Marco Avalos – I’m Not a Changed Person, Just a Better One


If you look behind the hammer, you can see Marco’s “Most Valuable Hulk” stencil he earned!

When I sat down with Marco, I didn’t hear what I usually hear when I ask somebody to spill their guts in the name of inspiration:

“I really don’t know why you want to interview me, my story isn’t really anything special…”

Something tells me the reason I didn’t hear that was because I approached Marco like this:

“Marco! I want to interview you for the Fitness Rebellion. Before we get started, you better not say anything like ‘I really don’t know why you want to interview me, my story isn’t really anything special…'”

Lucky for us he obliged, and was even excited about it rather than nervous! Go figure…

When you first meet Marco he’s a combination of calculatedly reserved and a ball buster. Never one to shy away from giving someone a friendly ribbing, Marco typically will be the first to greet a new face and even quicker to tell them how much of a blast they’re going to have. When he works out, he turns into an other-wordly beast with a “heart like Art” and the word “quit” scrubbed clean from his vocabulary. A father of two with a beautiful Rebel wife by the name of Lucy, his obsession with cars is worn on his sleeve like a badge of endearment and odds are you can find him at a car show of some sort if not at work, at the gym, or with his family. Need a hand with something? He’ll help you in a heartbeat to a fault (exhaustion can creep up on ya big guy!) especially if you’re a die hard 49er fan like he is.

All of that is simply a mini glimpse into the great man that Marco is. What those tidbits DON’T tell you about is his lifetime struggle with his weight or his severe soda addiction that kept him lethargic and drained around the clock for so long. They don’t pull the curtain back to how privately he’s floated in and out of feeling lost his entire life. It doesn’t tell the story of being surrounded by the wrong friends snowballing strings of bad decisions and choices resulting in misery more often than not. Nor does his light shine on the fact he has hips so bad he needs metal pins to hold them in place or how his habit of running away from the problems in his life and doing anything to keep his mind from facing reality has always led to circumstances getting immeasurably worse in the long run.

When I asked him what turned it all around, he simply said “The Rebel party I went to with Lucy when I met you. That was my turning point.” When I asked him to elaborate, he was quick to explain how he instantly related to the personal stories he was hearing being told from everyone which was quite a big deal since he never really trusted, much less hung out with anybody outside of his own Hispanic race. It was at this 10th Rebel challenge wrap party (every Rebel transformation challenge ends with a big celebration culminating in everyone getting an award, winners being announced, slideshows presented, and much more) where he had the opportunity to connect with a ton of people from all walks of life at a deeper level than he’d ever found himself experiencing. He confessed that it was the moment when I talked about my story in front of everyone and shared what I had been through that it tore down the walls he’d had up for so long and opened his eyes to the fact that we’re all the same people with the same needs, only we just go about them differently.

“You had my respect, which made me actually listen to what you were saying instead of brushing it off.”

So, Marco joined us! His wife, Lucy (the silent assassin) had just completed her first Rebel challenge and everything was good to go for Marco to join in on the second one. From day one, Marco could tell that the magic he experienced at that wrap party was far from a fluke. All of sudden after getting a few workouts in under his belt Marco WANTED to go to the gym! It was fun! He felt great before AND after, which if you’ve ever struggled with enjoying working out (yeah, pretty much all of us) then you know how gigantic of a deal that is. I mean here was something that traditional sucks BIG TIME and shockingly it was amazing for once!

Well, what was the difference? After all, Marco wrestled in high school and worked out with buddies for years afterwards. What had this being different than that?

“I was willing this time.”

The simplicity behind something so powerful floored me.

“I feel more alive now. I opened my eyes to the bigger picture. I get asked all the time by my co-workers ‘you work out bro, how much you bench press?’ and I always say ‘I don’t know, I don’t bench press. I work out.’ They ask me what kind of diet I’m on and I tell them ‘I’m not on a diet, I just make better choices.’ It’s about being there, feeling good, and having fun. You just gotta do it.”

When I asked him about when things start to get difficult and his motivation starts to waiver how he pulls himself back in and gets his “mojo” back, his answer was monumentally straight forward;

“That’s my reality check. I know, just like everybody knows, when I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. If I start slippin’, I just say ‘alright, I had my fun… time to get back at it. In the end I’m not a changed person, I’m just a better one.”

Since having his eyes opened to the fact he alone has the ability to change the parts of his life he doesn’t like if he wants it bad enough and tearing down the walls he’d had up for so long, Marco has done some pretty damn amazing things. He’s gone 14 months (and counting) since his last soda. He’s lost more than 70 lbs putting him under his lightest weight he was when he wrestled in high school. He’s completed 3 Rebel challenges (winning a “Most Valuable Hulk” award along the way) and 1 Tough Mudder (the 11 mile course being the longest distance he has EVER trekked in his life). Hell, he even recently beat my own marathon running and badass Unicorn of a girlfriend in a “plank-off” at the a park workout recently!

When I asked him about his mindset for the future, his approach echoes that of my man Roy Davis;

What’s Next?

