Cliché but with a Twist

“Catch up, Humpty; there’s a nice cake in it for you when we get back to the showers!” Yells the heckling voice of Eaglevalley University’s football superstar, Brick Williamson. A squabble of snickering and chest-beating ensues, made by the sheep-minded hyenas surrounding their beloved ringleader. “Finish at least one lap, and I’ll even serve you the cake myself!”

“Run Forest, run!” laughs the jock with his nose furthest up Brick’s prized behind. They were already done with their five laps, but stayed behind to watch their long-term victim, Humphry Jacobs, struggle through just one.

Loud, labored breathing purveys the air, pumping from the lips of the overworked locomotive which was Humphry. He hadn’t run a day in his life, at least not since he learned how to plug himself into a computer and uninstall real-world obligations. Kids since as early as middle school made fun of him for being large, but it oddly didn’t seem to bother him at all. Anything spat his way never seemed to penetrate his ears.

“He almost did it!” one of the other jocks yells, leaping up from his seat in the bleachers to join Humphry on the field. He blows into the boy’s pasty face and fans him with his hands. Another jock rushes down to do the same, over-exaggerating the importance of this completed lap.

“Boys! Stop messing around out here and get your asses to the shower room!” roars the Coach, bearing his teeth and displaying the intensity of an enraged grizzly… even if he looked more like a sunburned pelican with a vein-ridden throat tempered from fifty years of denying the need to simply approach closer rather than yell. The pests scatter; Humphry never reaches the finish line.

In the male locker room, the hiss of ten showers can always be heard going off at any point in the day. Eaglevalley raised many a sports star, so physical education classes occurred every hour.

Humphry quietly peels off his sweaty gym clothes and takes a clear, Ziploc bag from his trendy satchel with him to a chosen shower. Within said bag was a simple bar of soap. After tediously picking it out of its confinements, he sets it down on the ledge by the faucet.

The blaring, snare-drum noise of the less-than-warm shower occupied Humphry’s eardrums, making it impossible to hear Brick switching out his soap bar for one of the used urinal cakes next door from the lavatory. It didn’t take long for Humphry to realize what he had just lathered his chest in. Even the loud cackle of a gathering swarm around his shower got through to his ears and made the reveal all the more worse.

“See! Told you I’d get you your cake, Humpty!” Brick pulls back the clinging curtains, showing off the poorly pleased boy to the entire locker room.

“Urinal cake! That was a urinal cake!” laughs a captain obvious.

“Shut up,” says Brick, returning his full attention to Humphry.

The bullied boy doesn’t cry, or yell back, or even acknowledge the other people in the room mocking him. He simply stands there, trying to wash off the blue smear from his torso. Eventually, the spectacle became boring; it wasn’t fun if there was no reaction to make it that extra bit juicy.

“He’s so dumb; bet there’s nothing even up in that head of his. Doesn’t even know when he’s being spoken to,” a voice from the crowd spits out, finalizing the decision to disperse the swarm. Whether Humphry truly was absent in the mind at all wasn’t known to many; he seemed to be just a strange, careless oaf in the eyes of his peers.

Once all the suds cleared away, and with clothes rightfully hiding that which had previously been laughed at, Humphry made his way out to the bus stop.

A conveniently placed plug in the nearest wall serves as an excellent place to marry his phone charger. Blankly, he stares down at the black block in his hands, pressing down the power button to revive it as though he was trying to give CPR to a hand-held pet.

Before his phone can so much as enter the welcome screen, a myriad of beeps, dings, and whistles sing from the speakers in a chorus of attention-seeking. Slowly but surely, Humphry’s rather dull face peaks into an excited smile. Feeling eyes upon him from confused people also sat with him at the bus stop, he puts the device on silent and tries his best to open notifications as they pop up on his screen. A few untamed chuckles burst from his lips.

“Looking at porn?” sneers a voice from behind, belonging to just one of many throughout Humphry’s day to day. No response is given to him, however. Displeased with the lack of reaction, the man tries again, “hey! Egg-head, I’m talkin’ to you!”

