Soccer Threat

You’re a star soccer player for your country’s national team. Your team has made it to the finals of the World Cup. Just before kickoff, you are hit by a wadded up piece of paper that is thrown at you from the stands. You pick it up, open it and there’s a note: “I’ve kidnapped your spouse. If you don’t lose today’s game, you will never see him/her again.” What do you do? Write this scene.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.


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184 thoughts on “Soccer Threat

  1. Santino79

    Out of the dressing room, seventh position as always, lucky number seven. Shirt in hand, studs tapping on the floor. Sudden movement across the hall as the French come out of their changing room. A few handshakes across the aisle but no eye contact for me, I’m already lost inside. The ref inspecting our boots and the shouts from some of our boys, geeing themselves up, a few taunts back and forward but we don’t know their lingo. The meaning is pretty clear though, the hand gestures and the snarls on the faces.

    It doesn’t get much bigger than this, it’s a matter of psychology at this point. We’ve been waiting our whole lives. Trained for it, played for it, sweated and bled for it and now we’re moving forward, it’s time, the crowd are roaring. Nothing like what I’ve experienced before. Up and out of the tunnel, the flashing lights, the wall of noise, yellow and blue, yellow and blue. I pull my shirt over my head and start to jog on. There is a ringing in my ears and my eyes are streaming, my heart pounding out the beat of the samba drums in the stands.

    I feel the paper hit me and stop to pick it up, the message clear even through the tears. My hands are shaking already. I’ve come so far and this is how it ends. I open my eyes wide to focus and I hear the coach shouting at me from the sidelines, he knows something is wrong. I bow my head and drop to one knee, I know they are looking at me now. The players, the coaches, the crowd, the world on TV. Down I go, prone on the ground then back arched, shaking and the panic sets in all around. The physios are running, there are shouts and screams for help.

    They don’t know what I know, none of them do, they don’t know what’s at stake. They are holding me steady and readying the stretcher. 2 billion people watching know that my final is over but they’ll never know why. She holds my heart in her hands and they hold her in theirs. Lifted and back down the tunnel, waiting for the doctors, the game kicks off without me but I’ve played my part. Now it’s down to them to hold up their side of the agreement.

      1. Jajthaft

        Sprinting towards the soccer court, I was with my team of 10 playing with a huge audience watching at the stands. At the other side of the court are tough and tall looking players. The coach stood beside the field holding a whistle and a scoreboard. At that moment, that is when my coach told me that I am playing the main role in my team, “center position”. The game was starting along with a countdown of 10 seconds. Another person of the opposing team looked strong and ready to kick the ball seeming like to me that it will go dashing straight towards the net. Now in the countdown of 5 seconds, someone tossed me a piece of paper from the stands. I rubbed my eyes quickly while I opened the paper. Surprisingly, it was a note saying that if you win this final match, you will never see your parents again. I immediately went up to the audience glaring at me and shouted “Who gave me this note!?” No one replied and I stormed in the game playing until the match ends. After a dozen of minutes, the audience applaused as we won the game. The score was 3:2. Another note was tossed to me from the stands saying “You have missed this chance that I tried to offer you, I have hid your parents away from you so good luck trying to find them back. The people in the stands saw the person who keep offering me these notes, it was my friend from my previous school. He got reported to the police by people and then he got arrested. I was glad with that but where was my parents. I rode a taxi back home and called my parents. After all my worries, they said that they were out at the bar drinking wine.

        The End

  2. Kaleb_Bryan

    I walk to the soccer ball and pick it up.
    The audience makes a huge gasp! One of the audience says: “Wait he touched the ball!”
    I then drop the ball and run to my coach. I could see the coach’s veins tremor through his skin. His mouth trembling with agonising words.
    “Coach… I know this is bad but-“
    “Don’t you ‘but’ me!!! This entire season depends on you, and what do you do?! You leave the game at the most critical moment!”
    “Coach, please… But you really need to shut up!” I say.
    His face drops like a window blind and he becomes as silent as the deepest of oceans.
    “Sir…” I say, “Someone threw this piece of paper at me. Look what it says. I must go see if my wife is alright! Let me call her!”
    Coach rubs his hands over his eyes and snatches the paper out of my hands. He scans the scrunched sheet of paper, studying each word.
    “I’ll give you two minutes to call your wife up, okay? But any longer than that and you’ll be homeless like my Texan aunt, you hear me?”
    I nod and take back the paper. I run as fast as I can to the locker rooms and grab my Apple iPhone. I try turning it on but… It couldn’t be!
    The battery was dead.
    “Dang!” I shout at the top of my lungs. I start to scavenge through my other teammates belongings but none of their phones were in sight.
    “Dang! Dang!!!” I shout even louder.
    I look at my watch and it reads “11:58”, it had already been two minutes. Coach would have likely signed my resignation by now!
    I charge out of the lockers, looking for the nearest shop or phone in sight. I ran through the entire outside bay and not a single shop is open.
    “Taco Bell… Closed.”
    “Burger King… Closed..”
    “McDonalds… Closed…”
    But then a feeling of pure joy rushed through my body. My eyes gazed upon the great, green gamma that shot through me. It was… It was…
    It was 7-Eleven. And it is open!
    Oh, what would we do without 7-Eleven! I run up to the counter and beg the cashier to let me make a call.
    “Please sir, my wife… my wife is in trouble! I need to use your phone!”
    The cashier looks up from the register, smiling and says: “Well, lucky for you, you came to just the right place! Here, have my phone!”
    I feel so relieved, “Thank you 7-Eleven!” I say.
    I dial my wife’s numbers in and give her a call. The phone rings, and as every beep it makes the more anxious my heart gets.
    “Please… please be alright…”
    And with what seemed like a miracle, someone picks up. “Hello?” a familiar voice said. “David? Is that you?” she asks worriedly.
    “Yes! Yes, I’m fine! Are you alright? Are you hurt? Where are you?”
    “Where? Well, I’m just at our local 7-Eleven in town. And I’m fine David, I’ve never been better!” my wife replies enthusiastically.
    “Oh honey… You don’t know how relieved I am to hear that! I’ll see you later honey, I have a game to win!”
    I end the call, and thank the cashier one more time.
    “No problem David! 7-Eleven is always here for you! Say, while you’re here, would you like a complementary Slurpee drink?”
    “Wow!” I say, “Thanks!”
    While I indulge in my Slurpee, my coach unexpectedly walks in the shop, as well as Martha, and my entire team!
    “Wow guys! What are you doing here!”
    “How could we not be here? 7-Eleven is a place for everyone!”
    My wife comes up to me and slowly presses her lips against mine, everyone starts clapping and cheering, even the cashier!
    She then grabs the Slurpee out of my hand and raises it up to her chest, then looks to her right and stares at the camera.
    “If you want a cool, refreshing drink like this Slurpee, then come down to 7-Eleven! It has a little something for everyone!”
    She then raises the Slurpee in front of her, making it directly visible to the camera.
    “Aaaaand… Cut!” the Director says.
    “Wow… Just wow! I am literally in tears!”
    The Director sits down his chair and takes a sigh of relief.
    “With a commercial as good as this…” the Director smirks, “I will get such a fat pay check!”

    “Thank you, 7-Eleven!!!”

  3. agnesjack

    Been forever since I’ve posted.
    Claude ran his hand back and forth over his short-cropped hair as he read the note.

    “Merde!” he said out loud.

    He was on the verge of being the hero goalkeeper, who would help win the World Cup for his beloved France for the first time since 1998. Then, this horrible note, wrapped around a stick, came hurtling at him from the stands.

    I’ve kidnapped your lover, it said. If you don’t lose today’s game, you will never see her again.

    He began to pace back and forth in front of the bench. It was only a few minutes to kickoff.

    “Mon dieu!” he lamented, placing his hands on his head. “Laquelle, laquelle? Which one!?”

    Why didn’t they say a name? Your lover, Simone, or your lover, Margaux.

    The whistle blew and the game started. At thirty-nine, he was still one of the best goalkeepers to play the game, but he couldn’t concentrate.

    Simone had been by his side since they were teenagers. She was the mother of his three children.

    Ah, but Margaux… so beautiful. Her soft, young skin smooth and warm under his touch. She adored him. He was a god to her. Yes, but… suddenly the ball shot passed him.

    “GOAL!” the crowd yelled.

    “Claude!” his coach screamed, gesturing wildly.

    Claude managed to stay in the game and his team scored just before the short break between halves. He raced to his cell phone and called Simone. No answer. He then tried Margaux. No answer. Just as he was about to take the field again, another note hit him on the arm.

    If you don’t win this game, you will never see your other lover. You know who we mean.

    So this must mean Margaux, he thought. Winning, Margaux lives. Losing, Simone lives.

    He was torn. Which lover should he save. Which?

    Then he thought, “I am a man. I must do what is right as a man. I must win for France.”

    Besides, he thought, Simone has become flabby and the children are loud and unruly. With Margaux I will have peace and be treated like a king.

    France scored again in the last minutes of the game. Claude, who had heroically stopped several goal attempts was hoisted on the shoulders of his team and carried off the field.

    I am a god, he thought. I will miss Simone, but, ah, Margaux.

    Just as he was placed back on the earth by his teammates, an image came to focus in front of him. It was Simone and Margaux, arm in arm, looking at him with fire in their eyes.

    “Mon cher,” Simone spat.

    “Mon amour,” Margaux hissed.

    Then they handed him a third note that said, You are not a man, but a boy who only values women for what they can give you and not what you can learn from them. Adieu pour toujours!.

