“It is time,” a gravelly voice says from the back of the clubhouse. Alone, Gabe Kapler looks up, startled. The players had long since left the clubhouse, returning to their hotels, hoping to sleep before facing the reality of tomorrow, of another the swinging blade inching closer to their prone bodies. The manager had stayed long after the last player had cleared out, his head in his hand, staring at nothing, at everything, wondering how it had all gone downhill so very, very fast.
But he was no longer alone. The shrouded figure moved closer, almost gliding, its robe unrustled, unmoving as he shortened the gap between himself and the fearful manager. The figure extended a bony, pale white hand to an ashen Kapler, looming over the coach, the sharpened blade of a sickle dangerously dangling over his head.
“It is time,” the figure simply repeated.
“I’m dead?!” Kapler asked.
“No. It is time for this season to end,” the figure said calmly, its face obscured by the tattered hood that hung loosely about the deity. Light, color, everything was seemingly absorbed into the hood, drawn into the nothingness. Nothing escaped from the abyss behind the hood.
“But, we have another month and a half left. There is so much left to be done, so much I wanted to do. I wanted to bat Kingery in the cleanup position at least once,” Kapler said.
“The end waits for no season. I’m afraid this is quite final, and no amount of lineup tinkering is going to turn this around,” the figure said.
“I….I challenge you to a game of chess! One game. One more chance to get this right, to keep our hopes alive,” Kapler stammered.
“Very well,” the figure sighed.