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April 6, 2011 / whirlingneedles

Take me out to the ballgame


The crowd roared as the bat cracked, sending the ball flying out to the outfield. Agent K inhaled the scents of freshly cut grass, spilled beer, and roasted peanuts. It was finally baseball season again, and even though spring hadn’t quite arrived yet, it was good to be back in the stands to watch the boys of summer. Too bad the Agency wouldn’t spring for better tickets – Agent K had passed a mountain goat on the way to her molded blue plastic seat.

Agent K settled in and pulled out her knitting. In a way, she supposed it was probably just as well she was so high. She’d hate to get beaned by a foul ball during a tricky part of the lace shawl she was working on. Sitting in better seats would mean she would have to knit on something a bit more mindless, like a garter stitch baby blanket. On the other hand, there was that Agency employee last year who caught a foul ball in just such a baby blanket, stretched between the Agent and another fan.

Agent K’s needles clicked away. Her contact would be here soon, but in the meantime she would enjoy some baseball and knitting. The biggest downside to knitting at the ball game was the wave. She had dropped a whole slew of stitches last year by participating a bit over-enthusiastically in the wave. Cheering was also dangerous, given the wild hand-waving that happened all around her. Needles + wildly waving arms = poking.

A young woman decked out head-to-toe in home team gear on her way up the steep steps to her seat paused and stared at Agent K.

“What’s that, crocheting?” she asked in a loud voice.

Agent K looked up at her contact and smiled. “No, it’s knitting.”

“Knitting, like knit one, purl two?” the young lady asked. “I thought only old grannies did that!”

“Nope, all kinds of people do it!” Agent K answered, returning the scripted passphrase. “Why don’t I show you how to do it?”

“Maybe after the game,” the young woman replied. “I gotta get back to my seat.”

Agent S (as Agent K knew her to be) passed up the steps towards the very top of the stadium, near the nosebleed seats. Agent K went back to her knitting, devoutly thankful that seniority was worth something at the Agency, allowing her to sit somewhat closer to the action than Agent S.

At the seventh inning stretch, with the home team up by two runs, Agent K gathered up her knitting and stuffed it into her bag. She slung her bag over her shoulder and, with real regret at missing the rest of the game, headed towards the exit. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Agent S coming down the steps as well. Agent K worked her way down through the stadium concourses to the ground level. She sidled up to a door marked “PRIVATE – NO ENTRANCE” and used her trusty cable needle to jimmy the lock. A few moments later, Agent S slipped in after her.

“So what’s the emergency?” asked Agent K. “I hope it’s not trivial, because I do hate to miss the end of the game.”

“We have reports of alien activity in the bowels of the stadium,” replied Agent S. “Rumor has it that all the wool caps that the players wear are going to be replaced with polyester! Not only that, but there will be a control chip in the cap that will allow the aliens to control the players on and off the field. Who knows what their dastardly plan will be? Steroids? Sex scandals? It will be chaos!”

“Okay, calm down,” said Agent K. “We’ll sort this out! There’s no way we’re going to allow the players to wear polyester caps. That would be an abomination, even without the mind control chips. First, we need to sneak into the locker rooms before the game ends. Next…”

A few minutes later, Agents K and S had (gently) knocked a couple of stadium janitorial employees over the head, taken their uniforms, and hidden the undressed employees in a closet. Striding purposefully down the halls, they made their way to the locker room. Agent K closed and locked the door behind her.

“Okay, you take that side and I’ll take this side,” she instructed Agent S. Agent S nodded and headed to the other side of the room. Agent K strode over to the first locker and took out the spare cap the player was storing there. She shook her head, clicking her tongue in distress. The cap had already been switched, so she stuffed it into her bag. She picked up a bottle marked “VITAMINS” and shook out the pills, refilling the bottle with special Agency-designed pills. They were mainly actual vitamins, with a special active ingredient that would allow the player to fight the mind control.

Agent K and Agent S worked quickly, grabbing the disgusting polyester caps and replacing the “vitamins” with Agency pills. They were nearly done when the door handle rattled. The Agents froze, wondering what to do. Agent K nudged Agent S, and they quietly but quickly finished the job. Agent K nonchalantly went over to the door, unlocked it, and opened it, preparing to waltz out with a winning smile as if she belonged there.

Instead of the player, coach, or stadium employee she expected, she found herself face to eyestalk with an alien. They stared at each other for a moment, then Agent K recovered just in time to slam the door in the alien’s face, as it surged forward with a roar.

“Is there another door?” gasped Agent K. “I think this one is in foul territory.”

“This way!” cried Agent S. Agent K slammed home the deadbolt lock on the door, which was creaking ominously, and raced after Agent S. Agent S lead Agent K to the back of the locker room, where there were several offices, a physical therapy room, and a weight room. There was also, more importantly, another door, this one a double-wide door with pushbars instead of handles.

“I’m not sure where this leads,” Agent S said doubtfully.

“I don’t care where it leads, we’ve got to get out of here!” said Agent K, and pushed open the door. A wide concrete corridor lay before them. Just as they went through the door, there was a crash as the alien burst through the door at the other end of the locker room.

“Run for it!” cried Agent K. They dashed down the corridor, their footsteps echoing off the concrete. Ahead, there was bright sunshine streaming into the corridor. It was so bright that the Agents couldn’t see what was beyond the opening, but if they were caught by the alien it would be certain death. They ran out of the corridor, blinded momentarily by the sun.

“Oh no,” groaned Agent K. They had discovered, as soon as their eyes adjusted, that they had run directly out onto the field. They had stopped to catch their breath right on the home team foul line. All the players, umpires, and batboys were staring at them, open-mouthed. Agent K glanced back into the corridor from whence they had just come, just in time to see a glaring eyestalk retreat back into the shadows. At least they were safe.

Agent K desperately hoped that she could expense bail money to the Agency.

 

Postscript:

Sadly, the aliens did manage to infiltrate Major League Baseball, because MLB replaced the traditional wool caps that the players wore with polyester caps in 2007. Also, the performance of Agent K’s favorite team dropped significantly after this escapade, although the players were mysteriously getting all their recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals.

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