The high-tech digital backdrop of the massive stage was transformed into a scoreboard. High behind the kid’s podium, the word HOME was the emblazoned in white letters inside a blue rectangle. Below it, read the challenger’s name “Pan”. Behind the sorcerer’s podium, the word GUEST was enclosed in a white square above the word “King”. Points began at 0. First quarter. The game clock read 7:00 minutes.
The sweating referee performed a coin toss, which determined that Pan would go first, and then gave the floor over to the gray-faced referee who was no longer on the verge of hyperventilation.
The gray-faced referee reached into a deep red bucket labeled “Topics” held by announcer Ju-Won and withdrew a folded white card. She glanced at the word inside of it.
The crowded auditorium seemed to lean forward in the stifling silence. Camera #2 offered the world a close-up of the referee’s face, hoping to catch a hint of the topic before she revealed it.
Pocketing the card, the gray-faced referee picked up the brass whistle from the lanyard around her neck. In a loud clear voice, she said, “The topic is Travel.” She placed the whistle between her lips and signaled for the magical frying pan to begin.
Pan: “Since I don’t have arms or legs, I can’t travel without assistance and, so far, I must say that my favorite mode of travel is by plane. The view is beautiful. Way up there in sky… Best of all, it puts me 30,000 feet away from for you and the mess you’ve made.”
King: (snorts) “I own fifteen planes, jets, and helicopters and have a private airport named after me. I can have that view any time I want. I can fly anywhere, anytime. The rich live in a different world so I don’t expect a piece of rust like you to understand.”
Pan: “How exciting for you.”
King: “I’m going to be the first billionaire to build a resort on the moon. I already own an aerospace company to get me there. It wouldn’t be hard.”
Pan: “That sounds incredible.”
King: “It is.”
Pan: “When your moon home is completed and you go there, do the world a favor and don’t come back.”
While King shot the frying pan a snarky leer, more than five seconds elapsed. All four referees whistled and simultaneously held up stiff blue cards to indicate a point for the HOME player: Pan.
King blinked at the scoreboard which showed a 1 point under Pan’s name. “That didn’t count!” he blustered, “I wasn’t speechless, I just—!”
With whistle between his teeth, the formerly disoriented referee held up his blue card resolutely toward the second podium, assertively made eye contact with King, and shook his head.
“Point to Pan,” narrated the announcer Journey, who stood along the right edge of the stage. “Since Pan scored the point, he starts the next round. What will the next topic be?”
The gray-faced referee selected another topic card. “The next topic is Memory.” She gestured for the frying pan to begin.
Pan: “I have observed that memory can be both precious and devastating to humans. As a frying pan largely confined to the kitchen in my first few decades of consciousness, I witnessed families and friends making memories over meals. Humans—normal humans—cherish memories of time spent with each other over most other things with monetary value.”
King: “I took an IQ test when I was little and again when I grew up just to see how smart I was and the result was amazing. I don’t remember the exact number but I have an AMAZING IQ which is related to an amazing memory. I can remember anything.”
Pan: “Except for your IQ.”
King: (proud of himself) “I have a really a high intelligence.”
Pan: “When do you intend on using it?”
King: “I-I…” (scowling) “Y-You’re a piece of metal with no brain who can never go to school, so you’ll be stupid forever!”
Pan: “True, I may never have any degrees, but even stupid pans can have long memories. I’ll always cherish my memories of people I’ve befriended along the way. People are worth remembering. Unfortunately, you’re face is also something I’ll probably never forget either, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying.”
King: “That’s right because my… uh, name…”
King: “…Is everywhere. Me and money have benefit so many people that my name is already imprinted on history. I’m already part of the world’s memory.”
Pan: “Sorry, did you say benefit?”
King: (annoyed by Pan’s tone) “And that’s what people will remember.”
Pan: “I’d agree with you but then we’d both be wrong.”
King: “People love me in their memories and in real life. Once I’m ruler of the world and everyone sees how great I am, people who don’t already acknowledge me will have no choice but to admit I’m better than them!”
Pan: “You’re getting awfully defensive about this. First, I hope real life and memories are at least somewhat synonymous. Second, who are these ‘people’ you keep talking about, are they real, and, if so, are they all billionaires, too? Third, there’s more than one side to every story and I bet that if we called up every one who’s ever known you, they’d all remember you as a jerk.”
King imagined a rush faces from his past. Most of their names escaped him, but that wasn’t important. His assistant could look them up their names. However, every person who crossed his mind—peers from his early school years, former employees, even business partners—was accompanied by doubts.
People only say nice things because they want something, he thought. If I asked anyone, er, well, no one would say I’m a jerk anyway, because I’m not! What does Pan know? Who cares what a frying pan thinks? Besides, anybody can lie and call me jerk—.
Whistles blasted. Blue cards. Point for Pan.
A buzzer blared as the game clock reached 0:00.
King was in a daze. The first quarter is over already?
The frying pan had 11 points and King had a mortifying 0.
The power from frying pan’s spell radiated from the ground where King stood. Its latent energy buzzed through the soles of his shoes into his feet and legs in a constant hum deep in his bones, reminding him that it was unbreakable.
Comprehension finally dawned on King that no amount of money, threats, lies, or influence was capable of saving him from his mess and that, if he lost this game—this ludicrous game—his perfect plan for being victorious over all the idiots in the world was no longer guaranteed.
Heart pounding with fury and fear, King glared at the scoreboard. “The second quarter,” he grumbled to himself between clenched teeth, “will be very different.”
[to be continued…]
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Prompt: Frying pan defeats sorcerer and saves the world.
Source: The misinterpretation and miscommunication of a prompt from an online random plot generator.