Time to Scrap | Teen Ink

Time to Scrap

February 2, 2022
By Steadman, Clarksville, Tennessee
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Steadman, Clarksville, Tennessee
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Favorite Quote:
"The world is yours!"

Author's note:

This book is a traditional story about being below rock bottom and rising up. I want people who seek for light and are not in the best place in life to be able to see that with the right mindset, the right people around you, and determination, that they can change their fate. I want to do this while also giving a good action book with a bit of comedy as well. 

I was heavily inspired by fighting games that I love such as Street Fighter and Killer Instinct. Also by Angie Thomas. If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be writing books. I'm 18 and plan to start my own publishing company very soon. I have plenty of more books and comics coming on the way. It will be the begining of a new generation.

Here are the first two chapters. The full book can be bought on Amazon. Just simply search Time to Scrap. I published it myself, so it's not perfect. There are a few grammer mistakes but it's good to read. I wanted to give the youth something they can actually relate to, seeing I am part of it. I would really appriacte it if you all supported me and my future books as well. Thank you all very much! Spread it to a friend and give them a good book to read.

For more information on me and my future projects follow me on Instagram: "steadman_entertainment".

My personal account is, "steadxman", if you want to know a bit more about me personally.


“You messed up. You know you messed up right?”, my friend Jamal tells me.

I have gotten myself into a beef, I guess, with some guy named Michael, or “No Games”, his gang name. To be honest, I forgot how it happened. Something about me liking his girl’s picture on Instagram and commenting on it. I may or may not have tried to shoot my shot with her, but at the time I thought she was single.

He responded talking tough, so I returned with tough talk myself. He threatened me, saying he’ll beat me up and shoot and stuff, but I’ve known him since 3rd grade. He’s built a reputation for talking tough but not doing anything, so I wasn’t sweating it.  I’ve tried to forget about it, but with Jamal in my ear, it’s kind of hard.

“Today is Friday and he said him and the rest of his gang will pull up when school is out. What did you do!?”, he asks.

“All I did was like Stacy’s picture on Instagram. I didn’t know she dated a gang member.”, I tell him.

“Well, what are you going to do?”, he asks.

“Um… I don’t know, and I really don’t want to think about it. I got better stuff to worry about.”, I tell him.

“Well you better, or that’s your ass or possibly your life! I’ll talk to you after lunch.”

As I walked to class, I see Stacy walk by me. She looked like she wanted to tell me something, but she kept on walking. She seemed like she was in a rush but wanted to warn me about something. I don’t sweat it though and wave and smile at her.

She ignores me and keeps on walking. I get a feeling of disappointment, but mostly anger. She’s the one who has been entertaining me this long and we’ve been texting for three months now. No Games should be mad at her, not me. I didn’t even know she was in a relationship till recent.

I walk to my first period class and as the teacher starts her lesson, I zone all the way out. I can see and feel people looking at me though. It’s probably because they know about the beef. I even hear some talking about it, but I zone them out too.

With all this happening on Sunday, I had forgotten all about this. With me working to help my mom and my sister, foolish things like this slip my mind and honestly, I think he’s bluffing. I go through the rest of my first period class and once again, I totally forget all about it by 3rd period. I try to focus on what I’m going to do before I clock in at work today.

School goes by and I was supposed to meet up with Jamal after lunch, but he had restriction for skipping 2nd period and ate his lunch in the gym. He stayed there for the rest of the day. He spots me though as I walk home from school and catches up to me. He starts talking fast and franticly.

“Aye bro! We have to move fast before they pull up. Some kid in restriction told me No Games not tryna talk, and he got heat!”, he tells me franticly.

“What? Bruh it’s not that serious. He’s probably capping too.”, I say trying to laugh it off, thinking he’s joking.

“No bro! He showed me the pictures! They not playing today!”, he says in a panic.

“Wait, you saw the pictures of them with the guns?”, I ask starting to get a little bit worried.

“Yea bro, we gotta go now!” 

I wasn’t worried before, but now I feel my heart drop when he confirms that he saw pictures with them with guns. I really don’t want to believe him, but I can’t take the chance of them actually pulling up on me right now. We both plan to dash home as soon as possible.

We look around and make sure no one is on to us. Then we slowly speed up more and more until we were almost fully sprinting. My house is kind of far away from the school in walking distance.  I don’t have a car and usually don’t mind the walk, but today is obviously different.

