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A Damn Fine Pizza; One-shot; some flavour.
Topic Started: Dec 14 2017, 01:14 AM (84 Views)
I'm a Cactus
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do you want to go to war, balakay?
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
June 6, 2015, 5:31pm
W 107th Avenue and West End Avenue
Bloomingdale, New York City


The importance of a good couch to a university student was something that just couldn't be understated. Comfort was one thing, but to have a couch that was cheap, robust, and easily cleanable was the apex of any dorm room, student apartment, or frat house. A good couch could be an extra bed for drunk friends, a comfortable chair for lengthy textbook dives, or even - when the roommates were away, the perfect spot to watch Coyote Ugly and score with a hot freshman girl. So it was not without a sense of pride that Mike Schultz mused that on this particular evening - this unfortunate Saturday night of essay writing and online researching?

He had the best seat in the damn house.

Television on in the background, Mike sat in the middle of his reasonably ugly green, red and brown couch, laptop on the coffee table in front of him, pounding out as much of this stupid history essay as he was able to. While maintaining a solid reputation as a partier, Mike was never one to slack off with his studies. The secret; as far he was concerned, was to get everything done well in advance, essentially buying the time to work, drink, fuck, or whatever else happened to be on the slate.

Unfortunately, that sometimes meant that Saturday nights had to spent in the comfort of one's apartment. Small sacrifice, he supposed. This particular Saturday had him thinking repeatedly about kids killing each other. Survival of the Fittest had been part of the popular lexicon for years now, and that he was writing about it in a history class more aggravated him than anything. You'd turn on the television and some political commentator was talking about its horrors, magazine articles would be written about those who survived it, and whenever it was brought up, people were always liable to get awkward.

BEEEEEEEEEP! BEEEEEEEEEP!

The oven - it startled him. Fuck sakes. The pizza that his roommate had put was done, by the scent of it.

"Hey Ed! Pizza's done!"

Hearing an affirmative grunt from the direction of his roommate's door, Mike turned his attention back to his laptop. Politics weren't really his thing, and so having to analyze what a bunch of kids dying on an island had to do with politics in 2006 wasn't coming as easily to him as he'd hoped. The pizza smell coming from the oven surely wasn't helping any. Mike had decided to try and border his paper using economics - his major, and while it was helping, his heart really wasn't in it.

Sighing, Mike scanned his eyes back over the last paragraph he'd written, shaking his head to himself. As he'd feared, he'd subconsciously written "pizza" near the top of the paragraph, instead of writing "policy". Quickly correcting his mistake, he shut his eyes and let his head nod back on the sofa.

Pizza in the oven, and Survival of the Fittest on the television. Of course it was. Mike had turned CNN on as background noise (really all it was good for on a good day, as far as he was concerned), and some talking head was discussing the very topic his essay was - at least, the present day version of the atrocity.

"... Mr. Caudle is believed to have been a former participant in an early version of the Survival of the Fittest, a test run of sorts. As one of the few remnants of STAR to emerge following the announcement from the President, the Chinese government are releasing very few details..."

Hearing a door open and close, Mike opened one eye to see his roommate, Edward Tough emerge from his room, beelining for the stove. The look on his face could only be described as ravenous.

"Hey Ed, wanna grab me a slice while you're up?"

A snicker from the kitchen. "I dunno, it smells pretty good, I might eat it all."

"You fat piece of shit." Edward was decidedly not fat. "Should've known you'd leave me out in the cold."

Edward laughed, and didn't bother with a retort. Mike turned his attention back to the television as he heard the creak of the old oven.

"... STAR was presumed to be formed mostly from youth kidnapped in early test runs of the Survival of the Fittest program. How these youth were able to mobilize and obtain the resources that they did is still undetermined..."

Coming around the corner holding two plates filled with slices of steaming hot pizza - and much to Mike's joy, a can of beer, Edward placed one of the plates and one of the beers on the coffee table beside Mike's laptop.

"You're a fuckin' gem, man. Thanks." Mike nodded at the television. "Look, it's your favourite subject. Never fuckin' ends this week, right?"

Edward grimaced at the talking head. His roommate had a weird sore spot for Survival of the Fittest - whenever it came up, he got a little quiet and withdrawn. Earlier in the week, Edward had attended a meeting with the professor of their history class about the very essay Mike was writing now, and as a result had both managed to get out of the essay altogether and get extremely intoxicated. With the professor.

Privately, Mike suspected that Edward might have lost a family member to it, but he wasn't one to ask.

"Never does, man." Edward moved to head back to his room, pizza and beer in hand. Mike reached over and grabbed a slice.

"... the other shocking revelation from Caudle's testimony was regarding news of survivors from the 2007 Survival of the Fittest kidnappings. Previously thought dead, there are now believed to be between six to a dozen survivors from a rescue attempt in 2007. Identities of the survivors are still currently unknown..."

Taking a huge bite of the pizza, Mike almost choked on the slice when a resounding crash resonated throughout the apartment. Edward had dropped both his pizza and his beer and was staring at the television, mouth agape. Swallowing his mouthful, burning the roof of his mouth and his tongue all to hell, Mike was more concerned with the broken plate now all over the floor at the feet of his roommate.

"Dude! What happened? You okay? Watch your feet!"

