Serving the Six-Armed Beast
by Matt Surface, January 10th 2023
Thousands packed the stadium, filing slowly into the rows of neatly folded seats, eager to watch two of the world’s top tennis players have at it below them.
All but a few stragglers had found their place when the announcer’s voice boomed around them. The players emerged from the runway, the people roaring in a welcoming applause as they took to the court.
Javier Hernandez, the boy wonder from the sprawling green mountains of northern Spain, strutted across the painted concrete as one would through a field of flowers. His boyish smile reached even the highest seats in the stadium, his warmth and charm as contagious as they come.
Gary Lopidus, the 27-year-old American out of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, who followed closely behind, was absolutely terrified.
The reason for Lopidus’ terror was not the typical pre-game jitters, nor the tremendous weight that this particular match held over his recently waning career.
Rather, it was because someone had replaced his breath strips with tabs of LSD.
The someone in question was Lopidus’ coach, Horace Kolman, who sat stoically by the sidelines, pad and paper at the ready to make note of his experiment.
Kolman, having recently undergone a midlife spiritual awakening, was almost entirely convinced that the effects of the microdose of acid he’d slipped into Lopidus’ breath strip case would revive the career that had been slowly and surely slipping through his fingertips. To cut costs, he’d even manufactured the tabs himself in a makeshift lab in his basement.
Unfortunately for Lopidus, Kolman had not so much as touched a test tube or beaker in the forty years since his high school chemistry class.
The resulting product, now coursing like a runaway freight train through Lopidus’ vascular system, was a synthetic alternative known as 25i-NBOMe, in quantities high enough to floor an elephant.
And so, when Hernandez walked to the court, smiling and waving at the wholesome crowd before him, what Lopidus saw was something else entirely. As he made his way across the concrete, his body sweating profusely in protest, he was met by a sea of unspeakable creatures that coursed across the rows of the stands. Thousands of reptilian eyes made daggers toward him, tongues ten feet long protruded from mouths of a hundred teeth. The creatures danced and sang, shoveling paper baskets of human fingers dipped in ruby red blood down their gullets, feasting on ears impaled on skewer sticks.
He ventured a pleading look toward his coach, praying to everything holy for an explanation, but saw only a Kolman shaped bonfire, scratching satanic shapes on a plaque of pig skin with a severed hawk talon.
This ought to be an interesting game, Lopidus thought.
In fact, if the 25i had given Lopidus the powers of telepathy, which it was only a few micrograms shy of doing, he would have known that his coach had been thinking the very same thought.
He would have also known that young Hernandez, at the prime of his form, had every intention of dealing him the spanking of a lifetime.
The match went underway without much spectacle, despite the chair umpire’s pregame speech to Lopidus resembling the sounds of a thousand tiny voices screaming from the fires of hell. Hernandez was first to serve, and the two began whacking the tiny ball back and forth over the net.
Kolman sat off to the side of the pitch, scribbling like mad on the paper pad in his hands.
SUBJECT’S PERFORMANCE CLEARLY ENHANCED, DESPITE SCREAMING EYES AND EXCESSIVE BODILY MOISTURE.
And it was true. Had you watched Gary Lopidus swinging that racket around, you’d see a better performance than he’d put on in years.
The reason being, that where others saw a regulation tennis ball, Lopidus saw a tiny green hand grenade.
So, like the life-loving individual that he was, Lopidus saw it fit to propel said grenade as quickly and viciously as he could back in the direction of the 6-armed monster from which it came.
This six-armed monster was, of course, Javier Hernandez, who was on the receiving end of the spanking he had initially hoped to deal to Lopidus.
Despite the horrid scene that unfolded before him, and the imagined pain that the stingray, which was his racket, inflicted on his hand with every swing, Lopidus felt amazing. He was at the top of his game.
Perhaps he would avoid a terrible, explosive death after all, he thought.
And avoid it he did. After a few hectic moments chase from the giant golden turtle, which was his trophy, the reality of his victory washed over Lopidus like a warming tide as he took to the stage, hoisting the surprisingly weightless creature over his head while the monsters danced in the stands.
What he unfortunately couldn’t avoid, as time would tell, was the permanent state of cerebral scramble the monstrous dose of 25i would inflict on his brain.
But persisting perceptual disorder aside, Lopidus’ win over the Spaniard that day solidified his place culmination of every wordless dinner, each missed soccer game, years of pain, waiting, begging to be seen in the annals of tennis history. Not only for the skill he demonstrated in his play, but for the blood curdling screams that escaped his mouth each time he returned a serve.
The internet sure loved those screams.
So did the talk-show hosts.
And such it was that Gary Lopidus’ career soared to stardom. He walked down the blood covered carpet of human skin with the movie stars, he spoke boisterously into the serpents the journalists held to his face.
But when asked of his future in tennis, whether he would pursue the title yet again, the surrounding crowd growing quiet to hear his response, he would only say this:
“And take care of another one of those turtles? Not a chance.”