 We almost make it to my house when we suddenly hear a loud skirt and engine roar down the street. A red 1988 Hyundai Excel. I feel my heart start to beat faster and faster. I know it’s them. We try to run faster, but it does us no good at all.

They catch up to us and three of them in the back seat jump out the car to grab us. We try to struggle them off but fail. Two more of them jumped out the car.

“Which one of you is “MoneymakerJoseph?”, No Games asks.

Jamal instantly points to me. I was mad at him for a second, but then I saw the fear in his eyes and couldn’t blame him. He had nothing to do with this and was just trying to help me get home in time and avoid them.

They throw him on the ground and put me up against a brick apartment projects.

“So, it’s yo punk ass talking bout my girl on Instagram huh. Well what’s good now punk!”, says No Games.

I want to talk trash back at him, but I know it could lead to even more drama. It’s more of them, and only me and Jamal. I bite my tongue hard and ball up my fist as they hold me to the wall.

But my efforts to lower the hostility of course failed.

I see one of them pull a gun out and holds it by his hip.

At this point I knew it was not a game and they were serious, but sadly it may be a little too late.

 I knew I was going to die, over nothing.

“Please don’t kill him! It’s not that serious!”, Jamal cried.

“Shut up! You better leave before it be two dead bodies I catch today!”, No Games says.

No Games pulls out a gun and pulls the clip. I began to struggle for my life and cry thinking it’s over. I’m not short or too small, but No Games stands at about 6’6 while I’m only six feet tall.

He suddenly stops though and looks down the street. We hear a car with loud bass drive fast down the street. A red 2008 Impala SS with shiny 22-inch blade rims pulls up and parks in front of the project apartments. I can’t see who’s inside though due to the heavy tint. Six more Blood gang members get out the car.

“Aye No Games! Chill yo ass out mane!”, one of them say while getting out the car.

A guy who seems to be the leader approaches No Games and takes his gun.

“Nah he was the one talking bout Stacy and talking crazy on Instagram. All on my girls page!”, No Game says.

“Ion know why you care about that gal anyways, plus we done already dropped 3 fools this week already and word is that twelve is on us cuz someone snitched! We need to chill fool!”, the leader says.

“Ight, but I’m gonna at least whoop his ass then!”

“Well do that then.”

They throw me hard on the ground. “Get up! Let’s scrap punk!”, No Games tells me.

I know I’m not getting out of this, so I get up and put my hands into a fist. Growing up in Memphis taught me how to fight. I’ve been in many already, but it’s kind of normal around here, and I’m not that small so I know how to defend myself. But they circle around me so it’s getting jumped that I’m worried about.

He swings a punch, but I duck under him and jab him twice in the face. He stumbles back a little.

“Oh so you can move huh, ight bet!”, he tells me chuckling afterwards.

As we square up more and size each other up, I punch him one more time on the side of his face. It hurts my hand badly, but I see him stumble again and he falls back against the Impala. I give him no time to recover, and I run up on him swinging and hitting him in the face and his body with all I got, yelling in the process.

But then suddenly, I feel two hands on my shoulders and instantly know it’s over for me. They slam me back to the ground, and I fall headfirst on the sidewalk. I hear a loud ringing noise in my head and before I knew it, I was getting jumped.

They stomp and kick me and start to yell and cuss at me.

I get kicked in the ribs and let out a loud, painful yell. “Shut up! You ain’t so tuff no more huh!”, says No Games. 

“Chill! Chill! You got it! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Stop it!”, I cry and plead for them to do. But not shockingly, they ignore me. I get jumped for at least four minutes straight, but it feels like four years.

“Aye No Games, lets bounce.”, the leader finally says.

“Ight!”, No Games says.

Before they leave, No Games kicks me dead in the eye. I yell in pain even more.

“Next time watch how you talk to people fool! Next time we won’t be so nice!”, No Games tells me as I groan and cry on the ground.

I hear them all take off in their cars. I can’t open my eye and it even hurts to cry, but I do. Jamal approaches me slowly and helps me up.

“I’m sorry bro.”, he says, then he begins to cry too.

He asks me do I want to go to the hospital, but I tell him I can’t miss work. As crazy as that sounds, that’s how bad my situation is at home with money.

