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E - Everyone

King of the Court - 4

by yosh


Chapter 4

Losers

Alex had always envied star players. Players that aren't just good, but are superior in almost every way. Players that can control the flow of the game to their desires.

Players that can rule the court like a king.

Alex had always hoped to be a star, and he knows it isn’t an unrealistic dream; he has passion, talent, and effort. The problem is, even through constant practice, Alex can't find what makes stars great. Obviously, Fernando is a star. Fernando can crush his opponents' morale with a single three-pointer, but Alex can't replicate that at all.

Alex decides that if he becomes a star, he will become one that makes every player feel amazing, instead of defeated. Inspired instead of crushed. Excited instead of broken.

But he still has a long way to go, and he knows it. After all, I'm being outscored by Dwayne, of all people.

Alex mentally apologizes to Dwayne for having that thought.

"Chris, you'll try to block Fernando's three-pointers any way possible, and I'll stay down low for steals," Alex whispers, and Chris nods. On the other side of the court, Fernando raises an eyebrow, as if to ask about what they're whispering about. Alex sticks his tongue out at him.

"You're pretty close to his height, so even though you're shorter, you attempting to block him will have some kind of an effect," Alex explains, turning back to face Chris "If he tries to get around you, he’ll have to fight me. Then, he won’t be able to take the lay-up or the shot, because both of us are there."

Chris nods again.

Then, he realizes the true issue with the double team, "Then who will be guarding the extra man? Since the two of us are guarding Fernando, there'll be an extra guy open."

"We'll just have to move around faster," Alex replies, "Our team's defense is no joke, so it should be fine."

"White ball," says the referee.

Chris steps out of bounds to pass it to Alex. He manages to navigate around a few players and eventually finds Jackson open for a free lay-up. He makes it.

30-16

Pennel Creek’s possession.

A player tries to take a shot in front of Chris. He immediately reacts. The player sheets, seeming to forget Chris' incredible height.

With a huge jump and outstretched arms, Chris not only reaches the ball for a block, but he also slams it straight out of bounds.

"Nice block!" Dwayne shouts, and he turns around, running back to Pennel Creek's side of the court to ready for the offense. If there's one part of basketball that Alex doesn't like, it would probably be the fact that it's mostly just constantly running back and forth on the court. If the offense fails, a player will need to sprint back to defense, and if the defense gains an advantage, they have to return to offense to score a point.

Yet Alex still runs at full speed.

He just loves basketball too much.

With a few quick passes, the ball returns to Alex, and he quickly dives into the paint for an open lay-up.

When Fernando notices the double team, he laughs, "That took a while."

"You can try to score on us," Chris retorts, "If you can."

Fernando catches a pass, "Of course."

He starts by faking a shot, but Chris doesn't fall for it. Then, he begins to dribble. He drives past Chris' left side, hoping that Chris will block Alex’s way.

Alex avoids this and stays on Fernando. Fernando continues to dribble until he hits the three-point line, and he raises the ball to shoot.

From behind Fernando, Chris' hand slams down to knock the ball out of his grasp. It lands in Alex’s hands, and he starts down for the fast break.

He can even hear Chris mocking Fernando.

"Splash!" he says derisively, running to catch up with Alex.

. . .

Chris staggers down the court. His breathing is heavy, and his uniform is moist with sweat. He blinks, trying to fight back the fatigue, but he can barely speed up to a jog.

Ha. I got the last word with that punk.

I’m so tired. So tired.

He gets the ball and takes a shot.

Clang.

The ball hits the back of the basketball rim anticlimactically, then lands in Fernando's hands. Chris can't help but think angrily, What happened to your rebounds, Dwayne?

Fernando dashes down the court and picks up speed.

Alex is first back this time, and he stations himself right in front of the three-point line, to prevent another three-pointer. Fernando stops in front of Alex and looks up at the rim dramatically, though he's still dribbling. Alex falls for the trick and jumps up to block the shot, allowing Fernando to dribble around him.

By then, Chris is back on defense. He readies himself in front of the basket, prepared to draw a foul. Draw the foul, his body tells him. Immediately, something flashes into Chris' mind. A memory from many years ago. An elbow in his face. A knee in his stomach. He’s on the ground. He cries. He bleeds. Sobbing. Pain. Hurt.

Chris recoils in fear and backs up out of bounds, and Fernando scores an easy lay-up.

32-16

The third quarter is over.

. . .

"Dude, what were you thinking?" Dwayne roars, pointing an accusing finger at Chris.

Alex nods, "I'll have to agree with Dwayne on this one. Why didn't you draw the foul? If we get Fernando in foul trouble, we win."

Chris looks back at Alex, then averts his gaze, "I- . . . I don't . . . I don't want-"

"Fernando's already at two fouls," interrupts Colin. Everyone looks at him, astonished. Chris heaves a silent sigh of relief; he no longer needs to answer Alex and Dwayne's questions.