  4. madeindetroit


    My hands shook as I read the scrawled words on the blood-spattered scrap of paper I held in front of me as ninety-thousand maniacal, screaming soccer fans chanted in anticipation of the start of World Cup championship game. The heat and humidity wrapped around my throat like a pair of steel hands squeezing the last ounce of oxygen from my lungs. The game was seconds from starting. I read the words once more.

    “We’ve kidnapped your wife. If you don’t lose today’s game, you will never see her again.”

    I felt a hand on my shoulder. “You ready, stud,” Riddick screamed in my ear over the thunder. He wrapped his arms around my neck and pulled me close. I felt the heat of his face, his hot breath grating against my cheek. “We need you…Jenna needs you.” The tone of his voice made my legs numb. I pushed him away and he slid a crazed look up at me sideways. He grinned, breaking the spell, and his eyes held mine. There was a flash in his eyes unlike any I’d ever seen: wicked, unreasoning, vengeful.

    I shouted over the chanting throng. “What did you do with Jenna?”

    “Don’t worry, if you follow instructions she’ll be waiting in a black limousine at the south entrance of the stadium two hours after the game.”

    His words felt like a sledgehammer hit me in the jaw. “What’s this all about?”

    Riddick studied me carefully, his eyes dark and empty. “There’s a ten million-dollar payday waiting for me, Derek. You screw this up and Jenna’s dead.” Riddick turned and trotted to midfield.

    The whistle blew and the game started. Instinct backed me into the goal crease. My mind flashed back to one year ago. I should have realized then there would be a price to pay for crossing Riddick.

    Riddick and Jenna Swanson just announced their engagement to the world. She was an All-American volleyball player with Olympic gold draped around her neck and he was striker on the US soccer team, an average player who had no business on our team. She was light years out of his league. I fell in love the second I laid eyes on her. Their engagement crumbled and I was there to help her pick up the pieces. We secretly married. I expected a fight from Riddick but he remained silent and focused on the World Cup. It all seemed too easy. Now it all made sense.

    The ball appeared the size of a pebble. My cat-like reflexes became lazy and erratic, every muscle in my body paralyzed as the weight of Jenna’s fate crushed my spirit. The crowd booed and became agitated as five shots found the back of net. We lost the game by one goal and from the outside, it looked legitimate.

    Riddick displayed a somber and sullen face during the post-game ceremony as he congratulated the winning players and consoled his tearful teammates. I watched his eyes dart back and forth like a wild animal searching for prey. He scrutinized each player’s gestures and body language, sizing them up for a hint of the fix.

    I stood in the shadows of the south entrance as Riddick had instructed. The crowd had disappeared into the twilight. Small groups of fans milled in the streets celebrating their team’s victory. When I began to doubt Riddick would uphold his end of the bargain, a black limousine with tinted windows turned the corner and glided to a stop in front of me. I expected Jenna to jump from the limo and leap into my arms..

    I waited.

    I waited.


    Ready to explode, I slammed my fist on the limo roof. The rear window slid down. Riddick stared back at me, his eyes covered with dark glasses.

    “Where’s Jenna?”

    Riddick grinned. “You’re in no position to make demands—”

    I slammed my fist on the roof again, caving in the thin steel. “Where is she?”

    From the darkness next to Riddick, a woman appeared. “I’m here, Derek.”

    I stepped back and squinted into the murky light. “Jenna? I…I don’t understand.”

    “Our marriage was sham,” Jenna said. “There’s no official record. It was a setup”

    I felt the blood drain from body. “What the—”

    Riddick smirked and shook his head. “Listen man, guys like you are so self-absorbed and blinded by their own stardom, you can’t see beyond the tip of your nose. Now, guys like me, we see opportunity not entitlement. It all comes down to this. At the end of the day, someone wins and someone loses. Today you lost.”

    I lunged and reached for his throat. The driver jumped from the car and pointed a gun in my direction. I held my hands in front of me.

    “I’m…I’m sorry, Derek,” Jenna said. “Please just go before you get hurt.” A tear rolled from the corner of one eye. She wiped it with the back of her hand.

    The window floated up and I watched the limo fade into the night.

    1. Beebles

      I can feel a dark twisted revenge coming on … but enough about me. Excellent story MiD, kept me reading. It would be interesting to get it from Riddick and Jenna’s perspective, especially hers.

  5. ReathaThomasOakley

    Promptly Frustrated
    (A Marge and Arlee story)

    “Drat! Drat! Drat! Soccer? Why on earth?”

    Oh, dear, a triple drat, Arlee thought as he looked up from his Readers Digest to his wife across the room, shaking her finger at her new iPad.

    “Um, should I call Jimmy?” he cautiously asked, trying to ignore soccer. Marge’s thinking did wander a bit.

    “No, I do not need a grandson,” she emphatically stated. “I understand this, this, this thing he gave me. It just doesn’t always understand me.”

    “Then what–” Arlee tried to start another question.

    “It’s that Writers Digest prompt of the week thing. You’d never believe me if I told you that I’ll never get my memoirs written, but it’s true and I can prove it.”

    “Your what?” Arlee put the magazine on the side table and pushed the recliner upright. Marge looked as slim and tall to him as when they’d met fifty-six years, but recently. . .

    “Oh, Arlee, must I repeat everything? I’m sure I told you I wanted to write some humorous stories from my childhood for the grandchildren.”

    “Uh, no, I don’t recall, but what–”

    “What about Writers Digest, you’re wondering?”

    “Uh, yes, l suppose–” Arlee was getting rather lost.

    “Well, I thought I’d sort of practice by trying to write 500 words every week inspired by a prompt, someone, I assume who works there, posts. But, this week proves I’ll never get anything written.”

    I have no idea what she means, Arlee thought.

    “Marge,” Arlee said, “I have no idea what you mean. And, why did you say, soccer?”

    “I didn’t write anything last week, that church supper, you remember, and now that prompt person expects me to write something about soccer, of all things. Drat, drat, drat.” Marge sighed. “I’m even to add a kidnapping with demands and horrible threats. I’ve been trying to think what Jessica Fletcher might do, but nothing, just nothing is coming to me. I’ll never write 500 words about soccer, I’ll never be a writer

    “So, let me make certain I understand, have you been posting things until last week?”

    “Oh, no, silly,” Marge laughed. “I’d be way too embarrassed. I just write them here.” She lifted her iPad. “When I start my memoir I might post then.”

    “Um, Marge, dear,” an idea had been forming in Arlee’s mind. “I have an idea forming in my mind. What you’ve been telling me right now. How many words do you think you’ve used?”

    “I don’t know, but I can count and let you know.”

    Arlee went back to Humor in Uniform.

    “Oh! Eureka!” Marge shouted after a few minutes. “Arlee, you are incredible.”

    “Well, yes,” Arlee smiled.

    “Can you believe we’ve talked almost exactly 500 words, I’ve done it. I’ve conquered the prompt. Now, I just must start typing. Thank you, dear.”

    “You are most welcomed,” Arlee said as he pushed back his recliner and found his place in the magazine. He decided not to worry about Marge any more.

    1. Beebles

      Priceless Reatha, I am sure that this is totally fictitious and never happened to anyone anytime. 🙂
      Drop me a line if you have time, I’m eager to hear how the other stuff is going.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Way to go Reatha. A story inside a story about the prompt. I loved it, now how about a story inside a story about not writing on a prompt. We will label it a “tri story.”

    2. rlk67

      Nice job today on last week’s prompt. Next week, you’ll incorporate soccer somehow. Isn’t writing fun? Out of the box, out of the prompt, but not totally. A prompt, no matter how frustrating it seems, is a puzzle which has many creative solutions. It feels good to solve puzzles, and express ourselves when doing it. Thus endeth the sermon.

    3. frankd1100

      I would never have thought of this angle. Very cool. Also, your use of dialogue gives insight into the nature of a long, caring relationship. We feel that they trust one another and communicate openly, confidently and assertively. Nice…

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you for reading and commenting. I used Marge and Arlee a few weeks ago and think I’ll keep them around. They were the dearest couple I ever knew, sadly both are now gone. In reality Arlee was the slightly befuddled one, Marge not.

  6. Turkey Girl

    (This is the result of several requests for a part two.)


    I threw myself onto the ground next to my wife, screaming her name. Just like that, she was dead. I started to attempt CPR, but it didn’t take me long to realize that what I was doing was stupid. She had already started to turn cold. I pulled her into a sitting position against the side of the car.

    “Come on, Sandra, don’t do this to me.”

    Her eyes stared back at me, glazed over, not focusing on anything. I pulled her body closer to me, crying into her blouse. There was a small puddle of blood on the ground where her head had hit the ground, and a trail of blood was coming out of the back of her head, reddening her blouse. The sight stopped me. The bullet must have gone straight through her head. Pulling myself out of my thoughts, I examined the ground near the car. There was a white line on the road, a scratch. It lead under the car. Putting my wife on the ground again, I looked under the car. Sure enough, there was a small bullet, covered in blood, on the ground. I picked it up and slipped it in the pocket in my shorts.

    Forcing my mind to work on something to keep it from drifting back to Sandra, I put my wife’s body in the back seat of the car. She’d already started to stiffen, and I had to restrain myself from breaking down again. I reached into the front seat and pulled out my phone, arguing with myself about whether to call the police. I’d worked for the police several years earlier. I’d developed one lethal enemy as a police officer. In fact, upon reflection, that man had threatened to kill my wife when he left jail. I’d never told my wife, but now, I knew who had killed her. No one else could have hit a bull’s eye from such a distance. I didn’t need to call the police. I put the phone on the dashboard.

