Chapter 6:

Wonderful Veggjourney


“Pawn: Five years. I need the body of a fighter.”

Everything fled from Leigh’s ears as her vision spiraled to Ryan’s back. Her body screamed and almost fell to the side as her lungs emptied. She leaned onto one hand and bared her teeth to the sheer searing of her cracking bones, breaking and repairing themselves again and again as her flesh grew, thinned, and twisted beneath her skin.

It was the cost of the power that blazed through her brains. It took a breath to bolster her focus. She bathed in details that she had never seen before. She felt the wind. She could gauge the distance. She let her body decide as she breached through her fear and catch up to Ryan.

Ryan stubbed his toe, but he wheeled himself and broke into the second wall. Sweat flooded that cheap smile, but she didn’t mind it. The upper part of his face was a blank. His eyes were cold, determined, compared to hers. It just felt different. It’s like she’s following a walking stick bearing something heavier, much bigger than himself.

And he was so out of shape.

His first step into the second room twisted his heel. He wobbled to the side, groaned, glanced at her, and moved to barge through the third wall. He’s heaving. He didn’t pause. His legs were giving out, but he shot a breath, kicked the ground, and let his failing desperation to spear through more walls of cabbages.

Compared to him, she’s having a trip.

It was Ryan. He’s creepy. Cheap. He was always the same. He would challenge the world, to create problems that only he could fix. He would drag other people with him. They would believe in his words, but he would turn back and smile while patting his back. Like what he did just now.

But he wasn’t smiling. His brows were slanted. It’s like he’s begging for something. It’s different. It also reminded her that this guy didn’t have any idea how many walls he just broke through.

“That’s the last room. We’re going down after this!”


He curtained past the last wall and poured himself over to the room. He curled into a ball and embraced his trembling right hand, gritting his teeth as he tried his best to not fail so much more than letting that pain show.

He didn’t see that there was a tall muscled man there. Donning a naked apron that had “mom” written inside the heart borne by his bare pecs, grinning and letting his bald head shine against the moonlight as his kitchen knife gleamed.

Ryan threw a helpless smile at Leigh. It’s cheap. That muscled man would have his knife ripping through his back and he wouldn’t even know it.

It would be nice if he died here. Watching that would be nice. She would’ve seen everything. She would be there to enjoy him scream and beg for someone. The fun of stretching her hand, pretending she’s concerned about his wellbeing only for her to drag it back and flash him that disgusting smile, was nice.

She kid.

“Roll away, Papa Bear!”

Leigh arched forward and raced to pick up a decent amount of momentum. There was no doubt. She could’ve questioned why she was doing this, but she had grown to depend on what her body was capable of these past few minutes. There were no questions.

She could’ve let it happen and say to Joshua that they had an accident. She had already compromised her position. That man would receive her with open arms and break her back, maybe stab her neck after.

Time slowed.

Her breath was short. Her heart was breaking. Her eyes were widened, not of fear, but excitement. Strong. This was just one of the problems that she could finally break through. She smiled and surged to kick the ground and fly.


Ryan and that man lost their footing at the cabbage carpet. The man lost his balance and got distracted. He won’t be moving. And this was her moment.

Leigh screamed, spread her arms to control her fall like a massive dying bird, and drove her weight straight through that man’s skull and into the wall. She stepped in shit a few days before. She rubbed it on the grass and onto the dusty ground, and it was the first time in her life that she felt good about forgetting to wash it at all. She even topped it all off by backflipping onto the floor below while Ryan crashed and kicked up the leaves of cabbages like snow.

The tall man was history.

“You’re not looking good… Papa Bear.” Leigh held herself back from helping Ryan, but her smile remained to hide that freezing icky feeling of Ryan turning to her with that disgusting smile. “I finished the guy for you. You could’ve at least controlled your fall.”

“I… never… had… something… to balance… myself… in… the… first… place…” Ryan crawled towards the bed and sniffed a pillow to wipe the blood from his nose. His hands still trembled. “It smells like cheap shampoo. It’s the same one you’re wearing.”


Leigh cracked her knuckles and moved towards the center to corner this feeble man. Ryan tossed the pillow to the side, pretended to whistle while forgetting that he couldn’t, and put his sticky glare to work and got her body scanned. Leigh instinctively twisted herself away. He let out a breath of relief, and both of them threw out a tired laugh.

“I’ll let this bed break my fall, you go be amazing because you literally spent five years of your life to learn how to backflip.” Ryan clenched his shaking right hand and scoffed. “Man, this would be an amazing story to tell my kids.”


“I will have kids in the future. We’ll live in a quiet town by the sea where we would get to taste that salty air, scream at the other children for being so noisy… and eventually find myself establishing a very wholesome gang, where I would be dubbed as ‘Al Chorizo.’”

“I’m afraid of asking—”

“It’s because I would grind those who would cross me and turn them into sausages… and I would throw a party and serve that to his family and friends… and I would then present the dish by saying “say hello to my little friend” and they’re going to say that it’s amazing, and there…” He laughed like a gremlin and grimaced at the pain from his side. “I would drop the bomb that it was the guy all along!”

“What the… fuck…”

“Pretty cool, right?”

“Who hurt you?”

Ryan shook his head and raised his brow at her. “That’s not a rhetorical question, right?”

