“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?”
“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.