    I opened the trunk of my car, pulling out a can of Lysol wipes. I started trying to clean up the road. The wipes cleaned up most of the blood, but there was still a mark. I hoped anyone who saw it would think it was a spilled drink. Looking down at the red wipes in my hands, I almost started to cry again, but I stuffed them in the trunk and jumped into the driver’s seat.

    I buckled up and was just about to start driving when my phone went off. I glanced down at the wretched device. It was Ryan, one of my fellow soccer players. Of course he’d want to know what had happened. He worried about me when I was late for practice. Right now, I didn’t need his call. I turned the phone off and started to drive away from the scene.

    I knew my wife’s killer would be hiding in the building he’d shot from. Just like five years ago, he hadn’t left the building in case someone would see him. I drove around the block, forcing myself to keep my mind on the task at hand. I spotted a promising building. It had an open roof, with an obvious access to it. I felt a grin spread across my face. I have you now.

    I stepped out of the driver’s seat and locked the car. Pulling my pistol out, I headed inside the building. It was abandoned for the most part, but I could tell someone had been there. No one was inside the building, but I noticed the ladder leading to the roof was down. I dashed up it, pushing the trapdoor up as quietly as possible. I slipped out onto the roof.

    There was a man lying on the floor to avoid being seen. Next to him lay a sniper’s gun. I didn’t need any more proof. I walked over to the man, my pistol pointed at him. I kicked him in the head.

    “Hey, Martin, wake up. You wouldn’t want to die in your sleep, would you?”

    Martin Metzger scrambled away from me, knocking his gun off the roof. I smiled at him.

    “You don’t have a weapon now, do you? That’s good. Before you die, tell me who you hired to kidnap my wife.”

    The man stuttered for a few seconds, mumbling something I couldn’t understand. I reached down and shook him. “Who?!”

    Martin turned away from me. “He was just another homeless guy. He agreed to drive her here. I saw he didn’t make it, but I expected that from your wife.” I saw him hide a smile from me.

    I laughed at him. “That’ll be your last smile, Martin. I hope you enjoyed freedom while you had it. It’ll be a while before you taste it again. I pointed the gun at Martin’s stomach. I squeezed off three shots before pointing the gun at Martin’s head.

    “Goodbye, Martin.” I fired the gun. The bullet made a neat hole in Martin’s head. It wasn’t as perfect as the one in Sandra’s head, but I wasn’t perfect. I pushed him off of the roof. Leaving the area and pocketing my gun, I drove straight home.

    I parked the car by the back of my house. I didn’t want anyone to know about what had happened yet, so I took Sandra’s body out of the trunk and buried it myself in our backyard. I would have a tough time explaining to my daughter where her mother was when she came back from boarding school. I knelt down next to the newly finished grave. Looking down at the place where Sandra lay, I realized I’d never be able to say goodbye.

  7. JosephFazzone

    This is, the moment. The score was 0-0, two overtimes, and still nothing. One of the greatest matches in World Cup history, and it all came down to this penalty kick.

    So far Alex had been able to stave off on making any impact on the game, and in fact was surprised his coach left him in the game. He duffed a few plays that set Germany up for a few great shots on goal, but Heberfield was on fire. Nothing got through.

    He carried through his part of the bargain, but had no idea if his lack of effort would be enough for the kidnappers. He could see his sweet Ophelia’s honey brown eyes, and straw blonde hair. He could imagine only the worst.

    “She will die.” The note was very clear.

    He had tried to reach his family, nothing from his wife or daughter. Their lack of communication confirmed his worst fears.

    Gomes came up to him.

    “You are next,” he told me. “I noticed Loer keeps leaning to his left, if you…”

    “I’ve got this,” I snapped. He was ruining my concentration.

    “Do you?” he asked. “You’ve been playing like dog sheet.”

    I didn’t want to lose. I didn’t want to win. I wanted to stick my head in the sand and reminisce about the days with that old leather ball that I would kick against the side of my apartment building for hours upon hours when I was kid. It was simple back then, all there was, all that mattered, was the game, and now I was standing at the line for the biggest moment of my life.

    1966 was a long time ago, and yet, all I could think about was my family, and how they might die.
    I met my wife while on tour in the Barclay League playing for Stoke City. She was an avid soccer fan, and a patriot. She knew a win for our country was going to be an amazing thing, and it got him thinking about sacrifice.

    Could he?

    Would she want to know that he sacrificed his family for the game? Did the game matter more than life? Is succumbing to these villains going to make a difference?

    Alex’s shoulder’s sagged as he bore the weight of the world, already felt like a cheat for not giving it his all, and there had never been a time that he felt lower.

    Was his family dead already?

    A rage boiled through him, the powerlessness, the inability to do anything tore through his soul, and as he saw, he had, but one chance. Do the right thing.

    He didn’t know if his family would die, but he knew that he could never look them in the eye if he didn’t stand up for what he believed in. He would die for them; would he sacrifice what made him him for them?

    The whistle blew.

    He screamed out in rage, kissed his family goodbye, raced up towards the ball, and struck it with every ounce of his being. He had to do the right thing as he saw it.

    The crowd roared, but he didn’t see a thing. He slumped in celebration of his pyrrhic victory.

    1. Beebles

      Great Joe. It is hard to really imagine what goes on inside the head of someone so driven that it matters more than life and many of those top class sportsmen/women must feel that way. Many of them must be more in love with themselves, i think. I thought you brought all that home very effectively.

    2. Kerry Charlton

      Now this art form you finished with. And at what point are the kidnappers going to decide. Their plan was a failure
      Would they eliminate his wife? What would it get them, nothing but execution when and they knew it would be when, not if
      My thought, the kidnappers would turn her loose, what would her death accomplish? Nothing!

  8. Beebles

    Right … so now I go off piste …. sorry its a 2 parter.
    Engulfed in his dilemma, Dan almost bumped into the black Jag sprawled across the drive of his two bedroomed semi-detached – two bedrooms, it was really only one, with a small nursery that remained empty three years after he and Agnes moved in.

    The sight of the car chilled him, ate his insides.

    It was Stephen Taggart’s.

    Dan crumpled the note he had been reading into his jacket pocket and dragged his feet up the drive. He fumbled with his keys deliberately to buy time.

    For him?

    For them?

    Agnes thrust herself into the hall as he entered, her face flushed, a single button still undone on the white blouse she had bought last week.

    ‘Back early, love?’

    Dan threw his keys into the bowl without a word and stood staring at it.

    ‘Oh,’ Agnes said, as if the thought had just come to her, ‘Steve Taggart, popped round.’

    ‘I saw. What does he want?’ Dan pushed past her into the lounge where the familiar figure man-splayed on the sofa among the fug of gin and quinine, two half- empty glasses on the coffee table.

    Taggart rose. The man in the Armani suit was the reason Dan had done Sports Science in college rather than engineering, but Dan was smart enough to know that if the young Stephen’s bullying hadn’t caused him to fail his exams then he wouldn’t have come back to Ashlinton to player-manager the football team, every black Jag had a silver lining. But his presence at Dan’s house was two fingers down his throat.

    ‘We need to talk about your position at United, Dan. Some of the board aren’t happy with your performance.’

    ‘You mean you’re not happy.’

    Dan knew Stephen was the board. His father’s agricultural supplies firm was the major sponsor. Now the old man was gone, Stephen had the power of life and death at the club. ‘The lads are doing well under me, everyone knows that.’

    ‘Of course, Dan, you’re good with your bunch of boys, but this club needs a vision if we’re to climb the ladder. I want to see us in the leagues and that means a manager who can get us the signings.’

    ‘You mean like your nephew and his Conference contacts?’

    Anger flashed across the businessman’s face.

    ‘Steve,’ Agnes called, restraint in her voice, and Dan saw a glance pass between the two of them.
    The anger melted to a smile. ‘Look, Dan,’ Taggart said, hands open, ‘this isn’t personal. If you step down I can offer you a job at the firm. Good pay. Doesn’t Agnes deserve some nice things, Dan?’
    ‘It’s a good job,’ he heard Agnes say through the noise in his head.

    ‘Think about it, Dan. Only, I’ll need a sign of good faith from you.’

    Dan looked up wearily, confused. ‘Good faith?’

    ‘I need you to throw this afternoon’s game,’ Taggart said.

    ‘What?’ said Dan, disbelief drenching him like cold water. ‘The local derby? Let Dunston win? But they’re bottom of the table. We could have them easily. Isn’t that what the board want?’

    ‘But a loss will convince the doubters, Dan. Ensure I carry the day. Think on it Dan, a loss and a job for life, or…’


    1. Beebles

      Part 2
      Dan wordlessly watched the Jag pull away. Agnes hovered behind him, her pale eyes shaded by furrowed brows, her hands worrying her wedding ring. He didn’t want to be here. He wanted to throw up.

      ‘What will you do?’ she pleaded. ‘We need the money Dan. The manager’s job barely covers the mortgage. Just think of the difference it could make … if we have a family.’

      ‘Are you sleeping with him?’ he asked, turning.

      He looked into those watery eyes as she paused. It was short, but long enough for her to build a defensive wall.

      ‘Well maybe that depends on you?’ she stammered behind fake bravado. ‘Maybe I need a show of faith too?’

      His accelerating mind thought about the note in his pocket. He wondered if it would make any difference if he told her. Agnes was the one thing from school he had been proud to come away with, especially since he stole her from under Taggart’s nose. The thought of losing her now to that bully was breaking him.

