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Old 01-31-2003, 10:22 PM   #1
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Another Sports/Sci-Fi Short Story - The Return of the Splendid Splinter

This is something I did a while back but wasn't happy with and had time recently to go back and tweak it a little until it worked better. For those that have read my stuff before this is quite a bit more serious in tone (it couldn't be much sillier) but since it's the offseason and I can't think of any real football talk at the moment - thought I'd share it here. The story that was in the news recently about John Henry Williams freezing Ted William's body was disturbing to me and sometimes writing can be cathartic for me and this story was the result. I haven't a clue where else they'd let me publish something like this and hopefully you will enjoy it. I had to post it in three parts due to space limitations.

The Return of the Splendid Splinter

There was a fine misty drizzle falling on Ozawa Park as we made our
way to our seats adjacent to the visitor's dugout. Normally, Barrett and I
would have been in lab at this time on a Tuesday afternoon but decided to
make an exception on this day to see what was sure to be an interesting
spectacle and we might even be able to convince the professor that we were
here for reasons of research and not just blowing off his class.

We certainly were not here to watch the actual game, as not many people did
anymore. The stadium which seated about 33K was virtually empty, with a few
K, maybe 3.5 or so mostly ancient boomers scattered about the seats. The
Red Sox had been marketing this game as the "Return of the Splendid
Splinter" on holo, but no one really seemed to care, just some baseball
hobbyists, media types and a few K of the curious. It seemed yet another
desperate attempt to generate some buzz that had failed.

Retros were nothing new anymore but no one had yet tried to bring back an
athlete. A soft mist fell as the American and Japanese national anthems
were played by a Berklee student on an clear acrylic harp. Nobody sang
along with either one. The musician finished and then the "play ball" tone
sounded and the game was underway.

The Hanshin Tigers were in town and their ace Sato was on the mound. He had
his shootu working and the Sox were helplessly beating his offerings into
the ground and retired quickly in the first. I asked Barrett what he knew
about Williams and he launched into a long, convoluted explanation
involving DNA sequencing , cell regeneration, derma tanks, marrow seeding,
and of course, rechem coding. Typical Bio-Engineer freakspeak. I was one of
a handful in the stands that could have understood half of it, since we
were both Bio Majors, but he had missed the intent of my question entirely
which I politely pointed out to him.

He finally processed what I had meant and went on to explain that this guy
was considered one of the legends of the sport, one of a handful of the
true greats in addition to being an ace World War II fighter pilot, and a
world class fisherman and that he approached each pusuit with a
single-minded determination to be the greatest ever. He went on further to
explain that his son had the foresight to get him a quick cryo when he
coded out to facilitate a successful retrofit but had been vilified for
it. That had all happened over forty years ago before the technology for
remakes had even been developed. I had studied up on his career over the past few days but hadn't
realized quite how accomplished the man was and had thought that he was
just a great baseball player.

One thing about retros, is that nobody comes back exactly the same and
while the brains seem to regen just fine, they have a tendency to be
physically awkward and slow. If anything , logic would suggest it would be
the opposite but that's how it works. How they figured this guy was going
to be able to hit a baseball was beyond me, for it wasn't easy from what
I've heard.

The only reason I knew anything about Baseball at all was I used to like to
play a holo version of it on my SonyCube and my father really liked it when
he was still alive. There was a fair amount of strategy involved with the
game and I sometimes wished that I had a chance to try the real thing but
nobody really played it much anymore. There was a time when everybody
played baseball but this was definitely not that time.

The Tigers were up in the top of the second inning when I happened to
notice his son sitting a few rows to our right. He had become quite famous
or rather infamous in his own right, and I recognized him immediately from
a 3D I had seen. He was sitting with his hands in his pockets and a navy
blue Red Sox cap pulled low over his forehead against the drizzle.

He was a pretty controversial character and had taken some public abuse
back before this sort of thing had become accepted science. So it goes with
the pioneers of this world. He did not appear to be well, so perhaps the
whole episode has taken a toll on him.

His face was expressionless but I noticed his eyes scanning the Red Sox
dugout looking for signs of his father. It was always weird to see an
elderly son and a younger looking retro father - I don't care how may times
you see it.

I would think that he would have been a little nervous with all of the
inherent hype, but he didn't really appear to be. Finally, the Tigers were
retired and there was a sense of anticipation as people realized that
Williams Sr. would be batting in the next half inning.

I have to admit that when Barrett suggested coming to the game I initially
thought it would be a complete waste of time. I had finals not three weeks
off and I was going to go watch another retro embarrass himself by trying
to recapture the past? I eventually decided that it was kind of historic in
a way and I was glad to have a chance to witness an athlete give it a try
for a change. I was tired of politicians, entertainers, captains of
industry and the like. The privileged. The ballpark was an interesting
place to lurk for a few hours and I could see how it would have had a
certain appeal back twenty or thirty years ago.

Williams was batting sixth and I waited patiently for the first batter to
make an out and then suddenly he appeared in the dugout, his height and
vintage uniform a dead giveaway. His frame appeared almost skinny compared
to his pumped teammates . He pulled a bat from the rack and emerged from
the shadows of the dugout into the glare of the lights, and then slowly
walked to the on-deck circle.

Every eye in the stadium focused on him as he walked head down, an old
wooden bat dangling from his right hand, it's dark patina evoking a long
past age. His uniform hung loosely from his slim, rangy frame in baggy
folds which looked anachronistic, but cool. He just wouldn't have looked
right in Silkex. I compared him to the old anim on my pilot and he looked
pretty much the same. They had done a really nice job.

The brim of his cap shaded his eyes from view but you could see his mouth
set in a tight scowl as he kneeled and began to study Sato intently like a
bird of prey. He gripped and regripped the bat as he watched the pitcher
toy with the second batter, his mind apparently comparing and cataloging
the pitcher's mechanics to the ghosts of more than eighty years ago. Before
long Sato retired the hitter and the moment was at hand.

As the tall figure strode toward the plate I glanced over to his son, who
was leaning forward in his seat, hands folded in front of his mouth and
now you could now see an intense look in his eyes that seemed a mixture of
fear and desire or possibly darker things.

Last edited by Hawg73; 02-01-2003 at 09:14 AM..
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