Her swipe card brushed against the door and, with a small beep and a barely audible click, the door released. She pushed through the door into the office and walked towards her desk. The door had swung shut behind her before she realised that something was different; this wasn’t an ordinary Friday morning.
Out of the gloom at the far end of the row of desks a figure came slowly towards her, its eyes dull and its face curiously pale. It dragged one of its legs slightly behind it as it limped steadily towards her. It let out a low, frightening moan as it approached.
She pressed herself against the wall and let the shuffling figure pass by. It barely noticed her. Making her way further into the office, she found another figure sat at a desk. This one’s arm was a strange mottled colour, nothing like the normal colour of flesh. Blue and grey and green, the skin across the back of its wrist had been stretched over the swollen flesh underneath. The fingers on the hand were held together with frayed tape as if, without it, they might fall away from each other and the hand that held them.
The figure sensed her presence and turned its head to face her. For a moment its eyes struggled to focus, as if weighed down by an unspeakable fatigue. Its mouth opened and it started to make a noise.
“Morning” it said.
“Morning” she replied, “and how was the football tournament?”
Let me explain.
The company I work for put on an inter-office charity 5-a-side tournament on Thursday and a group of us were to be found early in the morning, clustered in the office car park clutching our kit bags and waiting for the minibus to arrive. Our office is in a sat nav Bermuda triangle, but contact was eventually made and we hiked to where the bus driver had abandoned the bus along with his attempts at finding us. Rolling out of the bus a couple of hours later we sauntered over to the pitch to size up the playing surface and, more importantly, the opposition.
It was cloudy. It rained. It was cold. It was sunny. It was hot.
We drew. We won. We lost.
It was enjoyable and, lets be honest, changeable. The weather got worse as the morning progressed and improved in the afternoon, and our fortunes on the pitch turned out to be just as up and down. At the end of the day, we set out for home happy with our performances and happy with where we had finished up. A couple of hours later we arrived back at the office and…
Oh. My. Word.
I was so stiff. I ached in places that surely I hadn’t used; bits of my body that had no place getting involved in a game of football. I stumbled to my car and somehow made it home. I laid myself down on the bed and Mrs RB came and found me, exactly where she left me, a significant time later.
The next morning, Friday morning, I arrived at work to find that I wasn’t alone. My fellow footballers were a shuffling group of individuals, moaning slightly and limping along as a result of aching limbs that stiffened up whilst we sat at our desks. Our goalkeeper had a sore thumb and finger and a swollen wrist; the result of a fantastic last-ditch save in our final game. We were a happy group though, if a little tired and sore.
My main concern was for the 5k race on Sunday. Today. I needed my aching limbs to recover enough so that I could put in a decent performance at my first-ever ‘proper’ race. I was also continuing with the 5×50 challenge, meaning that I needed to still find 5 kms each day or at least 30 minutes of some form of exercise. Luckily, a 30 minute swim on Friday did a lot to loosen me up and I was able to fit in a walk of over 5 km in Torquay on Saturday by parking (inadvertently admittedly) as far away from my destination as was possible whilst still being in the same post code.
With a decent warm up and a healthy dose of Deep Heat, I’m sure I will be in a half decent state when I stand on the start line. It’s only a ‘fun run’ at the end of the day but I’m going to be taking it pretty seriously. As long as I don’t embarrass myself too much, I’ll be happy. Wish me luck.