Gather ’round, gentle folk, for there is a story to tell. It is a story of hope, of determination and strength… and a story of impending disaster for all of those involved. You will meet young martyrs, with their heart and soul dedicated to the glory and victory of their teammates. You will encounter the brutish and powerful enemy squadron, an unstoppable menace in this tragic tale.
But most importantly you will visit upon the site where it all took place, the Alamo of our time: Fort Cheese Puff.
An inaccurate depiction of the former Fort Cheese Puff. Instead of it lying on a slope, picture this bunker instead on flat ground surrounded by woods, and instead of wooden planks building the sides and roof, replace them with cheap particle board. Now take all of that and downsize it by half.
The exact date was not known when this battle took place, but it was during the warm spring of 2002 outside of Sacramento, CA. A group of young boys set out from Roseville to partake in one of the greatest rituals of manhood; the sport of Paintball. One of the young boys, Kevin, was celebrating his birthday and invited his close friends to spend a day blasting at each other with paint, sweat, and leftover pizza crumbs. It was just before dawn when the boys packed inside a van and drove off to their battlefield miles from home.
A short hour later they had arrived at their destination, and the games began. After a crash course in the game, the boys were quick to adapt to the survival instincts and quick-thinking strategy behind paintball. They spilled blood multi-colored paint that day by the gallons, finally beginning to understand the animal that lived within them that hungered for war and violence. With the beast awoken, their resolve to win at the end of the day grew stronger and stronger with each passing round. These boys were becoming men; and as men, they were learning to become warriors.
Half of the day passed seemingly in minutes, and during their designated break, outside players began to trickle in. These were older, more experienced men who had gone far in their way to improve the quality of their paintball guns, their tactical mindset, and the courage to face any player who crossed them. As these advantages were new to the young group of boys, they could easily see that they were outnumbered in skill (and age, but don’t tell them I said that).
With the older players forming their own team, it was now up to the boys to rally together and prove their worth. The stage for the upcoming battle was moved to a more wooded area of the fields, leaving behind the dirt trenches and haystacks they had grown used to. Now, not only were they to test their new resolve to win over the more experienced enemy, but they too had to adjust to the new area. They quickly gained an assessment of what was around them: trees, empty oil drums, and cheap particle board.
An idea struck to one of the boys, and he ordered the rest to gather all of the particle boards together and build a makeshift bunker out of them. With careful coordination, they were able to manage this feat and secure what they deemed to be a tactical stronghold. One young boy, Travis, thereby dubbed the newly-constructed barricade “Fort Cheese Puff”.
The boys filled themselves into the Fort, the barrels of their guns pointing to every direction. They were to hold this spot to the last man.
A young lad named Lance turned off the safety on his gun.
The round began.
Bring it, bitches.
The first few moments were eerily silent. They could hear each other breathe, almost even hear each trickle of sweat drop from their foreheads. But nobody moved. Their eyes traced the direction of where their guns were pointing, scanning the brush for any foreign movement. It felt like years were passing.
One boy in the group, Phillip, plucked up the courage to speak. “Maybe someone should double back to the barrels, see if they’re coming from the back.”
Before anyone could tell him yes or no, he stood from his spot. They heard a sudden splatter from a paintball make contact right above them. Phillip dropped to the forest floor, a fresh blotch of pink paint sprawled over his visor.
The air around them now suddenly exploded in noise. Paintballs were firing at them from every direction, and it didn’t seem like there was one silent second between the blasts coming from the treeline and the impact against the barricade. One would not have been exaggerating to mistake the paintballs for hail, or the sound of its impacts rivaling that of a severe thunderstorm. One by one, each young soldier knew that their time spent here was time waiting to be shot, so the fort was abandoned, and they flung from their hiding spot to engage their enemies head-on. However, the only things that met their heads were speeding balls of paint, and they were quickly dispatched of.
To the boys, the battle felt like it dragged on for hours. To the enemy, it was only a matter of three short, painful minutes.
Fort Cheese Puff was a catastrophe from the beginning. To have every member of a team holed up in one location only spelled swift and certain doom. But they braved the odds and defended their fort for as long as their shortcomings of skill and agility would allow them to, and their sacrifice was shown to the older players as a sign of determination (and complete n00bish-ness).
The boys returned home that evening with fresh bruises, and fresh lessons. They would learn invaluable tools today, but they will also never forget the tragic event that befell them; the Fall of Fort Cheese Puff.
Pour one out for the fallen comrades of Fort Cheese Puff.
Music: "El Scorcho" - Weezer