BECOME CABBAGE MAN
[53 players remain. Juan Montefalco crushed Jay Rivera with a house.]
This bag was too heavy for his heart and body. Ryan wanted the other, heavier bread, but he didn’t want to deal with a toilet right now. Especially when that urge was calling him back to the bushes like a well-dressed savage.
He remembered the bodies. It might’ve been the gore, but at least he won’t be called to puke.
Everyone was fighting, anyways. His hips shivered. Nothing would be seen. Nothing would change. There would be no victim, except when someone had a stroke of bad luck and stepped on the meat, ketchup, mustard, and stress-induced bombs he dropped, only to stroke a poor leaf for having no choice but to use as toilet paper. He was only thinking about it hypothetically.
But his will remained strong. He clenched his asscheeks, stiffened his freezing pale face, and moved on. He needed to be vigilant, brave—that’s why he hid and cuddled the shadows of the darker side of the street.
There would be explosions. Lots of screams. One even screamed about his leg like that fish dude from Spongebob. But he ignored them all. It’s not his problem yet. He’s in a budget-killing game with magical abilities. Nothing would be too strong enough to keep him away from Leigh’s.
He just had to take it one sharp breath at a time. One cold movement. Baby steps with his tensed buttocks and thighs as he walked with his knees glued together.
If he got to live through this, he’d also consider cardio. He almost swore by the sweat tricking from his chinny chin chin. But he figured that it wouldn't do much.
Dying seemed like a good idea, but he shook his head and settled for a helpless grin. It’s not just his soul that would go if he died, but it would be the victor’s problem.
Getting cut in half sounded kind of oof. It would be worse if he had to remain alive to see his body turn into something that kids play during the summer. Ryan laughed and picked up the baby-step pace. He got into a small intersection meant for people running like cars, but he stopped.
Clad in darkness, the man, Ryan, closed his eyes. He took a deep breath, focusing his attention beyond the crickets being crickets and the leaves rustling with the wind. He heard fighting. And they seemed close. The people, not certainly the big Trojans, who wanted to invade the holy land that was his unsoiled briefs and pants.
He had to make a turn here and get to Leigh as far as he could remember. And considering how everyone fought as soon as they realized everyone’s reaction to this game, going into the wonderland to make and share tea with the other visitors wasn’t an option.
Ryan inched closer to the edge and peeped to his right. Three people. It was two dudes and a girl. They were bullying someone behind some sort of barrier.
Those bullies were the sort of “gangsters” that would watch the sun rise with drinks and cigarettes resting on their lips. Some rebels. The man that they’re ganging up on wasn’t fighting back. If cloud nine could be dirt, this was it.
He just shivered into this little defense curl that would probably do nothing, especially when one of them could control electricity. The girl seemed to command rocks shaped like birds. The last one was straight-up punching.
One would consider changing their strategy after a few tries, but… well… this was good evidence that he’s going up against children. But he had no reason to. Ryan grinned nervously. The man that they’re bullying seemed familiar.
He’s short, kinda like a dirty and smelly teddy bear. He’s wearing those loose khaki shorts and paired it with a gray shirt that should’ve looked white. And he’s the most pathetic man that he had ever met. Someone akin to a raccoon, but worse—someone that would go after another man’s trash of another man’s trash and of another man’s trash, thinking that it was gold.
One would think that crabs would pull their kind down if you put them in the basin, and he’s the kind of crab that would just give up and evolve to find a way to cry louder for everyone to see.
Ryan rubbed his chin as his jaws tightened.
Why did they have to bully his best friend now, and why did it look like he had the same idea as his.
He had his basket full of duck eggs resting beside his shivering, pathetic, dirty frame. It wasn’t a coincidence. He went here. And he’s actually screaming, begging for a hero to help. This was the guy who chose to punch him one time. Oh, how the tables had turned.
Ryan scratched the back of his neck and pulled up a playful smile. Thoughts of fear failed to creep in his brain. Everything turned into a process of delayed gratification, a burst of anticipation that just blocked out every other bit that would not allow him to move.
It was like chasing a piece of carrot. By then, he had already tossed his bag into the bushes and walked towards his victims while opening a water bottle.
The situation was perfect.
This pain-in-the-ass best friend saw him and grinned like he saw a saint. He wouldn’t deny that. And, of course, it caused everyone to look at him.
Ryan groaned. It was a wash. He was already there, after all. He grabbed the Punching Man and turned him into a stack of cabbages. Girl screamed. Electric Boy moved and stretched his fingers like a wizard from the hood. Ryan sprinkled him some water.
