In the place of actual reporting about this evening’s Detroit City FC match in Kalamazoo, we will instead feature the interior monologue of a reporter reporting about something he cannot see, via the magic of Twitter. Think of it this way: Harry Caray made it work with ticker-tape and the Cardinals; maybe, despite the fact that the radio era was clearly a simpler time in a lot of ways, this could work like that - a Theatre of the Mind, narrated by Twitter, but expanded by our imaginations into a full-color spectacle. I mean, why not? Let’s do this thing.
So the game’s underway. I picture a high, blue sky, a light breeze, the City boys standing proudly during the anthem, looking off into the middle distance like a Socialist Realist poster. Northern Guard is doing that “la la la la la la la la la” song that starts slowly but it’s picking up pace, probably. Just need a solid start to this one and ...
So, uh, wow. That’s not ideal. Not a lot to go on there. Somehow this Nick King fellow has gotten behind our defense - is he invisible? I picture a through ball rolled into space - Stephen Carroll and Jewett signalling that it’s the keeper’s ball, because it’s clearly to no one - when King de-cloaks just in front of the retreating Carroll, revealing his perfidy! Jewett’s late reaction can’t overcome the incredible advantage provided by Kalamazoo FC’s cloaking technology!
That’s a lot to chew on. They’re winning, just 6 minutes in, and they’ve already revealed what is either cloaking technology or some kind of mind-control device.
It’s a mind-control device.
So the mental picture is changing somewhat: The match is clearly being played in some kind of experimental space. No one tests this kind of technology in the wild. I imagine the playing spaces are rigorously defined, with everything outside the pitch rendered in wireframe. Northern Guard’s robust tri-dimensionality lends a gritty edge to the whole thing.
Speaking of gritty …
MIND-CONTROL-RAY CONFIRMED. Victim: Our Omar Sinclair.
City manager Ben Pirmann clearly recognizes the danger posed by this mind-control scheme, albeit with the despair that comes from figuring out an opponent’s plan once one is down three goals and a man. Desperately he throws Le Rouge’s most experienced minds into the fray, hoping to avoid any further mind-trick issues.
Kalamazoo’s mind-control gambit apparently defanged, City stops staggering about the field in disarray, and the half ends 3-0 to our detriment.
The mind-control and cloaking ideas are just that - ideas. It’s possible any number of other things are going on here. For instance, City’s players might have been infected with a supernatural virus, the first symptoms of which are sluggishness of thought and action. If any of the boys start to molt or try to dig a sleeping hovel during the second half, we might need to call the Winchesters.
Ok, second half. Is it a supernatural virus, or a mind-control ray, or cloaking tech, or something weirder? My guess: Something weirder! Let’s get back to Twitter …
Gonna get super weird, I’m sure! Let’s hear it …
Any minute now, super weird!
I see it now: It’s a simulation. A simulation designed to cause certain people pain. I am one of those people. As the simulation grows ever more efficient in doling out its pain, it loses some of the embellishment and detail that made it easy to accept as reality. Now we have a scorer and a time, and nothing besides; the pitch is plane, less a place than a geometry, the stands wire-frame again. The players are motion-capture data. The scoreboard is vivid: HOME 4 VISITOR 0. It glows a malevolent yellow. You can hear an electrical hum once you’re close enough. Zoom out, zoom in, it doesn’t help. This Painland is apparently reality.
This is a trick, isn’t it? Painland wants me to buy back in.
If this is Painland, it’s both smart and cruel. Cyrus Saydee, out for weeks, checks in during the anti-mind-control phase of the game, then draws a penalty when it looks like the future is a boot, stamping my face, forever? Then Seb Harris, favorite of my favorite, scores the penalty? I had to stop myself from writing ‘bangs home the penalty,’ because that’s what Sebby does, bang home the penalty, but who really knows, right? He might have lofted a beautiful panenka. He might have fallen down, stubbing the ball with his knee, only for the keeper to slip in his effort to mockingly gather the ball with a flourish, instead squibbing it into the bottom corner. The wireframe is falling away, which is both great - because that was horrible and weird - and terrible - because 4-1 isn’t much better than 4-0. There’s a strong possibility we’re still in Painland, and that it’s just learned a new trick.
What? Now Roddy Green with the goal? Painland is learning quickly; I was at the point of disassociating, and voila! Hope. And from a homegrown City kid …
Painland is toying with us.
Toying … with …
Painland may be real, but we’re real, too. City is real in every reality. We are immanent. We permeate. YES THIS IS A BATTLEFIELD … and even in The Worst Timeline, we’re gonna give ‘em hell.
Inevitably comes the realization that, due to the kind of time-slippage one sees on the internet and in multiverses, the match is probably over with a significant percentage of universes reporting. An 83rd-minute substitute is followed by an ominous radio silence … was a blackout? Maybe a GRU hacking group testing its control over the electrical grid? A meteor strike? A planar incursion? Or something, y’know, weird?
In the end, Painland had its fun. Detroit City lost, 4-3, to Kalamazoo FC. I didn’t see a moment of it. It hurt.
Here in the Worst Timeline, you get used to disappointment. Sort of. Not really.
Detroit City FC hosts Liga MX side Club Necaxa Tuesday night at Keyworth Stadium in an international friendly, here, in reality. (Seriously!) Actual tickets for the match - which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. - are really for sale at http://tickets.detcityfc.com/.
Kzoo 4, City 3
Cloaking devices: Glimpsed but not fully attested
Mind-control: That’s a maybe, too
Custom-designed Pain Reality: Oh for sure
Worst Timeline: Confirmed