This is the second episode of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, which I decided to create. No theme for this episode yet, but enjoy this!

The host appears behind one of the archways, walking his way to the center of the room.

"When your opinion tilts from left to right, there could only be answer: Fact or Fiction."

We live in a world where the real and the unreal lives side by side. Where substance is disguised as illusion and the only explanations are unexplainable. Can you separate truth from fantasy? Tonight, your challenge is to separate what is true from what is false. Five stories. Some real, some fake. Can you judge which are fact, and which are fiction? To find out, you must enter into a world full of truth and deception, a world that goes: beyond belief.
"How do you define fact? How do you define fiction? Can you ever be certain about these two, and what they contain? Maybe your beliefs will switch from side to side when you're exposed to consider what the truth could be. Five stories will be up to you to decide their realities. Did these really happen, or are they plain deception? But first, let's be introduced to some of our VIP members."

Goombella: Hey! I'm ready for this show. I've never really actually seen any episodes of this show before, but it sounds awesome!

Mr. Blizzard: It's me! The main Mr. Blizzard. Happy to be here.

Josh: I'm here and ready to win!

Goombella: Who are you, human?

Josh: The name is Rocket. I'm here to win and test my knowledge against you other creatures from another world.

Toad: I'm just a regular blue-dotted toad. Followed Josh on his way home after I was beat up by some high school classmates.

Mr. Blizzard: You must have a soft spot for toads.

Josh: Poor guy couldn't defend himself.

Birdo: Birdo! I'm here and decked out in my favorite bow.

Josh: Your one and only bow, to be accurate.

Birdo: Birdo!

Goombella: Okay then…who else is left?

Birdo: I believe that's it. It's about time now to start.

(lights are dimming slowly)

Toad: Wait, why are the lights dimming? Ahh…it's so dark. And scary.

(the lights are semi-off, and the room is silent)

Goombella: How do we see these stories? Is there a television somewhere?

Host: Certainly-

All: AAAH!

Toad: Where the heck did you appear from? You scared us to death!

Host: Certainly, nobody can be sure about what is fact and fiction, and I'm pretty sure your opinion will be tilting from left to right when you decide the truths about these stories. Just like these sticks in this poster.

The illusion shows horizontal sticks going from left to right, stacked on top of each other. Each one is colored alternatively black and white, going across.

Host: How do these sticks go across the poster?

Josh: Obviously tilted.

Goombella: Yeah, they're not straight.

Host: Mistaken you guys are. They are perfectly going horizontal.

He gets a ruler and places it above one of the sticks. The edge of the stick lines exactly with the ruler, straight across the picture.

Josh: Oh…

Goombella: What? Wow, that's pretty tricky to see.

Birdo: You guys are so gullible. But I won't be like that.

Host: Your opinions will be like these lines; they seem tilted and unbalanced. But the truth would always remain the same no matter what you believe.

(he leaves to the other main room, while the lights dim even more)

Birdo: Spooky atmosphere to add to the show…

Mr. Blizzard: Is there an air conditioner in this room? It's way too hot in here now, huh?

Behind the host is a basketball hoop, standing straight up from its base. The host takes a basketball from the floor into his hands and dribbles it two times.

"The sport of basketball has been so popular for generations. It's hard to imagine that it originated since the day a professor cut the bottoms of a peach basket out and pasted the bottomless baskets against the walls of a gymnasium. Now its popularity has gone up so much that it has become an official Olympic Sport in Germany, and has gained its most professional players known to date."

"Shooting hoops and practicing dunks is what every devotee of the game would be doing every day. Jimmy Fenkins is one of those young people planning to be an NBA champion winner someday. After school at 5:30, his brother would have the hardest of times bringing him out of the court to go back home. Jimmy felt that he could encounter almost any person he would meet on the courts after school, and wouldn't hesitate to challenge them to a friendly, yet competitive game. He felt that he knew every trick and shot of the popular activity. But when bullies encounter him one afternoon, Jimmy learns one more thing about basketball that he would never forget about."

Protector on the Court

I had to admit, the court was turning into my new home. During my years in high school, I was obsessed with sports. Then I fell in love with basketball. I felt so dedicated during my first game, and I had so much gusto and skill that my coach couldn't help but tell me that I was a born athlete.

I couldn't imagine how my brother Spencer spent his life alive. No basketball, or not even baseball or soccer? Besides swimming, all he did was read and read. Someday he wants to be some wacko scientist mathematician, but I predict he'll become blind before he even reaches twenty.

"The Equations of Rocketry," Jimmy read from Spencer's book. "Let me guess: E equals you're wasting time with all this nonsense?"

"Don't you have 9th grade math finals in two days?" he asked him. "I can see you have a basketball in your arm."

