Kobe inched his way further into the Jungle Gym. He was taking it slow, not just on account of his dislocated shoulders but his immense paranoia. Luckily, Robert’s blood from the day prior made sure he wasn’t dehydrated but he was getting to that stage. His mouth was dry, his limbs were weak but still, he carried on.
The thing that was getting to him, and he assumed everyone else, was the lack of sleep. His eyes kept trying to close on him and his movements were sluggish as a result. He needed rest or some cocaine.
“Looks like someone’s seen better days.”
Suddenly Kobe shot straight up into a defensive stance, though his left arm slumped down beside him. Even though he’d sprung directly towards the direction he’d heard the voice, no one was there to be seen.
Then he felt a hand come down on his left shoulder which caused him to yelp out in pain.
“Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Kobe spun heel and came face to face with a toothpick in a suit. Long, tall and white, Kobe could tell he couldn’t trust him as much as he could vore him.
He struck at his opponent who jumped back gracefully.
“Now, now, Mr. Steakhouse, I’m not here to fight you, I’m here to help.”
“You expect me to believe that?”
“Do I look like I could take you in a fight, good sir?”
Kobe gave him the once over and determined that he had become even thinner over the course of their conversation, but still, he wouldn’t drop his guard.
“You don’t look it but I don’t judge a book by its cover, only by the voring prowess hidden within.”
The man looked at Kobe for a moment and then smiled.
“Very good, very cautious! I knew I picked the right person to shadow! Here, I’ll show you I mean no harm.”
He took off his suit jacket and used it to tie his hands together.
Hesitantly Kobe dropped his guard. He was still wary of this guy but with his hands tied, any moves he could be using wouldn’t be deflected by a hand in front of Kobe’s face.
“What do you want?”
“Introductions my good man! Introductions first! My name is John, my second name is reserved for family and friends only, I hope you understand. I consider myself somewhat of an investor. I’m not much of a vorer myself you see, my molars were never built for the job.”
He flashed Kobe a big cheesy grin, letting his teeth sparkle in the harsh artificial light of the room they were in.
“My only chance of getting into the top 5 and out of this hell is to hitch my wagon to a real competitor and you’re my top choice.”
“Well, you’re in a bit of a pickle right now, I’m sure you’d agree.”
He gestured towards Kobe’s limp arm.
“You can imagine what would happen if I walked up to a top 5 talent with no injuries. Nom, nom, nom, that’s how it’d go. I’m investing in an distressed asset, something with potential.”
Kobe didn’t like this guy, he reminded him a lot of Vorge. But he was write, Kobe couldn’t hope to beat any of the remaining people in this competition if things didn’t change.
“What can you even do for me John?”
In an instant, John had his hands untied and, seemingly out of nowhere, had produced an energy drink and a first aid kit.
“I can get you whatever you need, whatever you desire. All you need to do is accept my generous offer.”
He holds a hand out to Kobe.
“And what do you get in return?”
“Well, I hopefully get out of this alive and, of course, I’ll be expecting a small favour if and when we get out of here.”
Kobe was still apprehensive; he could tell the favour he’d be asked for wasn’t small at all but he also felt like he didn’t have a choice.
“Fine, but try anything funny and I’ll ingest you.”
He grasped John’s hand firmly to let him know who was boss.
“Wouldn’t want it any other way!”
“Nine thousand nine hundred ninety eight!”
Vorelando Jones had nearly completed his training montage.
“Nine thousand nine hundred ninety nine!”
Vorelando Jones would never lose. For Berry. For Benedict, he would never lose.
He shot up in triumph, sweat drenching his body. As thirsty as he was, he knew that the strategy he was going for was risky but it was a risk he had to take. He had spent the last few hours on his island exercising, trying to lose as much weight as possible, the sweat helped with that.
With a final roar, he took off his jeans and belt and threw them across to the west entrance. He was hoping that he would be able to make it to that one but in truth, he would be happy if his plan led him to any of the four.
Vorelando dropped to the ground, spreading his body as wide as he could and then started shimmying towards the edge of his island.
Vorelando had from the start assumed that the ball pit was impassable, but Benedict’s words had woken him to the lies of reality. Nothing was impossible with the right state of mind.
“Fight… scream… believe…”
Vorelando’s head crossed the edge of the island and came to rest on the balls.
“Fight… scream… believe!”
He slowed his shimmying down but gradually, he worked his whole body onto the balls. This is why he’d dropped the weight, dropped his pants. He figured that if he could spread his weight out, he should be able to float on top of the balls if he was careful. And he was right, by not breaking the surface tension of the balls, Vorelando was just light enough to float on top.
“Fight, scream, believe!”
“YES, VORELANDO JONES, YES!”
Vorelando looked up across the surface of the balls and could see he was drifting towards the west entrance. His body felt lighter, as if Benedict was supporting him from beneath, carrying him to the promised land.
“FIGHT, VORELAND, SCREAM, VORELANDO, BELIEVE, VORELANDO JONES!”
For hours Vorelando heard these words in his head. As he got closer to the west entrance, he had to restrain himself and not reach out too early, break the surface tension of the balls before he was close enough to actually escape them.
Eventually, he decided that he was close enough and started shimmying himself across the balls. Another hour later and he’d mad it off the balls. He lay at the west entrance, delirious but alive.
“I DID IT! I DID IT!”
Even though he couldn’t see it, he could feel Benedict’s spirit waving him goodbye before crumbling back into the ball pit.
He bowed towards the ball pit to show his respect.
“Rest in peace Benedict Eggmond, I will never forget you.”
Then, Vorelando slung his jeans over his shoulder and headed off into the dark corridor of the western entrance, ready to start his next adventure.