Neo Discadia: Rise of the Sewer Rats
Garbage, mold, and stink. The three central pillars of the discadian lifestyle. And don't forget hunger, that's the fourth pillar. And crime, that's the fifth pillar. You know what? picture the worst place to live and you're beginning to have an approximation of what its like here. but at least most of them live above ground. No one is crazy enough to live in that death trap. All except for the sewer rats.
The staircase opened up to the city's flood drain; a giant hole in the floor that they dug out to drain away all the water in the city and feed it into the sewer. It's where they got most of their light down in the underground city.
“Woah, look up ahead” Erika said
on their way to their destination, they were walking on a highway that collapsed due to a landslide. Johnny looked over the edge and he could see tiny cars at the bottom along with collapsed pieces of road and the pillars that used to hold them
“Johnny, don't stand so close to the edge!”
“listen, just cuz you're afraid of heights doesn't mean I am”
“it's basic human instincts to be afraid of heights!” she said
in spite of Erika's warning, he leaned further forward but when he heard some rocks crackling on their way down the hill he thought it was the edge giving way and jumped backward in a fright.
The other two couldn’t help but laugh “haha I thought you said you weren’t afraid of heights!” Neo said still holding Wendy.
“im not afraid of heights! Im afraid of falling! Its different!”
“oh reeeally? how so?” Neo said
“while being afraid of hights is an inconsequential irrational fear, falling from a high place will actually kill you.”
“but wouldn’t being afraid of heights prevent you from falling from a high place because you won’t go near them?”
“Listen, I'm not having this argument again” Johnny said
“whatever” Neo and Erika started walking “I'm just saying, if you were afraid of heights, you wouldn't be falling off high places nearly as much.”
Johnny got up and ran up to catch them “but, if I found myself in a high place , I can still function even if I look down”
“that's the number 1 thing you’re not supposed to do!” Erika said
“well, I can get away with it because my fear is falling, not heights.”
“falls aren’t dangerous unless they're from high places!” Erika yelled
“but hights aren’t dangerous unless you fall!” Johnny yelled back
“GUYS!” Neo screamed
“WHAT?!” they both looked back at Neo
“shhhhhhh, your gonna wake up Wendy”
“oops,” Johnny said
“forgot she was sleeping back there” said Erika
“Can we all just agree that heights and falls are pretty scary, even more so when combined?”
“easy for you to say, you're not scared of either.” Johnny said
“yeah Neo, in fact, you're not scared of anything.” Erika said
“not true i-” but before he could say, Erika interrupted him
“you have no trouble crawling through pipes and vents”
“so he’s not claustrophobic” Johnny said
“you had no problem living in the sewers so you're not afraid of the dark either” Erika said
“he also moves those trash bags so he's not a germaphobe” Johnny said
“yeah! damn Neo, what are you afraid of?” said Erika
“… rat kings”
the thought ran a chill down Erika's and Johnny's spines and they both moved like they had an ice cube running down their backs.
“Yeah, you know what, fair point. I think ill count myself in on that phobia.” Erika said
“Yeah, me too!”
they've all had their run-ins with a rat king or two living in the sewers. they would just be minding their own business when they suddenly heard what sounds to be fifty rats squeaking nearby only to look at a mound of them heading straight towards them looking for food. Rats are prolific breeders that give birth anywhere between 8 to 18 pups per litter. And they live in tight spaces so it's not uncommon that in all the mess of living like a rat pack, all on top of one another, that their tails get tangled up in such a way that they can’t untangle them. the product of this predicament are forced to move as a unit or die of starvation. That is what is known as a rat king.
And while, albeit, the thought of eating something in the comfort of your own home and seeing a massive mound of rats charging toward you is definitely something to be scared of, it was only a deflection. Neo didn't want to kill the mood and say what he was actually afraid of. and they all knew it, they just didn't remember with such a light-hearted topic. Neo's phobia, is-
“look! over there! you can see it from here!” Johnny said
they all looked to see the massive colosseums dominating the city's skyline. They had almost forgotten how impressive they were.
The superstructures were something to behold even for those that saw them every day. they walked in and instantly felt how tiny they were. Grown adults twice their size lining up for registrations. There weren’t any limits at all. Even a child, like Wendy, could join if they wanted to. But no one ever did because the only reason to join is to win the money. You’re not gonna sign up to play when you know your gonna lose. And worse when the price for losing is your life. done in front of 10s of thousands of people the executions were a spectacle to be held at the end of every round. They would have their old reliable fan pleasers like the spin wheel of death where they strap the poor chap to a wheel and start spinning them faster and faster until their limbs come flying off. Or the old-fashioned guillotine, an apparatus where they dropped a big heavy blade on your neck severing your head from the rest of your body and held it up to the crowd while you’re still alive as you slowly suffocate to death. but they never ceased to come up with new and unique ways of killing the losers. And they almost always had some tangential relation to the games that preceded. That day they would unveil their newest contraption. But I won’t spoil the surprise.