Dwayne gasps, "Seriously? One more foul and he's done for!"

"Dwayne," Alex taps Dwayne on the shoulder, "You know it's five fouls before someone's out, right? Not three."

"Whoops."

Colin speaks up again, "Um . . . But Dwayne and Jackson both have three."

"You were counting?" Alex asks. Colin nods in reply.

"That's pretty useful, actually," Jacob pats Colin on the back proudly. Chris doesn't even have the energy left to tell his brother that it's the coach's job to remember technical things, like everyone's fouls. Why did he even apply to be a coach if all he's going to do is make us run at practice? Chris wonders, giving Jacob a menacing stink eye.

"Anyways, that means you two need to watch out. At three fouls, you're already in trouble, because you're just two fouls away from being kicked. Alex, I'm sure you'll be fine, but you need to watch out, too," says Jacob.

The score isn’t looking good, but Marble Creek has a plan. As Chris strides back onto the court, his breathing heavy, and his limbs feeling intense fatigue, he has the feeling that perhaps they could even win this game.

As long as I don’t get hurt.

. . .

Greyson watches as Fernando taps his foot on the floor impatiently. With every tap, the captain seems to grow more anxious. It's nearly the end of the third quarter, and he only has a lead of 16 points. Before the game, Greyson expected that Fernando would lead Marble Creek by 40 at halftime, but Marble Creek has been dealing with the shooting quite well. They even managed to block the legendary shooter, albeit with two people.

"How dare they?" Fernando murmurs aloud, "They’ll pay for embarrassing me like that."

The captain suddenly winces, seeming to notice his own exhaustion. Greyson grins, glad to see a part of Fernando that was still a bit human. Other than the fact that he can get tired, however, Fernando is practically a relentless scoring robot. During his daily life, in or out of school, Fernando always has that sort of ‘emperor’ air to him, as if he owns the place. Playing basketball seems to be the only thing that makes him seem a little normal.

Fernando stands up, filled with resolve. He steps out a little further from the bench to address everyone on Pennel Creek's team. For once, they're not very dejected, because someone other than Fernando scored a point earlier. It was Luke, the boy who had mistakenly told Fernando an approximation of time earlier that week. Fortunately for Luke, Fernando had been in a good mood and didn't feel like exacting punishment for Luke's lack of perfectionism.

"We're going to foul that brat until he gives up on winning," says Fernando, and everyone knows who he's talking about-- the captain of the opposing team, the one who just keeps scoring.

Not only is Fernando a perfectionist, but he is also a tyrant. He decides everything for the team, and the chances for other players to score have recently been getting unfortunately low.

Greyson doesn't mind, though. As long as Pennel Creek wins, no matter how evil Fernando can seem, there's really no point in arguing.

"Basketball is all about winning. " Fernando likes to say that a lot. The captain doesn't see the aspect of teamwork, enjoyment, or exhilaration in basketball. It is as if the only thing on his mind is winning. As if he has to prove to someone how strong he is, and how many points he can score. Not only is he an insanely strong player, but he is also relentless when scoring. Generally, teams lessen their intensity when they got a strong lead, but Fernando never stops. When he gets the ball, he'll shoot it immediately. It leads to extremely one-sided games that are nearly synonymous with the terrifying games from previous years.

Fernando believes he is a benevolent leader. A trailblazer.

No one wants to be a villain. No true villain ever thinks that his beliefs are incorrect or evil. Villains don't simply say, 'I'm bad. I'm evil. I do terrible things and I like it.' Being around Fernando for three years straight, Greyson already knows the truth.

The worst, the most accurate, and the evilest villains are the ones that don't even realize they're straying off the path. They're the pioneers, the leaders, who forge new trails. They follow the call of their own heart, and by doing so, they grow to be the best and the worst of themselves.

The trailblazers are the ones who burn the forest.

. . .

One minute into the fourth quarter, Alex already has a suspicion about what’s going on.

He has a feeling that Fernando had instructed his team to foul him as much as possible. It doesn't even make sense. He’s doubling our points, why would he want to crush us more?

Alex frowns, staring at the graceful shooter intensely.

Pennel Creek has the ball, and it’s 32-19. Alex managed to score a three-pointer, because he wanted to make the point: "You’re not the only one who can."

Logan passes to the left again, and Spencer nearly steals it. When the attacker on the left tries to get it back to Logan, Spencer actually does. He dribbles down the court for the fast break, but he goes way too fast and slams the ball on the backboard too hard. Luckily, Alex had prepared for it. He quickly gets the rebound and brings the ball down.

Almost immediately, the other team’s center tries to jump on him. Alex quickly dribbles to the side, and the oblivious center simply falls into the air and hits the floor pathetically. The audience roars– they seem to love it when someone’s ankles are broken.