The bus arrives, only giving Humphry a chance to charge twenty percent of his phone’s battery. With the amount of notifications he was receiving, it wouldn’t last long. Disregarding whomever had just rudely blurted out to him, he boards the bus and takes a seat right at the front, where nobody liked to sit. If bully number eighty-four still yelled out at him, he wasn’t paying enough attention to comprehend any of it. The goofy, happy grin remained plastered to his face.

“Any plans for Spring break, Humphry?” the bus driver asks, used to offering idle conversation to the person whom always sat closest to him. It took the boy a while pulling down his oral filters to realize who was speaking.

“Going to Europe, Mister Carl,” Humphry speaks up.

“Well… I’ll be damned. What’s got you goin’ over the pond? Is it a girl?”

“Lots.”

“Oh? Is that so?” chuckles Mister Carl.

“Mmhm.” And with that, the conversation was over. Mister Carl felt amused and confused all at once; Humphry sat up-right in his bus seat with a smile to make up for the terrible day, ten times over in fact.

Three days into Spring, Brick hosts a party at his Uncle’s beach pad. The jocks gather around the television. A hoard of hot wings, tortilla chips, cheesy dips, and donuts conceal the coffee table from sight. Empty beer cans litter the floor, being picked up by a few quietly gossiping girls.

“Hey babe, you hooked the right channel up to this thing, right? Hey!” Brick snaps to the blonde of the bunch.

“Yeah, yeah… Sports.” she snorts back, throwing a hat picked up off the floor at his chest. He catches it and uses the back-end of it to spank her thigh. She releases a shrill gasp and giggles away with her entourage.

“These don’t look like the normal commercials though… looks like a bunch of dork shit I’ll never buy. My laptop already has a keyboard…” Brick chucks his hat back onto the floor and cracks open his beer with one finger. Foam and liquid spill out onto the floor, but he couldn’t give even an inch of care about any mess he makes.

The television finishes up a commercial advertising an eighteen-button mouse for smoother performance in high-intensive games. What comes on next portrays a large room filled to the brim with cheering people waving flags of various countries. A commentator with a booming, German accent blasts through the speakers: Welcome to Galaxy Warlords’ Fifth Annual E-Sports Championship!

“Aw, babe… are you serious? It’s E-Sports… Whatever the hell that means!” complains Brick.

“I thought the E stood for ‘every’… like every sport!”

“Dumb blonde…” Brick reaches for the remote, only to be slapped on the chest by the jock to his right.

“Dude, dude, dude- check it out!”

“I’m changing it, shut up!”

“No, look!” the jock grabs Brick’s face and forces him to look at the screen. Representing the United States, top of the leaderboards, not only in the US of A, but worldwide… four-time champion… the grand-daddy grenadier… star-destroyer supreme… Humphry Jacooooobs!

“No… fricking… way…” Brick breathily whispers, spreading his arms open wide to hold back the other boys at each side of him, more-so to cope with the shock.

“I love you, Germany! So glad to be back here, maybe I’ll stay this time!” Humphry announces. The crowd cheers; cameras pan to show a sea of girls screaming over the edges of the stage, holding their hands out toward him. Humphry looks to the commentator beside him, murmurs an inaudible question, and is given a confirming nod. He then gives the microphone over and rushes toward the edge of the stage to touch the hands of various girls, sign autographs, and take pictures. Ha, ha ha! We’d love to have you, Humphry, looks like you won’t have any trouble in finding a place to sleep. At these words, the crowd erupts into laughter and wolf howls. Will anyone be able to beat this Galactic Hero? Or should we just hand over the two-million-euro cash prize to him now? Naaah, only joking! Up next fr- the broadcast comes to an abrupt stop as the television screen is switched off.

“I can’t believe it…” Brick whispers, “all this time I thought he was just some kind of idiot… but he was just playin’ dumb with me this whole time-… I’m not the dumb one here! I’m not!” He flails his arms like an infant being told no. During his tantrum, he knocks the beer out of the jock’s hand to his left and ends up with a wet crotch. The guy to his right cackles out in a chimpanzee laughter. When Brick turns to glare at him, he notices a phone being pointed in his face.

