Sunday, 8 April 2018

GAME OF GHOULS

The year is 2304. The 'great' and powerful nations of yore that played roles of war-brokers and members of the League of Nations have long been ravaged by warlords and mercenaries. Taking advantage of the power vacuum created in world politics, Ghouls now stand in control of the entire world...and probably even beyond.

Tonight is the inaugural Game Night of a sport that the ghouls innovated, inspired by soccer. Sinisterly titled 'Ghoul-Scoring', it had been introduced as an attempt to bring Ghouls and Humans closer together, through the spirit of sportsmanship and good old-fashioned entertainment. Of course, the fact that it could actually further intensify unhealthy competition and rivalry is another matter, not that it mattered much to the Ghouls. The rules and structure of the game are also very different - perhaps the only similarity with soccer is that top goalscorers from the Humans' soccer leagues are invited to play against the ghouls.

All 80,000 seats in the Stadium of Freedom (renamed after the last known human colony had been captured) were occupied. The Humans had a fairly good attendance at about 1,500. Max was able to recognise most of the Humans on the field. But he didn't dare to speak to anyone, nor did the others. Not communicating with anyone whomsoever and in any manner howsoever was the prime clause in the contract that all Human players had been forced to sign before they had stepped onto the field. In any case, it would be foolish to upset the Ministry of Human Affairs officials, under whose guidance this event was being organised. Max had heard some horrifying stories about the Ministry and its officials.

Both teams - Humans XI and Ghouls FC stood on either side of the centre line. The Ghoulish anthem was played twice - on behalf of both sides. All of a sudden, a handsome looking Referee with a deadpan expression - a ghoul without doubt - appeared right at the centre with a shapeless metallic sphere in his hand.

"Do you need me to explain the rules to you?", the Referee asked.

Max waited for five seconds, hoping someone else would volunteer to be Captain, but finally broke the silence, "That would be nice".

The Referee rolled his eyes. "The aim of the game is to gain and retain possession of the ball. For every minute that the ball stays in your team's possession without a break, you get an opposition player over to your side. Careful though...if any player keeps the ball for more than four seconds without passing, he gets converted into an opposition player. Simple?"

Max's jaw dropped. "Hey, that's not how we play it. What about scoring goals?"

The Referee rolled his eyes again, this time literally. "Do you see any goalposts around here?"

"No...?"

"Exactly!"

"So we score by passing the ball around and keeping possession? You want us to play one-touch football, Tiki-Taka style? Like the legendary FC Barcelona?"

"Umm hmm..", the Referee nodded, completely unsure of who Barcelona were.

"So how do we know who wins then?"

"Simple", the referee said, matter-of-factly, "The team that loses will cease to exist."

"Oh, you mean the team that manages to convert all the opposition players into team-mates wins? Great. So how long does the game last?"

The Referee scratched his chin, "Some Humans suggested we play 90 minutes...personally, I think 15 minutes is enough. Yeah, let's play for 20 minutes!"

"Very well then", Max rubbed his hands, fully confident about his one-touch footballing skills. He then remembered that he needed to get something clarified, "Hey, since there are no goals, do we really need keepers?"

"Of course", the referee raised his eyebrows.

Max chuckled, "I don't think we need them." The other Humans nodded in agreement. "Can we play our Keeper as a normal field player then?"

"Suit yourself!", the referee said and dropped the ball on the floor with a clang.

The game started with the Humans being allowed to start kickoff. But they soon began to realise that the game was clearly designed to be one-sided. Firstly, it was pretty difficult for the Humans to pass the 20-pound shapeless ball around. Secondly, the ghouls being ghouls could easily disappear from and appear at any spot at will. Needless to say, the number of Ghouls on the field kept increasing, and it hardly took 5 minutes for the game to near its end.

Finally, Max was the only Human left on the field. Not one to go down without a fight, he dived around and tackled thin air (ain't easy to tackle Ghouls) and got the ball, but since he did not have any one to pass it to, he knew the end was near.

When he finally began to feel himself change, he ran towards the Referee, fell down on his knees and asked, "Before I cease to be Human, please tell me quickly...why the fuck do you need Keepers for this stupid little game?"

The Referee pulled out his whistle and blew thrice to signal the end of the game, "It's self-explanatory, don't you think? They keep Ghouls."

On the stands, one irritated ghoulish spectator tore his tickets and said to the ghoul seated next to him, "What a boring one-sided game. What a waste of time and money. I worked off three humans to death to earn that kinda money...only to waste it on this shit!"

"Tell me about it", said the other, "Also, I don't understand why Ghoul-Keepers need to wear gloves."


For the benefit of those you are not very familiar with football/soccer, here is a video of FC Barcelona playing their tiki-taka style of football. (I'm actually an Arsenal FC fan)


24 comments:

  1. I love futuristic fiction. Enjoyed it. - Priya from priyreflects

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    1. Thanks a ton Priya. Glad you liked it 😊

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  2. 20pounds shapeless balls and opponent who can change shape and form...OMG That was an eerie tale, Chris.

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    1. That's what you get when you let your imagination run wild. Thanks for dropping by Anagha :)

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  3. Wow! This was something different. Imagining future and writing about it is great.

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    1. Thanks Deepa. Glad you liked it :)

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  4. Spooky! Thank you for providing the reference video. I don't follow sports and had no idea what Tiki Taka style was (sounds like a drink). :) Wishing you luck on the next week of the A to Z Challenge! You're doing great!

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    1. Haha. Thanks smsaves. Here's wishing you the best too :)

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  5. Woah this is amazing. I am so glad I came across your post. Absolutely love your style of writing. Imagining the future and writing about it is very challenging.
    I'm definitely coming back to read what you have in store for H today.

    *I am yet to write f :( *

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    1. You are too kind Tamanna. Glad you liked it. Thanks for dropping by.

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  6. Does seem rather unfair! :) Poor Max, trying to keep playing when it's clearly hopeless.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings - Movie Monsters

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    1. He didn't know why the game was called Ghoul-scoring.

      Thanks for dropping by.

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  7. The future is going to be somewhat like this: a losing game for quite many.

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    1. Haha. With the kind of people in power, I think so too.

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  8. Did I just read Arsenal fan?! How do you do fellow gooner.

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    1. You're a Gooner too? Nice meeting ya!

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  9. Interesting game, somehow reminded me of Quidditch matches in Harry Potter Series. :)

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    1. Quidditch? What's that? Sorry, haven't read Harry Potter :p

      Glad you liked it :)

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  10. Hey, this was a good one! I love these stories! Will be back for more.

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  11. Haha! I'd love to play this game. Maybe we should create a 'Ghoul-ball' Premier League or something. Vivid imagination you have, CRD. Nicely done.

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    1. Haha. Good idea!

      Thanks for dropping by. Glad you liked it :)

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  12. Very fresh and very original. Just wondering as to what was the first thought that kicked off this story - was it ghoul-keeper? Loved this new game you invented and enjoyed the climax. Did you always have this idea of a game - like a 'what if' scenario? Didn't get the last glove joke :(.

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    1. IT WAS Ghoul-Keeper, indeed! I think you've gauged my thought process by now :)

      I'm a big football (soccer) fan. The glove joke is something we soccer fans always wonder...why do goalkeepers really need gloves? :p

      Thanks for dropping by!

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