He tries to take a shot again, but Logan also pops out of nowhere and slams into him. The sharp pain on his back is nowhere near enough to make him let go of the ball, however, and Alex dribbles away.

He glances at the referee angrily, but Fernando is in the way. He blocked the view when Logan tackled Alex, and the nearest referee couldn’t see. The other referee’s view was blocked by the center standing up.

Fernando sees Alex and smiles, and Alex immediately knows that it’s all intentional. His eyes widen, not with fear, but with a look that implies that Fernando will regret it.

I’ll stop him. I’m going to score so much that he’ll collapse from the shock.

I’m going to break his ankles over and over until he knows that I am the one who will-

Right when the ball hits the floor, time stops.

The ball rises slowly into his hand as if it were bouncing on the moon.

When have I felt like this before? Wonders Alex, having a strange sense of déjà vu.

Basketball. Moon-walking. Time stopping.

Regionals.

8th grade.

Loss.

Alex suddenly gets scared. What if I dribble for the rest of the quarter again? What’s happening to me?

Fueled by his desire to score as soon as possible, Alex does a quick left-right motion, and Fernando, who is guarding him, falls over in slow motion.

Alex hastily shoots the ball. For some reason, his hands feel more comfortable shooting a left-hand layup than before. It rises slowly and swishes through the hoop beautifully. Alex can almost swear that it sounds like a ‘splash.’

The other team throws it in, but Alex steals it. It’s so easy for him, he can barely believe it. He scores again.

And again.

And again.

He scores so much he loses track.

Over and over, he snatches the ball easily out of his opponent’s hands.

This is so fun!

This is amazing! I’m so much better than everyone else! It’s like I’m ruling the court-

Bzzzzzzzzt.

The buzzer blares, and Alex falls to his knees, weary and confused.

His mind can barely form the thought: Did we win?

Did I just waste all the time again? Did I just ruin it for my team?

Even though it’s a practice game, it means everything to Alex. If they lose because of him, he won’t be able to face his teammates.

Someone taps his shoulder.

Alex turns around, a little shaken. It’s Spencer.

"Did we . . . win?" Alex asks cautiously, desperately bracing himself for the answer.

. . .

One minute into the fourth quarter, Spencer already has a suspicion about what’s going on. Over multiple instances, the opposing team had tried and failed, to foul Alex. Alex, of course, being his agile self, dodges many of them. However, he does seem to sustain moderate damage from the constant harassment, and Spencer starts to get worried.

Then he shakes his head. I’m on the court right now. Why am I thinking about stuff like this?

As he glances back up again, Pennel Creek’s center attempts to slam into Alex. Of course, he dances around it easily. However, as he does this, he doesn’t notice Logan coming up from behind him.

Spencer flinches as Logan rams into Alex’s torso. Alex stumbles but still manages to keep control of the ball. He dribbles out past the free-throw line, and once he turns around, something changes.

Alex crouches a little lower. His dribbling is a little faster. His offhand comes up a little higher. His stance is a little wider. They’re all little things, but somehow, they change everything.

With a flash, Alex brushes past Fernando, who falls to the ground.

After Alex scores, making it 32-21, Fernando gets up, but Alex does not return to defend the shooter. Instead, he stays closer to the inbounder, clearly trying to get a steal. Spencer glances at Coach Miller, and the coach’s eyes are narrowed. Alex is doing this of his own accord.

The inbounder passes it in hastily, and Alex immediately gets a hand on it. Logan tries to get it too, and the two scramble for the ball. However, Alex ends up with the ball, and scores again.

32-23

The next inbound is thrown by Fernando, who appears extremely annoyed by Alex’s little ‘power-up’.

Fernando calmly throws the ball over Alex to his teammate, but Alex seems to react even before the ball leaves Fernando’s grasp.

Alex snatches the ball away from the player and turns around to score again. Fernando, furious, gets directly in front of Alex, determined to do anything to simply stop Alex. Alex simply ignores him. He stops dribbling a few feet away from the three-point line, and Fernando realizes too late that he’s not the only one who can sink three-pointers from that range. It’s almost as if Alex is mocking Fernando, shooting from that range.

It splashes through, but even Spencer can tell it’s a shot with much more impact than any one of Fernando’s.

32-26

Pennel Creek’s offense quickly goes downhill. They aren’t able to start an attack at all.

32-28

They pass, they dribble, but nothing they do can stop Alex’s monstrous rampage.

32-30

Alex doesn’t even seem to notice that he’s humiliating his opponents. He’s so focused, he can’t even tell.

32-32

There are still three minutes left in the game, but Alex is still pushing strong. The rest of the players can only stare, dumbfounded. Even Marble Creek’s players run around aimlessly, unsure of what to do.

Coach Miller simply crosses his arms, observing.

Since Pennel Creek had already used their timeouts, they can’t even do anything. Some of the players from their bench start complaining to the referees, but it’s of no use.

