Chapter 2:

Veggie Disco


The coldness shifted. It tapped from the white floors and jittered to his feet. It quivered his almost-hairless legs and sank to the side of his waists to rip his back open and give him wings.

He didn’t scream.

His shoulders were tight. His limbs were giddy. He’s light as a feather.

A man doesn’t scream.

But they do a melodic score like a mariachi band vocalist while skipping into the corner of the store.

It had to be a joke.

Tina would not be tall enough to subdue someone, much more push a frying pan down their throat.

His phone vibrated again.

[97 players remain. Juan Montefalco crushed Yna Gabriel with a rock.]

[96 players remain. Bob Manalo blows Ezra Lauren’s head off!]

People might be taking this too seriously.

Ryan grimaced. He had nothing to work with. He was even cucked from his reason to fight. It said something about a wish, but that shit wasn’t explained. Fate was at its fault. It was as though the nine realms of this conceivable reality aligned itself at this very moment, minute, second, to freeze his hand and stop him from chewing his hotdog. Preposterous.

[92 players remain. Emman Izon cuts Tina Moran in half with his chainsaw hands!]

Great. And now, Tina’s supposedly dead. It’s working.

Ryan’s fingers hung as the list went on. The sound of the air conditioner whirred, turning this place into a freezer for meat, not for convenience.

A part of him wanted to look outside.

He grinned and scratched his chin. He caught a glint of light at the corner of his eye. He followed by instinct and laughed at the tower of flame erupted and pierced the sky in the distance. He heard nothing. He had no words.


His phone vibrated.

[89 players remain. Julius Ang burned Droy Vengua to death.]

The pillar of flame hit something from the clouds and was bent as though it bounced off an invisible dome. There were shadows, too. He chuckled. Screw this tasteless hotdog. He’s not alone.

This was some kind of Battle Royale Bullshit.

[85 players remain. Lexter Ascan hung Vino Ramos outside their house like a Christmas Ball.]

Ryan’s phone sirened and tunneled his eyes to the screen.

He tapped beyond the announcements, and the map of their town, and realized that the red text box that he saw was a timer—which was three seconds away from reaching zero.

It went off.

It was a deranged nursery rhyme of a music box desperate to carry out its final tune. It was not as bad as listening to the same tune humming while he waited for a customer service representative on the line, but in a situation where you just saw someone you know be reported by their crime of choking someone with a frying pan, this shit was scary. He cringed at his own joke. Even more so when his phone pulsed.

A chewed muck of hotdog fell to the floor.

He was brought to the map of their town. It beeped. His phone vibrated. This piece of junk revealed his location. Nice try, Game Master. He already knew his location. But his phone surged again and showed everyone else’s. And they’re fucking moving.

He and four other dudes or dudettes are about to have a fucking party in this store.

Should he gear up and make him say hello to his little friends? No. He should stand and fight. He looked at the ice cream machine, smoothie machine, and microwave oven and lost all hope.

This was, indeed, a terrible day for hotdogs.

But he had to be brave. He got himself another sandwich before jumping into the other side of the counter to hide. His phone vibrated again, but that hardly matters when he was forced to stuff his mouth with food to muffle his screams in response to the glass walls of his safe haven breaking.

Another explosion rocked this small building. A man grunted. A bone cracked. Ryan’s mind steered into the moms that were cucked from him. He wanted a lap pillow. He also could’ve not panicked and took some ketchup and mustard. This sandwich that he had right now tasted like hotdog water and bread.

He also almost whimpered when the wine bottles at the shelf in front of him were slashed. It was a clean-cut, like space itself wedged its side, spilling its contents to him like a poor imitation of a Tarantino movie.

Another man grunted. Ryan’s phone vibrated. A body fell.

Then, someone screamed and rammed a body into the counter. Ryan’s will had saved him, but at the back of his mind, maybe it’s his love of condiments that did. He was able to finish down that large piece of hotdog and bread, and now his problem was if he could contain his scream or not. He could already hear the angels singing.

He sank his fingers deep into his cheeks and stretched the skin under his eyes. A happy place. Someone’s lap was the best place for him right now. He’s safe for now. Yes. He just needs to believe in himself hard enough.

Ryan whispered under his breath and laughed.