“Best reaction ever, this is going on YouTube!” he yells, leaping up from the couch to avoid Brick’s gorilla arm-swings.

“I’ll break your phone, I swear to god. Get the hell out of my house, everyone!”

“Brick?” calls out his girlfriend,

“Even you, just go, get out!” With haste, wet-pants Brick kicks everyone out of the house, forcing them to find their own ways home or elsewhere. He drags his feet back to the couch, where he flickers on the television again. It showed an interview between Humphry and an extremely enticing lady with bright-blue hair in a slim-fitting black dress.

Before either Humphry or the interviewer could speak, Brick mutes the television and just looks between them with his head in his hands. Although what was being said was inaudible, pictures often flashed up on the screen showing Humphry celebrating with his presumed fans. One of the pictures displayed him sat intensely gaming whilst bikini models tried to pine for his attention.

Amidst the collage of images being presented, Brick occasionally caught his reflection in the mirror; not only himself, but also the trash cluttering the floor, the cheap food on the table, and the wet stain on his crotch from the spilled beer. No friends, no girlfriend, not even his uncle, just him alone.

Humphry’s face appears back on the screen, he smiles into the camera and gives two giant thumbs up.

Brick reaches for the remote and turns off the television screen.

Thanks to the release of a video depicting Brick’s reaction to Humphry’s online fame, the cat was out of the bag. The bullying came to an abrupt stop for the fifth-time Galaxy Warlords Champion. As an act of truce (but also a means of getting on the rich kid’s good side) jocks have been lining up to smear urinal cakes over themselves. An online club started at Eaglevalley University to show the hard-done-by students a new side to life. Finally: Brick transferred to a new state, where he’s now being mentored by people which he would have bullied at one point in his life in the arts of e-sports… hoping to one day knock the crown off of Humphry’s head, all in the name of pride. End.

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The Vulture Takes What It Wants

Once she was a caged bird,

wing-clipped without a whim,

but now she flies with her flock.

Sing loud, sing sweet little canary;

her voice goes unheard.

When she was a caged bird.

The vulture looms beyond the window,

concealing it like a coffin’s door.

She wished to fly with her flock.

She sees from between his tar-black feathers,

yonder her friends flapped and fluttered.

Woe is she, a caged bird.

He kept her sweet song to himself,

years passed and then… so did he.

She will fly among her flock.

At long last she flew for the first time,

leaving that dark-feathered warden behind.

Once she was a caged bird,

but now she flies with her flock.

Childish Misconceptions

I miss those rose-tinted days in the sun,

When fighting with wooden swords was a game.

No matter how many times we’d been slain,

We’d just stand up and go back to square one.

Back then, the war, to us, was exciting;

Being a soldier was a fine honour.

Or becoming a knight addressed as ‘sir’.

We never imagined death as something.

Now that I’ve seen it with my own two eyes,

I want no part in it any longer.

Keep the despair, the cries, and the somber.

Bring me back to my homely paradise.

 

Cyber Reincarnation

I’ve been toying around with this concept for a novel a while now. Did a bit of an introduction! Hope you enjoy!

1

How much Benjamin liked what he saw could be found in the way he judged himself up and down in the bathroom mirror. First, he turned left, prodded the fat on the side of his hip, then did the same to the right. The way his finger sprang back out again, like bushing down on a memory-foam pillow, displeased Ben. Aged fat, judging by the density of the mass between bone and skin. Without a doubt, Benjamin’s overweight body caused him a great deal of shame. Sucking in didn’t help, it just made him look like wide oval instead of a wide circle, besides, he didn’t have the strength to keep that big gut sucked in always. It didn’t matter what the rest of him looked like; the first thing people thought of when they saw Ben, involves his unhealthy eating habits. Though, the condition of the rest of him certainly did contribute, at least a little, to his overall first impression. Greasy, dirt-blonde hair meekly hangs from atop his potato-shaped head, clinging to the sides of his pimple-face like an octopus desperately trying to hold on to a boulder during rough tides.