32-35

Alex starts sinking three-pointers instead of lay-ups. Fernando stares, frozen, as his signature move is mercilessly taken from him.

32-38

Two minutes left.

32-41

Pennel Creek starts doing anything it can to stop the game. They throw themselves at Alex, hoping to foul him, but he gets past them so gracefully, it’s like the entire court is moving with him like the gym is swaying back and forth, and everyone except for Alex is being thrown left and right.

32-44

32-47

32-49

Alex smiles.

It’s not a warm smile.

It’s the smile of someone enjoying himself.

32-52

Bzzzzzzzzt.

Spencer races over to Alex, who has just fallen to his knees. He’s unsure what to say to Alex, after all, Alex had just, in a few minutes, scored over 30 points.

Alex turns to Spencer and he asks tentatively, as if unsure, "Did we . . . win?"

Spencer feels like he might throw up. He can’t tell if Alex is being sarcastic, but he does know that something is up. Something strange is happening, and Spencer can't understand it.

He backs away, and quickly mutters, "Y-yeah."

The crowd doesn't cheer. They clap, but it’s slow. Their eyes are all fixated on Alex. Alex stands up slowly, taking in the victory. He seems genuinely happy about it as if it was a very difficult win.

Finally, Coach Miller walks up to Alex, "Tell your parents you will be staying late. I want to talk with you in private."

Alex nods, "Yes, coach."

. . .

Fernando feels himself shaking, but he’s not that cold.

Physically and mentally, he feels numb all over. He stands in silence, turning his head aimlessly. He’s not sure where he is. Outside. On the grass. Somewhere. For some reason, he walked over to some random place after the game. He looks down at his hands.

They’re a little red.

His teammates didn’t notice or care, but he spent an hour before the game warming up at their own gym, shooting three-pointers over and over, and going through some ball-handling drills.

His hands hurt, just a little bit. His body isn’t really that fatigued.

So why am I so tired?

Fernando sits down on the soft grass, pulling his legs toward his chest, and resting his head on his knees.

Never in his life has Fernando felt such worthlessness. He has felt rage, yes, when his upperclassman played basketball rudely. He felt sadness, yes, when Horace stopped coming to practices and games. He even felt a little joy sometimes, when his teammates praised him. He felt pride, every time he sank a shot.

But he had never before felt such worthlessness as if the entire world started moving past him, and he was simply sitting there, unable to push forward. As if he didn’t matter.

"I didn’t expect to find you here," someone behind him says softly. The voice is sad but happy. Proud but hurt. Fernando recognizes his best friend’s voice immediately and turns around silently.

He turns around, and standing behind him is a boy that’s not very tall, and only slightly muscular. He has hair that’s a bit too long for a basketball player, but Fernando knows that he only makes it look like that because he watches too much anime. Even in the dark, Fernando can see that this person’s expression is warm, like usual. Fernando knows exactly who this is.

His best friend, Horace Monella.

. . .

Alex sits down in front of Coach Miller. Coach solemnly crosses his arms.

They’re in the gym. Everyone has left, so it’s just the two of them.

"Do you know why I asked you to stay?" asks the coach.

Alex shakes his head.

"Do you know how I feel about what you did in today’s game?"

Alex shakes his head.

Coach speaks calmly, but there’s an undertone of anger beneath it.

"Alex."

"Yes?"

Coach starts, "I believe the most important part of playing basketball, or any sport, is not really about winning."

Alex nods.

"Some players adore winning. They chase after it hungrily. I don’t blame them. It feels wonderful to win."

Alex stares at the floor.

"I, myself, love to win. When I played middle school basketball, my friends and I fought as hard as we could, and we were a semi-final team in the regionals. When I played high school basketball, I worked so hard, just so I could get a little bit of playtime on the team. When I was a lot more skilled and got to college, I became a strong, central player that my team relied on."

"I’m not saying this to brag. I’m not saying this to impress you. I was good. I was a strong player. I liked to win, and I won all the time."

"But Alex," Coach Miller turns to look at his captain, "Look at me."

Alex looks up, and the only emotion he can see in his coach’s eyes is disappointment.

"Do you feel like you won?"

Alex looks away.

Coach Miller raises his voice, "Look at me."Alex looks back at his coach.

"Do you–" Coach Miller places a finger on Alex’s chest– "feel like you won?"

Alex reluctantly replies, ". . . yes."

Coach nods, "That’s good."

But what Coach says next makes Alex look away.

"But do you think your teammates felt like they won?"

Coach doesn’t ask Alex to look at him after that. The two of them sit there silently. Finally, Coach breaks the silence.

"Alex, stand up."

Alex stands up, ashamed and disappointed in himself.

