Spookymilk Survivor X — Challenge #15: Unfortunate Strength

I managed to survive to write another week in the Spookymilk Survivor challenge…whew. One more week until teams merge. The latest challenge was this: write a story where the protagonist is so good at something that it leaves them in an unfortunate situation. 1000 word limit.

To put it bluntly, this challenge sucked. It wasn’t until Saturday morning that I eventually had an idea worth working on, thanks to some suggestions from K and Mo. Here’s what came out:

Geoff took a deep breath. Glancing at his table, he took a couple quick swallows of water from the plastic bottle on his right, and then straightened up his pages of stats on his left. The Target Center crowd was electrified, and he felt an inward excitement. The T-Wolves were making a game of it, and the Lakers were visibly rattled. He took another deep breath as the game came back from commercial break.

The Lakers’ hard-fought loss at Milwaukee last night appears to have taken a toll on them here in the waning minutes of tonight’s ballgame, but I think they’ve seriously underestimated the local team. Love and Bynum, #2 and 3 in the league in rebounding this year, are putting on a clinic this evening, but it’s Rubio’s ball handling and fast tempo on one hand and Kobe’s mediocre 3-pt shooting that have kept this a one point game.

Ricky Rubio takes the ball up court and is met by Steve Blake. Rubio passes to Johnson…back to Rubio. He looks to Love but Gasol has him covered well. Across to Ridnour, who looks, fakes once, and shoots…off the glass and rim! Darko and Bynum wrestle for the loose ball…it goes out of bounds – Lakers ball! Referee Stafford indicates it was off Darko’s foot. Lakers call timeout, with 23 seconds to play. This one is going down to the wire!

It was games like tonight that made Geoff glad he decided to announce Timberwolves basketball this season. He knew he was good – really good. And the fact that he maintained his own stat sheets and did his own research showed in his ability to quickly put the information into play during the quick pace of the game. Add to that the improved play of the Timberwolves, a coach whose philosophies made sense to this team, and the excitement of a rookie assist machine with a flair for the thrilling, and this season so far had been, relatively speaking, magical. Geoff flexed his fingers and his arms, shook them for a couple seconds, and then composed himself.

Coach Adelman has been doing a good job with his bench management tonight. Pekovic is in now for Darko. Milicic matched his 4 points tonight with 4 blocks. Minnesota is looking to try and maintain their single point lead here as Blake inbounds the ball to Kobe, who returns the ball to Blake. Blake is taking his time as the Lakers try to run out as much of the clock as possible. The pass goes in to Gasol, who pops it back out to Bryant. Rubio almost with a steal…Kobe picks up the loose ball…off-balance shot over Love and Johnson – it’s in! Timeout, Wolves! 98-97 Lakers, with 3 seconds remaining. Don’t go anywhere!

Once more Geoff took a deep breath, and mentally willed himself to relax while waiting for the commercial break to end.

Only 3.2 seconds remain in this exciting match up. Johnson looks first to Rubio, then inbounds to Love…Peace gets a hand on it though and it goes by! Pekovic takes the errant ball of the chest, takes a half-turn, and throws up a two-handed jump hook…IT’S GOOD, AND THE TIMBERWOLVES WIN A WILD ONE, 99-98 on a last-second basket by Nikola Pekovic! The T-Wolves find themselves at a strange frontier, 10-10 and a .500 record for the year. Wow! We’ll be back in a moment with the final wrap-up.

Geoff sat back, eyes closed, exhausted. What a game! His heart was pounding, arms and hands ached, but he was satisfied that he had called another great game. The flashing of the lamp near him broke through his reverie, though, letting him know that someone was at the door. He reached under his stats pages on the coffee table for the remote and turned off the TV, heaved himself up off the couch, and went to answer the door. It was Steve, his apartment neighbor from a floor above.

“Pek!! Dude, did you see that game?!” he excitedly asked, as Geoff read his lips.

In the high, slurred voice of someone who had never heard human speech, and unconsciously signing as well, Geoff replied, “Yes, I certainly did.”

I had to work hard to make it look like Geoff was announcing from courtside, and left some little hints that he was up to something besides talking through the play-by-play, up until the reveal in the last couple lines.

Team SPOILER ALERT! did alright in this one, while I’m With Stupid was reduced to one player. RESULTS. The judges’ commentary:

K: Oh, wow. I thought this was pretty ordinary, but instead it’s a heartbreaker. I don’t want to encourage concepts that completely bank on the final line, but man, this one had some power. 3

DK: I like the idea a lot, and the true nature of this guy’s strength. Something about it doesn’t seem to rise up like a lot of the others do; I care about this guy but I’m not sure it develops into what it could. 2

I’ll take it. One more week to the merger…

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