Lady Puberty stood atop the pit of the boy’s stomach, several of her officers at the ready. She rarely missed an opportunity for an attack and she certainly wouldn’t be missing what could be her greatest conquest yet. Signaling down to the men, she began commanding them into place.
“Barfawicz, take your group back up to the sweat glands and prepare to unblock the duct,” she ordered a pudgy general. The general gave a quick salute and waddled off for his unit. She turned to and addressed a tall, clean-shaven officer. “Butterland, I need you and your team in the nose with the spotlight ready to light it up!”
“Yes, ma’am,” the commander replied, hastily saluting and rushing off.
“The rest of you know where to be and what to do,” she hollered, making her way to the tiptop of the pit for all to see. “We each have roles to play on this day, ladies and gentleman! Remember the good of the man is the good of the land! And while he may be mighty, we are many!”
The crowd of soldiers burst with loyal cheer, bashing their weaponry upon the ground and each other. Lady Puberty looked on, pleased with their spirit and hopeful for their fight.
Jacob didn’t exactly love having to speak in front of the class but it had never really bothered him before. He could read well enough to speak without slipping and projected more than loud enough for all to hear. In fact, he considered himself one of the better speakers in the class. Lately, though, some strange things had been happening when he was forced to speak. Still able to get out the words just fine, Jacob found there were moments where he would be concentrating on the paper so hard that his head would slowly begin to shake. Nothing noticeable at a distance but the keen observer might be wise. There was also the sweat. Not even in the donkey den did Jacob’s hands sweat like they had of late. The days decorated in these hardships had been increasing in recent weeks. Today was one of those days.
There wasn’t much use in wiping the sweat onto his pants or anything else for that matter, Jacob quickly realized. It would be back in no time. He cupped the freshly popped Mountain Dew can sitting on his desk, hoping to cool his mitts. The condensation only made them wetter. He took a long drink of the Mountain Dew and looked around the room. How many speakers until I’m up, he wondered. A bead of sweat fell from his forehead and ran itself aground the desk. He stared at the soaked spot, praying it a mirage. Another bead fell. Not now, he thought.
“Jacob,” the teacher called from the head of the class. “You’re up, big fella.”
Jacob took another long pull from the Mountain Dew and felt his stomach turn. The battle had begun.
“My legs are melting!” the soldier cried in horror. “And now my arms are melting, too!”
Lady Puberty looked down in terror as the Mountain Dew came coursing into the stomach, melting all in its path with its acidic rage. They had chosen to set up base camp in the bottom of the belly due its size and minimal entry points. All intel they had received pointed to the boy having already eaten for the day meaning the belly would remain dry for hours, or so they thought. She cursed the Command Center under her breath and watched as the soldiers below burned to husks.
“Butterland, come in,” she roared into her walkie-talkie.
A moment passed before the response crackled through, “Go for Butterland.”
“Are your men in position with the spotlight?” she asked.
“’No, it has to be placed on the big zit! No one is even going to see that little guy, no matter how big a spotlight we use!’” she heard Butterland instructing over the radio. Another moment passed before his voice returned.
“Roger that, Captain,” Butterland stated. “The spotlight is on the big guy and all systems are go!”
Lady Puberty took another glance down to the stomach floor and the remains of the soldiers that now lined the battlefield. She shook her head and brought the walkie to her mouth.
“Light ‘em up.”
Off to a good start, Jacob thought. Sure, his face was pouring sweat but at least that was distracting them from the vicious pimple stuck on the end of his nose. They were hearing his words it seemed, and not averting their eyes in revulsion. His confidence began to swell and he decided he’d memorized enough of the words to give a few more glances around to his peers.
The first eyes he met were Gilda Hammermaster’s and they were always kind. No different today, he noticed. Sitting next to her was Dougie Dimps. Dougie’s eyes didn’t have the kindness that Gilda’s did but what he lacked there he made up for in consistency. The kid was always looking at someone. Except for right now. Jacob realized Donnie was avoiding eye contact with him and his stomach dropped. So did his eyes. Focusing on the tip of his nose, he could have sworn he saw a tiny light emitting from the end of the pimple.
“Is everything ok, Jacob?” the teacher asked from behind his desk.
Jacob hadn’t realized he had stopped talking but was well aware now. Breaking his cross-eyed gaze away from his nose, he turned to the teacher.