“I’m gonna fucking die…”

The people behind the counter were still fighting. He could still hear the wind carving the floors and the ceiling. Calm. He wanted to imagine being by the beach singing pearly shells while drinking out of a coconut, but that shit was hard when two people had died for the last minute and the remaining two were trying to kill each other with some bullshit magical abilities. A lap pillow seemed better.

And there came the lightbulb.

His wet phone seemed a bit unresponsive, but through his sheer force of will, translated into a torrent of rigorous tapping, he was able to get to his profile.

And realize that he’s truly going to die.

He could touch anything with his right hand and scream “yeet” to turn it into a cabbage. His left hand could turn it back by saying “poggers.”

“I’m gonna get fucked so hard…”

He waited and wondered if he could get another hotdog again, given that they didn’t ruin them all. He’s wet, sticky, smelling like a drunkard, and wanting to piss his fears away. Another man groaned and fell to the floor. It kicked off with his phone vibrating to confirm the kill.

The last one walked towards the counter.

It was a woman and she’s humming.

Asking her to team up was worth the shot. Ryan looked at himself. He’s wet. He smelled of sweat, alcohol, ketchup, and there were crumbs refusing to fall from his lap. His phone continued to vibrate. And, once again, looking at himself, his chances were fine.

But who was he kidding?

He’s too handsome for this. He’s too fine-looking of a young man to not get killed. That’s why he hugged his legs and begged his teeth not to rattle like a motor asking for gas, imagining that there’s no harm in dying at the hands of a cute girl.

But what if she’s mad ugly, though?

Oh, fuck.

Choking himself seemed optimal. He could also close his eyes and beg for her to make his death painless. He tapped at his phone instinctively in search of an empowering quote but it’s only good for telling him that people died.

[72 players remain. Leigh Salameda shot Jam Linsoco in the head.]

More people were dying, but he stopped at this very announcement.

“Goddammit,” Ryan whispered to himself.

She’s here.

For some reason, him smelling like alcohol didn’t matter. His eyes shot wide. His hopeless grin grimmed. His heart turned into a motorcycle engine. With a breath, his desperate gaze softened, his lips thinning into a slight smile. He doesn’t need hotdogs anymore.

He sighed and touched a part of the counter with his right hand.


A beep rang his ears like a television inside his brain was disconnected. The tone continued to howl. He turned, following that flat rhythm, twisting like a stream until the sound was cut. A swarm of bright-green cabbages netted his view, and beyond him was a confused woman eating a banana.

He rummaged through the wall of vegetables and touched her shoulder with his right hand. He looked away, expecting blood, and embarrassment at the realization that he didn’t have the guts to sink his fingers at her funbags. He said the magic word and turned this girl into a stack of cabbages that fell, crunched, and bounced off the floor after a rightful beep.

His phone vibrated.

[69 players remain. Ryan Fajardo turned Lucky Biglete into a stack of cabbages.]

Ryan’s fingers were warm. His hands wouldn’t stop trembling. What he touched had flesh. He felt how she breathed and how it was just cut, how the fabric that he felt disappeared and was replaced by leaves.

He wanted to grin. This was a death game, after all. No one would spit at him for rolling his tongue to do a celebratory high-pitched scream. Only a helpless chuckle escaped his lips as he watched one cabbage roll on the floor. Poetic. Whatever that meant.

He got four dead bodies. One was cut in half like tofu. The other got his head blown off. The third had his bones ripped out from his flesh. The trinity of his stomach, chest, and throat tightened. He grimaced and chuckled. He could make a kite out of that. At least the one he killed was one step away from becoming a poor man’s salad.

He wiped the taste of hotdog from his mouth.

These were real dead bodies, even if his own ability wasn’t helping to convince him. And it was a bit of a miracle that everyone else was so fixated on killing that they forgot to rob this place.

He’s so fucking powerful.

Ryan braved through his first step and ignored his roaring urge to pee. He snatched a backpack from the headless man and filled it with water bottles, energy drinks, canned foods, bread, chocolates, and other biscuits.

The thought of those dead bodies suddenly springing from the floor rotted his mind and kept him on edge, but he moved on while faking his confidence.

He heard the voice of a girl.

“So that’s what you look like… Ryan.”

He found a small girl with long brown hair right outside. It’s like he had seen her before. She pulled herself away from the store, frowning, grimacing, before turning to run away.

Who the fuck was that?

Ryan shrugged it off and moved on. There’s somewhere else that he needs to be.

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