      ‘You want a show of faith?’ he said at last. He took out his wallet and gave her his credit card. ‘Here, go see Jake, Pet. Put everything we have on Dunston to win this afternoon, the savings, the house, the ring, everything. No reason we shouldn’t get something out of this too.’

      He saw the wall disperse. Saw her smile. Saw there was still love there and yet the kiss on his cheek felt like acid. When she had left he headed for the ground, the words on the note rolling round his head.
      With ten minutes to go, he substituted himself.

      As Dan walked off he listened to the small crowd chanting his name. He looked over to the chairman’s box to see Stephen Taggart shaking his head like someone who had just been reluctantly crowned king. Behind him was Agnes’s agonised face, and above her the score:

      Dunston 0 Ashlinton 3.

      Dan didn’t bother to change, he took his jacket from the changing room and twenty minutes later was at the Baldock services on the A1(M). He ran his fingers over the blue lion letterhead on the notepaper as he waited for the phone to be answered.

      ‘Hello, Mr Devero? Yes, Daniel Aitken here. The job offer to run the youth team at Chelsea you mentioned in your letter. Yes, I’d like to accept.’

      1. frankd1100

        Now Dan can live his life. I feel like a story works when the reader becomes invested in a character’s happiness or relief from his or her misery. And, as in the story of Dan Aitken, the reader is left wanting more.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          You put your heart into this story and it definitely shows power and careful wording. I join the chorus to convince you to continue with this. These characters are too close to us to ignore at this time
          Please master.

          1. Beebles

            Thanks Joe, Kerry. Your kind comments did indeed inspire me to come up with the bones of a continuation, but i think I’ll leave that for the website.

  9. frankd1100

    The therapist sat silently across from him. He raised his eyes and said, “I’m never alone. I’m surrounded by people, always.”

    “Surrounded by football fans,” she said. “At home in Arrezzo you are alone, no? In tonight’s match, thousands will look down and scream your name as you play. But you will be alone…”

    He unfolded the wadded up ball of paper and read the handwritten note.

    “I’ve been waiting eleven years since you visited Loro Ciuffenna. I’m sure you’ve forgotten. I was thirteen and made an espresso for you at my Momma’s cafe’. You signed my Juventus team shirt which I wore every day for months.”

    “I was in love with you, though Momma said I was too young and as the team’s brilliant young striker, Italy’s most beautiful women wanted you. You were kind to all of us that day in Momma’s shop. I thought you spoke especially to me with your eyes. As you left you said you would come again to visit with a new jersey for me. I don’t need another jersey but I would like to be near you once more, then I will move on with my life. I’m wearing a white dress and will be standing with “J” the team mascot, above the tunnel as you leave the field. Play well.”

    He remembered a blue eyed, spindly legged girl working hard in her mothers shop wearing a copy of his jersey. She made coffee drinks and cleaned tables as guests left the shop. If she had been distracted by his presence she never showed it. He remembered her, too, because she was missing her left arm below the elbow. Someone said she had been the victim of a bomb while on a visit to Rome.

    He played well with an assist on the winning goal and three steals during the final five minutes. He barely heard the crowd shouting his name as the Referee signaled game’s end.

    A trainer tossed him a bottle of water and his warm up jacket. He peeled off his sweaty, grass stained shirt, donned the clean jacket and slowed to a walk scanning the crowd as he neared the tunnel. She was there, a lithe young woman with an athlete’s shapely legs below a white dress talking to “J” the team’s zebra mascot who waved and ran off.

    Her shining short black hair danced in the light summer breeze reflecting tiny shards of stadium light, and broke playfully upon her face. She lit him up with her smile, blue eyes boring through his feigned indifference.

    “Hello,” she said in a strong confident voice.

    “Hello to you” he replied, and tossed her his filthy game shirt which she caught easily with her good hand.

    “Don’t throw anything else,” she said with a grin holding up her shortened left arm.

    “I’ll be busy for an hour but I was hoping we might find a place to have coffee?”

    “That would be nice,” she said. “I know just the place.”

    1. frankd1100

      Apologies to all. I neglected to open the prompt completely and began my piece unaware of the kidnap scenario. There’s some good stuff here. I’m going to enjoy reading and will try to catch up with the next one.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        There are no apologies needed Frank. Your writing and descriptive power are awesome. You crossed the “T” and dotted the “I’s”. My thoughts, the girl will snap him up and he won’t know what hit him. This is a determined female of which, number by the millions and against that, men are mostly helpless, I ought to know.

        1. frankd1100

          Kerry, you are on the mark. I cheer for my daughter who’s become a confident, accomplished adult. My ex wife has done well, though I don’t cheer for her as much.

          BTW, I was glad to see your work in here.

      2. Turkey Girl

        I think you wrote a really great piece, regardless of what the prompt said. Sometimes it’s better when you don’t follow the rules. Lovely piece!

    2. RafTriesToWrite

      I don’t know how, but you hooked me frank. There’s just something with the way you describe things that seems so eloquently placed.
      I enjoyed this way more than I imagined. I wanted this to be a novel and I completely forgot about the prompt.

  10. Kaboosh

    The note hit me in the head at halftime. Seven simple words scrawled onto a crumpled up piece of notebook paper.

    “Lose the game or your husband dies.”

    I met him 3 years ago at a hospital. More specifically, a temporary asylum dedicated to helping those with sociopathic tendencies. We both had the same “coach” who’s job was to make sure we feel emotions like “normal humans”. Being the clever person I am, I figured out that I had to show a sign of generous affection to escape the hell-hole I was living in. So, after Patrick, my current husband, found out his sociopathic tendencies were due to a side effect of a medicine for ADD, he was let go, and I proposed to him before he left. I acted as if I had bonded with the man over our time in the hospital and was soon let out for getting over my ways. Soon after, I took up the sport of soccer, or, as the rest of the world calls it, football. Soon, a talent scout recognized me and asked me to play professionally. I gratefully accepted. Many media outlets thought I played with passion, or for the glory of winning, but I did it to stay away from Patrick as much as possible. His flamboyant and eccentric personality bugs me, but I play my part and live with him.

    While reading that note that was thrown at me, I remembered reading something else a few months before. It was a will, Patrick’s to be exact. It stated that, because he had no living relatives remaining, he would like his money and valuables to remain with me.

    I looked up at the scoreboard. It read 1-3, my team being two points behind. In the next forty-five minutes, I scored six goals. After the game, I was flooded by interviewers and cameramen, asking where I got my sudden burst of energy. I looked at the camera and told the world, “I did this for my husband. I’d do anything for him.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Nice twist at the end Kaboosh. However your MC better step lightly because By now she should have piles of money more than he does. If I were you, I’d write part two, get her aside and tell her to leave all her possessions to Adopt A Pet. That should secure a long life for her and she deserves it by now.

  11. Kerry Charlton


    A cloudy day broke across Belam that morning as Cristiano Ronacdo rode to the stadium in anticipation of the most important match he would ever play. The World Cup would be upon him in less than two hours, yet his heart was saddened by the message delivered to his hotel room by an unknown messenger.

    When he opened it and read that his wife of six years had been kidnapped that last day in Portugal, he was heartsick. The message had been brief, “Throw the World Cup or lose her.”

    He had made several calls to the police and given them as much information as he could about their whereabouts and who might have taken her. What he was about to tell his teammates wouldn’t sit well, he knew that but his resolution was set. In the locker room he gathered his coach and team around him,

    “I can not play today and I shall not tell you why.”

    The players stood in silence and waited for his explanation. However it didn’t come. His coach walked over to him,

    “Chris, I’ve watched you through the years and I know your heart and I accept it. However you better have a damn good reason when you can tell us. Do you wish to have a few minutes with your team mates?”

    As the coach left, his team gathered around him to listen,

    “You may think you can’t win without me but it isn’t so. Each of you is magnificent in your own right and I want you to beat the socks off Brazil. Do you understand what faith I have in you?”

    A few shakings of heads occurred and a few downcast glances. He continued,

    “If you believe in yourselves it is possible, now get out there and show them how soccer is supposed to be played. I will be watching from the clubhouse for I must stay by a phone.”

    The team gathered around and chanted a win song for good luck and ran on the field. When the loud speaker announced that Cristiano would not be playing that day, the stadium roared in boos and anger.

    Unwatched, Chris took the back stairs to the private room above the club house. It was small and empty as he sat down and said a private prayer. The game was fiercely fought, one player from each side had to be carried from the field. The last quarter started. His team had scored once, Brazil twice. Forty seconds before the end a hail mary kick had secured a tie for Portugal. There was a small rest period and the coach joined him as the phone rang in the small room. Chris answered and tears flowed from his face.

    He placed the phone gently and turned to the coach,

    “My wife had been kidnapped but now is safe The police surrounded the two men and when one put his pistol toward Elaine’s face, they opened fire and killed both. She’s safe, coach.”

    “That’s why you couldn’t play?”


    “Do you want to enter the game?“

    “And I say no and they lose?”

    “You will never play again I assure you.”

    “And if they win?“

    “I’ll personally escort you across the field but you better drag one leg and limp with the other.”

    “I’ll take that chance but don’t tell them, it’s their win if they can do it.”

    Overtime went into second overtime. Chris began to wonder as he watched his exhausted team mates give their all. Finally they broke clear and worked the ball down the field only to lose it, but from our of nowhere, one of the least likely players to score, stole the ball, kept it as he weaved back and forth toward the goal. And then Chris saw perhaps the best kick he had ever witnessed, power the ball into the net. .A win.

