Backstage, my nerves began to kick in. With every second that the big event drew closer, the bile in my throat rose approximately three feet. According to my calculations I had less than ten minutes before it would reach my mouth. I stroked the gold-plated plastic of the championship belt around my waist in a futile attempt to calm myself. I was always a little nervous before making my entrance but this time things were different. This was the end of the road for me, and it had been predetermined that I was going to lose. After all, my opponent was clean-cut, handsome, and most important of all a crowd favorite. Johnny Rocket had gotten into all of this for the heck of it and found instant credibility while I had quietly kept my head down and struggled every step of the way to get where I was (mostly because I tended to bump into a lot of stuff with my head down). If I had known that all of my work would ultimately culminate in a loss, would I still have gone through it? Absolutely. I loved my craft. I just couldn't stand defeat at the hands of him. I was supposed to lose, but I was going to take a stand that night. Consequences be damned.
The P.A. system crackled to life and my name boomed throughout the building. I was keyed up, pumped. I smacked myself in the head a few times to focus, then stepped out into the spotlight. My outfit was specially designed for the event; bright yellow knee-high boots with matching undies and a powder blue cape that had "Dennis 'The Menacing Menace' Farrell" sprawled across the back in shiny yellow sequins. I was oiled up. I was flexing. I was fabulous.
The crowd, however, seemed confused. I had always been rather quiet and unassuming in both demeanor and appearance, and the sheer awesomeness of my apparel seemed to catch them off guard. A few people laughed and heckled but that was okay. Everyone has their detractors, and any reaction is better than no reaction at all. Johnny Rocket was called out next, and his name was met with a resounding round of applause and cheers. He sauntered out in a pretentious three-piece suit, glancing my way while being careful to demonstrate his superiority by grinning and shaking his head as though I were a joke. Johnny then turned his back on me and made his way to the microphone. As usual. He loved to blab away for minutes on end and whore himself to the audience before things began, but this time I wasn't going to give him the chance.
Closing the gap between us with blinding speed, I delivered a dropkick to the back of his neck. He stumbled forward and grasped at the injury, then spun around with a bewildered look. That look said "this isn't supposed to happen", and "what's wrong with you?", and "ow".
I had caught him off guard, and now I had to go in for the kill before he could compose himself. I moved in close, delivering a blow to his stomach. As he doubled over in pain I wrapped my arm around his neck then dropped straight down, driving his face into the ground. What followed next was a chain of devastating moves. Suplexes, body splashes, toeholds, rolling DDTs. I had practiced these techniques a thousand times over, and now my arms and legs were moving as if they had minds of their own. My brain moved as if it had legs of its own. I'm pretty sure my appendix didn't do anything out of the ordinary, but don't quote me on that.
Several minutes into this severe beating the higher-ups realized that I had taken things horribly off track by pounding on their golden boy and three officials were sent in to break things up, but at that point I was unstoppable. The first two officials came at me side by side while the third trailed them by a distance of roughly ten feet. A regrettable mistake. With a guttural roar, I extended my arms outward and clotheslined the two in front. I heard something snap to my right, and on my left a "gnnh!" erupted as the other official bit down on his own tongue. The panic in the third's eyes was exquisite, but he had no time to change direction. Sustaining my momentum, I tucked myself into a more compact form and lunged at him while leading with my shoulder, spearing him in the bread basket with monster truck force. To this day I can't understand why that man was carrying a bread basket.
Johnny took advantage of this distraction and feebly dropped down to the area directly in front of the audience's seats, hoping to make an escape. Laughing madly at my own power and a joke I had heard earlier in the day, I hopped down as well and grabbed a conveniently placed metal folding chair. Johnny probably wouldn't have been able to hear my approach under normal circumstances, but the crowd yelled and pointed behind him. He twirled around and flailed a wild punch in my general direction, but I ducked beneath it with ease. It was the first attack he had launched against me throughout this entire ordeal and it was to be the last.
"It's over," I whispered, then came up with the chair in a terrible uppercut, connecting with his chin. The sickening sound of the impact crushed the very air, and one girl actually screamed in horror. Screamed. You never get a reaction like that from the audience. It was fantastic. I covered Johnny's unconscious body the moment it struck the ground and proceeded to conduct the pin count myself.
Had it really been that easy? It felt hollow somehow, but that feeling vanished quickly when I realized that I had done exactly what I had set out to do. I could now move on with pride. Their hero laid out by a nobody, the crowd began booing loudly and throwing increasingly large objects at my knees. Luckily for me, they all had bad aim and almost everything hit my face. Before departing, I reached into the secret compartment of my undies and pulled out my slightly damp calling card, laying it across Johnny Rocket's slumbering eyes.
Of course I was still going to lose the election. I never had a shot running against a guy like Johnny Rocket, the football team's star quarterback. But I had managed to surprise everyone, and knew in my heart that Santa Fe High School debates would never be the same.
‘Toad coin?’ wondered the traveler as he examined the pebble. It did not look all that different from any other pebble, and certainly nothing like a coin. ‘What manner of coin has no head or tail, and bears no seal or flag? Who backs this toad coin, the toad bank? The toad treasury!?’ The traveler laughed, but the toads croaked sternly back at him.
Spending $10-15 a day on perishable organic dog food is not a sign of a decadent culture in terminal decline, it's actually real good and worth it.
No lifeguard on duty. Maze run at your own risk.
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