Rock Bottom

– Rebel8

Chapter 8 – A Soul to Hold Them

Chapter 8 - Experience

Chapter 8 – A Soul to Hold Them

As the Rebels marched forth through the Dominion of the Nome King they carried with them a collection of half understood dictation from an unknown stranger known only as “R8” as well as a heavy burden on their shoulders… Almost as if they were pioneers of an undiscovered frontier without quite fully grasping the magnitude of their exploits. With a bit of anxiety and a whole hell of a lot of pride, the Rebels carried that weight of responsibility with the trust that this “R8” would continue to guide them through. Whoever they were, they had obviously been down the very rugged road they found themselves on. How else could this person know so much about why they were there, what they were looking for, and where they were coming from? All too often instincts are dismissed as dangerous whims that will inevitably lead us to trouble… but what if they’re REALLY flashes of Morse code straight from the Universe trying to tell you where to go in the hopes that you’re listening? Either way, this “R8” was on to something…

                Keeping tight knit as a group like an army of Spartan Warriors, the Rebels looked like a team of drifter fashionistas with their ability to combine rugged wear with chic execution. Clearly the Rebels were all from the same tribe but upon closer inspection you could see each of their defining characteristics on their sleeves like a lighthouse to the sea. You had Pete and his hammer walking in stride with Ruben’s tie-dyed Rock Republic uniform. Jamie and her rock hammer teaching Rick how to fix his bike with it. Suzanne and her two champion Shiba Inus, Buddy and Myra, sharing space with Tami and her black cat “Vigi-latte” as they both kept their eyes peeled for cowboys along the way (just in case). It was hard to pinpoint, but the rebels seemed to thrive off the metaphorical mass hysteria that the likes of dogs and cats living together brought about on this Rebel parade.

                Muscles were tight as the Rebels pounded the path to Emerald City with a gritty tenacity a lot of them had never felt before. Prior at the Post Office, everyone took pen to paper at the urging of the note they had found there and poured their hearts out with vigor. They figured that if there truly were other Rebels out their looking to make it as far as even just the few steps they themselves had made then it was worth a shot to help, even if it was a long one. After all, “it’s not about how much you give but giving what you can” one Rebel was overheard saying. Once they were done they folded up their notes, scribbled “Rebel” on top, and placed them in the empty cubbies blindly trusting that “R8” would deliver them to the “others out there.” Instincts… or Universe? They were putting their faith in both.

Chapter 8 - The Letters

                Not to be forgotten was the urging to gather supplies they didn’t need “for those who do.” As a group they agreed that it was pretty self-explanatory what was being asked, they just didn’t know WHY. Keeping with the notion of putting their reliance in the unknown the Rebels each went through their backpacks and knapsacks and set aside all the clothes, toiletries, and foodstuffs they truly didn’t need. At the urging of Tami and Leah, each Rebel carried a box or bag of the surplus goods as they all forged ahead. Many hands make light work. Better yet… One team, one dream.

Chapter 8 - Supplies Gathered

                After a few days of bear crawling, lunging, and damn near flapping their arms trying to FLY across the canyons and traverses they trekked up, on, around, and through the Rebels decided to set up camp for some much needed rest. They’d found that you can only keep pushing forward for so long until your weary body needs to recover. It’s not about how hard you hit but how hard you can get hit and keeping moving forward. Knowing when to shift down is part of that process, and gear back is exactly what those Rebels did. It was easy since they had ample camping gear to tent them all and provide shelter from any storm. It was a good thing they were all really starting to love each other, because although accommodations were enough for everyone to fit they were still going to resembl a pack of Rebel sardines. All they had to do now was find a safe enough spot to spend the night without stepping into hostile Nome King territory marked by precious metals and shiny jewels set out as a trap…

                The Nome King has a devious penchant for collecting “upstairs people,” essentially anyone walking the surface above the caverns, and doing nothing with them other than enjoying the ownership. The gems and metals were planted by rock fairies as a way to attract those greedy enough to dig deeper for more, eventually succumbing to sinkholes designed to imprison those searching for the “wrong treasure.”

                Using a binocular attachment she’d brought with her (which was no doubt going to come in handy in the future…), sweet Rebel May sat perched atop Justin’s shoulders as she scouted for clear space to camp lacking glimmer and shine. As they rounded a corner of stacked boulders in the shape of an “8,” May saw just the clearing they were looking for about 500 yards in the distance.

“I see a good area I think!” she shouted exuberantly as Justin tried to peer a little higher attempting to get a visual himself.

“Well that’s good… I feel like an Ant in need of sleep! No more ant hill…” Sebby said wearily with a smile, rubbing her courage charm that hung gracefully from her neck like an ornament of hope as she gazed at the ground in fatigue.

“Hey, keep your head up!” Surfer Cliff said cheerily. “I mean, I need you to drag my busted ass the rest of the way so you can’t go passin’ out on me just yet!”

“Yeah, and if anybody has any ‘Coorebels Light’ then maybe we’ll meet ‘Faluge’” Carlo muttered under his breath in reference to Cliff’s alter ego when he gets a little “too spirited.”

“You wouldn’t be lucky enough.” Cliff chuckled back as he slapped Carlo on the shoulder.

                With May still spying the potential landing spot she noticed a rustle of movement behind a massive boulder standing guard to an even sadder makeshift rock igloo. Supported only by its own weight and anchored down with dust and sediment, May spotted another “rock-gloo” camouflaged by another boulder disguising its presence. By the time she spotted a 3rd shabby structure, she saw a dirt-caked foot draw back through the opening as if startled. It didn’t take much longer for May to soak in the whole scene and realize the perfect shelter spot they were now 200 yards away from was littered with these huts made out of Boulders. Every time she blinked she had to adjust her eyes to see the structures right in front of her because the combination of drab coloration and sad tone caused it to blend in with the environment perfectly. Had May not been keen of eye, she might have missed it all together!

Chapter 8 - Rock Gloo

“Uh, guys… we’re not alone here…” May said while nervously stroking a malamute patch sewn into her purple clad collar in remembrance of her lost puppy.

                Stopping about a football field’s length away from the mysterious site, the Rebels pondered what to do. Who were the people they were stumbling on? Were they sleeping? Scared? Friendly? Violent? Angry? Evil? Harmless? All of the above? None of the above? After some brief and scattered deliberating, phoenix haired Cliff decided he had had enough. With the shovel in hand, he jaunted away from the group suddenly and meticulously, careful not come off as bum rushing this muted, dirty city of rocks. The rest of the Rebels hushed as the distance between Cliff and the first structure shortened quickly. Without even a hint of hesitancy, Cliff stopped his focused pace right outside the “doorway” of the first Rock-gloo and peeked in from the outside.