    A husk fell over the stadium as the players from Brazil approached his team. At first a friendly handshake then the captain from Brazil grabbed a reporters mike. His voice rang across the stadium,

    “You may be sorry we lost, we are but more important is we played the best game we ever have but our opponents played better. We and of course you have witnessed perhaps the greatest soccer game ever ”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hi Pete, that’s very kind of you. If you keep improving each week at the speed you have been, you’re going to leave all of us in your dust. Go for it, I say.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Beebles I know about as much about soccer as ice fishing in Texas. I glad it didn’t show much as I thought it would I wanted the moral part to get through and I think it did.Thanks for the read and commenting.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you T. Girl. That is exactly what this whole story was about. I glad you caught it. I seriously thought about their team losing which would have been more realistic but then I hated that idea.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Raf, you know when I reread after I posted it, I wasn:t sure I had written it. I am curious tho, what difference did you notice? And thanks a lot for the read and your comments.

  12. ShamelessHack

    Flags flutter in the afternoon breeze. The stadium is filled with cheering fans. I stand near one of the goals savoring the moment.

    I look over at Caitlyn and stop in my tracks. He/she is holding a crumpled piece of paper. His/her face is contorted with uncertainty. I walk over, grab the paper and read: “I’ve kidnapped your spouse. If you don’t lose today’s game, you will never see Him/Her again.”

    “This is bad,” I say to Caitlyn. “Really bad. “Whoever wrote this means what he/she or she/he says.”

    “I’m sure you’re right,” Caitlyn answers, tears staining his/her jersey/blouse. “What do I do now?”

    I’m not sure what to advise him/her. Should Caitlyn listen to his/her head/heart, or lead with her/his heart/head?

    Finally I say, “I think you should man/woman up, Caitlyn. Don’t knuckle under to threats. Show them you’ve got balls/uterus.”

    Caitlyn squares his/her shoulders, sniffs a few times, and says, “You’re right, Jazz.”

    He/she makes a fist and pounds his/her chest/breast a few times. He/she turns in place, addressing the cheering fans. “I am what I am!” he/she yells. The fans go wild. “And no one would dare hurt my husband/wife Gene/Jean, or my son/daughter Jesse/Jessie, or my daughter/son Shawn/Sean!”

    Cheers erupt in the stadium. I can’t remember this much enthusiasm in my soccer/football career. Caitlyn’s dire situation has electrified the crowd.

    “OK,” he/she looks at me, shakes my hand/kisses my cheek, and turns to walk out onto the field.

    “So you’ve made up your mind?” I yell after him/her.

    From a distance he/she shouts, “Yes. Your heartfelt/headstrong, soothing/electrifying, logical/intuitive, pep-talk/warm-chat did the trick. Now I can show the world how a real man/woman deals with adversity/setbacks!”

    “But Caitlyn,” I shout. “What are the odds the blackmailer will make good on his/her threat?”


    1. rlk67

      You really/definitely got me. In the few short weeks/months I’ve been connected to this site, your post/entry above had me laughing/giggling more than anything so far.

    2. Kerry Charlton

      Hack think you have the esteemed genius Brian A Klems in a corner some where, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket with a picture of Elmer Fudd on the front, his bunny shoes off and afraid to go out side
      A particular hilarious rendition you wrote. How restrictive can he get? A suggestion for the next prompt:
      ” I took a trip on a train
      And I thought about you
      I passed a shadowly​ lane
      And I thought about you
      Write what he/she is thinking about

  13. jhowe

    The referee places the ball in the free kick circle. A forward from the other team fakes an injury and falls to the turf. They’re trying to throw me off my game, though I’ve seen Sergio get hurt in far less stressful situations than waiting for a free kick. The man has calves of glass.

    The medic rushes onto the field and my mind turns inward to the note. They have my wife. The bloodied black lacquered fingernail wrapped in the note was definitely her shade. It says they’ll kill her if we win. I look into the bug eye drone filming the game. Should I smile and wave, flip the bird, cry? I look away, toward the scoreboard. One to one; a relatively high scoring game. If I make the kick, there won’t be enough time for the other team to get down the field. If I miss the kick, the game will end in a tie. The note says nothing about ties.

    I picture my wife’s agonized face, her bloody finger, her tormentors hovering over a portable TV. One of them probably saying, “What if it’s a bloody tie? We said nothing about ties.”

    I assume my wife, right about now, is wishing she hadn’t demanded the divorce and 75 percent of my fortune. I bet she wishes her lawyer had told her to tone it down instead of upping the ante. I bet she wishes I hadn’t caught her in bed with Pablo, and Gregory, and Pierre.

    “Sometime today, Antonio,” the ref says close to my ear. The crowd noise is deafening. I line up, anticipate the goalie’s defense and kick the ball with more force than I ever have before. I turn before I know for sure, but I never miss.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Wow! This is what I refer to as elegant prose. Short, powerful thought provoking and of course self analysis.Do you want what I think? He will miss on purpose for despite her actions she was just calling out to him for attention.

  14. Turkey Girl

    I glanced across the soccer field, my hands shaking slightly with excitement. Members from the opposite team had gathered on the other side, and they were having a pep talk. It didn’t seem like we needed one. We’d made it to the finals, and that was enough. Taking a quick look across the soccer field, I turned and headed back to my group. Within minutes we were on the field, and I was waiting to do the kickoff. I felt something hit me in the back, and I turned around. There was a wad of paper on the ground. Curiosity got the better of me and I picked it up.

    “I’ve kidnapped your spouse. If you don’t lose today’s game, you will never see her again.”

    I stopped. I loved my wife more than anything else in the world. I couldn’t just let some random person kill her. I took one last look at the ball and left the field. My coach ran up to me.

    “Hey, Eddie, where are you going? The game’s about to start.”

    “Sorry, but I can’t play in the game. Family emergency.”

    The coach looked at me skeptically. “But this is the finals, Eddie. We need to win.”

    I shook my head. “I can’t play, and that’s final. It’s not like I have to be there for you to win.” I turned and left the area.

    I had planned to go home and confirm the kidnappers claim, that my wife was really gone, but suddenly, that idea didn’t seem quite so smart any more. I walked back to the soccer field and started working my way into the stands. I would find whoever threw the note and track them down. I glanced down at my bag. Inside were five water bottles, and a pistol. I checked to see if the pistol was loaded, then began to search the stands again.

    Nothing unusual caught my eye. The game had already started without me, and I was almost deafened by the sound of the people cheering. I looked up to the highest row of the stands, blinking in the sunlight right above me. A man was heading for the exit, dragging a woman with him. I made a beeline for the upper level.

    By the time I reached the area, the man was gone. I forced myself to think. The only place the man could’ve gone is the parking lot. I headed right for it. Sure enough, one car was starting to leave the lot. Running to my own car, I jumped into the worn-out driver’s seat and started the car, hitting the gas as soon as I could. I sped out of the parking lot after the man, nearly hitting several cars coming in. Keeping my eyes locked on the suspect car, I sped after it. The car increased its own speed, and tried to get around a hairpin turn, but rolled off the side of the road. I heard a gunshot come from inside the car. One of the doors burst open and two people came out. One was lying inert on the ground. The other was holding a gun, pointing it at the other.

    I ran towards the car, gun pointed at the figure. “Drop the gun!”

    The figure spun to face me, then dropped the gun. I moved in closer to see who it was. I breathed a sigh of relief and ran to hug my wife.

    “You okay?”

    She nodded. “Yeah, fine. He’s dead.”

    I saw a member from my team run up to me. “Hey, Eddie, I just wanted you to know we won the game.”

    I smiled. “That’s great. Sorry I wasn’t there.”

    He shrugged “Some things are more important than winning.”

    The player left. I started to walk my wife to my car. “So, are you going to start listening to my advice about always bringing a weapon with you wherever you go?”

    She smiled and started to laugh when another gunshot stopped her short. A red dot appeared on her forehead and she fell to the ground. I felt for a pulse, but there was none. I turned around. No one was in sight.

        1. Turkey Girl

          I had to think of some surprising twist at the end, since I didn’t plan on writing part two. But I did post a second part! Thank you for your comment!

  15. GrahamLewis


    559 words

    Something struck my shoulder as I stretched out by the stands, while the flags and other clutter of a World Cup game cleared the field. I looked up to see security leading away a large bearded man. I looked down at a wad of paper wrapped in rubber band. I picked it up without drawing obvious attention.

    I unwrapped a round lead ball, the size of radish, considerably heavier. I thanked my stars it had not beaned me. The paper was a typed note. It read,

    I’ve kidnapped your spouse. If you don’t lose today’s championship game, you will never see her again. Tell no one of this note and stay in the game. If you comply I will contact you at home. If you do not, you will never hear from me again– or from her.

    No signature. I glanced at the stands, but the thrower — if he had been the thrower — was gone. I wondered if I should take this seriously. Probably a prank. I had talked with Mary an hour before the game. She’d seemed fine. Then I looked at the area reserved for family. Her spot was empty. Could I still presume a prank?

    The ref whistled and my teammates took the field. I stood dumbly until the coach tapped my shoulder and gave me a soft push. We lined up and the game began. The way I started would make it easy to throw the game. I missed easy passes and shots, my defense was weak. My teammates first encouraged me to play better, then harped on me for playing poorly. Their words barely pierced my mental fog. My world shrank to the field, the crowd faded to a blur.

    I learned that losing is never really an option for a high-level athlete. After we fell behind 3-0, my years of training and body memory kicked in, and despite myself I picked up my game. The lead shrank to 2 then 1, then we tied as time ran down. We made one final charge, and I broke free. My teammate saw me and got me the ball with a perfect pass. The goal loomed invitingly close. This shot I had made many times in life, and many more times in my head. I never missed.