He argues with me to go but I convince him after telling him my mom took health science classes in college and she can help me. He walks me to my house and as we do, people look and stare. Some of them knew what happened and some even shake their heads in sadness. But they don’t do or didn’t do anything to stop it. Everyone is afraid of the gangs around here, and nobody trusts the police to actually do anything about it.

We make it to my house, dab up, and he leaves.

I walk in my room, and I know my mom will be worried when she sees me. She gets home when I’m at work so I should be good for now. I don’t want to let my problems interfere with our daily routine. My sister is home though on the phone with her friend, so I rush to my room, so she doesn’t see my eye.

“Hey Joseph, you can at least speak before you rush to your room.”, she says.                     

“Sorry I’m late for work!”, I tell her.

She hears our dog barking and leaves my door. It’s our big pit-bull. We named him Bishop, after 2pac’s character in Juice. He’s the sweetest dog but he will defend his family to the death. I wish he was there with me earlier, even though sadly, they probably would have shot him.

I look in my mirror and try to open my eye. I yell in pain as I do, and I only keep it open for a second. When I do manage to keep it open long enough to see it, I see it’s bloodshot red and it feels very dry, and it burns. I close it and grab a rag and let it soak in cold water and put it on my eye. As I change clothes I see my ribs, very bruised and purplish and it even hurts to breathe.

I rush as fast as I possibly can out the door before my sister sees me. Hopefully my eye heals a little bit before I’m off work. As for my ribs, I’ll have to walk it off for now. We can’t afford a day missed from work. We need as many hours as we can get. We’re very poor and have no close family in Memphis. The closest family we have are in Nashville and they’re poor too.

To be honest, I would’ve dropped out of school to work, but my mom insists that I go to college, knowing good and well we can’t afford that and I’m not smart enough to get a scholarship. Me and my mom bud heads every now and then, but it’s only because we want what’s best for each other. I just hope she doesn’t lose it when she finds out what happened. Word spreads around Memphis quickly, so I know she’ll find out eventually.

I walk into Kroger 20 minutes late. You would think I would be pissed or upset about the fight, which I am a little, but I’m madder about being late to work. My manager Jax walks up to me.

“You good Joseph?”, he asks.

“Yea, everything’s fine, why?” Honestly, I don’t know if he’s asking because I’m never late or because my eye.

“Your eye looks swollen.” Well there’s my answer.

“Oh, I got into a little scrap that’s all. I’m fine though.”, I say to him lying.

“Oh, ok. Let me know if you need anything, ok?”


I go to the restroom, walking past all of my coworkers awkwardly, to look at my eye. It’s giant! There is no way I can hide this from my mom, or even people at school.

As if things couldn’t get worse, my phone blows up from notifications out of nowhere. I look on my phone and see my named mentioned a lot on Instagram. I click to open the notification. On one slide of the post, it’s a video of me getting jumped. My face instantly goes red. A mixture of embarrassment and anger flows through my body. Especially with me knowing I was beating his ass before I got jumped.

I scroll to the second slide and it’s a message saying, “We ain’t done wit you yet!”. I feel a tight, sick feeling in my stomach. At first, earlier today, I wasn’t worried, but now knowing that they ain’t playing, I’m even scared to leave this restroom.

They could pull up on me anytime. I wish I could call the cops, but they make things worse. And after what happened to me as a child, I’ll never ever call them even if Michael Myers were stalking me. They never seem to arrest the actual bad guys.

This is just hell. My ribs, my eye, my head, money, and this sickness in my stomach because of No Games! It’s all too much! I want to crack but if I do then I’ll let my mom and sister down. I don’t know…… It’s just hard to survive out here. I guess I’ll have to try to finish work for the day without thinking about all this.

I go back and start to stock food. Surprisingly enough, Jamal walks in. He dabs me up and I guess tries to cheer me up.

“Bruh, you actually know how to fight. Before you got jumped, you were beating his ass.”, he tells me trying to make me feel better.

It doesn’t work.

“Well yea, but that doesn’t matter cuz I still got my ass beat.”, I tell him. I’m not going to tell him about the video, but he’ll probably find out soon. He then starts to rant on about a fighting tournament or something, I really don’t know. I start to zone out and can only hear him blabbering on and on.

As I zone out and look past him out the window, I see the same red Impala from earlier.

My heart suddenly drops into my stomach yet again. I try not to panic in front of Jamal, but I hope they don’t come in here to find me.