Gems amidst muck, a suitable description for the only appealing part one may pay attention to about Benjamin’s overall visage. His eyes. These are the kind of eyes that photoshop geniuses spend hours trying to produce in vanity photo-shoots. A green that can’t be compared to any corny gemstone or precious material. With any true treasure, however, it must be found. In Benajamin’s case, his eyes can only be found when he separates forehead fat from cheek pudge.

He had an appearance difficult to adapt to; luckily for him, he didn’t spend enough time around other people to give them the chance of judgement. Like many others in this technological era, cyberspace allowed Benjamin to be the person he wanted to be, and cram as many carbohydrates into his maw as he so desired. Psychologically, this fat lard convinced himself that every poor choice made in the real world, could easily have a pretty ‘cover’ thrown over it.

“I’m headed to the Gym,” he might say to one of his many lady followers. Little did they know, what he really meant goes along the lines of: “I’m about to mute your chat for enough time to convince you I was away at the Gym, but I’m actually just going to sit here and finish off my chicken wings so that I don’t get oily slime on my keyboard.” After Ben cleans his hands off enough to type again, always forgetting to pick out the crumbs from under his nails (Which he ends up chewing on later anyway), he might unmute the chat and say something like, “Man, I felt like I was the only one there. Had all the machines to myself, lol.” Of course, the reactions of praise from whomever he spoke tricked his internal chemicals to make him feel good about himself. Even if the life he created didn’t exist: who could call him out on it? It may as well be true.

What girl settles for an over-grown lima bean living in their mother-pod? Yes, to compliment poor Benjamin’s already unfortunate existence with a tasteful cliché: he lives in his parents’ basement. What used to be a recreational living space and laundry room: now a complete bedroom and bathroom for the chick that could never fly from the nest. At first, his parents seemed fully on board with the whole idea of staying an extra few years at home until confidence eventually plucks him away, but the notion has since grown less-appealing with Ben’s twenty-eighth birthday passing by.

Despite the many hundreds of times his parents have threatened to kick him out of he doesn’t start his own life, they just can’t bring themselves to following through and forcing him away. Benjamin had a troubling childhood. His weight gained him no friendships, and a whole bucket of bullies. Always a struggling little victim in his mother’s eye: he will always require babying. The generosity and patience of Mister and Mrs. Cole (Ben’s parents): two notions constantly taken for granted by their unmotivated son. With no idea what he wants to do or where he wants to go ‘when he gets older’, the Cole-family trio sits in limbo.

A resounding creek bounces off the walls of Benjamin’s little nook, created by an overburdened computer chair. If a reward existed where furniture could be commended for their outstanding performances, this chair would be the reigning champion ten times in a row. The arm-rests: naught but lazy limbs which loosely hung by each side; over time, Ben’s expanding thighs broke the sockets, leaving them impractical. The acne-laden oaf makes a few bold scoots forward; each time his rear lifts to jolt the seat forward, it lets loose an unintelligible scream of pain which humans can only acknowledge as a squeak. For everyone living above him, this noise symbolized two things. 1) Benjamin woke up and can now accept his lunch, or 2) Benjamin just returned from the bathroom. Any squeak before one in the afternoon indicates that he pulled an all-nighter.

A desperate stab at the computer’s on-switch, followed by irate tapping on the desk means all is not to accord with the pint-sized hippopotamus. An open phone on the un-made bed behind him, depicting a long wall of text from a female, confirms this. Sweat oozes from only the armpits and under-breast; adding fresh patches of hue to the other miscellaneous stains found on Ben’s sleep-shirt. When a blue screen pops up stating at a system update temporarily seizes his computer, two fists come down upon what appears to be a table. Plastic bottles, stiff tissues, and candy wrappers cover every inch of the desk; the only time when room is made upon it is when Benjamin swipes a corner-full of trash onto the floor and replaces it with trash-to-be. By the time Benji the Glutton manages to uncurl his sausage fingers and get the blood running through them again, the update completes.

Although the symbols on his keyboard’s buttons rubbed away long ago, Benjamin programmed his mind with the pristine whereabouts of each letter and number. Typing away through the dark nights trained him quite well. In a blur of movements, the password is typed in, and an instant messaging program pops up across the screen. After observing how quickly her son could type, Mrs. Cole often joked to her husband that Benjamin could be an Olympic racer if only the energy transferred to his pitiful excuse for legs.