    My mind almost split from tension. My conscious self demanded that i shank the shot, my primal mind lined it up and kicked. The ball flew past the flying goalkeeper, the buzzer sounded, the game ended. We won 4-3. I sank to my knees, not in ecstasy as the commentators said, but in anguish. What had I done? How could I live with myself knowing I was so self-centered as to sacrifice my wife to my ego? To a game?

    I glanced to the family area. My wife sat amid the standing, jumping, shouting wives and children. I trotted over, ignoring my teammates and officials as they prepared for the trophy ceremony. I looked into Mary’s unsmiling face. “How. . .” I began, “What. . . .”

    She stood up. “I knew it,” she said, “this stupid game means more to you than I do. I just needed to be sure.” She pulled some stapled papers from her bag. “Here’s a copy of the divorce petition I will file today. I hope you and your stupid trophy are happy together.”


    1. Turkey Girl

      Wow, she was a little hard on him. The way you’ve written this makes it seem like he couldn’t help but win. He still cared about his wife. That poor guy! Good story.

      1. GrahamLewis

        At first I thought I was too hard on her, too unrealistic. but I think there could be a deeper story there, that she is such a shallow person that she would put him through that, and disappoint his teammates and his nation simply to serve her ego. If I were to expand it, I would go int that direction, and maybe have him realize exactly what sort of person he had married.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I think he should sink to his knees and thank God that she did file. She certainly isn’t worth it, I personally would have been furious to go through that. There are far better ways to handle divorce. Give in and let her walk with evertthing is the easiest and the least painfull.

          1. GrahamLewis

            Sounds like I made her into a really dislikeable antagonist. That’s what I was going for. Thanks for the comments.

  16. Beebles

    Stuck to the prompt like a good boy …pah!
    ‘… and now we can go pitch side with Alan Green, and he’s talking to the Brazilian captain, Ryan Tevordinho.’

    ‘So Ryan, what a game of football and it all started with that surreal period after kick-off. Can you talk us through those first five minutes?’

    ‘Well, y’know, Alan, yeah, as you see, we ‘ad paper thrown onto pitch just after me and lads kick off and y’know, I think Paulo was the first to read it …’

    ‘It wasn’t helped by the conditions, was it? It was pretty blustery out there. The windiest cup final in history some are saying?’

    ‘No, yeah, so we wasn’t certain who it was for, y’know, cos Paulo was left-back, but their number three, Cristy was coming up on left after Johno’s long ball, so, with wind it could have been for anyone really.’

    ‘And can you tell us what it said? All we’ve had from the authorities is that it contained some kind of threat against a family member?’

    ‘No, yeah, it threaten kill player wife if team win. I say no more as managers ask that contents of note remain closed and police say investigation still ongoing. Yeah, but no, it was shocking first minutes for both side…’

    ‘Extraordinary. And it led to a very cagey first half, didn’t it? Not a single shot on goal from either side? What was the thinking as you came off at half time?’

    ‘Well obviously no-one know how to react, but manager give us talk and police update say they had suspect under surveillance so,…ninety minutes long time …’

    ‘And clearly both managers must have had the same idea, because both you and Portugal came out with a very different attitude in that second half, didn’t they? Apart from never seeing so many goals in one game, the manner of them, that’s unheard of?’

    ‘Well, y’know Alan yeah, we all decide there was job to do and if we was going to give 110 percent then there was only one way we could do that and not put anyone in danger. Y’know, I striker, I love score goal and to come to cup final and not score goal its tragedy and I know that Portugal players feel same.’

    ‘So that must be your biggest goal tally ever? Not pretty to watch, but a spectacle none the less?’

    ‘Well, yeah, Alan, all of us wanted to try our hardest so it was only way. I think we all in record books now.’

    ‘Without a doubt. And then, tell us what changed going into extra time?’

    ‘Yeah, no, when we heard police had found wife then everything was back to normal, y’know, and I just glad that Nigello had enough left in tank to get to bi-line in the 119th minute to get cross in so I could head home.’

    ‘And win the game. Well an extraordinary game of football, an extraordinary cup final. Thank you for speaking to us, Ryan, and I’ll let you get back to the celebrations… well Gary, Brazil are world champions once again, but they did it the … most extraordinary way – 105 goals to 104, all but one own goals – Trevordinho’s winner coming just before the final whistle of extra time. We’ll never see the like again. Back to you in the studio.’

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Wow, what a score Beebles and the players, me thinks some may have lost three of their marbles perhaps. I never tried Soccer but I could toss a football 65 yards with no trouble. Quarterback you say? Nope, never quite sure which direction it was headed for. Oh well, nobody’s perfect. .

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Beebles, you must watch a lot of sports interviews. You captured the rhythm and typical formula while telling the absurd story. Wonderful.

      1. Beebles

        Whew, sorry…. just catching my breath … scrolled down a bit too fast … anyway thanks, yes, the formula of these things is something that amuses me, the pointless interviews and stupid questions, but I am also interested in sporting hype, how promoters use writing techniques to build a potential viewers investment in a match by creating back story. Apart from that I don’t care for sporting fiction, never seems to really ring true…

  17. rlk67

    “Kidnapped who? If I don’t lose…” The words evaporated as I searched the stands over the scoreboard. But Trish was there. Along with my parents, just like they said. Mom waved and blew a kiss.

    I looked at the note again. Then I looked at the other team’s captain standing a few yards away. He was staring me down.

    Okay….should I write this off as a prank, or…

    Rick, my coach, whistled for me. Show time. I walked over to him…boy, was he sweating. He seemed like he might pass out.

    “Just try your best…” Rick said feebly. Where was his usual roar?

    Alright…as long as saw Trish, I figured she was safe. The game was furious. I glanced up every few minutes. She waved. Mom with her kisses. Dad screaming at Mom to sit down. I was so fortunate to have such supportive parents.

    We won. And Trish was still there. I rushed to meet my family and hugged everyone. “Trish…I’m so glad you’re safe.” She looked as confused as I had been in the beginning. I explained about the note.

    Mom looked down. “Oh…Oh…I’m so sorry about that. I wasn’t sure…”

    I was stunned. “You wrote this note?!”

    “Well, I meant it for that other guy standing near you. You know, the one staring at you in such a not nice way.”

    My head was spinnning. “You didn’t.”

    “Of course I did. What a mother doesn’t do for his baby!” she laughed. “Oh, I wasn’t really gonna kidnap the wife. Maybe just to get a few recipes…”

    I shook my head. Mom laughed. “You won anyway…what’s the big deal? I bet the other guy’s mother did the same thing.”

    * * * * * * * *
    “I’m so sorry you lost. Oh, you must be so sad. But at least I tried!”

    “Mom…please tell me you didn’t throw a note that said…”

    “Listen, what a mother won’t do for her baby! It’s just that I have lousy aim. I hit that coach from the other team instead.”

    * * * * * * * *
    Rick hugged his wife again. It was a hard night. But at least they won.

  18. typewriter

    I’ve contemplated on the bench for a while now; thinking about the dilemma and the horror I’ll soon face. Implementing a plan wasn’t so easy. Finally, I had one, a good one (at least I hope it was). I had told coach I’d gotten sick from voraciously eating salty popcorn and fudge sicles (the ordinary junk) at the concession stand; which caused my stomach to erupt like Mount St. Helen’s in a passing maneuver. That was a lie The deed was to convince my mentor in to thinking I was actually not well. And terribly of me to lie to a good man, like coach Letterman. “You’re the best on the team; the epitome to The Comets. This is the World Cup Championship. We are going to lose the game!” coach said. But Marie was kidnapped. I had the wadded canary-color paper ball in my pocket with this message on it: “I’VE KIDNAPPED YOUR SPOUSE. IF YOU DON’T LOSE TODAY’S GAME, YOU WILL NEVER SEE HER AGAIN.”

    That message relayed over and over in my head.

    I needed to do something and quick. Wherever she was, it wasn’t far from here. I assume somewhere at the stadium. So I searched; scanning the area thoroughly. Nobody resembled her.
    I went back to the concession stand for some food, a funnel cake and lemonade. I was hungry and needed something badly. After I finished eating, I threw my trash away, and that’s when I saw a mascot costume in the waste basket. It was still in decent condition, a few tears in several places and stained, I had no other choice. But, I thought, ‘what if I could dress as (Mr. Flappy the American Goldfinch) a goofiest bird-figure and find her that way’. Without being seen by the kidnapper. This had to work. Childish or not. It had to work. So I dug it out of the trash and put it on.

    Once it was on, I knew it looked kind of dumb and silly in a way; the World’s Goofiest bird thing nominated in the book. It’s going to work, I told myself.
    I started to dance and flapping the wings, and all the people cheered and shouted. I was having a good time. Well, I acted like I was. I was thinking about Marie most of the time.

    I peered through the screen-eyes and saw two people underneath the bleachers. I’d got a closer look and knew it was Marie and the kidnapper. The man held a razor to her throat. I need to do something fast.
    I pondered while dancing, I had to get going if I wanted to save the light of my life.
    There was a vendor serving the crowd snacks and beverages. I grabbed two hot coffees, and went beneath the bleachers where it was a messy oasis. Popcorn boxes, beer cans, wrappers and chip bags littered the ground.
    The man holding the sharp end of the knife to my Marie had turned. He stood with his eyes bulging out from their sockets. Marie struggling to fight her way free, but the man held on tight, his arm around her neck. I can tell she was pleading: “Help me, please. Please.”

