A Fistful of Slice
By Brian Sacca
Art by Jonny DeStefano
Published Issue 120, December 2023
“Will you FIGHT?!”
“Will you DIE?!”
“Will you stop the invaders from spoiling our …”
He kept speaking, but it was like he was orating on autopilot; his mind questioning everything around him. How did it come to this? How was he “Master Sensei Brayden?” When did he get loyal subjects or this life on a private island? Of course, he knew the answers, but it all felt so surreal because, only two years ago, Master Sensei Brayden was just … Brayden Jennings.
That is until he stumbled upon his path to greatness.
Barred from driving for any of the delivery apps due to a half-dozen poorly timed tearful outbursts (Brayden was a sensitive boy turned sensitive 27-year-old living in the basement of his local YMCA), Brayden resorted to taking the overnight shifts at the local Pizzapie Pizza franchise. “Pizzapie 24/7” was their current promotion – pizza, any day, any time. But nobody ordered pizza at 5:30 in the morning. This meant that Brayden spent his hours watching various social media videos. He’d even considered posting a video himself. But he had nothing to say.
An unusually slow Tuesday night took an ominous turn when Mr. Rutherford (the overnight manager) sat Brayden down for a chat.
“When I hired you, what was the one thing I said you can’t do?” Mr. Rutherford scowled from across his desk crammed with discarded pizza crusts oozing mozzarella (Mr. Rutherford wasn’t a stuffed crust kinda guy).
“Uh, you told me I couldn’t steal,” Brayden responded.
“But I also told you that you couldn’t spazz out, didn’t I?”
“I’m not spazzing. I’m — it’s just, people are so mean, so I’m sorry if I cry a little when I get stiffed.”
“You dripped snot bubbles onto that three large/extra pep/no sauce delivery. I had to comp the whole order. Stop leaking fluids on the ‘zas, or you’re shitcanned!”
This conversation swirled through the dregs of Brayden’s mind as he sat in his ’98 Saturn outside of a four-large, double-cheese, meat-lovers delivery. He took deep breaths, trying to calm himself before the drop.
But he wouldn’t be dropping ‘zas tonight. It was a prank delivery. An empty house. He howled in emotional pain, loud enough for a neighbor to be woken and call a complaint into Pizzapie Pizza.
Brayden plopped into his ’98 Saturn and decided right then and there that this world wasn’t meant for him. He started a live stream and shouted at the camera through tears, “I’m done with the shittery. I’m done with the lack of respect. I’ll see all of you on the other side.” Brayden then took the nearest tool and commenced his disposal.
But nothing happened.
Brayden screamed in frustration, “Why is it called a SLICE if it can’t cut?!!” Brayden kept rubbing the oily pizza against his wrist; each pass adding more loose sausage into his lap.
Brayden didn’t know it, but at that moment, he was becoming the most famous man in the world. Within hours, the video “Man Tries to Kill Himself with Pizza Slice” went worldwide. His sensitive soul now a commodity for human entertainment. To any other man on the brink of despair, this might’ve propelled them into deeper darkness. But for Brayden, it actually showed him the light. It gave him a purpose. A rageful quest.
From that moment on, Brayden dedicated his life to proving the lethality of sharp bread.
“Those who doubt me will feel the slice of my wrath.”
Brayden traveled to various marital arts tournaments, determined to demonstrate what he knew to be true. And it was in the parking lot of the Des Moines Elks Lodge #48765 (after the midday Karate Tournament / Pancake Jamboree) that Brayden triumphed.
In a minor scuffle with a condescending bystander, Brayden accidentally cut himself with a half-eaten piece of quattro formaggi. Blood was drawn. And in that blood, a movement was given life.
It was only months later that Master Sensei Brayden and his subjects commandeered a small island off the coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and dubbed it “A Slice of Heaven.” Of course, the local and federal governments rejected any such land claims and ordered Master Sensei Brayden to leave. But that would never happen. This was now their land. A land with no laws. A land where life could be taken with just a small combination of flour and yeast.
“Will you stop the invaders from spoiling our home?”
“The government infiltrators fear us! And they want to take me out. Well, if you come for the Sensei, you better slice to the bone! Because I will defend myself to my last breath!” The words exited Sensei Brayden’s mouth, but he was still lost in his thoughts. And in his diverted daydream, he noticed someone approaching him. A subject, yes, but in no way did this approach seem friendly.
Brayden yelped as the attacker hurled a slice of chorizo and pineapple (a spicy take on the Hawaiian) like a tri-pointed throwing star. He dodged the leavened weapon, but the attacker quickly rearmed himself and lunged forward, taking Brayden to the ground. They wrestled in a feat of strength, each struggling to survive.
Brayden’s muscles resisted with all their strength, but his thoughts again retreated. How had he lost himself in this quest of death? He longed for home. Overcome with a deep yearning for his days of simply dropping ‘zas, Brayden began to sob. He convulsed as tears flowed from his pent-up ducts. Brayden expected his emotions to weaken him, allowing the stale provisions to enter his body.
But the slow slice of death never came.
“Aw, shit, dude! You ruined my pizza!” the usurper exclaimed while holding a limp slice. “You cried and snotted all over it. It’s totally soft.”
Another voice bellowed from the crowd, “Super grody! Wait, so, any liquid will ruin a slice? What a big bummer!”
And with that, the subjects dispersed, their dreams of a better world, a world with pizza weapons, crushed. But not for Brayden, no. Brayden was given life anew. A simple life.
He spent the rest of his days in quiet solitude, living in the basement of the YMCA, subsisting off the pizza crust Mr. Rutherford discarded (he especially hated the stuffed crusted with the garlic butter drizzled on top).
In the end, it was the pizza that got him. But Brayden did not meet his maker through a violent encounter with a slice, no. Brayden had a massive coronary brought on by a singular diet of leavened dough, processed cheese, and extra pep that he consumed by the fistful.
His tombstone reads: “Here lies Master Sensei Brayden Jennings. A man who taught the world that the bubbling yeast of anger can be stymied by the sweet salt of tears.”
Brian Sacca is a writer/actor/director who has created and starred in traditional film/TV content and digital media for over a decade. He is most recently known for his original film script BUFFALOED, which starred Zoey Deutch and Judy Greer and was directed by Tanya Wexler. New York Times gave it a “critics pick” and called it “zippily entertaining.” Follow him on Instagram for more work.
Jonny DeStefano is the co-owner and co-founder of Birdy Magazine. He is also the founder of the comedy activist space Deer Pile. His favorite color is red, he loves shark attacks, hockey and upright bass.