Gulping down a wad of nervous saliva, Benjamin scrolls through a list of contacts: none of them bore notifications less than fifteen: popular for the wrong reasons. Britney, Samantha, Alie, Emily, Tania, Chloe: all female names. As the seconds rolled by, more notifications send a light ping through the speakers hidden beneath the plastic fallout of what looked like a child’s feast. The names scrambled as each new notification sent that particular girl to the top of the list, only to be taken over by another. It doesn’t take long to find the odd one out: Kat, with only one notification.

“I know who you are, and quite frankly, it makes me sick. I can’t believe you lied about who you are. That’s called Catfishing you know? It’s not right. You’re messing with people’s emotions. I’m going to make it my personal goal to talk to every single one of your followers and show them my evidence. You’re not getting away with this, Kevin- or should I say, Benjamin? Sick freak. This just goes to show that you -are- just like all the other guys. You aren’t as different as you say you are. Thanks for ruining my world. – Kat.” Attached to the bottom of the message is a screenshot of Benjamin requesting for edits to be made on a picture he used to serve as the mask to his cyber-identity. Most certainly, tact lacks in this instance. Foolish boy, to think that a few mere edits to an already existing picture might throw followers off his scent: karma in action.

The longer Ben stared at the message, the lower his heart sunk into his chest. His spine had been torn out and ice water filled its place. With a trembling hand, he dares to open the other messages.

“I told you my secrets… -Emily.”

“We were going to get married one day… -Samantha.”

“I hope you literally get hit by a car… -Britney.”

“LOL you’re so fat! -Tania.”

They all knew. Benjamin’s cyber life potentially ends here. All the relationships he’d been working on for the past eight years; all the memories and phone calls; all the emotions felt sat within a funeral coffin that embodied his instant messenger program, laid out for him to stare at with nothing but a quiver in his chin, and a sniffle at his button nose.

Protecting himself from real life consequences prompts Benjamin to delete every single profile he ever made. The last thing he needed: his parents brought into this humiliating mess. With everything deactivated and swept from the face of the internet, deleting his messenger account only remained. Plucking up the courage, the grief-struck man pushes his cursor toward the ‘Options’ button, treating it like a heavy paper-weight. On the way, he clicks once more on Kat’s chat box. He had one last thing to say.

“I’ll make it up to you, I promise.” The words typed are misspelled a few times, for the sporadic hiccups which make Ben’s entire torso bob up and down prove a difficult obstacle to work around. Immediately the bottom of the chat box displays the words, ‘Seen: 2:36 by Kat’. Three dots follow, indicating the girl’s reply is eminent.

Too afraid to see what she might have to say, Benjamin bolts his cursor around the screen and deletes his account then and there.

What could he do now? Any sane person might see this as a sign to break the cybernetic bonds and do something with their lives at last. Benjamin is not a sane person. At a steady pace, the cursor moves down the screen. Click: ‘Create New Account’; They never do learn.

Student Excuse #87

I am so very sorry, Professor,
For not giving my homework in on time.
I swear, I have a genuine reason
That will not lead you to think it’s a lie.

Well, you assigned the paper on Wednesday,
But I didn’t see it until Thursday,
I saw it was due by Saturday night,
But I had plans all day Thursday-Friday.

I woke up at lunch because I was sick,
A friend came in to town I never see.
My internet was down when I came back,
Printer broke: I couldn’t make a copy.

Accept my late work to prove I did it.
Oh! And how can I get extra credit?

How I lost my ability to give a damn.

Listing to tell a deeper story:

A rhinoceros beany-baby in one of my kindergarten classrooms: It was hard keeping track of all the stuffed animals I brought to school each day. A deck of Top Trump cards about safari animals in the playground: I suspect one of my classmates stole it from my bag. About one hundred-million hairbands, scattered everywhere I’ve ever been: I think it’s a normal girl thing though. My confidence at the door to fifth grade when the other children found out I was half American: I didn’t even know what a yank was.