“Yes, Mr. Kneeho-,” Jacob stopped mid-sentence. Snickers erupted from the student section. He knew a voice crack was always good for a laugh and so he couldn’t blame the class. He would simply have to power on.
“Send word to the Command Center that the vocal strike was a bullseye but we need reinforcements down here asap!” Lady Puberty ordered the courier. The soldier saluted proudly and set off towards the nervous system. She hated the old fashioned nature of the Command Center, still sending and receiving all communications through the nervous system super highway. She needed them, though, if she was going to win this war. But first, she needed to weaken the boy further with a few more powerful assaults.
Making her way over to the red telephone, she dialed a number quickly and spoke at once. “Odor patrol? What’s your status? I am well aware that all children reek like the dickens but what I want you to do is throw more coal on the fire. Hell, throw anything on the fire,” she barked into the phone. “Make him rot!”
She slammed down the phone and fell back into the seat behind the desk. Tummy dust loosened from the ceiling above and fell about her. Noticing some on her lips, she used a hand to wipe it away but not before her tongue made a dash for the dust. Tasting it sent her flying out of the chair and towards the mezzanine that overlooked the stomachs pit.
“Not Nacho Cheese!” she cried, watching in misery as shards of Nacho Cheese Dorito’s fired into the stomachs pit and tore into her army. Dorito bits broke off in soldiers lucky enough not to be decapitated by the projectiles. Their screams echoed amongst the stomach walls, crescendoing just outside of Lady Puberty’s high reaching chambers. She fell away from the grisly scene and reached for the red phone once more.
“Get me Command Center,” she snarled into the phone’s receiver. “I don’t give a damn if they only want to use the nervous system super highway, tell them to pick up the fucking phone! Yes, I’ll hold.”
“Jacob, please put away the bag of Nacho Cheese Dorito’s and continue your presentation,” Mr. Kneehob called from the back of the classroom.
Jacob fumbled with the bag, thrusting his hand inside and retrieving a final fistful of the broken chips. He crammed them into his mouth and proceeded to fold the bag into a tight square and tucked it into his pocket. He nodded to his teacher, “Nnkay.”
The presentation continued with Jacob’s confidence rebounding thanks to the brief intermission. The sweat had subsided to a degree and his nose pulsed a bit less with embarrassment. The Dorito’s and Dew had done their job. He felt better. There wasn’t much presentation left to give and he found himself hitting his stride near the final act. If he could finish strong then he knew he could land a solid passing C grade. Nothing would stop him now.
“Command Center, this is Buck.”
“Make him have a wet dream,” Lady Puberty growled into the phone.
“Uhh…I’m sorry?” Buck replied.
“A wet dream!” she cried, throwing up her hands. “You creeps do it all the time! Do it now!”
“And…that’s not how that works. He has to be asleep. Then we can ruin him. But not now.”
“God damnit!” Lady Puberty cried into the air, slamming her fist down onto the table. She breathed heavily into the phone. “Give me something, anything! We’re being torn apart down here!”
Silence filled the room as the great general waited for the men upstairs to lob her a hail mary. The voice on the other end of the line softly offered the out.
“We can give him a stiffy,” Buck suggested.
“A what? Sounds like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I don’t want to give him a sandwich, damnit!” Lady Puberty snapped back.
“No, no, no…not a sandwich. A boner. Some wood,” Buck explained. “Ya know, make his dick hard.”
Lady Puberty slowly rose from her desk, eyes wide with possibility. She walked to the ledge of the office, overlooking the battlefield once more, contemplating the move. It was a low blow, but a necessary one, she decided.
“Crank it up,” she ordered into the phone before dropping it to the floor with a clatter.
There were minor bits of movement from the warzone below. Those yet to succumb to their injuries rolled and writhed as they waited for the medics to make their rounds. The medics carefully danced over the bodies lending care where they could. Lady Puberty noticed a group of soldiers rappel down from the esophagus and march towards the boys’ nether regions. She was just able to make out the stitching on the back of the soldiers’ uniforms. It read: BONER PATROL.
“Godspeed,” she whispered as they disappeared down the sphincter.
Jacob was forced to move to a different school not long after the speech, the memories of this defeat haunting him for grades to come.