Purgeball is a sport, a religion, a furnace, a space elevator, a way of life and death–we recruit from schools, slums, wombs, the unconceived. Our genetic projections trace through populations and lift up the greatest seeds. One out of a thousand survives and they become part of the dream.
P U R G E B A L L
City street: one day until Qualifying Game 1
She’s playing with the grass in the linear park while the billboard shines voices over the wall, sovereign as a cloud.
I say something and she comes over and we walk the curving path to the exit. She’s talking excitedly about how she hasn’t seen grass up close before and I’m reminded of my own poverty as a youth and I feel sick and I blame her for this feeling. I remember the naive, gangly kid with the thin wrists wondering how people avoided cutting themselves on all that sharp grass, because through the television I’d always perceived it as a kind of green crystal.
When I got my algorithmic sponsorship the first thing I did with my new freedom was go to a park. The grass was soft and cool and my fingertips dug into the roots like I was clutching someone’s hair. But it was greener and brighter on screen. The grass in my hands was weak and grey and stayed crushed where my palms pressed into it.
I look at her by the light of the street, straining to hear her through hot gusts of street chat and auto-bus groan. I look at the billboard with the shimmering odalisque, cool and immanent.
I want to fuck the woman in that advertisement. I make a phone call. I want ten-foot tall lips and a smoky beach of mascara. Not this porous creature clinging to my arm.
Basal Court: Qualifying Game 1
The ball reaches the center of the Basal Court. We lost eight. They lost five. Brief fear. Suppress. Subside. We got one of their best. Lanning. He held the ball too long after it started flashing. Thought he could make the pass to his team across the chasm of the bisected court. Now his body is part of the arena.
I raise my arms to the crowd. Grin as I slide backwards.
Something slams me into the wall. I go spinning off that momentum before they can pin me and duck low to catch them with my gaze and see if I want to run or kill.
I remember her from last year. I broke her arm in three places. I remember something like trying to see if I could pull a human being’s fingers off. Ended up degloving her.
She spits out her mouth guard and her eyes are deep-rimmed and vein-fried and she has blood foaming across the shining bow of her teeth.
She slams her fist so deep into my belly it feels like she’s grinding the shit in my intestines for me. I’m looking around for my team. I hear the ball bounce across the court, too far across the court. Thin watery fluid burns from my nose and mouth as my knees hit the ground and
the scrape-clip of skates close to my eardrums