I lost my friends when America appeared more in the news: America was a weird and mythical place to us, overseas. My pencil case, up on the shade of the bleachers: The bullies made a game of throwing my things up there. My chance to become friends with the other half-American at my school: Her parents transferred her too because of all the bullying, her name was Annie. I lost my kiss-virginity behind a portacabin: too bad it was just a dare on the boy’s behalf. One of the most important things I miss-located in my young life was a ‘life’: Computer games became more popular, and I spent as much time as I could, sucked into cyberspace.

I lost sleep for the first time when I was just ten years old, and still haven’t found it since. Time with my little brother: I was a recluse in my angsty, preteen phase. Opportunities to go out to parties or meet people: All I needed were the friends I made on the internet. A BFFs necklace I was given by a ginger girl that was also the victim of bullying: She didn’t know what a yank was either. Trust in my biology professor on the last stretch of middle-school: He said that I probably ate a lot of fatty food because I had ‘Murica’ running in me, when confronted he told me to get used to it.

I lost the bullies when I moved to an American school: Gained new ones that picked on me for being a Brit. Patience was left at the door of sophomore year: I had to say ‘water’ in my funny accent to all my other classmates about a hundred times each. Even more confidence left me at the start of each new course in High school: People treated me like something cool to show their friends, but they never wanted to get to know me past my pronunciation of words.

I lost my ability to give a damn when I entered college: I’d heard it all before, and I was just going to be me whether people thought it was weird or not. Fear is nowhere to be found, but I did locate the backbone I lost in Middle School. Loneliness: Being proud of myself opened doors to meet great people, and even fall in love.

Comparing Imagery and Mood

Depression

The leaves fall dead. Upon the frozen ground is where they now lay, withered and useless, no longer part of something big or beautiful. It’s amazing to think that when tree and leaf are combined, a spectacle of majesty is formed; when separated, both variables seem naked, cold… sickly. The foreground blends into the background as the canvas is washed in grayscale monotony. All the colour and life is sucked down beneath the ground, suffocated by the sleeping, white precipitation. As if someone were to imbue the very air with tiny little needles, it was difficult to breathe, for fear of the cold to choke your throat. The usual flowery smell that once lingered around the nostrils, was now too strong to even stomach. I daren’t sit upon my usual bench; the bench that told a hundred stories past, now just a few planks of wood nailed together and covered in frost. We have a lot in common: the bench and I. From where I stood, I could see the same old bird house, hanging from the same old oaken branch. The birds that lived there were probably far away from here for the winter. I wish I had more in common with the birds than a rotten bench. Where are the songs of magpies and robins? The music is replaced by whatever leaf one happens to step on: a crunch as the deceased flora take their final breaths beneath careless feet. All I could taste was the salt in my mouth from a runny nose and leaking ducts. How many more times was I going to wander down this same path, expecting it to be different each time?

Happiness

Oh, what a wonderland. Snow as far as the eye can see made it hard to tell where the land ended and the sky began. Everything around me screamed of Winter. How differently the park seemed without colour, but it retained its own splendor even so. The naked trees stand like a flock of zebras lined up in one long row, striped and proud. They watch as their old leaves are trod on whilst they prepare to bloom green when spring arrives. The infectious sound of crunching prevails throughout the air, daring the passersby to rhythmically plan their next steps or keep to a steady metronome. Even if it hurts to breathe in the frigid atmosphere, I do it anyway just to take in the full aroma of old bark. If anything, the cold merely adds a bit of a kick to it. Never usually do I come here alone, but today felt like a better day than any to visit the ancient memory bench. It still was as I always remembered it; dented with age and marks which each told a story of their own, and I knew all of them. The layer of ice wasn’t enough to stop me from sitting down. I knew my trousers could stop most of the moisture from travelling to my skin, though I wouldn’t mind too much if it did. The birdhouse was still around too, hanging valiantly from the stalwart oak’s branch. The magpies and robins were away on holiday, soaking up the sun on southern beaches. I await their songs like an adamant fan, but for now, I shall simply hum until their return.