Chapter 7:

Ch. 7: Living Large

Neo Discadia: Rise of the Sewer Rats

The loud bang of thunder muted the pitter patter of footsteps as they ran through the rain under the veil of midnight’s darkness. Their only source of light hiding behind the stormy rain clouds and everything else, shrouded in the thick fog that came with the downpour. Headlights whizzing by, gave them a brief glimpse of their surroundings. It wasn't much but it was better than nothing. They used it to keep a mental track of the overgrown trees and exposed roots making sure not to trip on any of them as they made their escape. A child no older than 15 followed closely by a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old holding a toddler, and a 5-year-old holding on to the 7-year-old for dear life. suddenly a spotlight flared up around them as the sirens went off alerting that some children had gone missing. Quickly, guardsmen and the orderly flocked to the orchard surrounding the foster home to secure their runaway residents. The siren's blare was so loud that it woke the toddler up and it began to cry alerting everyone nearby of their location. Suddenly they found themselves exposed by the spotlight and guards aimed their tasers at all of them shouting orders to surrender. 

Tasers may be a non-lethal alternative to firearms in theory, But that doesn't mean they can’t be deadly. The average stun gun executes 50,000 volts over the course of five seconds. For an adult, that may be manageable. But for the children, it might as well be a death sentence.

“stop or we will fire!” one guard said

The children looked to the oldest in the group who wore a patch on his shirt with the number zero. He looked at them and calculated the risks of taking off running and hoping the guard's barks was worse than their aim. But came to the conclusion that there was a great possibility that they wouldn't all be able to escape, nor survive if the tasers actually made contact. He shook his head at the children. The plan was off, they failed. They'd have to do better next time… if there even was a next time. The 9-year-old's heart sank, “no, we’ve gotten so far, we can’t stop now! we won’t get a chance like this again!” he thought to himself

Without warning, he charged toward the guards. Number zero tried to grab him but the boy slipped past his grasp. “does he intend to sacrifice himself so that we’ll make our escape? What is he thinking?” he thinks to himself

“open fire!” one of the guards shouts

“NO!” zero shouts as the kid charges forward onto the oncoming barrage of electrified metallic prongs. At that moment a flash of lightning blinded everyone in the area. The guards couldn't see what happened and neither could the children. Zero wiped his eyes and waited. After letting them adjust, what he saw, he couldn't believe it. Dozens of metal prongs were suspended in the air as the kid held out both hands. Everyone was frozen, the guards, the kids, they were all awestruck at the sight. The boy started shouting as he struggled to hold them back. and then, in a rage of fury, he launched them all back into the guards and sent them flying through the air. He stood there panting trying to catch his breath. He looked back and saw them staring at him. They saw the blood trickling down his lip from his nose, how he smiled and gave them a thumbs-up as he said “it’s now or never, were getting out of here if it's the last thing we do.” just before falling over. Zero dashed to catch him and smiled.

“We won’t let your efforts be in vain.” He said as he slumped the boy over his shoulder. “c’mon gang, let’s get the hell out of here.”

the rest of the children looked at him with his face of determination and nodded their heads with affirmation now more pumped than ever. And in that dark and stormy night, they finally escaped the better life foster home to hopefully never see it again. or at least… that's what they thought…

Chapter 7: Living Large

Erika wakes up in a daze. It’s been so long since that day, so much has happened that it feels like lifetimes ago. It’s been so long that, she had almost forgotten. She used to think about that night every day. But now, it seems she catches herself not thinking about it all the time. out of nowhere, she gets struck with the realization that she hasn't thought about it all day. Her life and the life of those around her are so different to what they used to be. That thought, she found it supremely reassuring. That no matter what happened, or where they found themselves, it always got better… eventually…

She got out of her new queen-sized mattress and got dressed to meet up with the boys where she was all but certain she'd find them… at the dining hall. Every morning, all four of them would gorge themselves on food.

“I didn't even know I could eat this much” Johnny said lying back on his chair

“I’ve never felt this full in my entire life” Neo said

“I know I say this every morning but, thank you Neo”

“Stop it already! I didn't actually think you would thank me for the dining hall every morning!”

“But how could I not! I didn't even think this much food existed! let alone it all be in one place.” She said

“if you two spent a little less time talking and more time eating, we could get started on our training” Johnny said

“easy for you to say, you've already eaten more than our entire team’s fair share. I’m only just getting started!”

“yeah! we need to take advantage of this opportunity while we still can!” she said as she slurped a whole bowl of ramen noodles in one gulp

“whoa! While I agree with the sentiment, if you don't slow down your gonna get sick!” Neo said

after eating they made their way to the gym to convert all the calories they’ve eaten into pure muscle. Although they had been going there every day for a week now, they still weren’t experts on how all of the machines worked. Once they were running on the treadmills and Johnny accidentally hit a button that made the treadmill go exponentially faster and faster. He tried to keep up but eventually, the ground gave way from under him and he slammed onto the belt only to be sent flying across the floor as he tumbled to a complete stop. the sight made Erika and Neo laugh so hard, they fell to the floor clutching their stomachs. But not all was hopeless. Erika had gotten the hang of the squat rack and was able to amass a personal record of nearly three times her body weight. The other athletes couldn't believe that such a tiny girl could be so strong. All three of their bodies had gotten noticeably bigger after just one week. They were going all out on their training. But they weren’t making the same mistake everyone else was making, bulkier didn't mean better. they couldn't possibly compete in raw power alone when they couldn't even come close in stature. They were making sure they trained their endurance as well as their stamina. Everything else would come second to that. Even if they got stronger, they would always have to play smarter not harder.

Neo looked at his teammates with pride. He looked and saw how Erika had placed four times her body weight on the bar and had Johnny spotting her. He saw the smile on their faces as they achieved bigger and greater feats day after day. He knew he had made the right decision.

