Smell the Roses

This post is part of the series The Rose Ceremony

Other posts in this series:

  1. Plot Twist at the Palace
  2. Smell the Roses (Current)

ONCE UPON A TIME there were seven nine of the land’s finest zombies, dressed in their prettiest dresses, gathered at the Cloud Nine Palace, trembling with excitement at the decision coming from their Prince Charming. Not even the lavender-scented candles or the velvet drapes could warm the room. Two zombies would be left behind in the cold, while rest of the team moved on to the playoffs that they had all worked so hard for.

“Prime Time, step forward.”

Prime tried to gulp and almost swallowed his tongue. Coach had heard him ridiculing the Palace. Why did he have to be such a smartass?! “Wait, I can fix this,” he thought. “I’ll beg. I’ll do whatever it takes. I didn’t mean it about the dress; I LOVE the dress! I’ll wear this dress all day!”

Coach Serious Jest’s somber voice cut through Prime’s thoughts. “You’ve been with us since the beginning of the season, and you have developed no skills. That’s a concern…”

Prime had heard enough. He knew what he had to do. He dropped to his knees in front of the coach, trying to muster his best dirty girl face. The sharp look of disgust on Coach Jest’s face, however, confirmed that he had made a very big mistake.

But,” Coach Jest continued, trying his hardest to ignore the extremely awkward turn that this exchange had taken, “you did manage to cause a casualty in our last match, and Coach Beerz1313 mentioned to me that he believed you had a lot of potential on his team.” There was a long pause, as Coach Jest reevaluated his pending decision in light of Prime’s current…posture. “So you get a rose. Welcome to the playoffs. Please take your place with your teammates over there.” Coach Jest gestured to where all of the non-zombies had gathered to watch the ceremony.

Prime had to think fast. He could already see his teammates whispering to each other and struggling not to break out laughing at him. So he raised one knee and bowed his head, switching to a position as if he was being knighted. “I pledge my undying loyalty to you, my Lord,” he declared. “That’ll fool them,” he thought, “I really dodged a bullet there. I almost made a complete fool of myself.”

“Just…” Coach Jest gestured for Prime to hurry up and move. Then the coach turned back to the rest of the zombies, who looked like skinks in the headlights of a death roller.

“Along those lines,” continued Coach Jest, “Roxanne, Wyre the Lethal, and Chasse, please step forward. All three of you have been working hard all season to develop your skills, and your hard work has paid off. I look forward to all of you continuing to do good things in the playoffs. Please take your place with your teammates over there.” The best way to describe three zombies trying to collectively sigh is…a dry fart through underwear with a hole in it.

“Lepto Spirosis II,” the former Rodentia Ad Nauseam gutter runner, whom The Princess Bride had…initiated into the Hopeless Necromantics in response to the savage gang murder of Shawn Michaels (, limped forward on his gimpy ankle. “In some ways, you are a shell of your former self. You still haven’t remembered how to block, dodge, sidestep, or diving tackle like you used to when you were a gutter runner; your second head has shriveled and just kind of lays there dead on your shoulder; and after your injury, you’re only one-third as fast as you were on RAN…” Lepto hung his good head alongside the dead one. “But you took that injury as part of our key victory over the High Wings of Hope, you’re a hell of a guard, and I have no doubt you’ll find a way to get where you’re needed on the pitch against our playoff opponents. You deserve this rose and place alongside your teammates over there.” Lepto shambled as fast as he could in the direction of the grand sweeping gesture that Coach Jest made, still playing to the cameras and home audience that didn’t exist.

The tension was as thick as a beast of Nurgle’s tongue. “Well,” Coach Jest continued, turning to the remaining zombies. “Four zombies left, but only two sweet roses.” He paused to close his eyes and smell the rose he was holding.

“Mordar, please step forward.” Mordar casually took a step forward. “Our team captain had to remind me who you are, a former orc from a scab team we beat four to nothing in Season 10. Two seasons later, you’ve developed no skills and managed no notable accomplishments. Everything about you is boring and forgettable. Your only real use is as cannon fodder, which is not a terrible quality for a zombie, but I gotta make a choice here, so this rose…” Coach Jest held the rose up in front of Mordar’s eyes and watched them focus on it. “…is not for you.” Coach Jest gave Mordar a light bop on the nose with the rose. “Please exit through that door right there.”

Coach Jest turned back to the three remaining zombies, first clenching the rose between his teeth, then pensively draping it over his shoulder as he eyed the candidates. Finally, he called Salute forward. “Coach The_Stu176 was sorry to see you go, so you’re like a walking trophy…and Stu will either enjoy seeing you continue your career as a conference mate, or it will irritate the hell out of him. Either one is a good result from my perspective. Here’s your rose. Please join your teammates over there.”

Coach Jest did a little spin move and walked over to his last two contenders. He held the last rose behind his back as he slowly circled his players. “I have great respect for Coach Sturmjarl and his Mousillon Morningstars…and while I also like and respect Coach BMFJiggs1981, his Iron City Orc Boyz were relegated this season, so they won’t be in the Pros anymore. I have also been very public that I am a fan of Little Marc ever since his amazing performance as a journeyman for the Order of the Holy Squirrel a couple of seasons back. In fact, I led the Twerper campaign urging Count Archibald Drumph to find and hire the hero peasant as a Morningstar…” The Real Little Marc1 was now smiling ear to ear. “But Coach Sturm told me that you are not the real The Real Little Marc.” The smile vanished. “You merely assumed the title when the real The Real Little Marc died. So I’m gonna let the name live on with the Morningstars. Let Sturm hire another The Real Little Marc.”

Coach Jest stood directly in front of Rocky “Da Brik” Danger, holding the rose in front of his chest. “Brik,” he said, “you were a mean sonofabish as an Orc Boy blitzer, and although you haven’t proven yourself as a zombie yet, I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us. I suspect Coach Jiggs will also enjoy cheering you on as you continue your career with the Romantics. Please take this rose and join your teammates.”

“F’orc yeah!” Brik erupted, grabbing the rose by the thorns and shuffling over to his teammates, who received him with spirited pats on his shoulders and back.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me,” Coach Jest concluded, “I have to go allocate that money we just freed up.” He threw one last wink over his shoulder at the imaginary camera and disappeared into his office.

Not long afterwards, a familiar sound revved up, preceding a familiar face skull emerging from the office. “Guess who’s back for the playoffs, b*tches?!

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