“Are you even listening to me Joseph?”, he says frustrated. I don’t want to warry him, or possibly get him jumped and beat up as well, so I don’t tell him about the Impala outside.

“My bad bro, look I got to get to work before I get in trouble. I’ll catch up with you later, ok?”, I tell him still looking outside.

“Ight bro.”, he response.

As he exits, the Impala leaves the parking lot, relieving me for a moment. I also see Jamal get into the car with his big brother Larry, so I know he’s good and won’t get caught walking home.

A few seconds after that, I see the police also drive around the parking lot, explaining why the Impala left. They were trying to get away from the cops, but hopefully they didn’t spot me here. I try to clear my mind and finish my shift.

I clock out and wave all my co-workers goodbye. It’s 11:00pm so it’s pitch-black dark. I’m even more spooked. I’ve spent all day stocking watching my back, jumping every time someone called my name.

As I walk home, I start to feel my ribs and eye and they still hurt like hell. It’s very dark out and the more I walk, the more pain I feel. I lie down slowly holding my ribs, grunting and crying, and I try not to breathe too hard.

And as if my life couldn’t get worse, I see bright lights beaming down the street and get the strong sense that it’s the red Impala.

I was correct.

I get up and limp away as fast as I can, looking very pitiful. They catch up to me of course and they get out the car. Of course No Games is here, plus the guy I think is their leader and four others.

“Sup punk.”, says No Games. “We ain’t done wit yo ass yet.”

“What do ya’ll want!?”, I say scarily. I try to hold back my tears back but they come out.

“Stop crying bitch!”, says the leader. We ain’t come to fight right now. But you ain’t out yo debt either. We need more from you.”

“Debt?”, I say. “What you mean debt man?”

“My name ain’t man, it’s Red Angel. And that ass beating wasn’t enough. Me and my bruddas ain’t satisfied so we need more. And that more is money.”

“Look man… I mean… Red Angel, I’m broke.”, I tell them.

“Oh I know you are, but we saw you at yo job. We know you know where the money at too.”, he says.

“You want me to steal from my own job? I can’t do that, I’ll go to jail, there’s gotta be something else.”, I beg.

“I mean, we could beat your ass again, or kill you right here right now. The choice is really yours.”, he tells me. I look around and learn from my mistake from last time. I know they aren’t messing around.

“So what’s it gonna be?”, No Games asks.

“I’ll do it.” , I say desperately with no other rational choice it seems.

“Good, now have it in 24 hours and meet us behind the tennis court. Have the money or, well, you know.”, Red Angel says.

They laugh and mock me then they all hop back into the Impala. I sit down and realize what I’ve done.

I’ve messed up badly. It’s really crazy how one Friday could change my life forever. I can’t even come to terms of what just happened and what I have to do tomorrow.

And at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if I died soon.

I finally make it home. Everyone is sleep and I see my mom’s work jacket on the couch, so I know she’s home. Me coming home late or while she’s sleep is normal, so I’m not really worried about that. It’s my injuries that I’m worried about her seeing. I go weeks without seeing my mom sometimes due to our tight schedule, so I should be fine for now. It’s tomorrow I’m scared about. I’ve never stole anything a day in my life and now I have to steal from my own job that I’ve worked at for four years now, or else I’ll die or at least get hurt badly again. I try to get some sleep and worry about it tomorrow.

As I fall asleep, I have weird images pull up in my head. I wouldn’t necessarily call them dreams, because it’s everything that’s happened so far. Me commenting on Stacy’s post, me and Jamal running, me getting jumped, me jumping at work whenever someone called my name or me constantly looking over my shoulder, and me meeting with them after work. I even see things that haven’t happened yet. Me getting arrested, and me getting killed by Red Angel and No Games. I constantly wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night, and I try to force myself back to sleep.

I wake up and where I’m usually happy on Saturday mornings, all the weight hits me back in my chest. I have to clock in at 10:00 in the morning. My sister is still sleep but as I walk in the kitchen the pain hits again. It feels like I’ve been hurt forever now, but it only just happened yesterday.

I try to sneak out the house without waking anyone up but I guess Bishop, who is in my sister’s room, heard me walking down the hall to the living room. He starts barking and whining to get to me. He probably needs to go out and use it, but I don’t have time. I hear my sister get up and I rush out the door as fast as I possibly can.

I walk down the street and eventually go to the park and sit at a bench.

