Timmie had the ball secure between the crook of his arm and his side. Lennie passed the ball to him at the thirty yard line. Timmie was fewer than ten yards away from the end zone and dodged quite remarkably four defensive linebackers before he was tackled by a fifth. He was three yards from the end zone. Though he didn’t remember the moment of impact, Timmie saw it before it happened. He had cleared number 93 and was about to hop over one of his own teammates when number 97 barreled into his peripheral vision.
Timmie was down and had lost possession of the ball. He couldn’t feel his knees or his toes. He could smell the quarterback above his head (cloves and nutmeg, a distinct aroma) and hear one of the assistant coaches shouting towards the sidelines. Timmie opened his eyes, expecting to see officials, players from his team and the opposing team, and, of course, the multitude of stadiums lights shining down upon him.
But, when Timmie opened his eyes, he saw none of those things. Instead of sweaty men and bright lights, he saw a chino-uniformed female and dim, red lights. He was still down, lying down, but rather than astroturf, he was on a table. Timmie tried to turn his head from side to side but a mere inch in either direction sent waves of pain through his neck and the base of his skull. Even breathing deeply was uncomfortable. At least he could feel his knees and toes.
The woman walked over to the table and approached Timmie’s feet. She took her hands out from her coat pockets and placed them on his ankles. Timmie let out a yelp.
“Sorry,” the woman said. “I know my hands are cold.”
Timmie tried to sit up; he could not. Two wide straps, one near his thighs and the other around his elbows, kept him from doing much more than a half-assed crunch. Timmie shut his eyes tight and concentrated on the football field. He must’ve suffered a concussion and any minute he’d be back on the turf.
He opened his eyes after counting to 50. He was still in the dim, red-lit room, still strapped to a table. Timmie’s breathing quickened as he watched her come closer to his head. She looked like she hadn’t eaten in days.
“I’m sorry,” the woman said. “I can’t let you leave.”
The woman pressed a black button on a column just behind the table. Moments later, a door beyond Timmie’s line of sight clanked open and three hooded figures entered. The tallest one was holding an ax. The one with the broadest shoulders was holding a pail. The one with glow-in-the-dark glasses was holding a length of rope.
Timmie clenched his fists, shut his eyes again, and tried to remember exactly when 97 tackled him. But all he could see in his mind was a woman towering above him, dim, red light, and hands tying rope around his ankles.
The above story is loosely inspired on real events as related to me.