The crackle of electricity surrounds you. Through closed eyes the world around you gets brighter, unbelievably bright. Though disoriented, you open your eyes and are blinded by a persistent white that burns. A blue glow emerges from the center of the white, slowly encompassing your field of vision. But as that brilliant blue spreads, it dissipates. The roar of thousands throated voices pierce your ears as the last bolt of electricity dances itself away in front of your eyes.
As your vision settles, there’s a sea of green in front of you. The ground, somewhat soft yet hard all the same, continues outward, spotted with men in red and white. You look down at your hands, which are definitely yours, but in looking down you see yourself in a neon purple outfit; a tight top that reveals you should probably have worked out with little more regularity, equally purple shorts with the number 13 on the thigh, and knee-high socks.
There’s a purple-decked man jogging toward you with XBOX One on his chest. And beyond him a man in yellow, looking at his watch and raising his hand, whistle in his mouth. Beside you stands another man in yellow, with a board displaying a number in red and another in green.
“Go give ‘em hell,” says the purple man as he gives you a high ten and pats your ass, moving beyond. You take one furtive step forward, looking all around, witnessing a ball being kicked right at your feet.
The realization of the situation hits you hard, as the opposing players in red and white, with Alaska Airlines on their chest, charge at you fast, with violent intent. Before having a chance to react, a foe crashes hard into you, knocking you off your feet and hard onto your back. This is real. “Oh, boy!” you utter.
A whistle is blown and on the ground you see some pushing and shoving. Some guy hurries over to you asking if you’re okay, which you honestly are, just the stun of your surroundings have momentarily shocked you. You’re walked over to the sideline, nursed like an injured bird, as the play on the field resumes. The staffer yells, “He’s fine, no problems,” to the bench of coaches and other players, following his words to take his place.
A rip in space-time appears next to you and Al walks through. “Looks like you’ve got yourself into it big time, kiddo,” he says.
“Am I playing soccer? What the stuff, Al?! I haven’t played soccer since I was a kid,” you say as the referee waves you onto the field. Al nods toward the direction you must head and starts jogging out onto the pitch. You follow.
“Sure are, looks like it’s the Seattle Sounders versus the Portland Timbers, and you’re coming in at Forward with the game tied.” He’s jogging backwards, facing you and looking at some contraption that looks like it was made using an old calculator and chewed bubble gum. “According to Ziggy, you’re supposed to score the winning goal or something.”
“Oh good grief, how am I supposed to do that? I can’t run or kick or anything with any competence,” you opine, half-heartedly running with no discernable destination.
A woman’s voice emanates from the device in Al’s hand, “The Sounders play in an amoeba-like formation, where you’ll be playing nearest the top, closest to goal of all your teammates. According to my calculations, you have a 94.5% chance of being in the right place and right time to score the necessary goal.”
Al shrugs, “Well you heard her. Hop to it, sport.”
A purple man with a white band around his arm shouts at you and points in some direction, “Sean, they’re playing a high line, you should be able to get backdoor. Watch for a quick ball through or a deep cross.”
The play continues around you in a hurried fashion. You wonder why you couldn’t keep the fitness of the man whose body you’re assuming, but you do your best.
A shorter man in a red Portland kit bumps into you, with Johnson written on the back above the number 6. He nods at you and says, “Hey guy, you seen the Sixth Sense? Bruce Willis is dead the whole time. Blew my mind!” Turning your back to him, you run on a bit, faking your way to make it seem like you know what you’re doing.
As the ball rolls out of play for a kick, the same Johnson stands next to you again. “What about Star Wars, eh?” he says. “Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, did you know that guy?”
“Leave me alone,” you turn and tell him, annoyed.
“Oh so you didn’t know? It was awesome,” he mimics using a lightsaber, making the noise, vvvuuuwooonnnn, before inhales sharply, “’Luke I am your father.’ ‘Noooo!’” he says in a mocked screamed, pretending his left hand got cut off.
You turn again, he seems to follow you. “Of course I’ve seen Star Wars,” the words exit your mouth and you’re not sure why you’re engaging with this man.
“Hey guy, did you know that in A Beautiful Mind all of Nash’s friends aren’t real? He imagined them all up. Crazy, eh?” He looks up and ticks off his fingers as he talks, “And the killer in the Jason movies is Mrs. Voorhees? And in the Village they were actually living in modern times, not the 1860’s or whenever it was?”
“Dude, shut up! I don’t care,” you holler, clearly distracted and not knowing what’s going on around you. Off in the distance some yellow-shirted referee on the side is holding up a board that shows the number four in red.
Oblivious to your disinterest, the red Johnson keeps on talking. You start running away just to avoid him, but you can still hear his earnest voice following you, “…but they cut his head off anyway! Oh my god, guy, it was hilarious, I was like wtf, but don’t get me started on the Red Wedding, I mean, if you want to talk about funny then…”
“God, don’t you ever stop, you’re so annoying!” You keep running, following the big group of players in front of a goal.
“But guy, get this, Soylent Green is people! They’ve been eating people,” he grins at you and nods, as if trying to will you into understanding.
The ball is coming right at you in the air, you run and jump to attempt to hit it with your head at the goal, but the little Johnson pulls you back by your jersey and another guy in red clatters into you, knocking you down. You pick yourself back up and run to track the ball.
“And there is no Tyler Durden, eh?” he excitedly continues from behind you, “He’s simply a product of the narrator’s split personality. And oh em gee, have you seen The Crying Game? The chick’s a dude!”
The play builds up again from your own defense, being fed around to the outside defenders, who runs up the field. “And then Charlton Heston says, ‘You maniacs! Damn you, damn you all to hell,’ or something like that. Pretty cool, eh?”
There’s a mass occurring in front of the Portland goal again, a Seattle player in purple dribbling with the ball and everybody getting into position. Johnson hasn’t stopped talking the entire time, “And in the Usual Suspects,” he runs past you in anticipation of the ball, “Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze the entire time.” Sure enough, he intercepts the ball in front of goal and moves to clear it, but the trajectory of the kicked ball is right at your face and you haven’t the time to adjust.
Pain shoots through your body with surprising efficiency. Through the tears welling in your eyes you see the ball ricochet off your face and into the back of the net. The resultant roar from the crowd pierces your ringing ears and you’re mobbed and tackled by a mass of purple teammates. Your face just scored the game-winning goal. Ziggy knew it all along, be in the right place at the right time.
As you lay under the celebratory pile, a pervasive white light encroaches your tear-soaked vision and the sharp cracks of electricity appear around you. In an instant the growing white engulfs you, a maddening crescendo, the cacophony of lightning swirling until a small, blue glow comes forth from amidst the chaos.
Before you lies a field of green, with purple and red men in front of you. Looking down you see an orange jersey with Alaska Airlines on the chest, and big padded gloves on hands. Your hands.
The loud speaker blares around you, announcing a substitution that brings Sean Okoli onto the field.
You sigh dejectedly, “Oh, boy!”