The Freehold of Huntington
Xx_Man_Eater2012 was going to be a star. He was good. VERY good. He knew it, everyone knew it. His mom even said so. His brother didn’t believe him when he said he’d even beat Bugha in a public match, but he had the video saved on his Xbox. He was going to be the best Fortnite player ever… he just needed to get old enough to compete in the prize tourneys
Then the plague came, and his dumb brother Mark wouldn’t let him on the Xbox anymore. Usually, Billy (don’t call him that online, though, he’s the Man_Eater there) would have time to play when Mark was hanging out with friends, but now he’s stuck inside all the time in
The lockdown ruined everything. He couldn’t play. He couldn’t see his friends. He couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. It even ruined his birthday. Mom had gotten him exactly what he wanted, the new Nerf Fortnite Rifle so that he could play Fortnite with his friends on the playground at the school… but now he was stuck inside and couldn’t even have the darts, because mom said he couldn’t shoot them inside. It wasn’t fair.
Then came the message.
Billy got a message on his phone. It was from a blocked number, but that wasn’t important. What WAS important, was that they knew how good he was. They were going to let Man_Eater play in a tournament like no other. If he won, the prize would change his life.
If he won, hah. No one beats Man_Eater. No one. He’s the best at playing outside the circle, hiding in the terrain and striking hard when they don’t even know he’s there, tearing down their towers and watching them fall. This was going to be so easy.
He snuck out before dawn. He had the location on his phone, he just had to follow it and make the rondayvoo(sp? Why are the good words hard?). But the tunnel. It messed with his signal. And when he got to the other side…
Man Eater was the best. He was king of the circle. Every night, a new challenger. Bears, wolves, stags, whatever the Crowned One caught in his woods. Sometimes he even caught knights. Every time, Man Eater proved why he was the best. He’d play the circle, go for them while they went for the weapons, use the terrain of the arena against them. He lived for the fights and lived off the kills.
He had always kept clips of his best wins, now he kept trinkets from them. A skull, a fang, a gauntlet, a belt buckle. The Crowned One would always roar with laughter when he held up his prize, always smile when he saw the piles in his cell.
That night, the Crowned One had caught a poacher. It had come into the woods and was hunting without permission, and been sentenced to the circle. It wouldn’t have been a fight worth noting, except for the count.
The buttons from that vest went into the pile, like every night. The furthest pile, not the animals, not the monsters, the pile from people. The other players.
Man Eater was committed to the game. He’d played it so long he’d stopped being a prisoner herded to a pit, but the main event, the King of the Circle. The guards had forgotten he wasn’t one of them.
When Man Eater counted his pile, he found 99 trophies. 99 players had died in the circle. Since you only start with 100, that meant he won. He looked around, for the first time in… a long time, and saw. This wasn’t his room. This wasn’t where a champion lived and trained. This was a dingy cell in a dungeon. Why was he here? He should be at home. He had to get back before they noticed he was gone, or he’d be in trouble.
So he ran. The cell door was just wood, the guards were just competition. He ran until he found the Woods, found the Tunnel, found his home. It was almost dawn. He wasn’t too late. He was home.
Man Eater checked his reflection in the window of his mom’s car to make sure he hadn’t gotten dirty while he was out and froze. He wasn’t Billy anymore, and there was no hiding that. How old was he? How long had he been gone? WHAT WAS WRONG WITH HIS JAWS?
His window was open, like it should be. His phone was on the sill, like it should be. IT was in his bed, where he should be. Where Billy should be.
Buy time. Play the circle. Hit them hard when they don’t expect it. He grabbed the phone and ran.