“What am I going to do?”, I say to myself as I put my hands on my face. I sit and just listen to the kids playing, birds chirping, and remember how simple life used to be when I was a kid. Honestly, it seems everything changed after my dad died.

He was murdered by a police officer during a traffic stop right in front of me and my mother. My sister, Savannah, was too young to remember. After that, my mom had to drop out of her classes in college to support me and my sister. It was a big riot and I remember everyone going crazy. My mom was on TV a couple times and people took care of us for a while. Then I guess the hype died down and people just forgot about us.

I don’t care about all that though. I only care about the memories I have with my dad. Us playing basketball, playing my GameCube, or him reading the Bible to me. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been happy since his death.

I sit and reminisce for about 15 minutes, but then suddenly, I feel someone tap my shoulder.

I look up and see a pretty black girl with four very long pigtail braids in each corner of her head, so long that they go past her knees.

“Um, sorry, do you know where I can find…”. She looks at a piece of paper.

“Master Isaiah?”

“Um, no, I’ve never heard that name before.”, I tell her. I stutter a little bit because I’m not going to lie, she’s fine.

“Ugh, ok, thanks.”, she says.

“Um, no problem.”, I say sounding awkward as hell.

Her paper falls out her hands and blows in the wind.

Damn it.”, she says. She doesn’t run to grab it, but she uses her braids and they reach far enough to grab it. I sit and watch in amazement.

“Woah!”, I say out loud. I immediately regret it due to embarrassment.

She smiles at me and says goodbye and walks away.

With all this extra stuff going on I totally forgot that powers exist. Not everyone has them but a good majority do. I remember being a little kid and praying every night that my power would come, but I never got it. And in the ghetto, I can’t sit and hope I get superpowers like a video game or a comic book. I have to survive and help my family.

I have to clock in about an hour from now and I start to plan how I’m going to do this.

I think I’m going to take the money towards the end of my shift. That way I can give it straight to Red Angel and not have to hold it. It’s going to be easier said than done, but what choice do I have.

An hour goes by and I’m finally at work. Jax and the others greet me as usual. I feel so fake greeting them back knowing the crime I have to commit to the people who trust me. Who hired me at 14. People I call my second family. But still, what choice do I have.

3:00pm comes around and I go on my lunch break. I’m sweating as the time gets closer and closer. I take a seat in the breakroom and look on my phone. I see my phone has been blown up with messages from my mom.

“WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME AND WHAT HAPPENED!!!”, the message reads from my mom. She sends me a video of the fight. I knew she would find out, but damn that was fast.

I look up and hear two of my co-workers, Frank and Derrick, talking about something and they both seem very excited about it.

“It’s almost time! I can’t wait!”, says Frank.

“Who do you have your money on?”, asked Derrick.

“ Mr. USA, duh! The strongest man on the planet.”

“I don’t know, Austin U.K. isn’t bad and he has been showing his power on social media lately. It’s even been on the news.”

“What’s water going to do to muscle, huh Derrick?”, Frank says.

“What are ya’ll talking about?”, I ask interrupting their conversation.

“The Time to Scrap Tournament Joseph, the biggest world event ever.”, Franks says like I should already know.

“Even bigger than the Olympics”, Derrick says.

“Oh I think I’ve heard of that before when I was younger, it’s been a long time though. Isn’t that for like people born with powers to fight and see who is the best?”

“Yea, well, one person won once who wasn’t born with powers before.”, Derrick tells me.

“Really? Who?”, I ask.

Frank then says with a lot of energy, “ The GOAT, Master Isaiah!”

I get a confused, shocked look on my face. Then it hits me. That’s the name that pretty girl said earlier. Why was she looking for him? Is she going to enter the tournament? And why is he in Memphis?

“How did he win without powers?”, I ask.

“Well other than him mastering his own street fighting style mixed with a little bit of martial arts fighting style he called Scrap Arts, he developed his own power called Ze.”, Derrick explains.

“Ze?”, I asked confused. “That sounds dumb.”

“Well it worked, and that’s how he won the first tournament in 1987. That’s why he’s known as the GOAT.”, Frank says.

Derrick interrupts, “But to be fair, he lost the second one in 91’ to Master Jiro from Japan, who also used Ze. And since then people with powers learned how to use their power even better, so Ze became pretty much useless.”

“Who won last time?”, I ask.

“Mr. USA duh, which is why he’s going to win this year!”, Franks says.

