|Baseball at the End of the World
Author: some kid PM
The world is ending; what happens to the sport of baseball? R&R, we both know you want to.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi - Words: 852 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Published: 05-13-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2517501
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Baseball at the End of the World
No more homeruns. No more perfectly executed double plays. No more seeing-eye bloops into short left. No more K's littering scorecards and park balconies. No more stolen-base-stained uniforms. No more off-key seventh-inning stretch. No more stomach-dropping walk-offs.
No more turning on the game at seven, father and son on the couch together. "Swing, batta-batta, swing!" with a four-year-old lisp. Hand-me-down well-worn glove, dull tan and scuffed black in places. Tattered cap, bill bent at the perfect angle. No more high-fives, no more awed eyes staring as the perfect twelve-to-six curve is swung through.
Pro ball had shut down, sent its players back to the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and California, no need to make more money now, spend even more time away from families.
But there was still baseball.
Backyard, freshly cut every three days, miles away from the dark and bloody main streets, twenty feet separating father and son. Perfect bills with centered logos, tattered gloves, pure white ball, 108 bright red stitches. Father with the tattered glove, barely fits on his left hand, but the ball fits perfect in his bare right, leaves smoothly and glides past his son. Swinging strike, almost twists himself into the ground.
He rights himself, runs back under the treatment-stained deck, tosses the ball, long high arc, back to his father. Runs back to the make-shift home plate--grassless square-foot of yard, aesthetics be damned in the face of baseball.
The boy lifts his silver aluminum bat to his shoulder, bounces from foot to foot finding the perfect stance, opens and closes his hands on the handle finding the perfect grip.
Father leans forward, twisting the ball in his hand behind his back, the smooth canvas and the rough stitches caressing his calluses, waiting for his son to become still, display his readiness for the pitch.
He throws it--maybe forty-five miles an hour--halfway there the father sees the boy's bat fall from his shoulder, his eyes leave the ball. The ball bounces across the ground under the porch again.
"Strike two," he says, best ump impression he can muster with his son being the batter.
The boy ignores his father, points to the sky behind the pitcher, "The gas is real bright tonight."
He turns around. Huge floating ball of fire-orange, darker in the center, coming from an angle above them, aiming for the sun that just sunk below the other side of the horizon. Sneaking up on them. Hard to see during the day, the sun beats it, glowing in China then. Only comes out when the sun sets, like a monster under a child's bed.
The news had broken a month before, the President and a NASA official on every television and radio station across the country at eight in the morning. No going to work that morning, or any morning after.
The world was ending. Collision in outer space, just beyond Mars, sending a fifteen-kilometer chunk of rock toward Earth. August sixth, little after seven in the evening on the east coast. The sun would just be hitting the horizon.
There was supposed to be martial law, but it's the end of the world, military men fear for their families and their sins too. No one to enforce any rules. People looted, people raped, people murdered. End of the world before the damn asteroid even hit.
But baseball wouldn't end. The boy had been told that the light was harmless gas released by the power plant twenty miles south, glow-in-the-dark stuff but perfectly safe because he couldn't feel it in his lungs.
"Sure is a lot," the father says, his heart jumpstarting with the affirmation that the thing will hit at any minute. "Ready for the pitch? Down oh-and-two."
His son does his routine at the plate. Stills. The father tosses the ball, straight into the sweet spot, perfect speed as the boy watches it sail in. There's a quiet crack as bat hits ball, and the ball soars behind the father, soars across the unnatural orange glow in the night sky.
Father and son watch it, over the backyard fence and into the neighbor's empty yard.
"Homerun! Dad, I hit a homerun!" the boy exclaims, a proud grin practically jumping off his round face as he looks down briefly to make sure his foot hits the large square of torn cardboard representing first.
The father matches the grin. "Way to go son!" he yells as the ground begins to quake. And the air quakes. Everything shakes, tremors emanating from everywhere.
The entire world applauds, cameras flashing with the brightest bulbs, and the boy doesn't feel a thing. Not enough time to understand the deafening roar of the planet as it suffers a mortal wound. He rounds second, sprinting for third, lost in his joy, in his first career homer.