It was terrifying: the walk. Each nerve and muscle and sinew inside him was shaking with dread. But he didn’t show it. Of course not. Instead he gathered every last remaining dignity he had after being stripped of his reputation. ‘Stormbringer’, he was called. ‘The Hurricane’. ‘Pandemonium King’. He was invincible, so fearless, and so powerful. And yet all of it was lost in a single announcement. Now he had a new name: ‘The Little Genius’. Students of his age snickered at him and at his perfect marks. Others termed him as a ‘Crammer’, not a very appreciative term in his school. Now as he walked on the ‘red carpet’, parents clapped, the principal gloated, the chief guest smiled, the chairman rubbed his belly. But the worst was his team: the Guns (Crime Masters). After the results were out, he was disowned of his post as the team leader. There was no debate: he was not fit to be a leader. He should be kicked out. That was it. He gulped. He was getting closer to the stage. His life lived until this moment flashed before his eyes. The stage was getting closer and closer. He heard some snorts. And then . . . well, he fainted—to the amazement of all the people present.
The slight threads of consciousness wove into his brain the moment he heard ‘Pandemonium King’. His eyes fluttered and a moan escaped his lips. All human sounds ceased. And then he heard a voice whisper, “Hey leader. Maybe you should try sleeping for a year or so to recover from your heart-breaking collapse near the stage.” He heard the sound of a kick and a small ‘Ow’. He opened his eyes using every bit of his willpower and stared up with a bewildered look. He recognized all of them but couldn’t really process why half of the people were there. There was his sister present, of course, his friends, peers, his former team-mates and one beloved teacher—though he would never admit it. They were all smiling. One of classmates spoke up, “They got the name wrong leader. It wasn’t you who got perfect marks. It was one of the permanent crammers. You barely passed, except in handwriting where you got perfect marks. And we don’t blame you for that really. Good handwriting is needed to pass as a solid citizen of the society outside the underworld, even if that is not the case. So I guess you are the most suitable candidate to become our leader.” Everybody looked cheerful. But their leader groaned, saying, “I suffered ‘the walk’ to see THIS? I’ll die like this . . .”
NOTE: Written some years ago, this story may contain the glimmers of the innocence of the younger me. What was that? I was as evil a human being then as I am now? Why you . . .