Edward didn't move a muscle, and for a moment still stared at the television. He then looked at Mike, and his roommate's normally pale complexion now resembled that of a television vampire, ashen to the point of concern. He totally ignored the broken kitchenware.

"That... 2007? He said there were survivors?"

Mike didn't know what to say. This was weird.

"Uhhh... yeah, that's what it said. Between six and twelve."

Hand going to his mouth, Edward's eyes glistened. Something in this news report had absolutely obliterated his younger roommate. Mike was filled with immediate concern. Doing a quick cursory Google search confirmed the broadcast. Edward said absolutely nothing, only carefully pushing the glass (and pizza) to the side so he wouldn't step on it. After a moment, he broke the silence.

"There are no names? None at all?"

Blinking, Mike ran another Google search but every news site was running a virtually identical AP release. Shaking his head slowly, he realized that his heart was now beating up in his throat. He'd never seen Edward like this before. Mike was about to attempt a comforting word when he realized that Edward had his cell phone out and was furiously punching a number into it. After a moment, someone picked up.

"Hey, Dad. It's Oliver. Have you heard?"

Oliver? Who the fuck was Oliver? Mike lived with Edward, who he was looking at. Why was he calling himself Oliver?

"Turn on your TV, Dad. It's on fucking CNN. Someone survived in 2007. A lot of someone's."

Was his roommate living under a fake name? Had he given someone else a fake name? Mike shook his head. He'd called the person on the other end 'Dad'. Usually you didn't give your own father a fake name. They usually knew better.

"Yeah. That's what they're saying. Dad, you know what this means, right? He could be alive."

Boom. He was jumping to conclusions, but that seemed to jive with Mike's 'family member' theory. Was Edward, Oliver, whomever the fuck was standing in front of him, was he even seventeen? Maybe he was just a really young-looking twenty-five, or something?

"Nobody could ever say for sure, Dad! We never saw a body. They never released any footage. He has to be one of them. I know it! Nothing else makes sense!"

At this point, Mike was just blatantly listening in on his roommate's conversation, ignoring everything else. He'd even picked up and opened his beer. Fuck it, why not? This beat writing an essay.

"So it's one report, fine! But it explains everything - why he vanished, where he went. What if he's been alive this whole fucking time!? Why the fuck didn't he say anything?!"

Down the hatch went some pizza. Mike felt a little voyeuristic. Edliver (the name Mike had decided he would make fun of his roommate with, to break the tension at the very least) was basically screaming into the phone at this point.

Fuckin' awkward.

"Just - you have to tell Luke. He needs to know. If there's ANY hope at all... yeah, I know. I'm not getting my hopes up, it's just... yeah, I know. I know." He paused, composing himself. "It's all over the news. People are going to draw the same conclusions."

Mike had jumped to so many conclusions over the last few minutes that he was basically doing cardio.

"You're right, Dad. I just... if anybody was to survive that... I mean, there's precedent."

Wait, what? Precedent for surviving SOTF? Nobody did that. Except... Mike's eyes perked up and he took another sip of his beer. Fuck right off - there was no way...

"Okay Dad. I will. Let me know if you hear of anything more. I'll do the same... All right. Love you too. Bye."

As his roommate hung up the phone and took a moment to compose himself, Mike realized that he was leaning forward, totally gawking at his roommate. He allowed the younger boy a second, and then couldn't help but confirm his suspicions.

"Oliver?" He gauged the reaction. Yeah, his real name was definitely Oliver. "Your real name is Oliver, huh?"

Oliver nodded slowly, beaten. Those questions Mike hadn't felt like asking? Both men knew that they were definitely getting asked. Mike took another bite of his pizza. It really was quite good.

"So the person you think might be alive... that you're hoping might be alive..." Mike trailed off, almost in disbelief that he was about to ask.

"Oliver, is Bryan Calvert your brother?"

Shaking his head and snapping his mind back to reality, Oliver looked at Mike with a confused expression. "W-what? No. Bryan Calvert? Of course not!"

Putting his palm to his face, Mike mentally chastised himself. Idiot. Calvert was 2006. Rizzolo was 2007 and he was dead. But 2005 had been...

"Sorry, wrong guy. Fuck, man. Adam Dodd is your brother?"

Oliver sighed, and reached down to the floor to grab his dropped can of beer - thankfully unopened. He popped the can, the beer basically half-exploding all over him. At this point, he didn't care. He downed half the can.

"Yep."

"And there's a chance that he's..."

Oliver downed the remainder of the can.

"Mmm-hmm."

Mike looked for a second at the beer in his hand, and back at his forlorn roommate. So much for essay writing tonight. Pounding back the rest of his beer, he rose to his feet, gingerly stepping over the shards of plate on the ground. Grabbing a couple of beers out of the fridge, he tossed one at Oliver, who barely snapped back into reality to avoid it hitting him square in the head.

Cracking his own beer, he gestured to Oliver. "Well, holy shit. You'd better start from the top."

Mike moved back to the couch and gestured to Oliver to come sit down. He supposed he was going to add one more to the list. His old, ugly couch was about to become a therapist's office, too. Great. Mike just loved feelings, but he knew this week had made one feeling crystal clear.

He fucking hated Survival of the Fittest.

---
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