    I began dancing towards the man and Marie, I got my groove on. Dance. Dance. Dance. Flap. Flap. Flap. I think I was enjoying it. The man wasn’t having none of it.
    The man released Marie, she fell to the ground. The man came at me, he was in touching distance. I took the hot coffees and threw them on him, the hot flash burning his face and eyes. A wail of agony billowing up. Marie was save…

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      The person who wrote the note must’ve been really mad to write it in all caps.
      Dance. Dance. Dance. Flap. Flap. Flap. This scene reminded me of Bolbi Stroganovsky in Jimmy Neutron when he won the election of class president.

  19. ClutteredThoughts

    Sports are… not my thing. Here’s to incorrect terminology.
    I almost laughed at the note. “We have your wife. If you don’t lose the game, you’ll never see her again.” Unsigned, save for the sweat from my hands.

    I did laugh. Tish was up in the box seat with a dozen people. They would have told me if something was wrong. Nevertheless, I jogged over to the coach and asked him to phone up. Tish’s voice answered, cool and sweet with her smile. “I’m right as a sunny day,” she assured me. She meant the day we’d met, the sunniest day in a Chicago winter.

    Relieved, I turned my mind back to the game. We needed to win this, the biggest game of the year. The finals! It had only been a pipe dream for the past three years, but somehow, we had made it. It hadn’t been without its trials, though. Tish and I had had more than a few fights.

    I took my position as goalie and chuckled one last timer. The ball sailed over towards us, and for a while I was focused on nothing but the game, on defending the little expanse of grass in front of the net. No one was allowed on my turf without my permission, and I defended it like a hermit does his privacy.

    Half-time. I walked over to the benches, breathing heavily. The ball had barely left our side of the field.

    Another note fell in front of me. I recognized the handwriting on the little yellow Post-it.

    “Benny- please, don’t win. If you love me more than anything don’t win. They’re all around-” Her handwriting trailed off abruptly, as if the note had been yanked from her.

    I called up again. She answered, nervousness in her voice. She claimed to know nothing about the note, but I wasn’t convinced. Her scared voice stayed with me as I walked back onto the field,.

    But as I played, I forgot everything except the game. And with an incredible effort, my team won.

    We went up to the box where our special guests waited. I searched for Tish, but to no avail. Eventually I spied the Post-it on my chair.

    “It’s a false sun that shines in a Chicago winter,” it read. There was another note under it. “You wouldn’t put me ahead of the game, so I won’t try and draw you away.” A last post-it. “Don’t bother with the police. No one kidnapped me. I’ve left because there’s no point in staying for someone who doesn’t care enough.”

    A teammate clapped me on the back, making me drop the notes. “Benicia!” she yelled. “What’re you all pale for- we won!”

    The notes were trampled under our feet. I forced a smile. “Yeah.” I’d broken my marriage for this. I was stunned and elated. I wanted to scream for a thousand different reasons. I couldn’t, not in this little box. My smile became genuine.

    “Yeah, I guess we did win.”

  20. RafTriesToWrite

    I thought the prompt’s title was Soccer Treat. I clearly misread that, anyway, on to the prompt!

    “This is it Johnny, the finals in the world cup!” Greg screamed at my face in pure excitement, unaware of the other people cheering and screaming out team name.

    I found Greg three years ago in my neighborhood’s soccer field, well actually, he found me doing some shooting drills to enhance my kicking strength. He asked if he could join me.

    A few beers later, here he is, with me in the finals of the world cup. Greg’s been the best friend I never had, so naturally he was the best man to my wedding a few months ago.

    “I know! It’s so nostalgic!” I exclaimed. We both laughed while we take in the screams of thousands of fans, then I felt something hit the back of my head. I looked around and saw a piece of crumpled paper on the ground. I opened it and read the note.

    It said: “I’ve kidnapped your spouse. If you don’t lose today’s game, you will never see her again.”

    I snort in amusement, what an amateur. Her again? Hardly unlikely.

    “What’s that?” Greg asked. He saw me reading the piece of paper.

    “Oh nothing, just an empty soccer treat. I mean threat.” I smiled at Greg to tell him that I’m fine.

    “Lemme see” He grabs the paper from me and reads the note, then laughs.

    “I guess this goon doesn’t really know you at all” Greg crumples the piece of paper and throws it to the benches.

    “I guess some things are best kept hidden” I grin. He knows what I’m talking about.

    “Yeah, how did you get your wedding to be a secret to the media?” Greg crosses his arms.

    “I have my ways” I snickered.

    “But honestly, I’d be more than happy if Daniel got kidnapped. That SOB wrecked my Ferrari 458, has been cheating on me even before we got married AND lost our dog Spike” I complain. Me and Daniel got divorced just last month.

    “I mean, the Ferrari and cheating thing, I may forgive, but not the dog. I freaking loved that dog!” My blood was racing, my mind was travelling back to that day when Daniel came home explaining that he “lost” Spike.

    “Just keep your head in the game man. Forget about it” He rubs my back trying to comfort me.

    “Yeah. I just miss Spike so much.”

    “Me too Johnny, me too. You know what?” I look at Greg. “After we win tonight, I’m getting you a new Pomeranian, how does that sound?” His eyes smiled at me.

    I chuckled. I can’t believe I’m replacing my Pomeranian with another Pomeranian. “That sounds nice man.” I smiled.

    We won the world cup that night, got drunk, went to the pet store with Greg the next day and we never heard from his wife ever again. Weird.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Raf, no worry about it kid, den Yankees up north a ways they knows how we talks. Eh? Where’s da writers license how’s we talk any ways, it sure ain’t der problem Dem busy buddies, eh?

  21. Creatrev

    Chapter One
    As improbable as it seemed, I was here. I looked at the mass of humanity buzzing just off the pitch. I had played in front of large crowds before, but this was different. This was a magic so real you could feel it in your bones. No deeper. In your soul. Over100,000 people waiting for me to kick off. I would be the first American to ever touch a soccer ball in the World Cup Finals. This thought almost overwhelmed me before I lead our team on to the field.

    As I was waiting for the live broadcast to come out of commercial so the match could begin, a bit of paper, entered into my peripheral vision. It was floating magically on the gentle breeze and landed at my feet. Normally I wouldn’t have noticed, but there was writing on the paper. With only seconds to spare before the opening whistle, I read the large and clear handwriting on the paper. It read, “I’ve been watching you. On the whistle…duck.”

    I was confused by message and didn’t think anything of it as the referee put the whistle to his mouth and blew the whistle. At that moment…

    Chapter 2

    “Sir, he didn’t duck. What are we going to do now?”, asked the panic stricken Lieutenant.

    “Let me handle that Lt. He will duck next time.”

    The General walked over to the control panel next to the large monitor hung on the wall. He dialed the number 15, turned memory on, and pressed the green flashing button marked execute.

    Chapter 3

    I was waiting for the broadcast crew to come back out of commercial when, oh my God, I remember being shot in the back of my head. It can’t be. The last thing I saw was bits of my skull. Then nothing. I looked down and saw the paper. “I’ve been watching you. When the whistle blows…duck.” I read the word “duck” as I heard the whistle blow.

    I immediately fell to the ground and saw the bullet slam into the chest of the French player in front of me. He fell backwards dead. I’ll never know why or how my life was spared that day. I know that no American to this day has ever touched a soccer ball in the World Cup Finals as the one we were in was called off due to the murder of a French striker.

    The sniper was never caught. I retired. So many questions. Never any answers.

    1. JRSimmang

      Trev, did you add the last line because of how we would feel after reading this? I have so many questions! Conditioning? Military? A dead Frenchman? There has to be more to this story! I admit you sparked my interest.

  22. theexcitedquestion

    The crumpled contract fell from my hands, gracefully gliding toward the ground. A high pitched ringing is all I can hear. My head is spinning and my heart racing. I can see and feel my heart beat in my eyes. I tried to step forward and lose my balance. Catching myself on the corner of bench the cold metal stings my hand as my body weight falls on it. The disheveled hair from where the paper rock hit my head started to feel like I had been hit with a boulder. I looked to the ground and see my ultimatum written in what feels like my own blood. There my name is written across the top of the demands in poor penmanship. Very simple terms, I either forfeit the game or my love is gone. I frantically look around in the direction the paper came from. I scan the rows of fans and nestled in between the isle and the railing is a large man. He wears a red polo, leather jacket, and dark glasses. His grease slicked hair is catching the rays of the stadium lights. He catches my eyes and a smirk comes across his face. He reaches into his inner jacket pocket and pulls a silk hair bow from the abyss. It is black with white polka dots, I can’t see the red stain on the back side but I know it is there. Anna accidentally hit her lips with it when getting ready in a rush for dinner with the neighbors. I can see her perfect full lips, adorn in crimson wonder, whispering I love you. The vision quickly turns to horror as the red pools down the corners of her mouth and blood collects under her pale skin, opal in bruises. I shake my head and the man laughs, almost as though he can see my heart ripping.
    “We are all counting on you.” A firm and proud hand grabs my shoulder. A smile in the words. Usually this voice would have comforted me, today it just brought shame.
    “I am sorry then.” I whispered as I walk out on the field. His quizzical face stares at me and the whistle blows.
    I take a running leap forward. My feet are hitting the ground with such force that the reverberations can be felt creeping their way up my bones. The ball is charging me. All the fear and shame has turned into rage. I notice the other team’s player following the ball closely focusing so intently on his prize, he didn’t notice my self loathing power making its way toward him. His face turns to that of the man who holds my love captive. I watch his foot patterns closely and time our impact just right. I swing back with every ounce of power I have and skim the top of the ball.
    Silence follows as this man, whose face I can see clear as day falls to the ground in pain. I had felt the snap of the shin bone through my shoe, I know that is all he can feel now. The need to hold him starts to overcome me. This victim of war lies at my feet, he had done nothing wrong. A red flag danced in front of my face, falling to the ground. I bend down and grab the flag for the ref throwing it at him, cursing, playing my part. I say a quiet prayer over the fallen and move off the field. I keep my head down and miss the eyes of every person in my color coded family and grasp for the eyes of the greased villain in the stands. He lowers his glasses and glances over the top of them to me and nods. He looks to the entrance of our team, where we had emerged for what we hoped would be a victory for our country. Ana is being thrown to the ground by a man in the shadows. He runs the other way and I can see her shoulders moving as she sobs. I turn back to find the man and instead find my coach, with the letter in his hands. Understanding and compassion sweep over him, as he motions for me to leave. I run to the entrance and fall to the ground. She falls into me and her eyes wet my jersey.
    “Forgive me my love.” I weep into her hair. She looks up to me and places her lips on mine.