"I want you to run from baseline to baseline, and you will continue to run until I tell you to stop. This isn't to punish you or anything like that. It's to let you think about what transpired today. I want you to think very hard. Even I can tell that perhaps something amazing happened today. Something unbelievable. But I would only be impressed with it as a player. As your coach, I'm here to let you think. So run. And think."

Alex nods. He knows this is what he deserves. He hogged the ball for an entire quarter selfishly. He doesn’t argue with it.

Each step is filled with pain, but Alex does not grunt or groan. Coach sits in silence, letting Alex run, and run, and run, and run.

Alex can barely breathe, and his legs hurt more than he can describe, but he imagines the betrayed look of his teammates, and suddenly, it pales in comparison.

Coach keeps Alex running for an hour before he finally blows his whistle.

Alex slows to a stop, and he glances at Coach Miller, who nods at him.

He calls his mom to pick him up, and he returns home in silence.

I won, Alex wonders to himself, So why does it hurt so much?

. . .

The two of them look at each other for a bit, and then Horace sits down next to Fernando.

They sit in silence for a moment. It’s nighttime. The sky is clear. Fernando’s parents probably think he’s practicing. Horace’s are probably raging.

Finally, Horace says, "I saw the game."

Fernando doesn't answer. Horace doesn’t hesitate before saying his next comment.

"You played well."

Fernando responds immediately, "I did not."

Horace asks, "What makes you think that?"

"I lost."

"Okay."

"I lost!"

"Okay."

Fernando stands up, "I was terrible! I lost! I was destroyed! I lost, I lost, I lost!"

Horace nods and stands up too, "Okay."

"They demolished me!" Fernando cries, "I looked so uncool! I couldn’t do anything. They were too good! They blocked me! Me! They blocked me, and then he mocked me! I should be the king of the court! But the king doesn’t lose! I wasn’t good enough! I lost! I lost, I lost!"

Horace nods, embracing his friend. He knows Fernando too well. Even if he pretends to be graceful and majestic, he is still truly a weak person. He can’t stand the pain of a loss, and no matter how strong he becomes, he still gets happy from the praise. He’s brave when he wants to be, but is helpless in the face of danger.

"Fernando," Horace says after a moment of silence, "Do you think I care if you win or not?"

Fernando pauses, thinking about it.

Horace smiles, stepping away from Fernando, "Do you know where we’re at?"

Fernando shakes his head.

"This is an old, barely used playground that we always hung out together at," Horace points at the playground equipment, "You and I would come here after school, when we were feeling sad, and just play on the playground, trying to look as depressed as possible."

Horace can’t suppress a little chuckle, "We were so stupid back then."

Fernando stares at him unemotionally.

"After games, we would come here too, and you always were so worried about us getting our uniforms dirty," Horace turns back around, facing Fernando, "And you were so adamant about us not playing that you sat at the bottom of the big slide and wouldn’t budge so that I couldn’t slide down. Then, we just went home and changed. You were so silly– worrying about the most minor things, like getting our basketball uniforms dirty. "

Fernando asks, "Why are you telling me this?"

"Fernando," Horace walks closer to him and points backward at the playground, "Sure, I loved playing basketball with you, but what I loved the most was these simple moments, just us being normal friends, who aren’t trying to make the world a better place, or to fix the problems of our basketball team. I loved it when we just messed around and played here like little kids."

"I know it hurt to watch the upperclassmen play as they did, but it’s not your fault. I know it hurt to get blocked like that in the game, but it’s not your fault. I know it hurt to lose so terribly, but it’s not your fault!" says Horace, "I think you’re an amazing person, Fernando, but you don’t need to do so much. If you try to fix everything that’s wrong with the world, you’ll never get to be a normal person."

Fernando averts his eyes.

"So please," Horace puts his hands on Fernando’s shoulders, "Can we just be normal?"

Fernando replies weakly, "I . . . need to win."

"Why?"

"To prove that I’m strong."

"Why?"

"So no one will suppress me anymore."

"Why?"

"Because I don’t want to be hurt."

"Why?"

"Because . . ." Fernando pauses, then says quietly, "Because I’m weak."

Horace smiles, "No, you’re not. You just don’t know how to win correctly. Fernando, let’s learn how to be strong. Together."

Fernando stares at him for a moment, but only a moment.

The captain of Pennel Creek Middle School's boys' basketball team turns around and walks away. Horace feels the possibility of tears in his eyes. He can’t believe that Fernando could just walk away like this.

Horace doesn’t follow him. He just asks sadly.

"Why?"

Fernando stops walking. Horace can feel the crickets chirping softly, and a chilly breeze hits his face.

There are a million things he wants to tell him– to convince Fernando not to leave.

Before he can say it, Fernando turns around and smiles. It's a very awkward smile. A smile that perhaps hasn't been seen for years. It has a little bit of pain. A little bit of happiness. A little bit of longing. Horace vows that he'll protect that smile, no matter the cost.