“Sure Frank.”, Derrick says sarcastically.

“Don’t be a hater Derrick, where is your American pride? And he’s going to bring that $5,000,000 back to America again.”

“Wait, $5,000,000! That’s how much you’ll get if you win?”, I say with excitement and disbelief.

 “Yep, can set someone up for life. Even generations.”, Derrick tells me.

Hell, with all I’m dealing with, I could use $5,000,000.

Our lunch break ends and we exit the breakroom onto the floor and get back to work.

One more hour left until my shift is over. I still remember my mission and know what I have to do. First I need to get into Jax’s office to cut off the cameras. Then go to what we call, “the money room”, where they take and count the register money. I’ll need to wait till Jax walks out though.

I stand by a register waiting for him to exit his office. My heart beating hard and the sweat dripping from my arm pits down my body makes this more tense than I want it to be. He finally exits. It’s time.

I move, not fast but swiftly to his door. I look around to make sure it’s clear and then enter the office. I shut the door and see the monitor with different camera angles inside and outside the store and approach it. Then suddenly, it hits me.

A giant apple, swollen feeling hits my throat. My heart beats rapidly, and I’m breathing so hard that it’s causing major pain to my ribs and I can hear myself breathing. And the sweat dripping from my forehead to my eye makes this worse as well.

“I can’t do this!”, I say to myself. I’m not a criminal . I can’t steal from my people. They are just going to have to jump me, or kill me, because I can’t do this. I walk out Jax’s office and finish my shift, coming to terms that this could be my last day alive.

My shift ends and I exit the building. I wonder should I just go to the tennis court to tell them and try to beg and plead for my life, or just run home. That’s an easy choice and I decide to run home. I figure they’ll kill me either way. Although me running home isn’t really me running because my ribs hurt like hell, so it’s really just a weak limp.

My job is closer to my house than my school is but it’s still like 15 minutes away walking distance. I make some progress but my ribs and eye still hurt like hell, but I try to force my way home. I get slower, and slower as time goes by.

I take turns jogging and running as fast as I possibly can. Suddenly, bright lights appear once again, and I instantly know it’s on. They turn their high beams on so now it’s even brighter and they honk the horn a lot. I can hear No Games yelling in the car even from down the street.

Damn it!”, I say to myself.

The car speeds down the road but I split between two buildings down an alley. I hear them hop out and say get his ass. I have a little head start and at this point I forget about my ribs and run very fast. I’m going off of pure adrenaline at this point. I’m running for my life.

I keep on running but I see a brick wall in front of me. I know if I don’t make it over the wall on time, it’ll be over for me. I struggle to get on top of a trash can, but they start to catch up to me. Like close enough to where I can clearly see them as I struggle over the wall. I get over the brick wall at the last second, but they don’t give up and get over the wall too.

They could have shot me right then and there, but they kept on chasing. That lets me know that they want to jump me again so I can feel the pain. And hell, they might shoot me anyways after they jump me.

It starts pouring rain and I slip a couple times but recover quickly. However, I hit a dead end in the back alley with nowhere to go but backwards.

They catch up to me.

“You think we’re stupid don’t you? Like we didn’t think this would happen.”, Red Angel says.

“Please bruh! Please let me go!”, I plead. 

“Couldn’t, even if I wanted to. Get him.”, he commands the others.

They walk up to me and I prepare to protect my face as they approach me.


Everyone pauses as a loud hey can be heard. They turn around and I see it’s the girl from earlier with the hair power and a middle-aged man. He seems fit though and is wearing a black jumpsuit with gold stripes on the side. He’s bald but has a thick grey goatee on his face.

“Who the hell are ya’ll? Get the hell out of here before ya’ll get hurt too!”, No Games says.

“I think it’s you all that should leave.”, says the man.

He doesn’t raise his voice but says it so sternly that it even sends chills down my spine. He really meant it. But No Games really meant what he said too I guess and pulls out a gun.

“Nia!”, the man yells.

The girl does two flips and jumps in the air doing a backflip, and like earlier, grabs the gun with her hair while in the air.

“What the?”, says No Games shocked.

“Aye yo! They got powers. Back off!”, Red Angel commanded.

“Nah, forget that, get her!’, No Games says.

The others hesitate but in pure rage, No Games runs up to the girl and tries to punch her, but she catches his wrist with her hair and throws him over her all while standing still. He lands on his back hard and yells and groan in pain.