"Jimmy! Spencer!" said a voice from the stairs. It was their mother, rushing down with paper bags in her busy hands. She was wearing her usual business suit and was already running late for her usual meetings at her office.

"You're going to be late," she said, handing them each a bag of their lunch. "I really hope the bus didn't pass our house already. Is this like the third time this week or not you had to make the bus stop so that you could catch up with it?

"When is Dad coming home from Sarasaland?" asked Spencer. "I think he brought my laptop with him, and I really need it by Friday for this technology project-"

"Not until Saturday," she said speedily. "Now I'm going to be late for work if we don't leave right now. Remember that I have a meeting until seven tonight, so I want you to go directly home after school dismisses you."

"What?" Jimmy said in surprise. "Mom, I need to hit the court to practice on my skills. See this?" He threw the basketball into the air and caught it on one end of his shoulder, then made it travel its way across till it reached his elbow on his other side, before making it land right back into his right hand.

"You need to hit the books and work on your algebra," she replied smartly.

"Okay," he said in a dissatisfied tone. Jimmy's face suddenly dropped, disappointed. It was a face he only made when he wanted something from his mom or dad that they refused to give him, and he was good at changing his outer emotion to get onto their good side. His mother sighed, tired of how Jimmy always managed to get his way with she and her husband.

"Okay," she said, "Five thirty and that's it. The sun should be down by then, and you know I worry about you two when it's dark outside. Just be careful near the court today."

"Oh, mom," Jimmy said, chuckling. "I don't think we're in elementary school anymore."

My mother was probably the best. Of course, there's this type of world-wide debate on whose mother on the face of this planet is the best. But at least she's the best and only mother Spencer and I would ever have. She was a real sweetheart and a religious one too.

Right besides the front door was a collection of small angel figurines on a shelf that Mrs. Fenkins would pray to whenever they planned to leave the house. Her life depended on her faithful religion beliefs that would bring her and her family closer to becoming successful people.

"…and please, dear God, protect my children as they spend today on their own, and send angels down to protect them this day in times of crisis and dilemma. Amen."

"Amen," said Spencer.

Mrs. Fenkins opened her eyes and turned to look at Jimmy besides her, who had his earphones still plugged into his ears. She immediately snatched them out.

"Oh, umm, amen I guess," he said quickly, "Amen."

That day after school finished, we both immediately went to the basketball court. My home seemed so same and comfortable once again. There was that smell of asphalt. Well, I always thought that the familiar smell at the court was the blacktop. There were those usual games that were going at the six basketball hoops, and man, did I join one of those games faster than you could say 'Foul ball'. To tell the truth, they were the ones who invited me into their game. I guess they were impressed with my basketball skills I had been displaying those past days, and they knew I was a pro. I wouldn't call myself a pro yet however.

I wasn't the only one every day who hung out there. Little Billy would be on his skateboard around the court, probably showing off his new tricks to his classmates. He would probably be the next skate boarding idol in the future.

Then there's that pink boo girl in the sweater with her chalk set. I like her. No, I didn't have no feelings for her in that kind of way. I just liked her for her interesting attitude. She was unique, and she would be drawing giant chalk drawings all over the ground. Nobody complained about it. In fact, everyone thought they made the place look great all around. Right now, I couldn't see what she was drawing, but I knew she was starting with the feet of some drawing.

And then there was Big Ike. Man, did everyone watch in wonder when he played. Every afternoon at 3:30 he would be shooting hoops for as long as I could remember. He was so tall; I bet he could have been able to see and spot this court all the way from China. Nobody could mistake him for any other huge student, for his shades would stick out in terms of identification. Those mirror shades prevented you from seeing Big Ike's eyes. His 20/20 eyes, I assume.

In high school, he was the star player and never failed to amaze people. He was admitted to nearly thirty colleges, and everyone seemed to admire him.

"That's Big Ike," my friend once told me the day I had first entered into the basketball court, as he pointed to the giant making a swift dunk shot in the air, spinning 360 degrees at the same time.

But just after his graduation, a car accident changed his knee and his life as well. Even after three operations, the doctors couldn't do nothing to help and get his knee back proper. So that's when his career ended so suddenly. He always wore this leather knee pad on his right knee that he could never take off.

But that didn't cause us to lose our usual respect for him.

I believe I had actually "talked" with once or twice during my three years of high school. He once retrieved my basketball after it had fallen into the ditch behind the court. It took me by surprise that he was willing to climb into that sewer-infested area just to help me get home on time. And then the smile he gave me afterwards had given me that trusting, safe feeling I would always remember about him.

And then every day at 5:00, Big Ike would leave for his usual night job.

It was getting dark quickly, just as my mom had predicted. I looked at the watch on my wrist and saw that it was already 6:00 P.M.

