Excerpt: Sports in Fantasy Worlds

Track, Running, Shoes, Competition, Race, Sport

We all know about Quidditch, but J.K. Rowling’s far from the first author to weave a fictional game or sport into her work. George R.R. Martin entertains us with cyvasse in his series. There’s the Battleroom in Ender’s Game, podracing in Star Wars, and even Flonkerton in The Office.  In my first novel, I actually do a little bit of this with competitive events in what I call “The Rabbit Room.” Fiction, really, is full of twists on our existing sports.

I’m taking another stab at it in a new YA book I’m working on. The sport is called Crossing. I’ve always imagined cross country running would be slightly more interesting and slightly more brutal if we added a defense for each team. Someone running the opposite direction on the course, targeting would-be winners from the other team. In my own rendition, it’s more of a one-hundred yard dash with sprinters and bruisers, formations and wounded winners. Here’s the excerpt:

“Crossing is a simple and brutal sport. Two teams of seven. The court is fifty paces wide and three-hundred paces in length. When the gun fires, both teams release. The first team to get one of their player’s across the opposite line wins that round. Teams are made up of quicks and bruisers, maybe a few hybrids. You can tell the big boys from the fast ones easy enough.

My eyes settle on the Panhandle runner Antonio mentioned. He’s short and light-skinned, with legs as wide as doors. Daddy raises his glass and toasts with Antonio as both of the teams settle into racing positions. The arena is narrow, but the starting block’s even tighter. All seven members hunch shoulder to shoulder, waiting for the burst, their mind’s racing through practiced formations and counter-formations. Their only weapons are their bodies, their speed.

A gunshot thunders out. The crowd erupts as both teams launch into motion.

Panhandle’s team swings five right, two left, an overloaded formation. Sanctuary’s formation is a reaction to theirs. A classic balanced set. Two on the right, two down the middle, and three to the left. At least one bruiser runs in each pack.

It takes two seconds for both teams to get up to a full sprint, and two more seconds to collide in a crunch of bone and body at center court. Panhandle’s sprinter darts out from behind a veil of bruisers, cutting center and bursting through the gap in Sanctuary’s defense. Antonio’s right. He’s the fastest person I’ve ever seen. He highsteps the first lunging tackle, avoids a second swipe, and looks like he’s going to break it free.

But a desperate shoestring tackle catches him by the ankle, staggering his strides. On the opposite side, two of Sanctuary’s sprinters have broken free, and they race to cross the finish line, chased by Panhandle’s too-slow bruisers. The horn blows and the first point goes to Sanctuary. Attendants pull the weak and wounded away and substitutes step in for them. Spatters of blood and lost teeth are swept off the court as the second round begins. We watch the teams release and collide again. Panhandle throws out a decoy, but Sanctuary sniffs out the ploy, their bruisers punishing the lone runner with a nasty sideline tackle. Great defense snags them a second point.”

Just having a little fun. Always love a chance to work a sport into my imagined worlds.

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