  23. JRSimmang


    The thrumming, thumping, berserk throng, the cataclysmic cacophony.

    The. Deafening. Roar.

    It’s in my blood. It’s in my head.

    There will be blood on the field.

    There will be tears.

    There will be torn muscles and torn spirits. There will be cries of agony.

    They will not be mine.

    I crest the ramp and peer into the maelstrom of the green. Greener than Heaven. Greener than the monsoon. Greener than the eyes of God.

    There is a rush of air. It’s refreshing. We are still as statues. Still as oaks. Still as time in its perpetual march toward the endless infinite. It’s much more solid than thought. It’s much more simple than life.

    I feel the small power of a thought smack into the back of my head as we march forward. Fans. Fans can be so pushy, interjecting their desires, wishing to sleep with us, let us conquer them, share a beer or a laugh, and kneel to our altars. It is peculiar, this spectacle they create. It should be intoxicating. Instead, I feel oppressed.

    I bend over to pick up the wad of paper that hit me, and read the letters, letters that are pared and pasted into sequence as to resemble words said to resemble phrases.





    Hah! I laugh inwardly, languishing in this attempt at seduction.

    I have no spouse.

    That does not stop me from peering over my shoulder back into the stands. Call it curiosity. Call it a desire to know the truth, to find the punchline to the joke.

    He is a man, small and middling, greying at the temples and covered in a mist of transgression. He peers at me with contempt, squints his eyes, and pokes, no, jabs, his finger at my teammate, furiously stabbing the air around him with that same finger.

    I look over to my companion, my brother, and offer him the paper then motion to the imp in the stands.

    People are strange, I notice. That we have within us 8 pints of blood, pumped 5 at a time from our most precious muscle, and yet, it can drain from us in a second, fraction of a second, so that we appear walking ghosts, annexed from existence, living beyond the veil. He, my companion, drops all pretense of living, swallowing hard so that his laryngeal prominence bobs like a line cast in the ocean, and his joviality is consumed in one breath by a flaming torrent of rage.

    It is unspoken.

    It is undying.

    It shall be done.

    Soon, we realize that we must turn protector.

    But, that doesn’t mean we can’t give our oppressors Hell. Blood will still be shed tonight.

    -JR Simmang, who made it in under 500 words this week!

    1. Tysheena Jackson

      Your narration is fantastic in this piece, JR! As I was reading it I was imagining your MC with the confused look on his face and then looking back to find the man standing there. And your description in the very beginning regarding the anticipation and the energetic atmosphere is just wonderful! Great job with this week’s prompt! X

    2. frankd1100

      The pent up violence of beasts about to be freed from their chains to wreak an agonizing death on their oppressors….

      Humanity… Will the red cape of violence shred the darkness of despair or take us deeper into the maw of evil?

      You reflect the exigencies of the day. Well done.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m afraid the stench of violence will never leave until man has drawn his last breath on earth. Perhaps man is built in that direction but then I ask why. Your writing has flashes of brilliance ond philosophical in spades .I know when I start reading a story of yours, I’m in for a ‘shoot the rapids’ trip. You didn’t disappoint.

    3. Beebles

      Hi JR, what a great read. There is part of me that knows that this is the depth of emotion, the hidden forces working within those who strive for sporting greatness, that sense of life and death, them and us – the other part of me thinks: ‘come on, mate, its just a game.’ 🙂

  24. Pete

    When I was a boy I dreamed only of the World Cup. I played day and night, nonstop. I played in the streets. Inside my head. Always in my dreams. When the shops closed and boarded up the windows, my feet bled from the shattered glass. Still they cheered me. You will be a hero, they said.

    The gangs surged and the war began. Still I played. When my ball went flat and refused to roll. I played. I kicked tomato cans, rocks, pieces of wood, a tennis ball and even a baby doll’s head. I was kicking an empty box outside Rolando’s garage when he was dragged into the street and shot in the head. They spared me, even bought me a soccer ball. i was going to be a hero.

    Now I am here, under the lights. It is the final match and I am a hero to many, leading the way for my country. The shiny world has come to watch history.

    They are hungry, buzzing like surly bees in the stands. The ball finds me and I clear it again, just as I have all match. The voices are angry, at me, suspicious and threatening. I can feel their ire, see their gritting teeth. They are upset with my play this afternoon.

    I cannot blame them.

    It is my proud country’s first finals in over fifty years. They swarmed me and embraced me with kisses and hugs after my three goals in the semifinals. Now they want to rip me apart. My staggered steps, my indecision. Early on, Coach Munoz pulled me to the side and looked like he wanted to punch me in the face. My eyes pleaded with him to bench me, but I couldn’t take that chance.

    Because it falls on me to do the unthinkable.

    My mind flashes back to the two men that stormed my home. I was groggy. I thought they were fans. One was tall, gray and weary with deep, barren groves that part the stubble on his jaw. I am a sportsman. A competitor. But they were prepared. They took Rosa. The younger one nodded to his waist with death in his eyes. He never flinched when I lunged for his throat, only smiled when I screamed in agony. He traced a finger down my little girl’s cheek. He told me what to do today.

    The crowd roars as the ball finds me. My heart flinches as I think about my daughter. Her tears, her pleas for help, the sudden burst of tears when I agreed.

    A lifetime of honing my skills through blisters and blood, of footwork and training and kicking the heads of baby dolls. It all comes to this…

    No time to waste. I fake left, right, spin around and tear towards my own goal. The goal blurs through my tears. The clock races towards penalty shots. I focus on what I have to do, not the mangled faces of my frantically waving teammates. They too have sacrificed; this game means the world to them. And yet…

    To me, it means more.

    The defenders are confused. Instinct compels them to come after me, but I’m streaking towards Diaz—our goalie and my best friend—at the speed of a motorcycle. I can see his heart through his jersey, pounding in his widening eyes. He shakes his head. No. Don’t do this. He struggles to understand my motives. I hear him scream in confusion just before I plant down and drill the shot of my life.

    The ball becomes a comet, streaking ahead five feet off the pitch, hurling for the goal. When it brushes past Diaz’s late, outstretched arms, I fall to my knees in tears. I’m torn between family and sport. I have time for one quick prayer.

    The first kick cracks my ribs. Another cleat scrapes my temple. I fall face first to the ground, agreeing with each blow as I drift. My bones crushing and cracking under the attack. I’m food for the hungry crowd, pummeled as my blood soaks into the grass.

    I think of my wife. Of Rosa.

    I hope they’re not watching.

    I hope they know.

    I hope they can forgive me.

    1. JRSimmang

      The intensity is palpable, Pete. I’m not a sports fiction fan, but you’ve revealed something more simple than sports. Nice job weaving the interplay between two loves, sometimes inseparable from each other.

    2. Tysheena Jackson

      Wow, Pete. This is the best story I’ve read on WD in a very long time! Your descriptions and flow are incredible. The emotions are high with this one! Your MC is on the inside looking out and the fact that no one else understands his turmoil is what makes the piece that much special! Wonderful job! X

    3. jhowe

      Pete, I’ve said before that your stories get better and better and that the latest one is your best. Well, this is your latest story and it’s one of your best.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I couldn’t agree more with John. You soar to new highs with this one. If I didn’t know better I would say you passion for the written word outlasts any and all of us. Here it comes, another classic jem. I hope you’re keeping all these stories. A short story collection would be a prized book to read but also to sell. You do remember money don’t you?

  25. pven

    The pulsing, raw energy of every single person in this stadium is flowing through me now. I breathe in, deep, letting the screams and cheers of the fans fill my lungs, my heart, my blood. Channeling the white noise into a force behind everything — every moment, every swing of the arms, every thrust of the feet into the ground, every header…

    A piece of paper bounces off my head.

    I shake off the annoyance and resume my focus.

    A piece of paper bounces off my head.


    Within the wadded balls I make out words, a message. I motion to the water boy. Pick these up, I tell him. Take these away.

    The crowd roars as the opposing team takes the field. They do not know it, but they roar for me as well. For the thievery I am about to conduct within their pretty footwork. For the bullets I am about to fire between their legs.

    The water boy returns, nervous. He breaks my reverie to show me the note pieced together on the wadded paper that had struck my head.

    “I’ve kidnapped your spouse. If you don’t lose today’s game, you will never see him/her again.”

    I laugh. Their futile efforts are fuel to my fire.

    The water boy queries my blithe response.

    If this person can’t even claim to know my spouse’s gender, how could they possibly have my spouse?


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