Leigh crossed her arms and scoffed with a faint smile. Ryan’s face was red, dirty. She almost felt bad for not giving him a helping hand, but it was reassuring that he’s still as disgusting a human could get. He’s tired.

And the sound of someone’s foot jolted him back to life.

Ryan screamed and scrambled forward. She didn’t know what was happening, but her body flared signals for her to turn. Her legs stiffened. Her breath barred her throat. Blank thoughts buried her brain.

Ryan’s face looked pathetic, desperate. Human. And yet this guy threw himself forward with his brittle legs and pushed her away.

The guy that Leigh dropkicked earlier was alive. His knife bore through Ryan’s forearm. He laughed. Ryan groaned again, wobbling as that man’s weight pushed him down. Ryan’s knees almost folded, but he raged, screaming as he fought the crushing weight back.

Or tried to.

Leigh couldn’t move. That muscled man grinned and busted Ryan’s nose with his forehead. The hero didn’t fall and braved through a blow that cracked his ribs and another that came bashed through his face. That’s what made him step back. That’s what allowed the other man to kick him square in the chest.

Her limbs felt stiff.

Ryan fell on his face again. With almost an unnatural strength, he got on his elbows and looked around to find solace in Leigh’s worried demeanor. Their gazes locked. He threw her a faint smile.


So that was it. He smiled at her again. He’s pretending.

They fell to the ground floor. Leigh was able to keep herself safe because of her instincts, but that man did the same. Ryan was saved by his cabbages, giving him enough time to breathe before getting kicked once more.

Laughable. Leigh fell to her knees. All of these were useless. They got to the ground floor. It was pretty easy, but it was as though she never left her home.

He didn’t die.

Leigh broke his neck before.

The naked man with an apron chose to toss his knife away to prove a point. He kicked Ryan again, wiped the sweat from his forehead, and turned to her with a deranged smile. He licked his lips and bobbed forward.

But Ryan came and tackled him. He tried to. That poor disgusting warrior of justice shielded her again that it’s laughable. Even the other man laughed before smashing his face and splattering red on the cabbages on the floor.

But Ryan pulled himself back despite offering no sign of resistance. He was weak, tired. His every step made it seem that his body was chalk. He was too slow. A kid flailing his arms, begging the Gods for at least one of them would land, was a better choice. He didn’t. He got kneed deep into his stomach.


Ryan took that man’s blows again and again without turning back. He couldn’t even clench his right hand anymore.

Leigh grinned helplessly.

Ryan was a frail but immovable object. He was shaking. Every blow that he took bolted his body. But he said nothing and kept his ground.

Leigh could do it. She let out a slow breath through her gritting teeth. She could ditch him. Going for the door was not the best option. The window might work. Although, Joshua should be here soon.

Ryan’s torture continued. Leigh inched closer to the corner of the room. She couldn’t wipe the grin off her face. It’s like a cartoon show. That man elbowed Ryan’s face, did a one-two, and ended his combo with a German Suplex.

It was fun. Ryan was trying to fight back once in a while, but he would always fail and get punched instead.

Leigh chuckled and begged her legs to move. There’s nothing that she could do. Ryan would fall soon. She could at least not let his sacrifice be a waste. She’ll remember this, at least.


Joshua crash-landed and did the most violent belly flop in history. The barrier protected his fall, and what remained was that man’s broken bones and flesh oozing like a gory smore. It might as well be the human equivalent of crushing a cockroach with a slipper.

“Take that, beeeeeeeeeeeeetch.”

Joshua laughed and moved past Ryan to get to Leigh. He took out his phone, got himself confused, looked back at the supposedly dead body on the floor, and offered his help to her with a pure smile.

“You forgot about this.” Joshua pulled Leigh’s gun from the back of his shorts and handed it to her. “The update must also be late, but we should go,” he said, looking up at the height from which he jumped. “Did something happen while I was holding the fort? You guys had a hard time?”

Leigh shook her head. “He…”

Joshua scoffed at Ryan. “You got your shit beaten to you, huh?”

“Absolutely nothing happened.”

Ryan limped towards that gooey pile of flesh. He said the word and spawned the bloody cabbages. Only then did Joshua’s phone vibrate.

“But you guys are safe now… and,” Joshua stepped back and whistled. “You look stronger, taller… and healthier if that’s the right word. Did the pawn thing you said back then work? You must be strong right now!”

Leigh glanced at Ryan, forcing up a smile. “Yeah,” she said, tilting her head and flashing a tired, full-toothed grin. “It was very cool. I dropkicked the man and he didn’t die—”

“Man,” Joshua chuckled to himself. “Did you see how I dropped down from above?”

He waved his hand and mimicked a flying plane crash landing towards destruction. It didn’t lack in the sound department as well. Joshua was saying much more, but it was a blur to her. Leigh bobbed her head, finding herself glancing back and forth between Joshua, Ryan, and the bloody pile of cabbages on the floor.

Joshua let out a satisfied breath. “But I must say… I kinda missed the best part. What happened to him?”

“Oh… I…” Leigh averted her gaze. “He…”

The outside world glowed. Joshua sprang to action. But the light died just as Ryan had moved in to shadow her with his broken back. Joshua’s phone vibrated. It ended with the sound of a boulder crashing into the earth on the other side of the building.

So, it really was like this.

She was behind both of them.

Nothing changed, even when the side of the apartment building crumbled in what appeared to be a hail of houses, crushing all the cabbages around them.