Chapter 8 - Rebels Scouting

                With the force of a shotgun blast a woman shot out from the entry way Cliff was investigating. Before he could put his hands up to defend himself she had a sharpened stick at his side and a silent, menacing glare deafeningly demanding who this “trespasser” was while breathing heavily and angrily 2 inches away from his face.

“Whoa whoa whoa!” Cliff shouted as he shot his hands up in an attempt to show neutrality. “We’re not here to hurt anybody, I swear…”

“Who ARE you? What business do you have here? How would you like it if I took a peek into your living room? HUH?!” The woman hissed, jabbing the stick harder into Cliff’s side.

“We’re Rebels!” a voice cried out from the group urgently running over to intervene.

                Keeping the stick firmly positioned against Cliff’s ribs, the rightfully defensive mystery woman darted her head towards the crowd closing in on them and put her free hand up sternly demanding “stop right there!” All the Rebels heeded the call, except for one… Annabel. She had barely spoken two words in the few days they’d be traveling but in this moment, as one usual does when it matters most, she had found her voice:

”We’re from the State of Rebellion. We don’t mean anything bad lady, we just… we’re tired, you know?”

                The woman’s grip on the stick loosened as she asked “You’re all the way from the State of Rebellion? No one ever ventures away from there… What brings you all this way?”

“Honestly, we don’t really know. We had this crazy blackout back at home and when it was over, there was a map and some other stuff that led us here. We found out there are other people traveling from far away too. I think we’re all trying to go to the same place.” Annabel responded earnestly, wearing her heart on her sleeve and a tear born of fatigue sliding down her cheek.

                The woman brought her arm down and slowly lowered the stick away from imminently puncturing Cliff’s lung at the falsest of moves. Her face went from wild and protective to worn and understanding in the blink of a hummingbird’s eye. She stared into all of the Rebellious eyes staring back at her in charged silence before she spoke.

“My name is Jane, and I represent lost souls of the Dominion. A long time ago, the Nome King decided to build an epic underground palace where he could admire all of his ‘collectibles’ and throw glorious parties with the rock fairies and stone sprites. Before we knew it, the Nome King had a brigade sweep through, capture, and imprison each and every man of the land to do his bidding and create his dream. The men who weren’t caught ran in cowardice and deserted their families. That left, well… us… We have little more than each other and what little belongings we could salvage…”

                At that, she fanned her hand out to hundreds of startled woman and children suddenly and slowly stepping out from the rock-gloos surrounding the Rebels, anxious to understand what was happening. They were huddled close, still not quite sure about these foreigners intruding on their home. For all they knew it was more Nome King trickery in an attempt to collect more slaves for his next ego-maniacal project consisting of Oz knows what. After all they’d been through they couldn’t afford to think otherwise anymore. These lost souls had found the universe has a seemingly oft cruel method of reminding them that around every corner awaits an obstacle to hurdle whether they’re ready or not. The solution? Always be ready, stick together, and love will prevail. Within these stone structures lived love born from struggle and they weren’t about to give that up without a fight if so be it…

                As the Rebels absorbed the moment with heavy hearts, one Rebel in particular figured something out before anyone else did:

“That’s it… IT ALL MAKES SENSE!” Stephanie gasped as her eyes diverted from the ground to the sky wit all faces directing their attention towards her in wonderment.

“Gather supplies you don’t need for those who do! We were meant to bring our extra stuff to these people! I KNOW we were!” Stephanie said excitedly, all the while nodding her head vigorously.

“She’s right… she’s absolutely right…” Kelly said as she clasped the hand of her husband Rick after setting her box of surplus down at her feet.

“What do you mean…” Jane asked cautiously, eyeing the boxes she now noticed everyone had cradled in their arms.

“Well… here. This is for you” Lori said as a single, solitary tear slid down the war paint smeared across her cheek. It wasn’t a tear of fatigue however but a tear of realization. There are no coincidences and the epiphany that THIS was the reason for escaping the monotonous and lame was game changer to say the least. The prize wasn’t at the end of the yellow  road… it was in the journey itself. It was this moment Lori’s circus brain brought up the location of where they were on the map like a wave crashing hard on the beach shore… This “R8” knew all along the Rebels would follow the map with gusto while simultaneously having no clue whatsoever at the enormity of the impact their actions would have along the way. No clue that is until right now…

Chapter 8 - Test of Heart

One by one the Rebels stepped up and handed their boxes to Jane as the crisp dusk air held the moment still like the sands of time had stopped falling. Once it was clear the Rebels not only meant no harm but rather brought with them survival goods that they were simply giving them out of love, the lost women and children rushed to give the Rebels a hug.

“Thank you so much…” one child stifled into Alyx’s hip after she’d received a box of her own.

“You’re so welcome little one.” Alyx said with a smile as the heat from her silent tears escaping fogged up her classes.

“Here you go” David said as he handed her his light blue handkerchief (inscribed with a “V”).

“Thank you sir” Alyx replied, thankful for the chance to clean up some of the unexpected waterworks.  

                As the last of the boxes were handed off, Jane shook her head in disbelief with a look of confusion emitting like a beacon. Before anybody could ask if everything was alright, she turned to Abbie and said “you know, the only way you’re going to believe what I’m about to tell you is because I have the proof a few feet away in my home there” as she gestured behind them. “Yesterday one of the girls woke up to go to the bathroom early in the morning, and when she stepped out there was a box with a note on it on top of her home… The note said ‘when they get here, give them these’ and I can only assume you all are who that crazy note was talking about” Jane said as her voice trailed off.

“What was in the box?” Abbie inquired, looking over Jane’s shoulder trying to catch a glimpse.

