We walked for what seemed hours. My sense of direction and time was distorted by the hood that was over my head. I do not remember how it got there, nor do I remember how long the journey from our starting point to the final destination was, I merely remember the final stages.
I only heard muted silence for awhile. My footsteps registered no sound, the gentle clanking of my chances did not resonate. My only companion was the sound of my breathing muffled against the fabric of my mask.
The gentle pull on my shackles stopped and I stood still waiting for a cue on what to do next. I had grown accustomed to being actively led, the idea of my captor leaving me to my own devices was jarring.
Hours seemed to pass before I was pushed down onto a seat and my hood was removed. My eyes never got the chance to adjust to my surroundings as I was immediately assaulted by the blinding brightness of a white screen. The luminosity pierced my eyeballs and shot pain deep through to my brain. The core of my being was assaulted.
This was merely the beginning.
The physical pain subsided. I started to feel comfortable in my new surroundings. The details were still missing as my eyes did not want to cooperate but it was a relief to finally see rather than wander along in the darkness.
It was around then that the screen danced to life with familiar colors in a scene from the deep recesses of my memory.
Color and form began to make sense and the sudden realization jolted my body to life.
"This is baseball. This is the Cubs and the Padres," I said. The confusion set in as I was unaware of why this game would be shown to me in this place.
I could not see my captors but I could feel them watching me. I sat in silence as Andrew Cashner mowed down a miserable Cubs offense. Chris Rusin then took his turn as the Padres feeble bats struggled in kind.
This would go on for what seemed months. I felt the skin on my face sag and wrinkle as I was kept awake to watch the abhorrent horrors of The Eternal Game of Sorrow and Regret. My heroes from another life went up and listlessly swung bats made of wet newspaper and wire hangers. Rusin and Cashner pitched for for an eternity, taunting me with their very existence as each eviscerated the opposing teams offense.
I came to realize around the time that Donnie Murphy struck out the first time that this was not reality. My perception of this scene was not possible in the real world and the eternal sadness would end as soon as I awoke from this desperate nightmare born of too much drink and too little piety. My world would return to normal and I would not be subject to this abomination any further so long as I woke up right...now.
I waited for the familiar jolt of awakening from a nightmare, or the sound of my alarm out on the periphery so that I may end this false reality. I waited for the sounds of the early morning hours to guide me back to reality. I waited for the smell of a deep and robust coffee blend emanating from my kitchen to deliver me from perdition.
The game continued on as I was forced to watch incompetence and failure play out a mournful scene over and over again. The baseball demons were eating men alive on the field as they desperately clung to whatever appendages they had left and tried to play on despite missing arms and legs. I'm positive I saw Darwin Barney hit with Anthony Rizzo's leg.
Waves of panic hit me as they crested on the ridges of my fragile psyche. This would not end. I would be forced to watch whatever was left of Starlin Castro play in perpetuity. This would not do. Why would the baseball gods damn me to this existence? I called out to them in fits of rage over the course of 3 weeks. The game was still going on. Sometimes the players would take a break to sew back on the lost limbs even as the baseball demons were gnawing at them. Chase Headley had one at his neck and it was looking at me as it consumed Headley piece by piece. The unblinking black eyes never left my gaze.
I yelled until my voice was hoarse and blood spat from my mouth. I screamed out in agony until I could not and then I screamed some more. I tried to turn around and face my captors to ask them why, but I could not. The horror on screen had placed me under a spell and I could not look away from the slaughter. My muscles were not my own any longer. I was trapped here.
My mind broke. I tried to trade them my eternal soul for a reprieve. I would give them all of my humble possessions if I could just go. I would promise to worship their gods and become them if the would allow me to turn away. Carlos Villanueva began to pitch and as he threw ravens from on high began to feed on his flesh. They tore out his eyeballs and new ones would grow back. Death was not possible here, only the everlasting pain of eternity.
I needed to leave. My mind was split as a part of me had grown comfortable in this place. There was an internal battle waging on the plains of my psyche. The broken spirit tore in two and I was left to spectate.
Eventually, I fell asleep.
I awoke on my farm, far away from darkness and baseball carrion eating ravens and demons. I was tending my pigs with my wife Linda as we had for the past 10 years. We would do so for the next 40 years and live prosperous, simple lives. We would raise three children and the black memories of that dark place faded over time.
Time passed, children grew, they had their own children, and eventually we died happily together of old age.
It was around this time that I woke back up in my dark chair. Ronny Cedeno was at the plate and I screamed out for a life that never was.
I became despondent, hardly even noting what was happening on screen. Oh, Pedro Strop's face is being eaten. Nate Schierholtz has no arms anymore. Welington Castillo is eating Dioner Navarro who is eating Brian Bogusevic. This will go on and I will never leave this place.
This was to be my fate. I was to watch this game as I had for the past 30 years. It never ended. The skin on the players' faces wrinkled with time and their hair grew silver and fell out. The motions became more tired as the players aged. Kevin Gregg was throwing 50 MPH by the end. Junior Lake's bat had slowed to a crawl. The field itself was attempting to swallow up the players and end the misery but it was kept at bay by the demons.
I was being whipped with misery and the beads on the whip were in the shape of Darwin Barney's OPS.
Over time I waited to die. There is no escaping this land. That's when I saw Nate Schierholtz score right before having his head taken off by an errant throw. Hope grew in my being. The end was in sight.
Faith was rewarded with despair. Ronny Cedeno set my dreams of escape on fire as his foolhardy gamble paid off and the game was once again tied. An eternal deadlock was certain and I began to beg for release once again.
It was around the 60 year mark of my capture that the game finally ended. I do not remember how or why. My mind had long since left me as I began to take pleasure in the perpetual game. The world crumbled away as the winning run scored. Chunks of my surrounding began to fly away and I turned to face my captor.
I did not see his face, rather I saw the name on the back of his white jersey that was decorated with blue pinstripes. I cried as I realized who it was and what crime landed me in this eternal prison of the mind. I awoke in my room as the alarm sounded as the dream had finally ended. But the name still haunts me.
The jersey nameplate simply read "Woo-Woo".