[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 got out of the car before it had even stopped. His mother, affixed to the rearview mirror as she applied a third coat of rouge, didn’t notice. Even if she had, she wouldn’t have stopped him. Chalk it up to an understanding that no words could ever contest one of her son’s resolutions. Or, chalk it up to a desire to return home, pop a couple of Vicodin, hide in bed, and listen to Barbara Streisand’s The Broadway Album.

Either way — chalk it up.

Parted by the wind, a pile of leaves got out the seventeen year old champion’s path. Orange. Brown. Pregnant with anticipation. Mother Nature knew that on this morning, Daryl was unstoppable.

There was no need to stop at the locker before class. Daryl didn’t even bring his backpack. His mother might’ve noticed if she weren’t so damn busy putting on makeup to impress nobody. Daryl sans backpack — he knew he wouldn’t be spending much of Thursday at school.

Had Daryl been more patient in this current endeavor, more willing to go through the regular routine before getting down to business, his day would’ve gone much differently. At his locker waited Vanessa, holding baited breath and hoping to discuss the wonder that was the previous evening. Just like her suitor, Vanessa felt something washing over her during the post-coital bliss. Not just the physical pleasure of orgasm, but the sense that a tide was turning. Possibility was afoot, and Vanessa wanted to see if Daryl felt the same.

Had he been less dedicated to his friends, he may have actually gone to his first class — Modern American History. Once there, he would’ve noticed just the distraught Ms. Lang, practically on the verge of tears. A conversation would have begun, and the two would have started unraveling some of the many links that connected their lives

But alas, neither of these were destinations on Itinerary-Vengeance.

Instead, Daryl headed straight for the Weight Room. The jock territory of the high school, the Weight Room saw a lot of early morning traffic. Sure, some of it was for pre-class workouts. Some it was also dedicated to trading cash for injections in the butt. Usually steroids. But most of the traffic came in the form of boastful athletes, the celebration of myopia and narrow-mindedness.

But today, these exaggerations and self-congratulations would come to an abrupt halt.

Brady Moore and his offensive line stood in front of a wall of mirrors, not exercising but checking themselves out. As soon as he walked in, Daryl could see that Brady was enjoying his role as captain, sharing a story with both his personal goons and the ring of lesser-jocks by which they were surrounded. Daryl couldn’t quite hear what it was that elicited such enormous laughter from villains.

But he could certainly guess.

Daryl pushed his way through the circle of elevated testosterone. He approached Brady Moore, just as he had earlier that week, and placed himself in front of the teenage monster. With an evil grin, Brady took a step forward, stood toe-to-toe with Daryl, and breathed in deeply. With his chest fully expanded and his massive shoulders casting shade, the quarterback spoke.

“Hey Daryl, how’s it going? I don’t usually see you in the Weight Room. In fact, I don’t even usually see you without those two buddies of yours…What happened? Did they not invite you to skip out with them today or something? Have you been kicked out of the Dungeons & Faggots club?” Brady’s not-so-subtle derision was met with pats on the back and high-pitched cackles.

From Daryl, absolute silence.

“What’s the problem, cat got your tongue?” More laughter.

More silence

“Seriously, are a fucking mute or something? Don’t you have anything to say?!”

Daryl craned his head backward so he could once again gaze into the eyes of his greatest adversary. Then, acknowledging his indefensible position, he didn’t even flinch. He spoke with serenity. “Hey you — get your damn hands off her!”

“What the fuck are you talking abou-” *CRACK!*

Daryl’s left fist swung into his enemy’s jaw. The force knocked Brady backward and he tripped over a weight bench. Touching his hand to his bottom lip, the antagonist felt the steady stream of blood. With a renewed sense of purpose, Brady got to his feet. Within seconds, he and the other athletes lunged towards Daryl.

He didn’t run.
He didn’t wish it away.
He didn’t regret it.
As he lay in the middle of a circle of violence, Daryl was no longer a champion.
He was now a hero.