“I’ll show you, come with me dear…” Jane replied while taking Abbie’s hand.

As Abbie stepped foot into the small structure it was only a millisecond before Jane had the box in her hands and was prying open the top to reveal its contents. What Abbie saw confirmed what the Rebels were beginning to realize more and more with each passing day… That they were not alone.

Chapter 8 - Heart Charms

Within the box resided a red metal charm identical to the ones they’d found back in the State of Rebellion when they initially started this odyssey. Placed on top was a small placard inscribed with what could only be the next clue:

“You passed. The masquerade is upon you… Take shelter for now. – R8”

Banking on the trend thus far, Abbie flipped the placard around to see if it had any addition instructions on the other side like all the others. She wasn’t disappointed upon finding out her hunch was correct. However, she wasn’t very clear on what it meant, either…

Chapter 8 - The Glow of Emerald City

Coming Soon

Chapter 9: ????????

Chapter 7: Blinding Vision

Chapter 7 - Bluebirds

Chapter 7 – Blinding Vision

                As the Rebels got off Justin’s freighter and stepped foot on the shore of Rinkitink, everyone felt their pulse raise a few extra beats as the mood was haunting and hopeful. They were in unfamiliar territory, having very few in their rag-tag bunch of eccentrics who had ventured beyond the gates of their home state. Nervous eyes darted back and forth like they were watching an erratic ping pong match as the Rebels took turns passing the map among them. They couldn’t quite put their anxiously shaking finger on it, but something just felt different…

“So we’re supposed to go to the Post Office first, right?” Denise asked as she slung the shovel she’d acquired on their trek over her shoulder, a bead of sweat dropping from her brow. “That’s what it says… do you see it?” Carlo answered back with his head popping up from the map it had been buried in to search for their first destination.

As if the Nome King himself were parting the clouds and guiding the way a strip of sun beam off in the distance pierced through the sky with soft, eerie subtly as it highlighted a raggedy wooden shack resting underneath the most gigantic Oak tree they’d ever seen. The Oak tree sighting was made all the more strange by the fact that nobody present had ever seen an Oak Tree in the SAND before, let alone this BIG! Hanging from its bottom branches happened to be a sea of the most intricately strange wind chimes any of them had ever seen. Some were made from car mufflers, bike bells, and rim spokes while others carried a more rustic appeal being comprised of Nonestic sea shells and some sort of antler that looked familiar to a sum total of zero Rebels. There were even a couple made from “Wheeler’s” wheels, who were notorious for their violence and mischief… Between the foreign animal antlers and the wheels of a dangerous group of outlanders dangling closer in front of them with every step closer to this rugged Post Office, the Rebels couldn’t help but feel apprehensive… Just who were they about to walk up on exactly?

As they made their way closer to the post office the group huddled closer together, forming a tight circle of security. “It doesn’t look open…” Sam noted with an edge of nervous disappointment as she scanned the shack for signs of life, coming up short. “Yeah, no light on or anything… It’s the middle of the day, if this place was working there’d HAVE to be somebody here. I think it’s abandoned…” Alaura thought out loud as the Kelly’s and Dan gave a slight nod in agreement while scoping the building for a clue. “I’m checking out the door…” Stephanie said.

As Stephanie stepped towards the door, David and Pete followed right behind her earnestly. As they hiked up the two creaky planked steps up to the porch of the shackled Post Office, cobwebs were brushed aside only to make room for the flumes of dust rising up with each step on the decrepit floor beneath them. Clearly this place was abandoned… so why was it marked on the map as the first spot to go?

“Check it out you guys, the door is cracked open!” Stephanie shouted back with enthusiasm.

Well, no point in waiting now…” David responded, pushing forward eagerly as he stepped foot through the door.

“Will we all fit?” Pete wondered out loud to everyone.

“That’s what she said…” Tami said with a smirk as Suzanne snorted a laugh before clasping her mouth with a smile.

As the sporadic laughter started to subside, David came back out with a new note in his hand wearing an expression of simultaneous confusion and triumph. “No need to see if we all fit, there was only this note next to a stack of papers, cup full of pens, and empty cubbies. I’m not sure this really clears anything up…”

Careful observers noted the cup bore the same face as the figure on the silver tin the puzzle pieces came in…

Chapter 7 - Pen Cup

“Well, what’s the note say?” Jamie asked, ready to take a shot at solving the new found mystery.

David cleared his throat and shook out his arms before narrating the enigma to all the Rebels listening intently:

Chapter 7 - The Note

Jamie’s eyes opened wide like a pair of camera lenses coming to life as realized what the objective was. “The note said “they travel your journey, but afar” so that HAS to mean there are others just like us out there! I mean, it only makes sense… We can’t be the only ones leaving the comfort of our homes because we’re fed up with wanting more and never digging deep and taking it. We CAN’T be alone, we just can’t be…”

“So we write them…” Pete said as he blankly stared at the green cup in front of him filled with pens, realizing what the stationary was for thus what THEY were there for.

“EXACTLY! Guide them. Let them know how WE got started! Tell them we’ll be waiting for them on the other side when the dust settles!” Jamie excitedly replied back.

While the Rebels murmured to one another their confusion, hesitation, and overall anticipation at what they were tasked to do, Sandra noticed dark lettering on the underside of the note still latched in David’s hands.

“Hey David, there’s something on the back… What’s that say?”

“Hmm…” David pondered as he flipped the note around:

Chapter 7 - Prepare Your Heart


 Coming Soon

Chapter 8 – ????????

 – Rebel8


Chapter 6 – Rebel Role Call


Chapter 6 – Rebel Role Call

                As the Rebels set forth, they resembled an all-star cast of misfits. All walks of life were represented in the cavalcade of camaraderie formed around the newly found map, puzzle pieces, and guiding letter smack dab in the center of the State. If you were to find yourself soaking in the scenery you’d see a human rainbow coming to life right before your very eyes. Difference no longer mattered as unity took its place. The beauty shined brightest upon a closer look at these far from usual suspects hell bent on a mission.

