The Narrator takes the bus to work the next day, and he notices police barricades around the building. He realizes that his boss is dead from a freak computer explosion. The Narrator knows this, “because Tyler knows this.” The Narrator thinks back to the other night, when Tyler called him on the phone and told him to go outside to the mechanic’s car. That night, the Narrator remembers, he smelled gasoline on his hands. The Narrator realizes that, on that night, he—as Tyler—must have murdered his boss. Furthermore, the police will suspect “him” of the murder, since he was the last person in the office building on the night of his boss’s murder.
The Narrator realizes that “Tyler” murdered his boss the night the mechanic drove him around. Once again, Tyler represents the Narrator’s “wish fulfillment”—he actually acts on the Narrator’s fantasies and repressed desires. The problem is that now, Tyler’s actions are leading the police back to the Narrator himself.
Instead of getting off the bus at work, the Narrator stays on it. Suddenly, he realizes that everyone on the bus is a member of Project Mayhem—he recognizes the mechanic. The members stand up and grab the Narrator, tying him down. The mechanic reminds the Narrator—whom he calls “Mr. Durden”—that he’s already given instructions to castrate anyone who interferes with Project Mayhem, including himself.
The space monkeys are so powerful because they can blend in with ordinary people—because the space monkeys are ordinary people. Here, it seems, the Narrator is about to meet the same fate that Bob met before the novel began: losing his testicles.
Just as the mechanic is about to pull out his knife, there’s a siren—it’s the cops. The cops climb aboard the bus, and the Narrator realizes the police are members of Project Mayhem, too.
The fact that seemingly everyone is a space monkey now adds to the hallucinatory quality of the novel, but also suggests a general malaise of dissatisfaction with modern society, even for those in power (like the police).
As the members of Project Mayhem crowd over him, the Narrator feels someone cutting away his pants and slipping a rubber band around his testicles. Someone cries, “Don’t hurt him!” The Narrator tries to go to his “happy place” in Ireland, but suddenly, he smells ether and loses consciousness.
In this passage, the Narrator again tries to use repression and “new age” coping techniques to escape from his pain—exactly what Tyler was trying to get him to avoid previously. The punishment of castration for betraying Project Mayhem suggests just how much the fight club’s original “ideals” have been twisted. Now Tyler’s idea of being a “real man” involves mindless devotion to another kind of system.