Dasher Soley's Final Flight: Part Four
The referee looked around at everything and cleared his throat quietly. Garven Hale rolled his eyes and waited for the crowd to stop shrieking in protest. Sighing, the other team began playing with a pebble that had found its way onto the field. Dasher tapped his tail irritably on the ground, but the crowd refused to be silenced.
“It was a goal!” the referee shrieked, waving his arms up in the air frantically, as though warding off small insects.
“You idiot, didn’t you see him catch it?” one of the fans yelled, the one who had told him to get on with it. He leapt down into the field, Dasher Soley closing his eyes briefly. The Techo who managed the scoreboard was jabbing the point for the other team irritably, and of course, totally bored.
“Get back up in the stands!” the referee roared, pointing up at the thousands of people gathered to watch the games.
“Didn’t you see him catch it?” the fan repeated, scooping up the Yooyuball. He threw it again at Garven, who repeated what had happened when the Yooyuball flew at him in the actual game. The referee shook his head.
“That’s not what happened,” he said. One of the opposing team members walked over to him.
“It wasn’t a goal, we saw,” she said.
“I saw better!” the referee yelled, hopping up and down like a child who had been beaten at a game. The stands echoed with laughter, and the referee froze. Garven Hale snickered, and the referee cleared his throat.
“My word is the law,” he said, then backed off. The crowd continued to roar, yelling threats that made the referee’s spine shiver. Garven finally couldn’t take it any longer, so he held up a hand.
“It’s one goal,” he boomed. The crowd silenced to listen to him, the referee looking relieved that someone else had stepped in to defend him.
“The referee’s always wrong,” Garven continued. The referee shot him an angry look. “But one goal won’t matter; we’ll make up for it.”
Reluctantly, the crowd in the stands quieted down to whispers, and the game continued as normal. The referee vanished mysteriously near the end of the game, but no one really cared that much to go looking for him.
Finally, the game ended, with Krawk Island ahead by one point. One point was all it took, however, and the fans cheered. Dasher went to shake hands with the other team, congratulating them on their hard work. Garven Hale, Ealyn, Nitri and Zayle were soon to follow, and soon both teams had left the field.
Krawk Island wandered back to the tent to take off their Yooyuball gear, satisfied with their win. Dasher Soley stood up on the chair to make his usual after winning game speech. His team members had learned to ignore it for the most part, but they listened to a few lines to make sure Dasher hadn’t tried anything new.
“Nice way to get the crowd quiet,” Dasher said with a smirk. Garven shrugged.
“It was wasting our time, and like I said, it was only one little goal,” he said in his gruff voice. Dasher nodded in agreement and turned to the rest of the team.
“That was a close match, so next time we have to try especially hard to ensure a complete win, I don’t like my fans biting their nails in anticipation,” Dasher said, his eyes twinkling slightly as he said it.
“Well, it’s a good thing you could still play, or we would’ve had to forfeit the whole match,” Zayle said. Dasher nodded in agreement at this as well, and looked around at each and every one of his team members.
“As I said, we really need to step it up for the next match, so extra practicing in the backyards,” he told his team. This was met with one, swift nod coming simultaneously from all of his team members. They then got up and left the tent, Garven Hale hesitating so he could walk with Dasher.
“Yeah, it really was a close match,” the Bori said, walking along the sidewalk next to Dasher, who scowled.
“We can’t let it be this close next time, or we might tie. We might even lose if they really step it up more than we will,” Dasher said, sounding slightly nervous. Garven noticed this at once, of course, and chuckled.
“Don’t worry, Dash, we’ll do just fine,” he said. Dasher looked up at him, and suddenly, he was a child again. Garven was standing next to him, still taller than him as a child, and they were in a dodge ball tournament against another team. Garven said these same words, calling him Dash, and the game began.
In the end, their team came in fourth and they were handed a small, wooden medal for their efforts. Dasher then remembered last year, when he had been handed a silver medal for almost winning. He didn’t want it to happen again.
“Garven,” he began slowly.
“I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist using that line,” the burly figure of Garven Hale said. “Just one last time.” He continued to walk along the sidewalk, but Dasher stopped. Garven knew that his friend wasn’t following him, but he understood that Dasher would want to be alone.
Matches came and went, and Krawk Island pummeled its way to the top, crushing all opposition. The Krawk Island fans were proud of the team’s progress, and anxious to see them make it to the top. Krawk Island was one of the favorites to win it all, and everyone truly thought they would. Dasher Soley was feeling very nervous, but still satisfied with his team.