Fernando says, pointing at the playground, "There’s no way I’m going to play here with my uniform on, idiot!"


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Sun Jul 02, 2023 5:31 pm
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OrabellaAvenue wrote a review...



Hi! This is a random weirdo here to review.

I am so glad I found this story. It's. So. Good. I love this even more every time I come to read it.

Okay, first of all, I did not expect that. Also, I was wrong before. Fernando is obsessed with winning. And once he lost, he couldn't handle it. His character is so complex, and his friendship with Horace is kinda depressing with the way Fernando has pushed him away.

And now Alex... has finally gotten what he wanted. He won. He did so much to get to this point; wanted it so much, and now he's here. And it's not what he expected.

This chapter perfectly portrays each character and their points of view. I also like how you describe the same moment twice but from the perspective of two different characters (Alex and Spencer), and you switch between them perfectly, while still keeping it the way they view it. And that's especially hard when you're doing 3rd person.

Also the dialogue, I must say, is flawless and it transitions perfectly from person to person. I especially like when Coach talks to Alex and Horace to Fernando.

I've gotta ask: how'd you get inspiration for this story? Where did the ideas come from? How the heck did you think of such amazing characters?

Anyway, that's all for now. Have a great day, and keep writing!




yosh says...


thank you so much for the review!!!! <33333

And now Alex... has finally gotten what he wanted. He won. He did so much to get to this point; wanted it so much, and now he's here. And it's not what he expected.


i really love how you put that. literally what i was going for

I've gotta ask: how'd you get inspiration for this story? Where did the ideas come from? How the heck did you think of such amazing characters?


if i'm gonna be honest . . . i'm not sure. it just kind of showed up eventually

but specifically i flesh out characters by daydreaming about them. like, if i'm ever like showering or sitting in the car i'll just start thinking about them and y'know, the brain gets workin

-yosh



OrabellaAvenue says...


Yay! I'm glad I understood what you were going for. And thanks for answering my question! It was very helpful. ^^



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Sun Mar 26, 2023 11:14 pm
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hi again Yosh!

RandomTalks here with a short review!

Things really escalated in this chapter and not in the way I had imagined. Full disclosure - I had been 99.9 percent sure that they were going to lose the game and it was going to bring them closer or something before they made a miraculous comeback in the next game. I was pleasantly surprised by the turn of events even though this chapter can be considered bittersweet, if not a little painful, for most of our characters.

A memory from many years ago. An elbow in his face. A knee in his stomach. He’s on the ground. He cries. He bleeds. Sobbing. Pain. Hurt.


There were three pivotal moments in the chapter for me - this one, Alex's game and Horace and Fernando's reunion at the end. As satisfyingly you handled those other two moments, I was a little disappointed when you did not address this one, although you may be planning to in the future. Still, Chris has intrigued me from the moment he was introduced - the mean, sarcastic guy with a gentle soul. Out of all the team members, apart from Alex of course, he has been featured the most. Therefore, there was always that curiosity to learn more about him, especially after the previous chapter.

We don't get much details about this haunting fear he carries around with him Although, the fact that you mentioned 'many years ago' had me wondering if the injury happened during a game or if it was some kind of accident. I wonder if it had any repercussions on him and I wonder if its going to reappear or interfere in his life in some way in the future. I do hope you address it though, because it could make for a really interesting storyline for his character.

Over and over, he snatches the ball easily out of his opponent’s hands.

We really got to see a much darker side to Alex in this chapter, a side that would perhaps understand the darkness and the obsessive need to be the best in Fernando as well. Alex seemed to have been separated from his body in that moment, and as amazing as his performance was, the way he took over the court in a dreamlike haze was just as concerning. His narrative felt so similar to Fernando's when he was practicing to become the best player - they both exuded that feeling as though they were tethering on the edge of madness. While Alex's slip to the bottom was exhilarating, Fernando's was more cold, calculative and mechanical. It makes me wonder whether we can really blame anyone for becoming who they are as a result of their past experiences.

Now like Euphory mentioned, Alex's change was a little too abrupt. Especially the transition from memory to reality happened in a split second and before we had even realized what was going on, the shift had already happened. And because the shift is as enormous as a major personality change (at least for Alex, because I could never imagine him being this way), you need to take your time with the transition. This was a huge moment for his character and I felt as though the importance of the moment got somewhat faded because of the execution.

Alex smiles.

It’s not a warm smile.

It’s the smile of someone enjoying himself.


In some ways, Spencer's narrative of the events felt more powerful to me than Alex's. That's to be expected, I guess. Because through Spencer, we get to witness the transition as an observer instead of having to sift through the messy, jumbled thoughts while following Alex's POV. It also cleared the situation a little and gave us a better idea of what happened. And Spencer's confusion, his shock and concern was just the same as our reaction. His careful observation and his inability to recognize his friend in him therefore hit us harder than Alex's narration.

