that. Preferably through the phone.

It has happened again. I’m walking now. I think I’ll just stop. This place is a war zone. Just look at the surroundings. These walls used to be neat and shiny. Now there are streaks in it where bullets have ricocheted off them, and here, at the junction... the walls are riddled with holes. Craters, actually. There is the naked chick. The former me. Dead. Must have run into battle naked, for some reason. In here, dead security guards. Four of them. Wait, one is still alive. He is looking at me. He is trying to crawl away from me. Why? Hmm... of course. I still have this rather large firearm in my hand. Still? Wait a minute... Let’s have a look at this thing. There’s stuff written on it. 9-mm Tanfoglio. Made in Italy. Neato. Still loaded. Should I shoot the guard? He is half dead already...

“Not unless you want to. Take the uniforms from the dead guys.”


“I am going to free us. I think it best if we all go outside dressed, don’t you agree?”

“If you say so. But then again, now I have the gun. Why don’t I just go outside alone?”

“They have seen you walk around killing people. The whole place is monitored, you know. There is going to be more of them, and are you going to handle them? Have you even held a gun before?”

“Well, this body has...”

“That’s it, I’m coming over.”

Strange. How come I can’t do that? Jump from body to body like that? Who am I now, anyway? Ohh... another woman. Now I’ve been everyone! What next? An animal? I hope not... yet, it would be interesting. Actually, this is interesting. Being a female. I am somewhere no man has been before! How many people can claim to have been somebody else? Five, maybe six others, maybe. It can’t be common.

The door opens. That guy again. He throws me a security guard’s uniform.

“Don’t do that. The girl might return to her body, and you know, she’ll attack me for it. Get dressed. This is not a game.”

“Sure it is!”

“So it was YOU!”

Who is that? A new voice? Where do you come from?

“You’re the idiot that was standing around naked, wearing MY body! I’ll get you for that!”

“Just put on the uniform and follow me.... psycho.”

How did you get in here? There is only room for one, you know.

“Yeah. Get out. It’s my body now!”

But I can’t.

“Hey, listen to me. I think my body is dead, or at least hurt really bad. I think it got shot. So you’re stuck with me. Or you can leave. Do that. I like being alone with my thoughts.”

“This is definitely more than I get paid for.”

“At least your body is not ruined.”

“I hate you, voice.”

“I hate you too, but as we are about to spend a lot of time together, let me introduce myself: my name is Sandy.” Jonas. Now, who controls the body? You, or me?

“Not sure.”

Okay. Then I get dressed.

Sandy and I walk out of the room dressed in the uniform. It is uncomfortable, because there is a lot of blood on it. I think I’ll let Sandy feel it...

“I heard that! I’m not feeling anything for you, pervert!”

“I really don’t like this.”

“It’s no party for me either.”

And I’m off. She must be real happy now. But who am I now? Let’s ask that guy, there in front of me.

“Hey! You’re me!”

And you are me. Nice to meet me. I kind of look good in a uniform, even if I’m a bit bloody.

“Get out of my body!”

“Sure. When you get out of mine. No answer to that one, hey?”

“How did this happen?”

“Don’t ask me. I don’t know a thing. Just hopping from one body to another, for no reason. Don’t know why, just happens.”

There the shooting starts again. Automatic rifles. I can hear them.

“I mean it! Get out of my body, now!”

“No can do. Stuck.”

“I’ll shoot you!”

“Uhm. You are, kinda, you know, pointing that gun at yourself.”

“When I am in your body, I shoot you by shooting me.”

“I admire your reasoning, I really do, but, if the body you occupy dies, does that not mean that you die?”

“What do you mean?”

A little thick-skulled. I get it.

“Oh. Now you got it. Don’t point that thing at me.”

“I kill you if you don’t return my body.”

“If you kill your own body, that is, the body you want me to return, isn’t that a bit like shooting yourself in the leg?”

“Good idea!”


I wonder whom that happened to. I’m glad it wasn’t me. But then again...

That was... interesting. My life flashed by my eyes. I was in that body for five seconds, and got shot at least fifty times. With M-16s. Now I don’t feel a thing. A good thing, actually. It was quite nasty while it lasted. I think I would have preferred being shot in the leg though. Only once. As opposed to being... obliterated, riddled with machine gun fire, shot to pieces... again; who has been shot so many times and lived to tell the tale? In another body, no less.

Who am I now? Let’s find out. Hmm. Don’t look half bad. A bit younger than I was before, perhaps. Good.

“Draw your weapon and fight!”

“You again. Why?”

“Okay. Since it seems we are sharing this body... I’ll do it.”

This is strange. I move involuntarily. Somebody is looking through my eyes... well, someone else’s eyes, whom I am temporarily using for my own ends... ah... oh, well.

I just drift along then. I have pulled forth the gun, a nice 9-mm Tanfogil... whatever. I am not trying to remember its name. It was weird. Not as weird as being stuck in a body with some sort of a combatant. He is shooting people. In the head. At a pretty impressive range. I don’t think I could do this. Here he goes again.

“There are three corpses here. Yes, sure, grab a rifle why don’t you? It’s not like I’m gonna be carrying it...”

“Will you shut up?”

So this is war. Yup. And I’m stuck in the middle of it. Shooting at people. And doing good. I’ve only been hit a couple of times yet. No biggie. Now I’m behind them, firing away. I wish I could stop running around like this. How many people have I killed? 17? 20? Don’t know.

“I got a few.”


“Double that! Who are YOU! And what are you doing HERE! We are crowded as it is! Go away!”

“I can’t. I got killed.”

“Just don’t distract me. I am trying to get us out of here.”

“I was on my way out when I got hit, so let me tell you: you haven’t got far to go. Just watch out for that car park. I think there are some guys hiding behind the grey van.”


Sure enough, I peek outside. Yes, there are some feet to be seen under that grey van. There must be at least four people there. I, or that guy who is controlling my body shoots them. Right through the van. So now I know ordinary vans aren’t bulletproof.

“How did that happen?”

“I’m sure he has teflon-coated cop killers.”

I am distinctly feeling a lack of privacy in this body.

“You are not alone with the feeling.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Elvis. Who are you?”

“Why is everybody in my body?”

“Is this your body?”

“We all must’ve been killed.”

“Why are we all here? In one body, I mean?”

“Am I the only one that remembers?”

“I don’t remember a thing after I got off the bus. Inform us.”

“Okay. I was...”

“I’m hungry.”

“Shut Up!” says everyone collectively.

“The man has a story to tell!”

“Thanks. Anyway. I was offered money to participate in this experiment. Like all of you, I presume. And I got moved here, and after a day or two, they wired us together. They tried to make our brain operate as one mind. The theory was, that we would be many times as intelligent as one.”

“And just look at how we have ended up.”

“Six minds in one brain. The experiment seems to have been a failure, don’t you agree?”

“Let’s kill them!”

“Already done.”

I’m stuck with a bunch of homicidal killers.

“Is there any other kind?”

“I’m bored. I say we hotwire a car and get the hell out of here.”

“I’m with you. Then, I have to be.”

“As this is my body, I want to establish some ground rules: 1: I don’t do men. 2: See rule one. Okay?”

“Hey! No fair!”

Let’s vote! Do we do men?

“No fair! There are more of you!”

“That’s democratically settled then. Now, can we please go?”

“Let’s do it. All together now!”

Copyright © 2003 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

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