My name is Mudflap Jimmiedean and I have been chosen to take part in The Starving Tournament.
The Tournament is a battle of wits and brawn. Here is my story.
I live in a country called Puddin’, and Puddin’ is divided into precincts. I live in the eleventy-twoth precinct, nicknamed The Barrel. Everyone in the other precincts jokes that people where I live come from “the bottom of the barrel.” Ha ha ha, fuckers. Real clever.
Each year, Puddin’ holds The Starving Tournament for shits and giggles. There isn’t any real purpose to The Tournament, except for pure entertainment value. Your name is chosen at random and you’re a contestant in The Tournament. I received my letter via singing telegram just yesterday.
I was in my room watching videos of kitties on YouTube when there was a knock on the door. I got up to answer it and was greeted by a bear holding a bouquet of flowers. As soon as I opened the door, the bear thrust the flowers in my hand and began his song:
“Hey there, ho there, what do you know? Pack your bags, it’s time to go; go to the capital of Puddin’ you must, because tag, you’re it.”
With a great flourishing curtsy, a gesture that made the head of the bear costume nearly topple off the man’s head, he turned and quickly ran down the sidewalk to my house and hopped into the passenger seat of a beat-to-shit El Camino and the driver sped away.
“Fucking seriously?” I said as I looked down at the official invite. There in bold letters was my name, “Mudflap Jimmiedean,” It’s like a fucked-up version of Willy Wonka and the Golden Ticket, only I didn’t want this pass.
I sigh heavily, and close the door and return to my room. My little sister, Prude, was in the living room watching cartoons.
“Ha ha, sucker. Better you than me,” she threw at me, her eyes never leaving the television screen.
“Bitch…” I mutter as I walk into the kitchen and find my mom and dad sitting at the table. They are drinking scotch and playing poker. My mother is half-naked, her blouse and skirt in a pile on the floor. My father is completely nude, save the tie that is wrapped around his head and his trousers wrapped around his neck like a cape. A fat cigar dangled between his lips, the thick grey smoke circling his head. I hate it when my parents play strip poker.
I throw the invite on the table on top of their discarded cards.
“The fuck is this?” my dad asks, his words garbled due to the stogey.
“The fuck you think it is?” I snap back.
My mother hiccups and shouts, “YAHTZEE!” throws down her handful of cards, and slumps over in her chair and quickly passes out and immediately begins snoring loudly.
“Jesus Christ…” my dad grabs his tumbler of scotch and drains it in one swallow. “Well, smartass, it looks like we have our next contestant in The Starving Tournament,” he says as he examines the yellow paper.
“Well then, Mudflap, you better get your ass in gear.”
Next thing I know, I’m standing in the middle of a giant lyceum, surrounded by members of the other precincts. I recognize one boy as Naan, the son of the baker.
He offers an upraised hand feebly in a wave and I nod my head in return. I don’t pay much attention to him because the announcer of The Tournament has started talking.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! The time has come! Welcome to the seventy-twelfth Starving Tournament!”
Wild applause, yelling, cheering, and whistling erupt the lyceum, which is then proceeded by hysterical laughter; a streaker has made his way down from the stands and is running bare-ass naked towards me, his arms outstretched as if to hug me. I stick my foot out as he comes close to me and he goes flying in a naked cartwheel through the air. This cracks the crowd up even more and two armed officials come racing from the sidelines to gather the unconscious man and whisk him away.
The announcer continues unfazed and announces each of the contestants names and reads the rules.
“The first rule of The Starving Tournament is…there are no rules. Okay you crazy kids, on your mark! Get ready! Get set! GO!!”
Somewhere off to the side a cap pistol fires and it causes mayhem in the lyceum. I have no idea what the fuck I’m supposed to be doing and neither does anyone else. We’re all just running around. I find myself caught in the melee and fall hard to my knees. A strong arm with a huge hand reaches in front of my face and I grab it and am yanked up into the air. The hand belongs to Naan.
“Thanks,” I say breathlessly. “Now what?”
Bodies. There are dead bodies everywhere. People snuck in weapons and many of them are now dead or dying in the lyceum. Their death throes are echoing off the walls, many crying out for their loved ones. I move between the mangled arms and legs on the ground and pick up whatever weapons I can carry. So far, I’ve managed a grenade launcher, a speared trident, a mace with huge nails protruding out of it, and a tranquilizer gun. From what I can survey, I’m one of the few alive, but I know there must be more because The Tournament isn’t over until only person remains. I continue my way through the bodies and I see movement out of the corner of my eye.
Naan. I am certain of it.
I steady the trident in my hand and poise it for action. I’m pretty good with a trident. Who knew?
Just then, Naan comes flying toward me, screaming wildly and wielding what looks like a small machine gun. He starts firing, but trips on a body and the bullets don’t even come close to me.
I take stance and launch the trident which lands in Naan’s left thigh and he screams.
“Where the fuck did you get a trident?” he yells at me, trying to pry the thing out of his leg.
“I know, right?” I chuckle. I have no idea where I found a trident.
I unholster the tranquilizer gun and take aim at him once again. Naan’s eyes are wild with pain and starts screaming at me again.
“Mudflap! Wait! There’s something I need to tell you!”
“Make it quick, Bread Boy,” I say and I take aim at his chest.
“I’ve…I’ve…I’ve always love–”
“Aw, too late,” and I fire the tranq and it lodges in his chest; a direct hit to the heart.
He looks down at the dart sticking out of his chest, the trident still jammed in his leg, back up at me and he falls to the ground, on his way to death.
Suddenly, trumpets start blaring and fireworks erupt and the crowd goes insane once again.
I’ve done it; I’ve won The Starving Tournament.
It’s been a few months since The Tournament and things are pretty much back to normal. Fame and notoriety followed me for a few weeks after The Tournament, but for the most part, life has returned to normal. The only reminder of my victory is the monthly delivery of assorted jams and jellies from The Jam of the Month Club, which was part of my prize.
I savor the jalapeño mint jelly as I spread it in a thick layer over a piece of naan bread and will always remember how I won The Starving Tournament.