First in line was Ray-Ray; a reserved yet fierce teenage Rock Republic affiliate with the biggest heart you’ve ever come across worn openly on his sleeve. Angelica and Annabel, born of the same Rock Republic blood were right there by his side, rebel fists held high. Behind them were Lucy and Mireya. Baring Rock Republic red, these two sisters had a determination in their eyes that spoke up plenty in place of their hushed composure. Behind their icy blue piercers was a fight that had never known the word “quit” and wasn’t about to start now.

Across from them was May; a petite Demolitionist in black rimmed glasses with a drive as tough as granite and a demeanor as soft as a baby duck’s feather. Sandwiched around her were Sam and Alaura, two purple clad Demos so close you’d swear they were sisters if their skin tones didn’t differ to the tune of Snow white compared to Princess Jasmine. Rounding to the left of Sam, May, and Alaura stood Rick and Kelly; a husband and wife duo who had arrived on Bikes and were chaining them to a nearby tree in preparation of the journey that lay ahead. Side note; Rick also answers to the name “Midnight” although nobody can really tell you why. With an unknown origin and Rick hailing coming from a friendly province north of the State of Rebellion, nobody questioned it…


Peering into the map in an assortment of red and purple was “island time” Cliff, dragon aficionado Jody, dog trainer Malena, tough mother Maggie, loveably dirty trucker Justin, and silent assassin Lucy. Next to David, the legendary Rebel with an affection for the number “7” who had found the mysterious note left with the hulking silver box in the first place was his sweet-as-peach-pie wife Kelly, his fabulously fashionable cousin Suzanne, soft spoken and hard-working Sebby (who had actually just moved to the State of Rebellion already in search of something better), and a beautifully majestic Unicorn of a Rebel who went by Cara.

Joining ranks were the town heartbreaker Alyx, Phoenix Mama Sandra, deceivingly vigilant Christine & Darlene, gladiator Leah (who had a penchant for dishing out a hard time to people if they were late to anything…), and local rebellious P.E. teacher Nykky. The aforementioned crimson haired Cliff (with shovel still in hand), “wammie” like Tami with her equally feisty daughter Abigail, and elegantly brave Cassie were a stone’s lob away while  Mama Lori paced a moat around them, protecting them as they made sure they had everything they needed; each other.

Off gathering traveling supplies was martial arts master Nurse Austin, his 80’s loving badass sister Kaila, Rebel DJ Peter “The Hammer” Panic, age defying “Philly-Hulk” Michelle, and State geologist Jamie. They had the pleasure of being chauffeured around by local car lover “Iron Man” Marco. A separate group off with the sole purpose of gathering food consisted of the previously mentioned “Reddit” and “Winkiepedia” champion Carlo, bandana’d bruiser Cheryl, “Stilish” warrior Rocker Denise, the East Coastest and most loudest Nicole, provincial bread slangin’ Ruben, Tazmanian Rebel Kathi, and adorably rugged construction Rebel Adam.


Rounding out the back of the enigmatic and eclectic bunch of Rebels were the “Solberg” powered mother/daughter team of Karen and Alyssa along with sweetly endearing Rebel youth teacher Stephanie who were taking a headcount whilst organizing everyone’s names on a spreadsheet.

“Are you ready?” Pete asked, turning to Lori.

“AhhhOOO!” thundered Lori without a breathe of hesitation yet with a look of fiery triumph bursting from her retinas like a lifetime of July 4th celebrations.

There wasn’t a millisecond of silence after Lori’s battle cry to the sky before her lone howl was flooded by a tsunami of “AhhhOOOOO”’s circling around her. As Lori closed her eyes she realized her wish had been realized; everyone was back and ready to get down with the get down. The unanimous sound off of “AhhhOOOOO!” still echoed in the summer cool air as David took notice of the prep work being done and the fight through unknown territory ready to begin.

“CIRCLE UP!” he yelled as he placed his hand on the shovel with Cliff and hoisted it with him. Marco and Alyssa stepped up in unison to join them in the center as they read the inscription on the handle that everyone somehow instinctively knew the answer to:


“DIGS DEEP!!!!!!!!”


“DIGS DEEPER!!!!!!!!”


A charged silence followed the proclamation before the roar of the Rebels ripped through the land, flooding every single ear drum in a 1 mile radius of those intrigued by the intentions of these bad news bears. Intrigue only gets you so far, however. It’s the actions of those motivated and often deflated souls who are willing to take that discomforting trudge forward at all costs. Those seeking the change that has been a long time deserved and freshly believed. After all… You’ve got to want it more than anything because anything can stop you… These Rebels happened to be those very souls and were about to experience not just “anything” trying to stop them on their trek, but everything…

Holding the map at waist level and studying it astutely David, Cliff, Marco, and Alyssa commanded the inner circle with their focus on guiding the way. Looking up and to the left, Cliff raised the shovel and pointed it westward into the direction out of the State of Rebellion’s walls as his stoic posture affirmed that was the direction they were headed to next.

“Let’s go Rebels!” Leah cried out tenaciously, taking the first step forward. The rest of the Rebels followed suit.

“Head up Cliff!” Taz cat called.

“Tell me there’s a beach where we’re going and guaranteed I ain’t lookin’ down one more second!” Surfer Cliff shot back with a smile.

“What’s the first thing we come across on the map?” Stephanie asked David as Jamie peered over in curiosity.

“It says we need to stop at the post office once we cross the Nonestic sea and make it to the shores of Rinkitink, where I’m guessing we’ll receive further clues?” David answered as he folded the map and placed it firmly in his back pocket feeling just as perplexed as everyone else.

