After Nicole’s funeral, I found myself in a constant state of confusion and emptiness. I knew I had to move forward and focus on my dreams and ambitions, so I decided to pour all my energy into the Kal and King project with Cheez. The events at Lantern Hall had been promoted well, and I thought maybe a Mario Kart tournament on N64 would provide the perfect distraction from the dark cloud that loomed over me. The night of the event, I entered Lantern Hall, feeling the weight of my emotional baggage. The atmosphere was electric, with people chatting excitedly and the distant sound of Nintendo 64 games echoing through the venue. The scent of alcohol filled my nostrils, and I couldn’t help but think that maybe a few drinks would help numb the pain I was feeling. As the tournament began, I found myself standing in front of the massive screen, completely immersed in the competition. The room was packed with people cheering and shouting, their eyes fixated on the colorful, pixelated racers zooming around the track. I could feel the energy building as each race unfolded, the tension in the air palpable as competitors jostled for the coveted first-place position. I had already downed a few drinks by then, and the alcohol began to take its toll. The room spun around me, and the bright lights and sounds of the N64 seemed to blend together in a dizzying symphony of chaos. My emotions were a whirlwind, but I continued to host the event, feeling a sense of obligation to my project and the people who had shown up to participate. As the night wore on, Cheez emerged as the clear frontrunner, demolishing every competitor who dared to challenge him on the virtual racetrack. When the dust settled, it was Cheez who claimed the $100 bar tab prize, his face beaming with pride and satisfaction. However, Jeff, the owner of Lantern Hall, was less than pleased. He had expected one of the paying contestants to win, not someone so closely associated with the event organizer. His disapproval was evident, but at that point, I had too much going on in my life to care. My heart was heavy, my mind cluttered with grief, and the only solace I could find was at the bottom of a glass. So, as the tournament wound down and the last of the participants filed out of Lantern Hall, I continued to drink, drowning my sorrows in an endless sea of alcohol. I was running from my pain, avoiding the harsh realities of life that had recently become all too apparent. But deep down, I knew that this was only a temporary escape and that eventually, I would have to face my demons head-on if I wanted to move forward.

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