When I saw the card in my inbox at Glibs HQ, I knew it was going to be time to hit the road. At least it wasn’t something with the cryptids this time…
“I am strong. This I know.” mused Mayor Warty Hugeman of Strongville. “But am I the Strongest? This, I must determine. Karl!”
In came Mayor Hugeman’s Chief of Staff, hefting a Swedish axe of fine make. “Boss? You need a tree felled?”
“Not at the moment, Karl. We need to plan a fest…a StrongFest. Invite the strongest in the land to it. Oh, and get a few media types here, I want to make sure word of StrongFest gets to all who lift moar.”
“On it, boss!” Karl departed, swinging the axe in short, neat swings.
I noticed that the denizens of Strongville were exceedingly swole. I felt like a skinny 10 year old who had wandered into an NFL locker room. But I was here to observe and write, not be part of the StrongFest. I made my way from the booths hawking supplements, lifting belts and shoes… past the SQUAT MOAR banners and 100 lbs stone ball jugglers, toward the town square. Yes, here is where the main event would take place.
Mayor Hugeman had decreed a series of lifts – Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, and Farmer Carries would determine who was strong, stronger and the STRONKEST. A curious thing to me was that there was no mention of prizes or such. Might have just been an oversight on the printing of the flyers. No matter, as I had managed to find a spot at the edge of the crowd to observe. There was about 40 tons of muscle, on a stage, in the middle of the square.
“Yes, some worthy opponents here” mused Warty. “But I will force them to acknowledge my STRONKNESS.”
“Let us begin!”
The Mayor opened the Fest by picking up a 250 lbs pair of scissors and shearing a large red Kevlar ribbon in twain. I gave a bit of a gasp of surprise, but the crowd was merely nodding. They were simply acknowledging that a small piece of etiquette had been observed or the like. The next few hours were a blur of muscle and iron.
Stupendous amounts of weight were lifted, occasionally a rectum prolapsed or a tendon ruptured. These unfortunates were greeted with polite applause, or jeers – depending on how they bore up to their injuries. Numbers flashed across the large digital boards set along the square. Soon, the weight totals outstripped the boards’ number of digit places.
“Bah. Inferior make” sneered Warty. He had finished a deadlift of epic mass and the bar had bent under the vast number of plates. Warty deftly spun the bar around and twisted it into a perfect bosun’s knot. This was greeted with good natured applause and shouts of artistic appreciation.
The last lift was up…Farmer’s Carry. The remaining uninjured contestants put on quite a display…how could they carry so much so far? But it appeared they were doing it wrong.
“FOOLS!” Warty roared. The remaining opponents shivered. A bewildered Mennonite farm family was hustled up on stage. “THIS. IS. A. FARMERS. CARRY.” The words came out in precise bursts as Warty hefted the entire family – Father, mother, 5 children of varying ages – up and carried them…. all the way to their farm on the edge of town. The crowd followed along laughing, applauding, throwing belts, lifting gloves and shoes into the air. Festive clouds of chalk burst forth. The Mayor of Strongville set the farm family down on their front porch and bid them good day.
By the time the crowd made it’s way back to the square, it had been transformed from a competition stage to an award stand. First, those that had set a new Personal Record were given elaborate cards with a “PR” calligraphed on it, with the number and name of the lift they had established their new best. Warty casually looked at a handful given to him and muttered something about “Fine work, Jesse” before setting them aside. Then the final standings were announced…
No surprise, Warty Hugeman had placed 1st. The runners up were announced and they took their places on the stand. To my shock and horror, Warty reached down, and seized the first runner up and swiftly devoured him.
I was frozen in a mix of horror and incredulity. I noticed, however, that there were no objections voiced, no attempts to stop the ravenous champion. I only heard a few muttered “protein!” and similar remarks. As I backed away from the crowd, I saw the contestants that had PR cards fingering them nervously. None of them were harmed. The fourth runner up, however, fared the same as the first. I picked up my pace until I reached my rental car.
As I sped out of Strongville, I saw a final banner fluttering over the main road… “STRONGFEST. THERE ARE NO WINNERS, ONLY SURVIVORS.”