Everyone thought they would win it all, but when the final match came along, doubts filled the air like a cold chill. Krawk Island was strong, they reminded themselves, but would they be strong enough? Dasher couldn’t sleep at night anymore, and found himself taking naps during the day to equal eight hours of sleep. If they lost, they would be in second, and, Dasher Soley knew he had to face it; no one remembered the captain of the team that came in second.
Dasher’s legs were often shaking as he kept up his exercise, and he kept thinking about what Garven Hale had said. The Bori, in turn, wasn’t anxious at all about the match. Or, if he was, he was awfully darn good at hiding it from everyone else. He calmly visited Dasher’s home to chat with him about strategies, while the rest of the team hopped around like ants wondering what to do.
The Krawk Island team captain was rather happy that Garven had taken over as the leader. He didn’t know if he could take it anymore, although his team still looked up to him as one of the greatest captains of all time. Dasher didn’t want to lose that title by coming in second, with first so close, yet completely unreachable.
There were, of course, the final four predictions that the fans enjoyed making. Dasher tried to ignore the ones that said Krawk Island would completely fall down to third somehow, or even back to fourth, when it was already determined that they would at least be in second place. A lot of people seemed to think that was all Krawk Island would ever be. Second best, forever, for always.
Dasher didn’t want to go down like that, forever in second place, the first place cup just inches out of reach. He didn’t want his last tournament to end like that, and he strived to make it not so. The other team to face Krawk Island was just as nervous, but at least they would all have another chance. Next year, Dasher knew he would have to retire. This was his last chance at being a star.
He remembered once more what being a star really meant, that a person shone as bright as a star, glowing with glory. Dasher Soley could picture himself a star, but he knew they were only dreams, for now. Child’s dreams, childish wishes, but yet he was so close to making them come true.
Everyone wanted to be a star, but not everyone could be a star. Out of one hundred people, only one would be the star. Dasher Soley wished he could be that one.
The following morning, the day of the final match which would determine the winner of the cup, Dasher Soley got up early and jogged twice around his neighborhood. He couldn’t help himself; there was no way whatsoever he would stay in bed and try to go back to sleep. Finally, the time for the match had come, and Dasher Soley was the first one inside the tent.
He was shortly followed by Garven Hale. Dasher stared admiringly at his calm, steadily brutal expression. He wished his legs would stop shaking, and wondered if anyone noticed how much they were indeed shuddering. No one noticed, or at least, no one pointed it out, but Dasher could still feel the eyes of his team on him. He cleared his throat and stood up to face his team.
“This is the final match,” he said in a croaky voice. He completely stopped and closed his eyes briefly, breathing in deeply. He pictured the first place trophy in his mind, and smiled. He knew what to say now. His eyes flickered open.
“This is the final match of this summer, the one that’ll determine whether we go down in history or if we go down in second place,” he began. “Now, picture for a moment, the golden first place trophy; see how it glitters in the sun when we all have a chance to hold it up. Picture that moment.”
His team closed their eyes, and smiles spread across their faces as they pictured holding up the trophy, then passing it on to the next member of their team. They opened their eyes and waited for Dasher to continue. Garven smiled to himself; his captain had come along way since that dodge ball tournament.
“Now, who here doesn’t like that picture?” Dasher asked, boring into every single one of his team members. No one raised their hands; they all stared defiantly back at him.
“Who here thinks the other team should get that picture instead of us?” Dasher asked. No one raised their hands; they continued to give him the steady, aggressive glare that Dasher had hoped they would.
“Are we going to let them take it?” Dasher asked, standing up on the chair. Everyone shook their heads vigorously.
“Are we going to let them take it?!” Dasher Soley shouted.
“NO!” The tent was filled with the yells, filled with the cheers as the Krawk Island team leapt into the air and cheered; they were ready. Dasher was ready. He smiled at his team, the memory of the dodge ball tournament fading away. This was his history now, not a dodge ball tournament.
Garven Hale walked up to him as the rest of the team left the tent, their eyes flaring with the victory they knew was soon to come. He smiled approvingly at Dasher and said, “You taught them well.”
“Couldn’t have done it without you,” Dasher said. Then, shoulder to shoulder, the two friends walked out into the light, into the thunderous applause of the thousands of Krawk Island fans. This was their time to shine.
To be continued...