"Isn't that Dad's watch?" Spencer had his backpack on, books in his arm as he looked over Jimmy's shoulder.

"You don't tell no one I have this," Jimmy told him as if he was saying a command. "And plus, I lost my own watch a few days ago."

"That watch is his Rolex GMT Master II watch," Spencer pointed out. "The watch of Dad's he specifically ordered never to touch in your life, unless you wanted to become the next contents of his home-made meatloaf."

Jimmy sighed in annoyance. "Well, you know what you little 7th grade nerd…why do you have everything up and ready with you as if you were ready to go home?"

"It's 6:00," he replied. "Mom said 5:30 and that's it, remember? And, the sun is setting behind the horizon."

"I still need fifteen minutes," Jimmy said, shooting a basket right into the hoop as it made a clean swish sound. "And the sun is still out."

"It's getting pretty dark," said Spencer.

"So what do you want me to do about it? Can't you just go home by yourself?"

"I could," Spencer said. "But it's past the time Mom said to go home by. The bus is going to arrive any minute now, and the next stop is in like fifteen minutes."

"I'll be home in a jiffy, don't worry," Jimmy said, as he went to perform another throw from mid-court. Spencer shrugged as he turned to head back towards the approaching bus, as his brother stayed longer, shooting hoops and practicing all the skills he could think of.

I knew I should have just gone back home with my brother, but I needed to stay and improve on my twists and turns. I was the only one left on the court, and for some reason, it made me kind of lonely and also made me think it was a bit pointless in being here at this time. When I went to glance at my watch again, it was 6:15.

I was planning to make my last shot before going home. But just when I had made my final shot, another person had entered the court that I hadn't seen before. He rebounded the ball that had bounced off the basket.

"Umm, my ball," Jimmy said as the other kid dribbled the ball a couple of times. The other kid was a hammer bro., probably in a grade or two older than Jimmy.

"This is your ball?" he asked sarcastically. "I would have never guessed."

"Sorry man, I'd be willing to play a game with you, but not right now because I need to get home now," Jimmy told him. "Can I please have it back?"

"I think you can call it mine for now," the hammer bro. replied. "Guess I'll just go back to my own home and play with it for as long as I want."

"Come on man, I really-" The hammer bro. threw the basketball to another person on the court, but not towards Jimmy. Another hammer bro. was standing on the opposite side of the court with a smirk displayed on his face as he caught the ball.

"How about we sell this to you?" he suggested.

"Guys, stop it," Jimmy said uneasily. He was helpless against the two older kids around him, and he felt like just running away from the court without looking back. But he needed his basketball back.

"I think you should stop messing with us. Why not give us everything in your pockets for this ball?" the second hammer brother offered. Jimmy reached down at his own pockets, feeling his leftover lunch change money that he needed desperately to take the bus back home. These two kids were overpowering him, he thought. He felt the desperate want to escape safely with the ball in his hand, but willed himself to avoid any actions of temptation.

"How about a little catch with my knife?" said the first hammer brother, and as the two older kids laughed, Jimmy's blood seemed to freeze when the older kid pulled out a miniature pocketknife from his sweater pocket.

What was he going to do? I felt too terrified to move or do anything, but I knew he was going to puncture my basketball and ruin it once and for all. As the ball sailed into the air from the second hammer brother towards the outward knife being held by his friend, I seemed to give up to the overwhelming bullying of the two kids as my eyes watched the flying ball in defeat and panic.

The ball never reached the knife, but a pair of hands did. The hammer brother was suddenly covered by a large shadow out of nowhere that covered his entire body as he looked besides him at the giant holding the basketball in his hands. His mouth was agape and stunned.

I couldn't actually believe it. Big Ike was standing right there, his mirror shades on his eyes and my basketball safe and away from any danger in his large hands. A huge smile entered my face as I knew that he had entered into my hopeless situation at the last second. I was sure it was him at the first sight of his knee cap.

"Some problem going on?" Big Ike asked in his gruff voice.

"No! Uh, no problem," the hammer brother stammered, fumbling with the small knife in his hand before putting it back into his pocket. "We're all cool." His friend from the other side nodded in unison.

"That's not what it looked like," Ike told him. "I was watching this whole time, and I saw what you insensible bullies were doing to this innocent kid. Those kinds of actions you just pulled off right now can never bring you into becoming a professional player, and mark my words on that." The two hammer brothers both looked down at the ground, both ashamed.

"Hey, Jimmy," Big Ike said, as he passed the ball over to him.

I wanted to say something to Big Ike right there, something as simple as the word "thanks". But all I did was nod, my pathetic way of saying thanks to a person who had just rescued my butt from further disaster and torment. I ran out of the court with my backpack and basketball as quickly as I could without looking back.

