One man. One innocent question. One theory that may change the face of the world as we know it.
It started on an average Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Ramon Cugat was working hard as usual.
“And this, nen, is where Valdes throws the ball to Abidal who passes to Puyol who passes to Busi who sidefoots the ball back to Pique who launches a cross field pass to Dani who crosses to Villa on the left who passes to Xavi who through-balls it to Iniesta who croquetas it to Messi somehow to GOLAZO, carajo!”
The boy in the hospital bed shifted. “Doctor, I heard this story from a friend of mine…” The boy trailed off then fell silent, as if he would be reprimanded if he went any further.
Cugat put his book, Barca Team Golazos (written form edition), on the table. “What is it, Ibi? Don’t worry; no one but me will hear it.”
Ibi pursed his lips, and then softly said, “I heard of this guy named Hleb who used to play here. Some say that he might come back in January, but people really don’t want him to come back… Was he really that bad?”
There was a long pause before Cugat spoke. “Everything you think and worse. His brother wasn’t any better I heard…”
A long winded story filled with exaggerations and hyperbole ensues.
“I have a question…”
“Go ahead. There’s no football science related question I don’t know.”
Ibi blinked. “Well, you said his brother also Hlebbed teams he was on, so I was wondering… Is Hlebbing hereditary?”
Outside the joint Barca laboratory-library, Camp Nou: 13:34 CET, Barcelona, Spain.
“Stop this insanity now, Ramon.”
“Step aside, Zubi. I need to get to the lab.”
“I dare not. This is preposterous—”
“This is science.”
“This is madness.”
“Madness? THIS. IS. BARCA.”
“…Sorry. I thought we were still playing that game.”
A cough. “In any case, I cannot let you go further. The files of He Who Must Not Be Named For Fear Of Being Forever Hlebbed are confidential and, more importantly, dangerous.”
“Boulderdash. I was responsible for The Yaya’s files and that information was even kept from The Pentagon.”
“Oh, for the love of all that is good and Messi, Ramon, think of the children–!”
“—Bojan’s not here anymore!” A harsh intake of breath. “As for Ibi, I left his falafel stash and bedtime stories with Unzue. And for Alexis, marshmallows and a ‘Where’s Rodolfo?’ picture book. ”
A heated glare. “And Thiago?”
“You and I both know he never needed babysitting.”
A pause. Inhale. Exhale.
“Don’t do this, Cugat. You know how this will end.”
“And even so, I must. It will be a great victory, not only for science, but for all of football.”
Zubi held his gaze for a moment and looked away. Slowly, he stepped aside.
“Do what you like. But remember, we need you for Hlebruary.” A nod. “…And be careful. Who knows what’s in there; what you will read…”
Cugat gripped the door handle. “I know. But there’s no need to worry; if it’s for a victorious football, Xavi will guide me.”
“This is it. I’ve done it! After brutal weeks of research, the secrets of HLEB are mine! All mine!”
A pause. Then, “No, actually, I don’t remember the last time I took a shower. Been dying for one though.”
THE ORIGINS OF HLEB HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED. JOIN DR. RAMON CUGAT.
“Is this for real?”
“I can’t believe someone thinks they know what makes Hleb tick.”
“Unbelievable. I’ll have to read it to believe it.”
A door pushes open, revealing a dark haired man with glasses carrying a portfolio. He makes his way to the podium. The packed auditorium falls silent.
“Welcome, everyone. Today, I will release my highly anticipated book, ‘The Origins of HLEB.’ After many weeks of painstaking research, after many days wondering if I’ll ever see the light of day again, I’ve found the secret.
“The process was a difficult one. I had to go through many theories and explanations to develop my own thesis.
“In 1894, the poem ‘The Road Less Hlebbed’ was released in obscurity, and many researchers believed it was the key, but it goes deeper than that. Much deeper. I have found the genetic makeup that makes Hleb, Hleb.”
Collective gasps ring around the auditorium.
“So without further ado…”
The Origins of HLEB
by Dr. Ramon Cugat.
A forewarning for those reading this: This tale is not one for the faint of heart. It delves into the real, terrifying, and extraordinary secrets that make up the creature Aliaksandrus Debblehneebtsujevahuoya Paulaxvichae !xohlebcus, known to us as simply HLEB.
The creature HLEB has long since been an enigmatic being to all of football mankind. Famed for its futility, nomadic since creation, its whereabouts were generally unknown, though many have claimed to have once seen HLEB. Some tell of German myths which assert that HLEB has been frolicking about in their lands for years; others situated in English shores speak of tales of an Alexander The Hleb who twice came to their island and stayed for many winters. In Asian folklore, there was a story of a failure so large; it went viral on the internet. All nations claim to have empirical evidence to support their claim.
However, even if the above were true, it did not answer the true questions people had. Questions such as: why did offensive moves dawdle or fail whenever the ball reached HLEB? Why was it that fans and players alike felt an unrelenting feeling of despair, helplessness, and foreboding whenever HLEB had the ball? Was its failure contagious? What made HLEB become the way it was? And more pressingly, was the ability to Hleb someone or something hereditary?
No one dared to answer these questions.
Many seem to believe that the famous poem ‘A Road Less Hlebbed’ was the key to finding out the origins of HLEB. That is not true. While it is a brilliant work as a standalone, it does not delve into the true mechanics, the raw details, of what makes up HLEB.
After spending many weeks in the bowels of Camp Nou, I have read many books — so good, some not so good — and have developed my own theory. The discovery I have made is so ground-breaking, it may create a new field of science.
The discovery? The existence of… The H Genes.
CHAPTER H: The H Genes
The modern science of Hlebbing Genetics, which seeks to understand the process of inheritance of Hlebbing, only began with the work of Gregor Mendel in the mid-nineteenth century. Although he did not know the physical basis for heredity, Mendel observed that organisms inherit traits via discrete units of inheritance, which are now called H genes.
H(leb) genes correspond to regions within DNA, a molecule composed of a chain of four different types of nucleotides—H (hlebenine),L (lebthemine), E (ebtosine), B (buanine). The sequence of these nucleotides is the genetic information organisms inherit. DNA naturally occurs in a double stranded form, with nucleotides on each strand complementary to each other. Each strand can act as a template for creating a new partner strand—this is the physical method for making copies of H genes that can be inherited.
So to answer your question, Ibi, yes: Hlebbing is hereditary.
[insert YT video of fail]