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And then they were running, down through the tunnels and the muted cacophony from above was somehow amplified by the exposed metal pipes and the unnatural florescent fixtures and the dank smells of subterranean concrete. Then light all of a sudden, and a flash of bright colors enveloped by a carpet of spreading green and he felt the old familiar surge again, the hopefulness and the invincibility and the buzz started in his stomach and rode up his spine into his brain and he smiled in spite of himself as he was running, running with a hundred other men out to hit other men bodily for a full hour of kept time and then out of the corner of his mask he saw it again and almost fell. Standing there, pumping its grotesque arm, the bear. The black bear with its terrific eyes crossed in exaggerated anger and the worst part: the striped jersey that was just like his he gave a sharp intake of nervous breath as the lights reflected off the beast’s eyes for just a split second and the leer seemed to grow even more horrific and then he was past him staring across the field at the white-clad foes pouring out of their own locker room and jumping and strutting through the grass that was until just recently not his home, had never been home and why had he wanted it to be? He couldn’t remember that and he blinked again and forgot all the rest, the film sessions and the studying and the reads and he looked around and he was scared. He saw clearly that his life had led slowly and inexorably towards this public execution: there was a man wearing a 94 and one wearing a 10 and he was suddenly so scared.

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