Chapter 5 - The Map

“I thought I saw it said something about a ‘test of heart’ on there right after the post office? Any idea what that is?” Carlo solicited while tapping on the compass.

“None at all, but I’m hoping that’s what the post office is for…” David responded.

As the Rebels crossed the bridge that brought them beyond the walls of the State of Rebellion, Justin filled in the rest of the Rebels of a work boat used for shipping he had access to that could take them straight across the Nonestic Sea. As the silhouette of Rebels began to fade in the march towards Emerald City and beyond, a faint outcry began to build steam behind them. As the shouting grew more audible, Austin perked his ears up and swiveled around to see what the fuss was.

“Hey, wait up! Hold on! We’re coming!” huffed and puffed 3 new faces as their sprint slowed to a jog and stopped at a hunched over standstill upon finally reaching the assorted crew of ruffians they were so determined to catch.

“Hey, it’s Kristie!” Sam shouted excitedly at the realization that her sister had decided to join them after all.

“Who’s that with you?” Denise asked quizzically, anxious to find out who these very welcomed strangers were noting to herself that she hadn’t really seen them around before.

“Dan and Daniel, at your service” said the hulking Dan with a playful bow and cherubic smile.

“Yeah, we saw you guys from across town and we had to see what you were doing. Whatever it is, we’re in.” Daniel stated.

“Perfect… welcome to the Rebellion…” Marco said with a sly smile.


Coming Soon

Chapter 7: Blinding Vision

Chapter 5: The Journey of the Infinite Jigsaw

Chapter 5 - The Pieces

Chapter 5 – The Journey of the Infinite Jigsaw

With every inch earned showcased in the form of a new sweat droplet suspended on their  eyebrow ridges and nose bridges the fiercely determined Rebels made their way to towards the center of town where the mysterious soundtrack emanated with the force of a hurricane. One by one each Rebel fought their way through the chaos and painstakingly made their way to the source of the enigmatic melody, slowly forming a circle around it. As each Demolitionist and Rock Republic member circled up the music began to fade ever so slightly, eventually giving way to complete silence the moment the last Rebel stepped up. At their feet lay a mysterious box emblazoned with a hulking green crest and a simple latch left unlocked.

“…Wh..What is it?” asked an ice-blue eyed Rebel quizzically.

“Hold on everyone, I’m checking ‘Reddit’ now…” proclaimed a short haired Demolitonist wearing an orange headband who was scrolling furiously through “Winkiepedia” searching for an answer.

                Before another response could even be thought out another orange headband sporting Rebel stepped forward with authority and declared “Well until Carlo figures it out, I’m opening this son-of-a-bitch!” With her daughter by her side, the purple clad Wonder Rebel knelt down and flipped the unlatched lock skyward leaving the air in everyone’s lungs on pause and a silence so thick it could fill the Nome King’s caverns. With the creaks and squeaks of a door waiting generations to be opened the lid was pushed back to reveal its contents and hopefully provide some answers. What was found instead was… puzzling… to say the least.

“Pick one up, Tami!” someone blurted out.

The suggestion came too late however as she already had one of the cryptic pieces firmly in her grasp; staring into it like a crossword puzzle she was trying vigorously to figure out to no avail.

“What is it?” a Rebel near the back inquired as the group shifted closer.

“It looks like a broken puzzle… with words on the pieces!” Tami answered as she rolled one of the jigsaws between her fingers in careful examination.

“What’s that, Cassie?” Cliff asked, shovel in hand as he noticed movement coming from his left while everyone else’s attention stayed diverted to the right on Tami.

“It looks like… a map!” Cassie shouted excitedly as all eyes switched like a tennis match to the parchment she had just found fluttering on the ground.

Chapter 5 - The Map

                Energy buzzed tangibly as there FINALLY seemed to be some direction! Something to guide them beyond where they’d made it thus far which couldn’t have come at a more opportune time seeing as how clues were beginning to cease increasingly. Even though the tattered piece of paper roughly painted in rudimental fashion didn’t look like much, it seemed to carry with it the weight of a lifetime that pressed on the hearts of all around. Once again it was something that could only be described as magic.

                Stenciled carefully on the map were directions through what looked to be a secret pathway directly into Emerald City. To those who lived in the State of Rebellion Emerald City was nothing more than a faraway place many had heard of yet few had actually been to, bringing murmurs of muffled hysteria as Rebels realized what they had in their possession. In Rebellion lore “The grass is always greener in Emerald City” was a euphemism made popular when referring to someone who wants something they don’t have yet here was the very chance to HAVE that greener grass! After all, that was the point of the very gathering they were all at in the first place wasn’t it? Souls tired of accepting less than they deserve, digging in their shields, and fighting for what is most worth fighting for; change.

                As each Rebel took their turn studying the map and getting familiar with the blueprint for the journey they all silently and instantaneously agreed they were about to go on, it was hard not to feel the nervousness blast through their bloodstream like migrating salmon. Some would say that all great things carry nerves behind them… Fortunately for the Rebels they were in no shortage of either. Confirming that belief were the words “If it were easy it wouldn’t be special…” scratched at the top.

                With each fingerprint firmly placed on the tattered key to their adventure solidifying the bond between each shared glance and hand-off, clouds began to swirl overhead ominously. Bursts of sun rays pierced the gaps between giving the surrounding landscape an aura of hope splashed with an essence of foreboding. Inspired tensions mounted as one Rebel asked the question beginning to come to life in all of them:

“Well, we gonna do this thing or what?”

