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E - Everyone

King of the Court v2 [CH4]

by InuYosha


Chapter 4

You're Just a Benchwarmer

Alex dashed into the room, brimming with excitement. Another day meant another day of basketball practice, although the coach cancelled the last few ones for some reason.

No one was there except for Jackson, but Jackson always arrived at homeroom early.

"Morning!" Alex waved at Jackson. He nodded in reply, but didn't say anything. For the past few days, Jackson seemed very melancholy, as did the rest of the team. When Alex looked in at other classes, the familiar faces of his teammates were all deadpan and staring off into the distance, zoning out.

Alex knew they were definitely still bummed out from the game. It was pretty bad, of course, but Alex didn't understand why everyone had to mope around for half a week.

"How's it going?" Alex asked, poking Jackson, hoping to cheer him up.

It seemed to have the opposite effect on Jackson. He turned his head to the opposite direction.

"Fine," Jackson replied. Alex sighed.

"I think you're the worst of them, you know?" Alex blurts out.

Jackson turned back, glaring, "What?"

"I don't get you guys," Alex explained, "You guys are amazing at basketball, but once you come across a bad game, you give up."

"Take that back," Jackson said angrily.

"No!" Alex retorted, "I don't want to just watch you guys drift off to who knows where! Give me back my real basketball team!"

Jackson started shaking. Not shaking like he was cold. No, it was further than that. He was crying. It wasn't just crying from sadness, either. It was as if needles of frustration and uselessness and self-pity were stabbing him from all directions.

"We lost!" shouted Jackson, "We lost so bad that our coach wouldn't talk to us! We lost so bad that our freakin' opponents apologized! We lost so bad that . . . that . . . that . . ."

Alex was silent.

"Michael didn't come to school," Jackson stood up, clenching his fists, "He hasn't come to school at all since that day. He was hit the hardest last game."

Alex blinked. Michael was one of the most hard-working people Alex had ever met. He would have only skipped school if a meteor struck him and sent him to the hospital. Not only was he amazing academically, he was also the captain of the basketball team, a tall and muscular center that could command an entire team of idiots to play vaguely well.

During the game, Michael was intense. He was more into the game than ever before. Alex remembered seeing Michael cheer the team up at the last moment, and then get hurt, only to be subbed out for Alex.

"I was hit pretty hard, too!" Alex replied, "I had to take the last shot, only to miss."

Jackson slammed his fists on his desk, "Shut up! You didn't even have anything to do with the game! You didn't do anything. Period. You're just a benchwarmer!"

Tears were beginning to form on Jackson's eyes. He wasn't even mad anymore. He was just drowning in his self-pity, unbeknownst of his hurtful words.

"I went off the bench for long enough!" Alex shouted back, "I played some defense, helped the offense! We didn't score, but it wasn't a bad game!"

"It was a bad game!" Jackson roared, slapping Alex in the face. Alex gaped in surprise, but Jackson didn't even seem to care.

"I made a difference," Alex replied defiantly.

Jackson glared at him with hatred that could scare a lion. "Yeah right. You suck at basketball anyways. There's no way you could feel our pain, so shut up! You're just a freakin' benchwarmer!"

Alex knew that Jackson was just pent up with frustration, but it still hurt to hear someone say something like that. From someone he thought was his friend.

Jackson stormed out of the room, growling and cursing as if the world had ended.

For Jackson, it seemed, the world had ended long ago.

That day, no one came to practice. The coach had cancelled it, saying he had other things to do. Alex walked into the almost abandoned gym, saddened that it turned out like this.

Occasionally, on previous trips alone to the gym, Alex could imagine his teammates joking around and having fun in the gym. But that day, Alex couldn't see anything. No one was there. No one was smiling. It was just an empty gym.

An empty gym with almost no hope of seeing another team again.

Alex kneeled down and touched the floor. There was a very thin layer of dust. The team hadn't practiced here for a while.

Without warning, he began to cry, screaming and punching at the floor. Alex didn't understand why the team did that. Why they let something as small as one game destroy their love for basketball.

He thought about Jackson, devoured by his self pity.

"I can't end up like him," Alex said to himself, steeling his resolve. He stood up, and grabbed a basketball from the rack.

For the rest of that year, students often heard the sound of a single, lonely basketball bouncing in the gym from the end of school to sundown.

. . .

"Nine to zero?" Dwayne asks, "That doesn't seem so bad."

Chris nods in agreement, although visibly disgusted that he has to agree with Dwayne, "If both teams scored so little, then it must mean that they both played great defense."

"It was different from that," Alex says ruefully, "Yes, on the surface, it seemed like both teams played amazingly. However, if you were there at the actual game, as an actual player, you would understand."

Alex sits down on the floor, appearing weary and tired, as if the mere thought of that game is giving him fatigue.

