Jitterball – Furious Fiction June

Titled Jitterball because… Well this is my thirteenth entry to Furious Fiction, and I need to stop naming these posts by month! I almost didn’t get this story done, and wasn’t sure at the start of the weekend if I was even going to try, but I just couldn’t break my streak!

Again, I bring you a Gretchen and Nora tale, and I was surprised to learn Nora was a rusted-on fan of the game Jitterball.

This month’s criteria;

  • Each story’s first and last words had to begin with J.
  • Each story had to include a game being played.
  • Each story had to include the phrase MISS/MISSED THE BOAT.

“Jumping jellyfish! Is that even allowed?” Gretchen pitched her voice so Nora could hear her over the roaring crowd.

Nora kept her eyes on the field below where the team of goblins were gaining on the ogres. A particularly squat ogre lay prone on the grass, and Gretchen imagined he would sport a mean headache for the rest of the week.

“He took him on.” Nora held up her arms, clenching her teeth. 

A goblin streaked forward, a leather ball tucked under his armpit, and narrowly avoided a defender before scampering up a tree on their scoring end. As he cleared the dense branches toward the wide nest at the top, the ogres launched smaller balls in the goblin’s direction. Nora clawed Gretchen’s arm and hissed.

“Since when have you been a fan of jitterball, anyhow?” Gretchen winced as one of the smaller balls smacked the goblin’s shoulder. He wavered, and the crowd fell to silence, then he planted the ball into the nest and howled with victory.

Nora flew out of her seat with a screech. When she sat down with a wide grin, she turned to Gretchen as the field rearranged themselves to prepare for the new ball. “You should have seen me back in my heyday. I had plans on making it to the major league.”

Gretchen snorted. “Well, I think you missed the boat on that one.”

From their vantage in the nosebleeds, Gretchen watched the spectators grumble and shuffle in their seats. The odds were on the ogres, and she figured Nora was the only person who’d placed a wager on the goblins. Although knowing nothing about jitterball, Gretchen had seen goblins climb trees, and thought the bookkeepers daft for favouring the stockier species.

The referee blew his horn, then things happened too quickly for Gretchen to keep up. Ogres tackled goblins to the ground, the ball lying forgotten on the turf. They herded the battered goblins toward the middle and piled them into a mass of writhing limbs. One ogre meandered to the ball. 

Nora growled, but Gretchen didn’t write the green guys off. She waited, watching even as the others screeched at the ogres to pick up the pace, until the goblins broke free and swarmed ahead. Their speed caught the ogres off guard, and one goblin snatched the ball while the others ran interference, running every which way, their elbows out like they each had the ball. By the time it became clear which of them held the real deal, he was already halfway up the tree. 

The goblins on the ground joined the fray and pelted the ogres with smaller balls. Gretchen thought the outcome was a forgone conclusion when a chorus of drums sounded behind them. Nora spun with a murderous glare, and the sound of the horn on the field announced the end of the match just as the goblin emerged at the top of the tree.

The referee held his arm toward the victorious ogres and bellowed, “Jitterball!”

Well there you have it.

I may have to include a game of Jitterball in the series. For those who’d like more information on the (free) Furious Fiction short story competition, check out the Australian Writers Centre and sign up to get your prompts delivered each month.

Or take a look at my Short Stories page where I keep all my entries cataloged.

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