Once upon a time, in the year of 2018 in southern China, there was a wealthy, bustling city called HuaiRen. Around every block sounds of angry shouting, horns honking, and sirens wailing could be heard, and the smell of smoke and trash polluted the air. But to the east of this noisy and busy city existed a small little town called Jaji. This town, surrounded by seemingly endless plains, was an isolated, yet cozy town. And this little town was home to Sunny Seidup, a rising senior in high school.
Sunny was a small fellow, standing at just under five feet tall. His head was formed in the shape of an egg, and his hair was puffy and stray, much like that of a chicken. People would always make fun of his appearance, but that didn’t bother Sunny. As long as he had his trusty fried chicken by his side, nothing seemed to bring him down.
Why fried chicken you may ask? It all started when Sunny was just a tad little dude. Being an only child in a small, lonely town, Sunny had no one to play with. However, this problem didn’t bother Sunny at all for he found joy in the animals he played with: cows, pigs, sheep, and one particular chicken called KFC. Sunny cherished these animals as if they were his family; so, when KFC went missing one day, it tore down Sunny’s world. Without KFC, he felt nothing but loneliness, causing him to fear everything in sight. The only remedy for his panophobia was a bucket of fried chicken, which he held on very tightly.
Because he lived in a rural town, Sunny had to bike to the school. However, when Sunny decided to take a shortcut through an alleyway on the first day of school, he was stopped by a gang of three delinquents. Mash Potaters, the first of the three, was short, but swole, and let out an intimidating growl. Woffle, the second, was tall and skinny, and towered over Sunny. Mac Enchy’s, the third and most fearsome of the three, who wasn’t as tall as Woffle, but certainly taller than the average Joe, was noticeably strong and muscular, and smirked at Sunny.
“Give us all your money,” demanded Mac. “And we’ll let you off easy.”
“Why should I do that?” replied Sunny.
“Why should I do that?” mocked the three boys.
The three boys charged at Sunny, attempting to grab a hold of him. In panic, Sunny ducked under their arms and ran out of the alley. Just as the boys ran to chase Sunny, Bore, Sunny’s childhood friend who was burly and tough, showed up from behind Sunny and shooed the three boys away. Traumatized by the incident, Sunny stayed next to Bore’s side the whole school day, paranoid that he might get attacked again.
When the school day ended, Sunny and Bore had to part ways, for Bore lived in a city apartment and Sunny had to head back to Jaji. On the way back home, Sunny remembered that he had forgotten his bike, which he had abandoned in the alley after the incident. He traversed back through the busy streets of HuaiRen to the alleyway. He peered around the corner, and sure enough, he saw his bike laying on the ground in the middle of the alley. He took one more look to check if the coast was clear, took a deep breath, and cautiously walked to his bike. As he was picking up his bike, he was approached by three shadows, and a shiver went down his spine. When he looked up, he saw the three boys staring at him, each with a sinister smile. Seeing Sunny shiver uncontrollably at the sight of them, the three boys chuckled to each other, and suddenly pushed Sunny, knocking him to the ground. Before he could even let out a scream, they snatched his bucket of fried chicken. As soon as his chicken was taken away, Sunny crouched into fetal position, and started shivering violently. The sound of the delinquents’ laughing became muffled, and all he could feel was fear. Just as Sunny was about to faint, his best friend Bore saw him from afar, and dashed in to save him. Bore threw the delinquents to the wall with his monstrous strength and drove them out of the alley. Because Sunny was completely knocked out, Bore carried him to his house, where he nursed Sunny until he woke up.
When Sunny regained consciousness, Bore laid a hand on his shoulder and said, “Sunny, this needs to stop and you know it.”
“What do you mean?” replied Sunny.
“You have to get over this fear of not having your chicken. You can’t rely on me to save you every time. You could get seriously hurt one day.”
Sunny was speechless. He didn’t want to admit it, but he knew Bore was right.
Just then, Bore jumped up with a smile, his eyes beaming with excitement.
“I have a plan,” he remarked. “Hold on one second.”
Bore temporarily left the room, and came back with a string, which he tied to Sunny’s bucket of fried chicken.
“I’m going to put this bucket of chicken in front of you and slowly pull it away,” instructed Bore. “Keep breathing and stay calm as it gets further away. This will help you get over your fear of not having your chicken.”
Sunny reluctantly got out of bed, sat down in meditating position, and took a deep breath.
“Ok,” he said taking another deep breath. “I’m ready.”
Bore grabbed the bucket and slowly inched it away, making sure not to go too fast. However, as it slowly started to get out of sight, Sunny started sweating furiously and panicking.
“I-I-I can’t do it,” Sunny said, shaking in place.
“Just hang in there, you can do it!” Bore reassured him. “Just relax and think back to a happy time.”
Sunny relaxed his body and started taking big breaths. He reminisced back to the time when he played with KFC, frolicking through the plains, and snuggling by his side. He kept replaying the moments he had with KFC in his mind, keeping him calm while the bucket kept inching away from his sight. As the bucket of chicken completely disappeared from his view, Sunny didn’t bat an eye and stayed calm as if nothing had happened. Bore ran to his side and patted him on the back.
“You did it, man!” he exclaimed. “I knew you could!”
Realizing what he had just done, Sunny jumped with joy, celebrating this new breakthrough, and with his new gained confidence, he knew he had to confront the three delinquents again.
On the way to school the next day, Sunny and Bore intentionally walked through the alleyway. Just like they had expected, the three delinquents showed up and surrounded Sunny. However, as they snatched Sunny’s fried chicken this time, Sunny did not fall, nor did he show any signs of fear. Seeing his new regained confidence, the bullies became bored and threw the chicken away, leaving them alone. From then on, Sunny became confident and unafraid, even without the help of his trusty bucket of fried chicken. He had realized that though KFC wouldn’t be by his side physically, he would always be right next to him in his heart.