Another person whose impact really mattered in this chapter was Coach Miller's. The way he handled Alex afterwards and the way he brought him back to himself just earned him even more of my respect. I like how he isn't just a Coach to them; he is a friend, a guide and a mentor. He is whatever they need him to be in that moment. And his sensitive approach in making Alex realize what went down at the court just made him one of my new favorite characters.

If you try to fix everything that’s wrong with the world, you’ll never get to be a normal person.


This was another intense interaction in the chapter. I honestly held my breath the entire time because I could not figure out how it was going to go. I liked how at one point, it seemed as though Horace was simply placating Fernando like a little, hurt child and repeating himself with this soft understanding as though he had been waiting for this moment for years and was now overcome with emotion now that he had finally got a glimpse of his best friend back. The way he almost seemed to reach into Fernando to pull the real him out was a really impactful moment for me and I could appreciate their friendship in a new way.

However, I never felt as though Fernando was trying to 'fix everything wrong with the world'. If he had, I don't think he would have become exactly what he had hated before all of this - someone who dominated the court and made everyone else feel small. To me, his actions seemed to have been guided by his inner insecurities and fears that he had simply covered up with his attitude. His need to be the best just so he would not have to feel the pain of not being enough - now that was an admission that struck a chord with me. Honestly, that entire scene was so deeply intense that I wonder if the characters are ever going to be the same again.

Overall, I liked how almost all the significant moments of this chapter were guided by their past experiences. Whether it was Chris's injury or Alex's fear of being dominated on the court or Fernando's inability to accept loss - it goes a long way in showing how the past really shapes us individuals.

Keep writing and have a great day/night!

Until next time!

~RandomTalks




yosh says...


Ty sm <33



yosh says...


And I is BACK

Full disclosure - I had been 99.9 percent sure that they were going to lose the game and it was going to bring them closer or something before they made a miraculous comeback in the next game.


*sigh* yeah this has been a little predicament since the beginning, because since this is a practice game, I can decide the outcome of the game. Of course, I wanted to have Alex's engine start either way, but in the end, I wanted him to win it because then Coach Miller would get more mad, and Fernando would get like traumatized so

Still, Chris has intrigued me from the moment he was introduced - the mean, sarcastic guy with a gentle soul. Out of all the team members, apart from Alex of course, he has been featured the most. Therefore, there was always that curiosity to learn more about him, especially after the previous chapter.


Expect him to be featured soon! Don't worry he gets his fair share of backstory and screentime later. In fact, I'd say he gets too much, but that's just me

It makes me wonder whether we can really blame anyone for becoming who they are as a result of their past experiences.


Interesting point you're throwing out here! I'm not good with these kind of things, so I'm honestly just keeping the theme of this story as simple as possible. (Existential stuff always gets my brain hurting). But in terms of Alex and Fernando, and every other character in this story-- scratch that. For every single person in this world, things happen to them, and they're not to blame. In KotC's case, I think the fact that some of them are able to come out of their hardship's stronger, and albeit traumatized, is something to be proud of.

Now like Euphory mentioned, Alex's change was a little too abrupt. Especially the transition from memory to reality happened in a split second and before we had even realized what was going on, the shift had already happened. And because the shift is as enormous as a major personality change (at least for Alex, because I could never imagine him being this way), you need to take your time with the transition. This was a huge moment for his character and I felt as though the importance of the moment got somewhat faded because of the execution.


That makes sense. I am throwing a lot of stuff on the reader here.

The way he handled Alex afterwards and the way he brought him back to himself just earned him even more of my respect. I like how he isn't just a Coach to them; he is a friend, a guide and a mentor. He is whatever they need him to be in that moment. And his sensitive approach in making Alex realize what went down at the court just made him one of my new favorite characters.


I really like how you wrote that. Actually, I just want to quote everything you say lol.

But anyways, I'm glad Coach Miller turned out okay. Actually, in previous drafts he was a CLOWN like a full on jokester and completely non-coach like and not serious.

However, I never felt as though Fernando was trying to 'fix everything wrong with the world'. If he had, I don't think he would have become exactly what he had hated before all of this - someone who dominated the court and made everyone else feel small. To me, his actions seemed to have been guided by his inner insecurities and fears that he had simply covered up with his attitude. His need to be the best just so he would not have to feel the pain of not being enough - now that was an admission that struck a chord with me.


I see where you're coming from. In the end, Fernando's decisions are based on his insecurities, but from Horace's standpoint, and in general, this all started because Fernando wanted to fix Pennel Creek's team, and like all dictators, he strayed from the path.

thanks for the revs!!!

-yosh



RandomTalks says...


You're welcome!

And like I said, feel free to quote me on anything! <33



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Sun Mar 26, 2023 8:11 pm
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Euphory wrote a review...