“Wasn’t very smart huh?”, she says.

They help him up and they all walk away. They all mean mug me as they walk past me, but Red Angel says something before he leaves.

“They ain’t gonna be here to protect you forever! Yo debt ain’t paid for either and it just got deeper!”, he threatens.

They walk off and the girl walks up to me.

“Hey, it’s you from earlier. You ok?”, she asks.

“No.”, I say. All the adrenaline is gone and all the pain hits me ten times harder. I fall to the ground and let out a loud cry as I hold my ribs.

“Master Isaiah, can you help him?”, the girl asks.

“Not much I can do but take him to the hospital.”, he says.

“Good idea.”, she replies. She picks me up and carries me in her arms. As she carries me, I fade away, falling asleep in pain.

Chapter 2. Train Me



 I finally wake up and I look around to see I’m in a hospital bed. I look to the left and see the girl and the man, and on my right I see my sister.

“He’s up!”, my sister says happily.

“Good.”, the man says. Him and the girl gets up and starts to walk away.

“Wait!”, I say before they walk out the room. I now know that this is Master Isaiah, the first Time to Scrap Tournament winner. I have to ask him, or at least see.

“Um, thank you.”, I say awkwardly.

“Oh, no problem. I know it’s crazy out here. Try to stay safe.”, he says.

I call out again, “No wait, um… are you Master Isaiah? The first Time to Scrap Tournament winner?”

He gets a serious look on his face and asks, “Can I help you?”, he asks sternly again.

“Um yea, I know and heard how good you are. And that you weren’t born with powers.”

“Get on with it kid.”, he rushes.

“Can you train me? Please! So I can enter the Time to Scrap Tournament.”, I say rushing to the point.

“Are you crazy!?”, my sister says.

“Yea, I think he is!”, the girl agrees.

“Sorry kid, I don’t just offer my services to everybody. Plus, the Time to Scrap Tournament isn’t just a joke or for people to just get fame or a country battle. It’s a serious fight and you’ll probably die trying to fight super people.”, the man says.

“No you have it all wrong. Plus you can teach me how to use Ze like someone did for you.”, I say. He gets a slight surprise look on his face, but smirks.

“You can’t just get Ze or teach it kid, but I see you obviously have done your research on me, good job.”, he says.

“Please sir! I really need the money!”, I beg.

“Why? For your little debt?”, he says.

“What debt?”, my little sister asks in concern.

“Well it may be little to you but it’s my life for me. Plus I need it for me, my sister, and my momma.”, I tell him.

I look around and it hits me that my mom isn’t here. I know she works a lot, but I know if she knows I’m at the hospital, which she does because my sister is here, she would be here.

“Wait, where is she?”, I ask my sister.

“Well…… she got sick.”, she tells me.

“What do you mean she got sick?”, I ask frantically.

“I was going to tell you once you got home, she passed out when she got home from work and had a high fever. I called the ambulance and they took her to the hospital. She refused to stay and she didn’t want to call you to disturb your work and make you panic. Then they called me from your phone and told me what happened to you. “, she explains.

“Mom is sick….”, I start to panic.

If she gets too ill, or die, our life will really be hell. We both been holding back our personal issues for so long that now both of us are in pain, physically and mentally. I know she’s going through hell too because she found out what happened to me yesterday, and now she’s sick.

“Please! It’s my only way-out sir! I need this for me and my family. I won’t disappoint you I promise!”, I beg.

I can tell he starts to think about it. He stares at me, then my sister, and then at me again. He then looks at the ground.

“You know, I’m going to push you past your mental and physical limits. And you’ll have to stay with me, so forget about school.”, he tells me.

“I don’t care just please give me a chance!”, I beg again.

He thinks again for a second.

“Fine.”, he replies.

“What!?”, both the girl and my sister say in shock.

“You’re kidding me right!?”, says the girl.

“Be at 419 Grove Ln at 6:00am tomorrow, not a second late.”, he tells me.

“Tomorrow? But my ribs are still in pain and my eye…”

“Hey!”, he interrupts. He yells loudly and it sends echoes in the room. He then asks me a question. “You want to win and not waste my time right!?”

“Well yea.”

“Then be there, if you want to help your family. I’m giving you a chance. Don’t waste my time.”, he says.

“Yes sir, thank you.”

They both leave the room. The girl walks away in disbelief.

