A Good Ball

By Eugen Bacon


‘The game is alive,’ coughed the score worm. It illuminated with body shimmers who was winning. It was the Cyclops.

The amphitheatre erupted.

An umpire blew his horn and the third quarter of the ball game started.

The way the game played was by each group of ten players dodging a ball that was a human skull hurled by the opposing team. Wear had nearly levelled the boned shape to a smooth oval. When it struck a victim, they were banished to the sin bin, sometimes for eons, unless a release deal was struck by song, delivered in prose poetry.

The first quarter had seen the Troika lose a trinity of players and one-third. A third because the precocious fullback was only a child.

During the break, the Troika had put a valiant effort to rescue their trinity, if not the one-third. Their lead siren, a third eye for the nose and fur all over her three bodies, understood the value of a trio. She sang in light waves that accelerated in orthodox lines across the one end of the amphitheatre to the other and found refraction in the audience. Resonance jumped between bodies, patterns and frequency emitting a synchronous melody:

Earth stories oblivious to time and space are not our element. Like the boy with cowlick hair and a briefcase on his lap: he is a terrorist. A suicide vest caresses his chest. He smiles. His eyes are a palimpsest swollen with poems about phantom virgins floating in songline. They flow in monochrome, infographics that cascade into the working sea of his creed. No contrition or penance, just a magnificent white bird, yellow-beaked. It supplicates on bended knee but its droppings are full of calligraphy. Text ricochets from bird poop, hopping and skipping in telescopic trails of full stops, semi-colons and em dashes. No adjectives as the bomb erupts.

At the end of the tune, the score worm coughed and announced the verdict: ‘Your song was not quick to transition between notes. It was lacking in the depiction of humankind’s diversity.’

The Cyclops were deft with the ball in the second quarter, but the Troika—a trinity and one-third down—put a brave effort, dodging the skull until the horn went.

The lead Troika siren put on show oscillating waves that cartwheeled in red and blue to generate diversity in her sung prose poetry:

She sees a garden of commas. There’s a curl on the crown. The sky is the colour of baking cookies, but a pessimist would say it’s the hue of sizzling bile, a task rather than a pleasure. There’s frost growing in the gully. The kind of ice that doesn’t drench thirst. And as she walks where punctuation is no taboo, she’ll lace up her boots and remember to set expectations. Or beyond simple genetics and much like a novice he just might eat the dog.

But the home crowd heckled. Again, the score worm delivered a verdict.

Things continued in pitiful fashion for the Troika in the third quarter. But when the faltering team’s siren sang in EM spectrum that vomited gammas and infrared, the crowd listened:

A soar of mercury [/ˈməːkjəri/ n. a heavy, silvery metallic element] dries out stones until they burst to flame and scald the scorched Earth. No geometry on her face, just an interrupted purity of creation. No history of foreshadow, just a metaphor representing everything. There’s a direct connection to a hippie bible that was never likeminded to revive an old relationship, ritual or a golden gate. A parliament of owls elects a blond fox to lead a charm of finches soaring to a spirit that’s always here, decreasingly relevant as time goes on. But the fox is really a dog that came from the clouds beyond the epicentre of the city by the bay. It is an animal incapable of loving but thrives on heat [ready to mate] in an imaginary place where one day sooner—not Mother Nature—has the final say.

‘That is a serious quest,’ shimmered the score worm. ‘I search the term to describe your song. And half a century and ten thousand lives after, I still know it’s a great story. If the Cyclops have no challenge—’

‘We have a challenge!’

‘Let’s hear it then.’

The Cyclop singer was both ugly and beautiful. The blob of her face wore tiny eyes and a tubular nose that oozed blubber on the sulk of her lips. The softness of her fur reminded one of the Betelgeuse Star in its brightness and beauty. Her light was eye candy from space, a panorama that flowed like spice to quench the remotest need. Her song?

At root we are leaders, helpers, destroyers. At the start of evolution, it was never on that we would check boxes to interrogate an internal question whose answer simply stalls a weightless black hole. As we search beyond the moon for what’s left of an endless rain, a frenetic river smears fate into the night. The riverbed is a shadow whose shape is alternate art. It performs a hip-hop ballet that runs out of pirouettes. Our ancestors’ dreams never looked like missing, but we’re the wick and they are the flame. Together we burn. Encapsulated in a greater dimension that is unsightly and divine in this artificial world. You blink and it’s there, then it slips into a whisper of silence—did you see?

The amphitheatre cheered in trickles, distracted by the blob and blotch snailing down the singer’s face and sliming the echoes of her prose.

‘It is a brave intercept,’ coughed the score worm. ‘But it’s dislocated to pose a decent challenge. This means the Troika one-third is released from the sin bin.’

Much was at stake in the final play. The precocious Troika child made a grab for the skull and knocked down two Cyclops. It worked angles, pushing and shoving. Suddenly another player on the ground. It was a Cyclop—dislocated joint.

Nearly matched up now, the game quickly degenerated into a bloodbath. Players slipped on gelatinous fluid, an earnest struggle for the last one standing. By sheer luck, not effort, a body bang severed a Troika’s jaw and she retired injured. It was the lead singer.

Unlikely that song would rescue the trinity, all understood they were condemned to the sin bin for eternity. But duty demanded righteousness in the score worm, one last call: ‘If the Troika have no challenge—’

‘We have a challenge!’

‘Let’s hear it then.’

The precocious child stepped forward. Her conehead, unrecovered from birth, was bald, blemished with yellows against a skinless pink. She studied the crowd, shifted from one chubby leg to another that could sprint with the velocity of light.

Her song generated weather. The amphitheatre lit with two suns:

The shadow on the wall is an unquiet memory on home ground, choked with the dreams of refugees who’d crossed lands, travelled wars in chants of darkness and light only to find a wall built of humanity’s absence. How confusing their entanglement in the imperfect story of a better life that is a syncopation of deleted riffs nowhere seen. Just endless echoes of shadows in repetition.


Precisely different.


Notes in the mailbox.


The crowd looked at her, silent. As the two suns dimmed, there was a roar.

Encore! Encore!

‘We were quick to transition,’ coughed the score worm, ‘as we evolved past lesser beings to our current states. Sometimes we must kill frail creatures for their skulls, we must kill them to balance the universe. But the human story is one that needs us the most. This child has reminded us of it. We’ve seen a good ball. The verdict is a draw. Release the full Troika trinity from the sin bin.’