Big Ike turned back to look at the two kids.

"I don't want to see any of you messing around these places no more," he ordered. "You hear me?"

"Yes, Big Ike," they both replied as rapidly as possible, "Yes sir!" The two older kids went their own way across the street after that.

The next morning, I couldn't help but tell my brother about the incident that happened at the basketball court last night. Big whoops. He even threatened to tell mom how I arrived back home just before she drove into our driveway. He also threatened to tell how I had taken Dad's watch with me to school. But it was all on one condition.

"Your big ass was saved from good ol' Big Ike," he explained to him. "And you didn't say thank you?"

"You know how difficult it is for me to talk to others," Jimmy said, "And I tried my best."

But I made up my mind. Right after school finished, Spencer and I went straight to the basketball court. I saw Big Ike, shooting his usual hoops with his regular mirror shades and that kneecap on his knee. Spencer and I slowly approached him while he made his slam dunk, until he noticed us standing next to him. He caught the ball and stopped to look at us through his dark sunglasses.

"Yo, what up?" he asked, seeing the two kids right in front of him trying to get his attention.

"Umm, hey," Jimmy said, not sure what to say next. Spencer who was right besides him nudged him with his shoulder, and that's when he knew what to say next.

"Thanks a lot for helping me against those kids," Jimmy said. "I didn't know how to thank you, but now I'm showing you how much I appreciated it." All Ike did was stay put where he was standing.

Big Ike didn't reply immediately. I suspected that I had said the wrong thing to say in my note of thanks and felt embarrased for a split second, until he suddenly replied back.

"Helped you? Against kids?" he asked, his eyebrows furrowing. "When was this supposed to happen?" Jimmy and Spencer exchanged glances

"Yesterday, right here on the court," Jimmy explained, "Don't you remember?"

"Remember?" Big Ike questioned. "I can't follow where you're leading this."

"Last night, when it was getting dark," said Jimmy in a confused voice. "At around 6:15, you saved me from those bullies. That kid with the knife who tried to take my basketball, and all that." Big Ike's face was as perplexed as ever, as he went to remove the mirror shades from his eyes.

"Have you ever seen me around here after five?" he asked him. "I go to my night job every day, and that's especially including yesterday."

"But, you were the one yesterday who helped-"

"Listen," said Big Ike. "You must have gotten some other person mistaken for me. You must have been dreaming." He went on and ran up to the hoop to shoot another one of his dunks, as Jimmy had nothing else to do but look away in misunderstandment.

"Gee, you must have been really light-headed or something to mistake someone else for Big Ike," his brother said, laughing. "Since when would anyone be capable of doing that?"

"But I'm sure it was him!" Jimmy said in a voice of confusion. "He had those one-way shades on, and that, that kneecap on his right knee! And also…I remember him saying my name and giving the ball to me." Spencer looked at him with doubt.

"Man bro, I don't know what to tell you," Spencer told him. "But let's go home and check out that new game that arrived in the mail this morning." As Jimmy took his last look back at Big Ike on the court, the two of them headed towards the bus stop.

I was sure it was Big Ike who had helped me from those older kids yesterday. But if it wasn't him, then who was it?

"Look," said Jimmy suddenly, as they both stopped in their tracks. They looked at the ground and saw the chalk drawing that the girl in the sweater had drawn yesterday after school, but this time it was completely finished. It displayed a tall figure, a basketball player with a blue jersey on, but that wasn't all it had. Behind the basketball player were two sprouted wings coming out from his back, colored with a pale and elegant white chalk color the girl had used, and as they stared at it longer, they started to wonder even more.

Who was that other person? The question had bothered me for years, but now, I finally think I know the answer.

"Records showed that Big Ike did arrive at his night job on schedule, before the event at the basketball court took place. So then who did Jimmy see on the court that rescued him from the brewing trouble? Could it have been another person who looked just like Big Ike? But then why did the other two bullies claim themselves later on that they had been interrupted by him? And what other person, according to all three who were at the scene, would be wearing mirror shades and a leather knee pad?"

"Did the chalk drawing represent a deeper meaning to this story? Perhaps an angel was sent down as a protector for Jimmy, just like his mother had prayed for, and at the same time, had taken the form of the admired basketball player to protect him from any danger. Does this story seem true to you, or do you think the truth swishes down on the false side?"

The host turns around and shoots his basketball, which makes its way perfectly into the net.

We'll tell you if this story is true or false at the end of our show. Next, a girl's diary is all about what's yet to come, on Beyond Belief, Fact or Fiction.

I changed the formatting to include the VIP members' comments at the beginning of the next chapter, so I hope that's fine. Stay put for the next story!