“there's so many people” Johnny said
“you’d think they’d run out of people by now.” Erika said
Neo looked around scanning the competition and it was nerve-wracking. If it came to nothing but strength, they’d be toast. It was a gamble at this point whether or not they’d even have a chance.
“Hey Neo, what's wrong?” Erika said
“hey, uh, maybe we should forget about all this, come back another day when there’s less, muscle to worry about.” Neo said
“These guys? Their nothing, I can probably take on half of these muscle brains with one hand tied behind my back” Johnny said while accidentally bumping into the 400 lbs 6foot 6 man in front of him. he turned around to look at Johnny like he would eat him right then and there
“ehhh not you tho, you're definitely too strong for me he he…”
the muscular man turned his attention back to the line ahead of him.
“How are they even that big tho, there's not nearly enough food to go around, what gives?” Johnny said
“it’s part of the benefits, most of these are probably returning victors. They have access to food, housing, and all kinds of training equipment.” Neo said
“wait, that doesn’t seem fair, so winners are more likely to win, and newcomers are more likely to lose? That's like, cheating…right?” Erika said
“it’s all a game with the odds stacked against you from the very beginning” Neo said
“well whatever, that’ll only make it all the more impressive when we win!” Johnny said
“right-O!” Erika said
“there's no convincing you guys is there…” Neo said
“go for it everyone! you can do it! show no mercy! give me freedom or give me death!” Wendy said
“not you too!” Neo said
the registration desk finished with the behemoth In front of them and shouted the word “NEXT!”
“oh, that's us!” Johnny said “party of four we'd like to register for the games please.”
“as opposed to what? That's the only reason you're here to begin with” the clerk said
“ah, ha ha ha um yeah anyway…” Johnny said
“will she be joining the games as well?” the clerk said pointing at Wendy
“oh no she's not-” but before Erika could finish
“then it's a party of three and a plus 1. Here are your numbers, she can wait in the green room while you play, present yourselves to the arena at precisely 2’oclock to hear the game announcements. NEXT!”
the gang had no choice but to move on to the green room and wait until it was time to go. They opened the door and there was a vanity, a bed, a coffee table, a sofa, and two armchairs. They tossed their bags in and made themselves comfortable while they waited.
Johnny was sitting on the couch when he noticed a remote on the coffee table. He looked around by didn't see anything for it to command. Haphazardly he pressed the on button and a segment of the wall started moving and a TV popped out of it.
“wooooah, hey Wendy, it looks like you can watch us play while you wait”
(no, not awesome) Neo said to himself. The thought of her watching are the only family she had left being executed in a public spectacle gave him a chill. He walked over grabbed the remote out of Johnny's hand and turned the TV off
“hey! What gives!?”
“you guys are taking things pretty laid back, you do realize this is a death game right?
“yeah! and as such if these are my final moments I don't want to spend them worrying my head off like you!” Johnny said
“enough doom and gloom. You guys, we’ve got this.” Erika said with a determined look on her face. “we can handle whatever they throw at us. we were made for this.”
Neo looked at her and smiled shaking his head “well when you say it like that. who am I to disagree.”
“that's what I've been saying!” Johnny shouted
“shut up Johnny” they both said in unison leaving him no alternative but to wipe his tears.
“It's almost time” Erika said “we'd better get going”
Neo knelt down in front of Wendy. And gave her a big hug. “if anything happens to us, you take that money in your bag, and you make it last, okay? when you’re running low, remember what I taught you, okay?”
“no! you've got this! I believe in you”
Neo smiled “yeah, you’re right, we’ve got this” then he rubbed her head messing up her hair before leaving
“but belief can only take you so far.” Neo thought to himself.
They went to the arena as the front desk person had told them and didn't wait long for the announcements.
“ladies and gentlemen are you ready for the coming attractions!?!?” the announcer's voice was answered with intelligible screams and cheers
“allrighty then! as you may all very well know, this is a competition of blood sweat, and tears. Where challengers must face their fears in a fight for survival where last place gets eliminated… FROM LIFE!” The crowd goes wild
“each deadly trial is a clash of the best of the best mixed with a couple newcomers thrown in here and there to spice things up. You never know when the next champion will rise from the bottom. And so we open registry to each and every one of you, if you think you've got what it takes, then come right on ahead and show us your stuff! Today’s challengers are nothing to sneeze at! But don't rule out the rookies either! Especially with the upcoming event, lone wolves beware because teamwork makes the dream work. And without further ado. Everyone get ready, for motorcycle jousting!!!!”
the gang looked at each other confused. then Johnny said “motorcycle… what now?”