Blaze tumbled behind a cluster of bushes and forced his girth into a ball the best he could to hide himself. He tried to hush the harsh, rasping breath coming from his chest. His heart banged around in his chest as if it were trying to escape. He imagined an angry heart-shaped gorilla trapped in a tiny cage.

It was at that moment, inconvenient as it was, where his brain, his conscience, decided to confront him. “So, this is what you have become? The great Blaze Banks.” The voice sounded a little bit like his mother, God rest her soul.

“Shut up,” he dared to whisper. The truth always stings a bit.

Randall Banks acquired the name Blaze during his glory days on the high school football field. Days and glory he has since squandered, playing video games, drinking beer, working to make ends meet at Gil Towdy’s used car lot during the day and performing “odd jobs” at night that others found too unsavory to discuss in anything more than a whisper. When he was younger, he was an imposing figure, but time and carelessness just made him…doughy.

“He’s this way!” The call came from just over the hill.

Blaze stopped his breath completely. Despite the rhetorical essence of his brain mom’s question, the short answer was, yes. This is what he has become and if he didn’t figure something out quickly, this is where he would end. 

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