"Every single point they tried to score was from behind the half-court line. We would get lined up for defense, and Pennel Creek would just shoot from all the way back there, grinning and laughing. Every time we went up on offense, they would steal, block, and demolish us like it was nothing. Then they would return to offense and start shooting half-court shots. They never got serious at all. No one on our side knew what to do, because when the gap in strength is so great, there was nothing we could do," Alex clenches his fists. His eyes are closed, and the rest of the team was starting to truly understand what it was like to be at that game.

"At the end of the game, the players that were on the bench apologized to us. But it wasn't sincere," Alex explains, "Obviously, that kind of game by itself was pretty bad, but then we looked at Pennel Creek's record, and the all of their scores."

"What did it say?" Colin asks, scared to hear the answer.

"That year, every single game they played, including their league and practice games, they won nine to zero," Alex says angrily, "Obviously, since they had nine people on their team.

"Then we'll beat them!" Dwayne shouts after a long silence, "Twenty-four to nine because I count as twenty people!"

Then he adds modestly, "Any extra points can go to someone else."

. . .

The wind rustles leaves off the rooftops as Fernando plucks his arrow out of the target.

"When is it?" he asks without turning around. His companions are there with him, although they are nowhere near as much of a sharpshooter as he is.

"In . . . about half an hour?" Luke replies quickly, not realizing his grave mistake.

Fernando swivels around coldly, "Care to repeat that?"

Luke shakes his head, swallowing hard. Everyone else averts their eyes. Fernando smiles and hands him a bow and arrow.

"Take a shot, Luke," Fernando gestures at the target, which had been shot straight in the middle many times in succession by himself, "If you can be careless enough to blatantly make a mistake in your speech, then certainly, you should be able to carelessly hit the target without any problem, correct?"

Luke starts to shake in fear, "Wh-wh-what happens if i-i-i miss?"

"I may want you to leave in . . . ah . . . 'about thirty minutes'," Fernando smirks. Luke, not knowing what to do, pulls the drawstring back and shoots with all his might. Instead of going anywhere near the target, the arrow drifts forward lazily, and plops into the ground with a miserable thud.

"Excellently terrible," Fernando nods at the arrow, waving a hand dismissively at Luke, "Now, can anyone tell me at what time it begins?"

Recently, the entire group had agreed to join Fernando at his family's private archery range after school. Fernando enjoys it, because it is a constant reminder that he is much better than the rest of the team.

Greyson speaks up, "Currently 23 minutes and 46 seconds until the game."

"Perfect," says Fernando, marching off to the bus, "Let's go play some basketball."


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Mon May 23, 2022 10:11 am
IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hello I have returned!

Just a short one on this chapter so I can focus on ones you haven't got multiple reviews on but I'll share some thoughts as I read.

It felt a bit odd to brush over the cancellations for basketball seeing as Alex is almost obsessed with the game, wouldn't he be more questioning of why they didn't go ahead? And the fact that he missed all the detail. Is this to show his lack of involvement?
It's interesting to see his past and wow were his old team dramatic! I hope some of those characters come back and see that Alex's determination pays off.

"It was different from that," Alex says ruefully, "Yes, on the surface, it seemed like both teams played amazingly. However, if you were there at the actual game, as an actual player, you would understand."

The 'as an actual player' comes off almost rudely... I don't think it's intended that way, but it might need a tweak in wording.

"That year, every single game they played, including their league and practice games, they won nine to zero," Alex says angrily, "Obviously, since they had nine people on their team.

Then surely he would feel less bad about losing? Although it feels like a fix to me...

The last section was interesting, if a little disorientating since I don't think any of the characters have been mentioned before so I don't quite know where they fit in. I like the idea of having another team, but I think I might need more hinting beforehand as to who they are! (Although it's been a while since I read the other chapters, so I may have missed it!)

Icy




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Sun Apr 17, 2022 11:40 pm
Birdman wrote a review...



Hey there InuYosha.

I haven't read any of the other parts to your story so there may be some points of confusion for me as a reader. I'm just trying to clear this out of the green room and make sure you get a review with some actual content.

Still, I should be able to judge whether or not a story would interest me by opening it to a random page. My reading of this starts out with a bit of confusion because everything is in italics. Italics, bold, underline, etc. They're all meant to give emphasis to a specific line within a work that needs the attention for some reason. Even when I got done to the point when you just had plain text, it wasn't clear why the whole first section had an emphasis placed upon it.

When I was reading this chapter, my main thought stayed on the track of "I don't know what this work is supposed to be about". It's not a genre thing or a type of work thing. I read and review from every medium available, and I just do not know what the point of this work is supposed to be. It really feels like the literary application of making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Often times on YWS, and with young writers in the broader literary world, people with struggle with having lots of filler content in their works. In your story, you're trying to create all of these possible lines of drama, but you don't follow through. There's no given reason for the readers to become attached to any of your characters. If you want readers to care about your characters, you need to better develop your characters.