                Rebellious eyes glanced back and forth at one another with anticipation and quiet affirmation slowly building to a roar of declaration. Hell yeah they were going to do this thing! It was during this moment of unity a Rebel with a “7” insignia on his back noticed something else in the puzzle box that had gone unnoticed prior to the discovery of the map. He brushed back his sun-kissed brown hair as he rummaged through the jigsaw pieces to retrieve the envelope buried underneath them. Tugging at the corner, he realized there was some weight to it. Whatever this was, it sure as hell wasn’t just paper…

“Is there something else, David?” someone asked, suddenly diverting attention right back to the box like it had never left.

“Yeah…” David replied. “An envelope with something in it…”

“Well open it up! Let’s check this shit out!” Tami boomed as the rest of the Rebels voiced their resounding agreement.

                David tore through the seal with swift intention revealing a hand-scribbled note and a fistful of obscure yellow metal rings that the bottom edge of the paper rested delicately on top of.

Chapter 5 - The Charms

“Listen up!” David bellowed as he unfolded the letter with deceivingly steady hands. “Dear Rebels…”

Chapter 5 - The Note

                After finishing his narration, David carefully folded the curious call-to-arms and placed it back in the incredibly powerful box that had smashed its way into sudden existence matched in force only by sheer level of resonance.

“What way does the map say to go?” asked a voice marked sharp by the silence it happened to break.

“Good question Suzanne… Aw, here it is! …North West…” Lori responded as her outstretched hand pointed in that very direction like a scorpion tail ready to strike.

“Hey David, what did that last part of the note say? I missed it.” Cassie asked nervously whilst never taking her gaze away from where Lori was gesturing towards.

“Beware of the Winged Monkeys” David muttered with an anxious scowl.

– Rebel8

Coming Soon

Chapter 6: ????????


Rebel CodeBeware the Winged Monkeys…

Chapter 4: Chasing Ghosts

Chapter 4 - Chasing Ghosts

Chapter 4 – Chasing Ghosts

    The State of Rebellion had a static charge coursing like a lightning strike felt down all the way down to the bone in the days following “The Blackout.” Although fleeting, the phenomenon left a mark on all the rebellious souls left in its wake and an urgency to figure out why their home didn’t quite feel the same anymore. Murmurs throughout the Rebels confirmed that the change was far from negative, but no one could quite pinpoint what it was exactly… Some felt the sudden Blackout was the precise rattle their everyday life needed to get out of the monotonous rut they were in regardless of how terrifying it was. Others suggested the fact that Demolitionists and Rock Republic members alike experienced a forced interaction that would have NEVER occurred had the sunlight forever remained unstripped from their pupils and the sun resumed being ignored. Many thought it was a combination of those reasons and more that left a desire for the change to stick… Even still, they were willing to do whatever it took to make sure their land’s newfound unification did not leave as abruptly as it had come.

                A week had gone by of trying to harness and utilize this newfound energy before a simple idea was put into “The Rebellion Times” classified section:

“Srchng 4 Rbls 2 go 2 site of Blckout n find answrs. 2 days. 6:30p.
– R8”

                It was impossible for anyone in town to miss the message since “The Rebellion Times” was the only news source that covered beyond Emerald City. As word spread about the proposed meet by a mysterious poster going only by the name of “R8” reactions ranged from dismissive to anticipatory to downright anxious. It was clear that not everyone in town would be going back, but to those who carried a sense of hopeful wonderment and desire to never go back to the way things were that was fine by them. To THOSE Rebels, this was bigger than a “take it or leave it” moment… this could be a DEFINING moment. For too long the State of Rebellion kept its head in the sand and the residents numbly accepted “the way things were” no matter how miserable their lives were. With no one daring to take the first step to change until the cryptic message in the paper nobody really felt permission to leap forward and take a stand. THIS WAS THAT STAND. Potentially anyway… on baited breathe, Rebels waited.

                By the time the 2 days had passed and 6:30pm approached like a snowball at the bottom of a long hill Rebels from both purple and red sectors gathered their wits and mentally prepared themselves for as much of anything as they could. As Rebels all over the State left their homes on the trek to Blackout ground zero it eerily resembled a courageous zombie exodus searching to feast on the hearts and brains of the determined. As members of the Rock Republic and Demolitionist factions arrived at the expansive center of town where it all went down in the first place, the electric tingle that had given rise since the week prior rapidly intensified. Everyone scanned the environment with wild eyed anticipation as hearts began pacing to a unified drum beat simply trying to find a method to this unknown madness. The energy… the CHANGE everyone was internally pleading to come across again was most certainly present, but what was it??? What do they do?? Where was this “R8?” The thought of losing such a magical feeling was enough to stir movement in one particular Red Rocker refusing to wait any longer…

                With a flash resembling that of a scorpion sting and a powerful silence to match a red legged Rebel pushed up her glasses as she took a step forward. With little warning other than the bonfire in her eyes and her clenched Rebel fist she hissed “My name’s Lori…” and before you could blink twice she pierced the sky with the most ferocious lion’s roar the State of Rebellion had ever heard. Before her declaration had hit its final note a domino effect rippled down the line of anxious Rebels as one by one Rock Republics and Demolitionists alike stepped forward and stated their name chorusing into thunderous Rebel yells dancing all around them. Suddenly a pop like a light bulb emitting its glow rang through the crowd and the sky dimmed. Pulses pounded as Rebels felt the Blackout coming again…

                Only, it never came. Instead of all sight vanishing like it had the week prior Rebels were privy to determined faces bouncing through squirms of shadows as each body made of Brick lunged towards the music born from the battle cries passionately soaring all around. With each rebellious step into the expanse of yard center in the State housing the current experience, a new melody emerged clearer and clearer. A bass driven rhythm carried a ghostly “Ahhhhhh ahhhhh!” with the words “I’m not giving in” trailing behind it like a realization turned declaration.