Hello yosh! <3 here for a review on behalf of The Crimson Critics!

OH. MY. WORD. AHHHHHHH??!!??!?
OKAY, so remember I told you that your characters are the real reason I love love love your story?
WELL, I'M PRETTY SURE THIS IS MY FAVORITE CHAPTER NOW, just because of its strong emphasis on our protagonist, Alex, and antagonist, Fernando!

This chapter is most definitely the turning point for both of them- however, things are still a but incomplete with regards to Chris! We see some flashes of some kind of trauma he experienced before, something regarding the subject of fouls, and I wonder if that's something we'll get to know more about in the coming chapters!

ALEX
On the one hand, I love what you did for Alex's character in this chapter, but on the other hand, I feel it was a little too....abrupt? Throughout the story, Alex has always been someone who had his team members in mind, and prioritised teamwork over winning, so it felt highly unnatural for him to act the way he did during the final quarter. Even in the beginning of this chapter, he was working with Chris to optimise their chances of winning, and didn't seem keen on a solo win.

I think perhaps you could make it a smoother transition for Alex by not only levelling up the stakes of the game, but also exploring a little deeper how that changes his demeanor, making it a gradual trangression. In this chapter, I felt that transition was a bit too hasty, so what Alex did felt very out of character.

However, that little moment with Coach Miller really amplifies the lesson, because Coach is usually very cheery and comical, and seeing him use a completely different tone of voice makes it really hit home :"(

FERNANDO

Fernandoooooo myyy babbyyyy :(((((((((
AND HORACE IS BACK! <333
I literally have no critiques whatsoever regarding these two and that wondrous moment they shared - brought me to tears :( the constant back and forth between them, Horace with his gentle "why"s, and Fernando finally, finally admitting the core of his fears - that he would be weak *cue the waterworks*
Horace and Fernando are PRECIOUS, and I will protect them <3

I also think what's very beautiful about this chapter is that it paints such a vivid portrait of Alex and Fernando, and how, despite their conflicting characteristics, they mirror each other in so many ways and lose their true spirits in their race to win. And the ways that both of them received that lesson, to hold onto their truths more tightly than their victories or losses, is just the crux of this entire story <3

HIGHLIGHTS

The trailblazers are the ones who burn the forest.

SUCH a powerful quote. Greyson's entire monologue here about villains was deeply moving.

Alex can barely breathe, and his legs hurt more than he can describe, but he imagines the betrayed look of his teammates, and suddenly, it pales in comparison.

OUCH <////3

Fernando says, pointing at the playground, "There’s no way I’m going to play here with my uniform on, idiot

ACKKKKK <33333 THIS MOMENT !!!!

And that's it! I hope this review was helpful, and if ever you would like a review on any of your pieces, you can pop into Euphoria's Coffeehouse!




yosh says...


Euph thank u smmmmmmmmmmmm aaaaaaaaa



yosh says...


shoot i had a message but it got deleted

WELL HERE WE GO AGAIN

This chapter is most definitely the turning point for both of them- however, things are still a but incomplete with regards to Chris! We see some flashes of some kind of trauma he experienced before, something regarding the subject of fouls, and I wonder if that's something we'll get to know more about in the coming chapters!


yep yep we'll be seeing more of him

I think perhaps you could make it a smoother transition for Alex by not only levelling up the stakes of the game, but also exploring a little deeper how that changes his demeanor, making it a gradual trangression. In this chapter, I felt that transition was a bit too hasty, so what Alex did felt very out of character.


I was trying my best to keep the game short so . . . *sacrifices had to be made*

but seriously, I think the abruptness, was kinda what I was going for? I'm not just saying that to say that, but it was kind of like supposed to surprise, but I guess I didn't convey that too well.

I also think what's very beautiful about this chapter is that it paints such a vivid portrait of Alex and Fernando, and how, despite their conflicting characteristics, they mirror each other in so many ways and lose their true spirits in their race to win. And the ways that both of them received that lesson, to hold onto their truths more tightly than their victories or losses, is just the crux of this entire story <3


YES this is exactly what I was going for! despite their differences, in the end, Alex and Fernando, and just everyone in this story, all are united under one goal: to win

ACKKKKK <33333 THIS MOMENT !!!!


im not even lying thats how it was for my when I wrote it. I was like running around and telling my family how I wrote this really cool line hehehe

anyways thanks for the rev!

-yosh



Euphory says...


YOU'RE SOOOO WELCOOOME
I understand it had to be an abrupt thing. I guess what I thought is that it felt very out of character for Alex, you know, like in my head Alex as a character would never do that. So it was a very big shock. If that was the thing you were going for, then it's perfect, but if you don't want it to be that shocking, then you might have to reconsider the pacing in that one scene.
YESSSSS YOU DESERVE TO BE JUMPING WITH JOY AT YOUR LINES <33333




There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.
— J.K. Rowling