“So you think the best way you can support us is this tournament? What the hell are you thinking!?”, my sister says.

“Look if I lose, we’ll just be in the same spot we’re in now. If I win, we’ll have $5,000,000. I’ll take my chances. It’s not like the NBA or the NFL. It’s fighting, something I’m already pretty damn good at. Plus if he can give me the power he had, I may actually stand a chance.”, I explain. I may be underestimating this, but damn, what options do I honestly have. It seems like the only light I have in this dark place.

“Fine, can you at least talk to mom about it first?”, my sister asks.


Later that night we call out the hospital, ignoring the doctor’s recommendations. My sister helps me home and as we walk in the door, I see our mom on the couch.

“Hey baby, you ok?”, she asks. I expected her to be angry because of the video or upset, but she sounds more exhausted, just like me. Not like sleepy, but just tired of this rough life.

She gets up and hugs me and helps me sit on the couch. She starts coughing. “Joseph, look baby if you want me to call the police I will.”

“No momma, I’m good. Are you ok?”

“Well, I’ve been better. They saying I shouldn’t go to work anymore but you know me, so we’ll see how that’ll go.”

“Momma please…”, my sister interrupts.

“Savannah don’t start right now; I’m not doing this again.” She starts to cough again. “You know I have to work.”

“But Joseph is going to enter a fighting tournament for $5,000,000.”, Savannah says, spoiling the news.

“The hell?”, my mom says trying to catch her breath. I can tell she almost got a heart attack just from hearing that.

“Boy what you getting into? Don’t let that gang get you in trouble or kicked out this house.”

“No momma, I’m entering the Time to Scrap Tournament.”, I tell her.

“Really? I’ve heard of that before. That started around the time I was a kid. How you gonna win without any powers? And what happens if you get hurt?”, she asks. 

I’m being trained by the first winner of the tournament, and he also wasn’t born with powers. I talked to him while I was out today.”, I tell her.

“You talking about Isaiah?”, she asks.

I get shocked that she knows of him.

“Yea, how do you know him?”, I ask.

“He was a celebrity in the 80’s and 90’s for winning it. He was the first winner and it was a big deal because he was black. We as black people looked up to him. He was like Michael Jordan. But after the pressure and America hating him, he kind of faded away. He planned to make a comeback the next tournament but he lost.”

“Yea, I’ve heard. Only shtick is I have to stay there until the tournament.”, I tell her.

“Well it sounds good to me. When does training start?”, she says. I’m surprised she’s actually entertaining the idea. But I think she views it like me. It can’t get any worse than it is now and only good can happen, like winning the prize money.

“Tomorrow.”, I tell her.

“Oh that’s sooner than I thought. As long as you don’t get hurt too badly, I’ll support you baby.”

“Thanks momma. I won’t let neither of you down.”, I promise them. Bishop comes running in and jumps up on me and starts licking me.

“You too Bishop.”, I say trying to get him off of me. We all laugh and head to bed.

As I get in my bed, I start to feel a little feeling of hope in my soul again. Maybe this can be the turnaround in life I’ve been waiting for. It’s crazy how things in life can change so fast.

The morning comes and I pack my stuff. My momma has cooked breakfast for me before I leave. After breakfast she offers to drive me but I walk instead to get a little warm up in. I leave early to make sure no one will be out, like Red Angel or No Games. I leave at 5:30am to save myself some time.

As I walked out though, I couldn’t help but to think about Red Angel. Now if they do find me, it’s instantly death. Even if I lose this tournament, hopefully I could defend myself if they do try to jump me and maybe even others in my community.

I show up at the address at 5:59am. I knock on the door, but no one answers. I knock for about two minutes. I start to think he lied to me and I get frustrated, but before I knock again I’m suddenly swept from my feet and next thing I know I’m being hanged upside down by my feet.

“What the?”, I say.

“See, you don’t even keep your guard up at all times.”

It’s the girl with hair powers. She’s hanging me with her hair wrapped around my feet.

“I wasn’t ready!”, I say getting dizzy and mad.

“That’s my point. You should always be ready at all times!”, she tells me.

“Easy for you to say Rapunzel!”, I say. She drops me on my head and it hurts like hell.

“My name is Nia and you better watch yourself before I kick your ass!” 


It’s Master Isaiah and he finally answers the door.

“Both of you hush! Now get in here before I kick both of your asses!”

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