Would that work? Ryan didn’t know. But he smiled like he knew what was happening. The boy paused; he didn’t know either.
Ryan moved and lined their palms together. Electric Boy seemed shocked, flustered even, when he nodded and interlocked their fingers. He turned him into a pile of cabbages, too, before he could comment on the spark that they had as he turned to the last girl.
Wow. It turns out that she had been screaming all this time. Ryan learned something new about himself, and how he widened his grin when this little girl backpedaled to the ground. He scoffed, shrugged at his best friend hugging himself on the floor, and turned to find this little girl crying at the top of his freshly laid blanket of piss.
The girl sobbed as she stared at two distinct yet identical piles of cabbage. She bit back her tears, gazed at the Cabbage Man before her, and pulled out her wet phone. For some reason, it worked, unlike his. And she dropped that piece of plastic at the smelly puddle that held probably half of her weight right now after checking the announcements.
You probably thought that these people might’ve refuted the existence of god while playing god themselves, but she really called the one above rather than to address the one before her.
Ryan squatted to meet her gaze.
“Please… have mercy,” she shivered. “I’ll do anything.”
Now, that sounded about right. Ryan looked deep into her brown eyes and made sure that she’s looking into his. He licked his lips and placed his right hand at the top of her head.
Ryan’s eyes narrowed. “Sure.”
“Really? Thank you—”
Ryan chuckled. “I’m just kidding. I already got what I wanted.”
“Also, you bullied my best friend.”
“I’m kidding, again.”
The girl took a sharp breath. Her eyes widened, darkening at the same second a beep turned her into little green balls that pattered the puddle.
He really was this powerful, huh?
He closed his eyes and took a long satisfied breath. He would’ve celebrated more if this raw smell didn’t taint the air, but it gave him enough time to process what just happened and turn to his friend with relative ease.
“Hey, Joshua. How are you doing, buddy?”
His smile was pure and true, elegant, compared to this thieving piece of garbage that looked at him like he’s some sort of saint. There was a mix of fear, doubt… but the adoration in his eyes and a gaping mouth made it all the more bearable. Then again, seeing cabbages instead of dead bodies actually helped.
It’s probably best not to think about it himself. It was a game, after all. You didn’t get sad about all the NPCs you’d killed in an FPS game. You celebrate them. And he’d do it, even at the sight of his very best friend.
And finally, his best friend managed to move on and smile back.
Ryan was reluctant, but he might as well play the part. He sighed and tried to help the guy up, but his right hand met that barrier. He kept his smile. He let his fingers wander, but its smooth surface disappeared and was replaced by air.
By then, his best friend was already on his feet, forgetting that he saved him.
“Yeet, really?” Joshua picked up the basket and stepped back. “I just suffered. So, forgive me for saying that I think I’ll trust your left hand more.”
Ryan smiled. “You’re really doing this right now? You don’t check the bodies when the heroes come to save—”
“You’ve killed three people without showing anything at all, Batman,” Joshua cut him off. He didn’t touch Ryan’s left hand either. “But thank you.”
“Right. But I’m not trying to.” Ryan scoffed. “How’s Leigh?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“So, you are going to her.”
“And so?” Joshua patted his dusty clothes and attempted to straighten them out. “I got dragged into this nightmare, and I saw her name. I wanted to check if she’s doing fine. And you don’t even live here.”
“Not anymore,” Ryan stressed his words. “But I wanted to see her, too.”
“Do you even care?”
Ryan shrugged. He fetched his bag and handed Joshua a fresh bottle of water. “Your throat must be sore from all that screaming.”
Joshua didn’t take it, so he groaned and handed it to him with his left hand instead. This bastard didn’t take it. Ryan gave up and placed the bottle on the floor. He waited for him to pick it up, but Joshua didn’t move. Ryan clicked his tongue. He raised both his hands in the air and stepped back. Only then did that dick move.
“You need to relax. We’re friends. It’s not like I’d hurt you or anything.”
“I know you won’t…” Joshua sighed and walked towards Leigh’s apartment building. “You did realize that there’s a person attached to the hand that would pat your back. I’m not going to let you suck your own dick.” He stopped and looked back at Ryan. “Actually, it would really be nice if you could just walk beside or in front of me.”
“And you’re too thrilled at the idea that I might just kill you for fun.” Ryan shrugged and walked towards him. “But that’s not a bad idea, perhaps.”
Ryan shoved his hands in his pocket. “Well, if you got dragged into this contest, too, who would probably be a Ghandi at the face of a genie… They might as well be damn powerful enough to revive everyone after I win, yeah?”