The contest had been a great event; tens of thousands of eager fans had participated but there could be only one winner. Now, Pietro Rosseti sat on the side of the pitch to watch his favorite team, the Verezo Vulcans, battle against the Bangle Pharaohs. “The Sideline Ticket Contest” had seemed like a good idea and Gio Hacekas had hoped that the winner would be a fan of the Pharaohs; but, apparently, he was the only one. Now that the first half was over, it was clear to see why the Pharaohs’ Stadium, “The Pride of the Nile”, was completely flooded only with Vulcans’ enthusiasts. Unscathed, the Vulcans had managed to halt the Pharaohs advance and prevent them from scoring during their drive. Furthermore, Arturo Scalluci had managed to knock Mhortal Khombat out of the game. Without their star player, the Bangle Pharaohs had to rely on Klaatu Berada Nehem to handle the ball, fearing a counterstrike every step of the half; although that didn’t really matter since they were also unable to remove players to create an opening. The Vulcans’ aficionados cheered and jeered in delight, since they all knew preventing that touchdown meant half of the match was already won.
- I guess you must have had a different idea when you thought about this contest, isn’t that right Gio Hacekas? I bet you pictured yourself with a Pharaoh’s fan, enjoying the brutality your team is so fond of. Well, the joke is on you. Coach Hornet has proven that your team is weak and your strategies are useless; and every player on his team has acted like a true hero, never fearing your monsters. Look at them go right now. Tommaso Di Russi deep entrenched in the back of the Vulcans’ side of the pitch waiting for the right time to throw a pass. Now look at the team opening up a path for Nico Gallisimo and Livio Aguzzi who will wait for the ball on your side of the pitch. That’s it Gio Hacekas, you are doomed to lose now. It’s a special play of the Vulcans, and it’s too late for you to try to stop it. If you divide your team, the Vulcans will exploit your weakness; if you concentrate on either the ball or the receivers, the Vulcans will show their might. Any way you look at it, this is a certain victory for the Vulcans. Your Bangle Pharaohs will soon be out of the competition for good and they will be forgotten before the drop of a hat. And to think I get to witness it first row because I’m the winner of your silly contest. This is the happiest Monday of my life; I’ll never forget it. But… what is wrong with you? Why do you smile? Have you finally gone completely mad?
- Pietro, I’m just glad you enjoy the match. You are right about absolutely everything you have just said. I would have wanted to have a Pharaohs’ fan in your place. I guess that’s because it would have been a better sacrifice, a type of involuntary martyrdom perhaps. I have nothing but respect for Coach Hornet; his skill and resolve are beyond compare. And the Vulcans, they’ve been tough as Orcs and swift as Elves. If you’ve liked the match so far, I can only begin to imagine how delighted you’ll be in a few of turns… when Nico Gallisimo receives the ball and escapes to safety in a corner. The Pharaohs will try to get to him, only to be trumped time and again by Arturo and the rest of the Vulcans squad. The Pharaohs will make one mistake after another; so many in deed, that Arturo will take the opportunity to show the path towards final death to Happy Asetru. Then he will lethally wound another Khensu before the last turn; in which Squirrel Nut Zipper will try to dodge several tackle zones in a desperate attempt to stop Nico Gallisimo from scoring only to injure himself in the effort. Three Tomb Guardians removed permanently and a 1-0 victory for the Vulcans. I truly am glad you’re enjoying the game this Monday… because that is not how it will happen on Wednesday… or how it did happen on Wednesday… you’ll have to excuse me… temporal distortions are rather confusing… let me light a cigarette and I’ll try to explain.
Gio Hacekas struck the match to light his cigarette just as Tommaso Di Russi was about to throw a pass to Nico Gallisimo. Time froze for a second and then resumed at a vertiginous speed. The fleeting instant of that flash seemed to last an eternity in which, through an eerie blueish mist, the young man who had won “The Sideline Ticket Contest” watched in bafflement how everything Gio Hacekas had foretold came to happen. And then, in a blink, the two teams were entering the pitch to start the match. Everything started to happen all over again. Pietro Rosseti realized that the mist was ever present and that it was in fact white, but it looked blue because of the Magic Dome that covered the Pride of the Nile. All seemed insubstantial and unnatural; it felt as though only him and the tall mad coach were real and everything else was just a dream.
- What kind of witchcraft is this, Gio Hacekas? Did you slip something in my drink? Am I being pranked? I swear to you this is going to get you in a lot of trouble. All I need to do is report you to the authorities. I could even shout to the tribune… I bet my fellow Vulcaners will be happy to help. Why doesn’t anyone seem to hear me? Why can’t I make them aware of my presence? I know Arturo Scalluci, my cousin introduced me to him, he will certainly help his Number One Fan. Why is the match restarting all over? Is this a nightmare? Ok, Gio hacekas, I was rude… I shouldn’t have taunted you in the first place. Can’t we be friends? Can we start over, please?
- Now, now. You said it yourself my dear Pietro, this is the happiest Monday of your life and you will never forget it. You see, what you are watching is the match as it would have been if it had been played on Monday. Sadly, because of time managing problems, it had to be played on Wednesday… two days from now. You wouldn’t like that match as much. On Wednesday, Tomasso Di Russi was momentarily blinded and failed the pass to Nico Gallisimo. Klaatu Berada Nehem retrieved the ball and the Pharaohs scored on their last turn. Even when the Vulcans made a valiant effort to score on their last turn, a rock thrown by an angry fan put an end to that endeavor. The final score on Wednesday will be 1-0 to the Pharaohs… I mean, that was the score. Temporal magic is a tricky business and demands great sacrifice. Apparently, as stated in the arcane Khemri papyruses I found, a moment can’t be completely erased from the fabric of time. There has to be at least one witness who, quite unfortunately, will be destined to watch the scene that was cut out of time over and over again… for all eternity. As I already said, my dear Pietro, I’m just glad you enjoy the match… the Match out of Time.