If I were to sit down this book and pick it back up weeks or months later, what would you want me to remember about your characters? How can you form each of these characters into complete individuals with relatable personalities? In less words: how can you make them seem real?

As it is, your characters are vaguely athletes at a school with no name on a team that has a named, looming opponent. We, the readers, know more about the force that they're facing than we know about the underdogs that we are supposed to be rooting for. Why is it that these characters are resisting their failure but not actually doing anything to follow through on making sure that they don't loose? Perhaps you explained this at a different point but seeing as it's the major movement in your story, it's probably something you need to keep talking about.

I think you've got a start. You've got some characters. There's a hint of antagonist. But there's also a lot of pieces that need to be created and put together so that the readers can become attached to your work.

For now - Birdman away!

Image




InuYosha says...


Thank you for the review!

They're all meant to give emphasis to a specific line within a work that needs the attention for some reason. Even when I got done to the point when you just had plain text, it wasn't clear why the whole first section had an emphasis placed upon it.


It's a flashback. I guess it wasn't clear enough, but I didn't really want to put something like "t w o y e a r s a g o"

When I was reading this chapter, my main thought stayed on the track of "I don't know what this work is supposed to be about". It's not a genre thing or a type of work thing. I read and review from every medium available, and I just do not know what the point of this work is supposed to be. It really feels like the literary application of making a mountain out of a mole hill.


You mentioned earlier that you haven't read the earlier chapters, so if you're finding it difficult to figure out what the novel is about, I'd suggest you give them a look.

As it is, your characters are vaguely athletes at a school with no name on a team that has a named, looming opponent. We, the readers, know more about the force that they're facing than we know about the underdogs that we are supposed to be rooting for.


The final section is actually one of the few moments where I place the story in the antagonist's point of view. Earlier chapters elaborate much more on the protagonists, but I guess it would be kind of weird, starting the story at chapter 4 and immediately reading a flashback followed by a completely different POV . . .

Again, thank you for the review!

-crabe yosh



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Fri Jan 07, 2022 2:01 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Yosh,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

Your whole first part threw me off the boat a bit because I didn't know if we were in a flashback or a dream here. Because the story here was very direct and fast, I thought in places that we were in a dream. At times I also had the impression that the whole thing was just an accident, that you did everything in italic.

In terms of writing style, I liked it a lot. It was very direct, as already described, and I liked the fact that there were two poles attacking each other, but Alex always remained in the rather cheerful and optimistic form, in order to somehow bring Jackson out of his self-pity. It definitely showed what kind of character Alex is.

The middle part was a good transition into the present and the development and reaction of the other members of the team to what Alex is narrating. It was a bit short in that sense, but I think it did what it was supposed to do with the flashback alone. You're building up a strong opponent here and setting up the first big hurdle. I like the analysis of Alex and how Dwayne reacts to it. I wouldn't classify him as an optimist, for example, but more as a daydreamer who still has to learn a little bit to assess something correctly.

However, you confused me with the last part. Where were we? Have I seen these figures before or have I met them somewhere or are you showing us the opposing team and thus a set-up for the upcoming battle? I think you wrote it well, but it was a bit lacking at the beginning to tell the reader where we were. I felt a bit alienated there and was also a bit questionable afterwards as to how it all connected.

What I like here was that we got to see a bit more of Alex and that the focus remained as the lead. We get a little closer to him without forgetting the others, and I think that you can also focus on the others in the next parts, so that we can perhaps make the people more tangible before the next game. (I do have the preliminary information from your previous draft, but I'm assuming from a point that I would never have seen this one). At the moment you manage to bring some of them a bit more into focus.

On the whole, though, I like the structure here. As I said, you put in a good writing style for the flashback and I would even recommend that you keep it for flashbacks because it gives a very good dynamic and as a reader you also realise that with this flashback we get a glimpse of the characters and get to know them a bit more.

I liked the chapter precisely because it was so "different" and I like the current development in the story. I am very curious to see what will happen next.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




InuYosha says...


Thank you for the review!

At times I also had the impression that the whole thing was just an accident, that you did everything in italic.


That seems like something I'd do. Luckily it was NOT an accident haha.

I wouldn't classify him as an optimist, for example, but more as a daydreamer who still has to learn a little bit to assess something correctly.


I feel it's less of optimism and more simple-mindedness.

However, you confused me with the last part. Where were we? Have I seen these figures before or have I met them somewhere or are you showing us the opposing team and thus a set-up for the upcoming battle? I think you wrote it well, but it was a bit lacking at the beginning to tell the reader where we were. I felt a bit alienated there and was also a bit questionable afterwards as to how it all connected.


I intended for it to be mysterious, but as a positive effect, yk?



InuYosha says...


and also for the flashback i used past tense, so i was intending for that to be an indicator that it's a flashback.




Uh, Lisa, the whole reason we have elected officials is so we don't have to think all the time. Just like that rainforest scare a few years back: our officials saw there was a problem and they fixed it, didn't they?
— Homer Simpson