DEFEAT. 016 – Bullseye Womp Rats
[DEFEAT. is Rendar Frankenstein’s truest attempt at fiction. Presented in weekly episodes, the novella tells the tale of Daryl Millar – a hero who dies at the intersection of pop culture, science-fiction, war epic, and fantasy]
Daryl Millar walked through the doors of the cafeteria, toting only his brown-bagged lunch and a growing sense of optimism. But then he saw his two best friends sitting on opposing benches of their table.
The need for a call to arms.
Daryl took a seat at the head of the table, in between the heavy-metal punching-bag and the broken-down joystick-operator. Looking to his left and right, Daryl couldn’t prevent the laugh from shooting past his lips. It wasn’t a chuckle at his friends’ expense. It was exasperation.
“So, when did this happen?”
Riff answered, “Last night.”
“About ten minutes ago,” 8-Bit quickly followed.
“Damn, guys.” Daryl paused, allowing the moment to marinate. He wanted to give Riff and 8-Bit the chance to present their tales of woe. This attribute, the ability to generate a train of thought and then wait for another to signal its departure, is absolutely necessary for any judicious leader. As such, Daryl cracked open his can of Coca-Cola Classic, commented on his love of the beverage’s original formula and continued to wait for his friends’ explanations.
Halfway through his twelve ounces of soda pop, Daryl understood that elaboration would not come voluntarily. Goading, the question was poised, “Okay, so who’s responsible?”
Silently and without hesitation, 8-Bit and Riff extended their index fingers in the direction opposite of Daryl Millar’s focus. Rotating his torso and tossing his chin over his left shoulder, the head of the table looked to where the pointer fingers were, well, pointing. Not surprisingly, the incriminating digits were aimed at the lunch table occupied by the varsity football team. Specifically, the team’s captain.
“Why does that guy have to be such an asshole?” Daryl was now preparing to continue his lunch while offering his friends encouraging words. “Seriously, I’m sorry dudes. I guess some people are just predisposed to finding satisfaction by making other people’s lives miserable. One of these days, though, it’ll come back and bite him in the ass.”
But when Daryl finished, he realized that his truncated pep-talk had failed to capture his friends’ attention. In fact, both 8-Bit and Riff were still staring right past their comrade, in the same direction as they had pointed. Now completely turning around in his chair, Daryl saw what had mesmerized his audience of two: Brady Moore.
However, Brady was now standing away from his seat. Pantomiming the slitting of a throat with an extended thumb. Unquestionably directing his hatred towards Daryl.
Brady screamed, “What’re you staring at?! You see something you like?! Turn around and eat your lunch or I’ll come over there and give you a nice new face to match the ones I gave your butt-buddies!” With a hulking zest, the letterman-clad Neanderthal high-fived his closest teammate. Readjusted his balls. Cackled menacingly.
Daryl was simply unimpressed. Already sporting his ever-untouchable optimism, the remains of his bagged lunch were wadded up in his right hand.. His friends knew what was coming, but had drastically different reactions. Riff nodded in approval. 8-Bit anxiously cringed.
With the reassurance of a wink, a stand was taken on the behalf of friends.
“Actually, Brady, I’m not hungry. Why don’t you have my lunch instead?” And with these words, a crumpled brown bag was catapulted by Daryl Millar. The bag, nearly full, soared over the teens who were partaking in their favorite school-day activity and smacked Brady right in the forehead. The impact was far too soft to inflict any physical damage. But it was quite successful in delivering a heavy payload of humiliation.
Goliath didn’t fallen when struck by David’s slingshot but was laughed at by his Palestinian peers instead. The varsity football team burst into cacophonous laughter. Unaccustomed to such shame, Brady kicked the table to quiet his pack of hyenas and then set an uninterrupted course for the man behind the bag-tossing.
Daryl foresaw Brady’s intentions and instinctively sprang up from the table while suggesting that “You two stay right here.” He walked briskly, meeting his adversary halfway. Brady was fuming with anger. Daryl was calm and collected. And when he judged himself to be a safe distance away from 8-Bit and Riff, the teen planted his feet.
Moments later, the second combatant arrived. The two stood literally toe to toe, looking like a couple of professional wrestlers. At least half a foot shorter, Daryl craned his neck backwards so that he could stare right into the eyes of his foe. The big brooding bastard looked downward. The spittle began to pool on the corners of his mouth. His massive, freakishly huge lungs demanded that he suck in air at alarming rate and exhale nasty refuse just as ferociously. With the stink of digesting protein hitting him in the face, Daryl unblinkingly challenged, “Well, what exactly are you planning to do?”
“I’m going to knock your fucking teeth through the back of your throat.”
“Sure, sure, that sounds great. But with all of these people watching us right now, do you really think that you’d get away with it? This many witnesses and even the star quarterback may have to sit on the sidelines for the big game…”
Brady leaned backward. Temporarily disengaging, he realized that all the eyes in the cafeteria were now on him. Most looked on with mouths agape, amazed that the resident tyrant was being told that he did not have carte blanche. Whether Daryl would be successful mattered not — the fact that he took a stand was enough.
In the minds of these high school students, they were watching a single X-Wing fire proton torpedoes at the Death Star.
Even with his elevated status and the extra privileges it provided, there was no way Brady could sock Daryl in the face without being reprimanded. If he had had an understanding of chess deeper than the complicated version of checkers, Brady would have recognized his current status for what it was.
But before withdrawing, the quarterback tilted forwards and returned to his intimately aggressive stance. Whispering, Brady assured Daryl, “This is far from over. When I’m through with you, you’ll wish you never fucked with me. And your friends, well, they’ll wish they never knew you.”
“Get the fuck out of my face. And I swear to God that if you ever bother my friends again, I’ll turn your entire existence into ruin.”
Daryl returned to his table as a friend
A man of a principle
And most importantly, a champion.