After a hard day’s workout, they would hit the showers and wash up to go across the hall to the sauna. It was important to bathe first before going into a hot humid environment to keep your skin clean. Or so they learned after getting yelled at by the employees running the place that had to clean up after them. There, they would sit and soak in the steam and let the antioxidants melt away as their blood vessels dilated enhancing circulation and stimulating muscle growth.

After taking another shower to freshen up from the sweaty mess they had become in the sauna they put on their complimentary robes and made their way back to their housing unit where Wendy was waiting.

“hold up, I’m gonna go do something, I’ll see you guys in our room.” Erika said

“in that?! have you no shame?!” Johnny said

“nope!” she said as she skirted off

“shell be fine, they've seen her in the gym, no one’s gonna wanna mess with her” Neo said

“I sure hope so” Johnny says

Erika made her way back to the dining hall and filled up a plate. Then she walked over to the front desk

“is it okay if I take this up to my room? I don't want to eat here in just a bathrobe. I got so excited about the food I didn't think. Once I was about to sit and start chowing down I realized how uncomfortable the whole situation was”

“the general rule is you’re not supposed to take out food from the dining hall.” the man said

“oh, c’mon, don't be like that~ I’m already here, I would have to leave this food here, go up and change just to come back. can’t you make an exception~ just this once?” she said leaning forward making sure the guard would get a good view of her cleavage. “I would really appreciate it if you would let me go, just this once~”

the guard's face blushed as they got flustered “well, I guess it's okay. I guess ill make an exception for you since you’re so exposed and all” he said

“yay! Thanks! you’re the best! I’m gonna remember your name… ummmm… carl! Nice to meet you! I’ll see you around” She said as she pranced away

“y-yeah, it’s no problem, just make sure no one sees you walking around with that okay? if not I’ll get in trouble” she said

“okayyyy~~~” she said now way down the hall 

“she’s so fast…” the guard said surprised to see she was already so far away.

“Erika, you are a bewitching mastermind” she said to herself boasting just before she was hit with a wave of nausea from the lying. "boofff its too bad my stomach cant take it..."

she made her way up to the elevator making sure no one saw her, and made it to their room

“whoa! didn't have enough this morning?” Johnny said

“why do you keep making that joke? You know who this is for!” Erika said

“yeah I know, I just never get tired of making it.”

“I still think it's lame that Wendy can't eat with us in the dining hall” Neo said

“she’s not a sponsored athlete, we're lucky they let her stay with us in this room.” Erika said

“that's not much better, she has to stay here while we're out training all day.” Neo said

“as opposed to what? we don't really have a lot of options” Erika said

“no, I know, I’m just saying it sucks that we have to sneak food out of the dining hall because she’s not allowed to eat with us” Neo said

“you won’t find any arguments here” Erika said

“nope not here either” Johnny said

“it’s okay guys” Wendy said catching them all off guard

“I love our new room, the TV has so many channels, the sofa is nice and comfy, it doesn't smell like poop everywhere, I’m not bored at all” she said

the three of them looked at each other and let out a sigh of relief. It's crazy how easy it is to get used to change. It had only been a week and they were already looking at a gift horse in the mouth.

“well I’m glad to hear that sweetie” Erika said rubbing her cheek “and this, is for you!” she said as she held out the plate towering with food. Wendy’s eyes widen as she was taken aback by the sheer amount. Erika was always able to sneak away a plate or two under her shirt before, but this time she wanted to go all out. It was more food than Wendy had ever seen. she couldn't believe it. “all this is for me!?”

“yup!” Erika said

“Wow Erika, You’re the best!”

“hey! We helped too!” Johnny said

"No we didn't!” Neo said digging his elbow into Johnny's ribs

“ay!” Johnny said in pain

Wendy took the plate of food over to the dining table and began gorging herself just like all three of them did in the morning.

“not so fast or you’ll get sick!” Erika said

“you’re one to talk” Johnny said

“do as I say not as I do” she said

“I can't remember where that's from.” Neo said

“where what’s from?” Erika said

Then they all sat together to watch TV and fell asleep on the couch all on top of one another until the alarm clock went off. Neo woke up two see it was time for registration!

“guys! Wake up! We have to get to the front desk before it’s too late!” 

as part of the deal, they were contractually obligated to participate once a week in whatever event they choose. If they fail to meet their quota, they'd lose the sponsorship and be barred from ever gaining it again. and they were about to miss their deadline. As they rushed to get dressed and run down the stairs to jet to the coliseum, a sense of dread overwhelmed them all. They had just started this new life and they were already about to lose it forever. They needed to get to a registration fast.

“dammit, this one's closed!” Johnny said

“so is this one!” Erika said

“what about that one? that one's still open! and There’s no line!” Neo said

“Johnny quick! Get over there and sign us up! It doesn't matter what game it is!” Erika said

“got it!” Johnny said as he dashed down the road past the speeding cars, jumping over the crowds to get to the registration desk

“sewer rats! Party of three!” Johnny said to the clerk who turned to stare at the clock to see there was only one minute left for registration.

“oh c’mon man! don't be like that!” Johnny said

the clerk rolled their eyes “fiiiiiine.” As they pressed down their rubber stamp on the flyer. Johnny grabbed the admittance sheet and waved it in the air “yes! He shouted waving it at Neo and Erika “were in!”

Erika and Neo both jumped in the air and cheered

“so, what game is it?” Erika said now catching her breath

“I don't know, I didn't have time to see” Johnny said

“well then let’s just look at the paper, the sponsored athletes get a heads up on the oncoming game in the admittance sheet.” They looked at the paper and they weren’t exactly sure what they had read

“wha... what the hell is taser tag???” Erika said

Taylor Victoria