On the outskirts of the happening a crimson haired Rebel lurched forward in a fight against the swirling winds that were picking up in time with the driving beat making his legs heavier and heavier with each painful stagger. As he fell to a knee contemplating being able to keep on a sweet voice carrying a reassurance with it whispered;

 “Here you go Cliff, take this…”

As he stuck his hand out to receive the gift being offered he glanced sideways to get a peek at what it happened to be. It was a shovel. A dirty, dingy, and worn black handled shovel with specks of spray paint on it telling a story he didn’t know. Where the rebel wearing the shirt stating “You get the results people don’t get by doing the work people don’t go” on the back got it from Cliff would never find out. All he knew was that she could somehow see exactly what he needed even when he himself had no idea. Using the shovel as a hoist Cliff dug his heels into the ground with intention as he took a deep breath and bellowed “AhhhOOOO!” in defiance. There wasn’t a munchkin’s chance in the land of winged monkeys that he’d ever go back. He’d come too far now. Turning back wasn’t an option.

As Cliff and his fellow Rebels continued their march towards the music like Young Volcanoes with a purpose the ominous music continued its trend of getting louder and louder with each step and shout. All the courage, heart, and brains in the land couldn’t possibly be enough to prepare the Rebels for what was about to come next… 

Coming Soon

Chapter 5: ????????

Chapter 3: The Heart Felt Fallout

Chapter 3 - The Heart Felt Fallout

Chapter 3: The Heart Felt Fallout

                The State of Rebellion buzzed with unease as its inhabitants came from every direction to see what was going on in their usually unassuming place of residence. A dark cloud hung ominously over the mass exodus, shrouded in mystery as all eyes couldn’t look away to save their lives.

If only they knew the irony.

                As rebels far and wide huddled together in an attempt to calm their rattled nerves, the air was charged with an electric current using their bodies as conduits. “What do you think is going to happen?” a Demolitionist faintly asked a nearby Rock Republic member. “I have no idea, I’ve never seen this before…” was the response as the two divisions of the State nervously pressed shoulders together in a rare form of co-mingling. Usually both sides kept to their own, believing that “the grass is always greener on the other side” referenced the side OPPOSITE the other. No one could really give a concrete reason as to why each faction chose to snub the other, most of the time simply observing “that’s how it’s always been.” Sure, both sides had committed atrocities in their tenure as citizens living in the State of Rebellion but hell… we’re ALL Rebels, we ALL make mistakes… None of those mistakes mattered in this moment as new-to-each-other faces mirrored one another with little resolve and lots of worry.

                When the first boom sounded through the landscape it was felt… not heard. A thunderous burst coursing through the hearts and souls of everyone gathered bringing with it a stir of change felt deep within. A gentle hymn rode the wind as it picked up in time with the roar of the drumfire. Before the Rebels could register what exactly this cosmic melody was, a voice emerged from the zephyr. As cool as the breeze it traveled on it immediately occupied all in its auditory wake;

Steady now… Steady now…
Don’t fear what you can’t see…
Ready now… Ready NOW!
I hold on to you… you hold on to me…

I found the heart of a lion…
In the belly of the beast…
I held it in my hand… and I could feel…
I could feel…

… Feel the beat…

                With only the words they had just heard as a warning a swift darkness blanketed the Demolitionists and Rock Republic throughout. Devoid of all vision and lost in a world trying to crush them somehow, every person came to the same sudden realization; a midst the depths of confusion, fear, and chaos… all they had left was each other.

                As Rebels linked arms in a show of solidarity among everything around them seemingly falling apart they marched towards the music with purpose, compelled by something greater than they knew. “This way!” someone shouted as natural leaders took their positions. “I’m lost! I’m over here! I can’t see anything!” an anxious voice cried out as the human chain began to wrap around like a centipede in an attempt to wrangle the stray comrade. As the unknown straggler rejoined the survival driven Rebels a husky voice yelled;

“Looks like we’re not in Kansas anymore!”

The reference highlighted a particularly popular line in an Emerald City legend of a refugee by the name of Dorothy who saved the Land of Oz from an evil Witch from the North West. Even though the State of Rebellion was located just beyond the Nonestic Sea and outside the boundaries of Oz the story of Dorothy was an integral part of Rebellion lore. Whoever had yelled out the “Kansas” quip was almost certainly referencing the Tornado that mythically carried the outsider from “the Midwest” into the Land of Oz.

The thought somehow brought with it a strange reassurance… What was on the other side of this unexpected and abrupt departure from reality? Could the legend be real? Was a childhood story told for generations as far back as Rebels could remember much more than just a fun cure for boredom? The possibility that a fairy tale of old was a historical forewarning for this momentous occurrence swirling all around them was much more than the Rebels had time to think about however. Butterflies churned tsunamis in their stomachs as each foot strived toward the harmonious howl drawing them in like a gnat to a flashlight.

Without so much as a sneeze of a sign the gripping winds and ominous tune dispelled as quickly as they had begun. In their place was a blinding flash of light painfully forcing everyone’s pupils that had adapted to the nothingness to adjust back to the blue skies and rays of sunshine that once again overlooked the State of Rebellion. As everyone’s arms unlinked Rebels found themselves face to face with people whom they had lived in the same community with for years and years yet somehow had never even met. The sun cast a vivid new light on each rebellious face as passionate wonderment took the place of fear and anxiety. With the sudden blackout leaving with the speed in which it came, more questions were left than answered. Still, the Rebels felt a sense of… something… “The Divide” was gone. On the outskirts of the mass, two familiar strangers could be overheard greeting each other for the first time;

“Now that we’ve held on to each other in a panic and I’ve accidently grabbed your boob twice… Hi! I’m Cara!”

“I’m Erin… Nice to meet you Cara! That was crazy…What do you think is going to happen next?”

“I’m not sure, but something tells me that it’s going to be up to us to decide…”

– Rebel8

Coming Soon

Chapter 4: ???