The rest of the game passed in a blur. Kiri felt drunk even though she barely finished the beer she got at half-time. In the end, Omktakia triumphed scoring ten goals to eight. The violence only spiralled when the players came back on the pitch with a further three Omktakia players and five from Gallitomas being stretchered off.
It was only later, as they queued to get out of the stadium, pressed shoulder to shoulder amongst the exhilarated supporters in the giant awning gallery of the stadium that they overheard that two of the players had died from their injuries.
A defender from Gallitomas had collapsed after having his eye gouged by Omktakia player who lost possession of the ball. From up on high the tackle had seemed trivial, at least compared to some of the more theatrical clashes in the game, but for the Gallitomas player it had been the end. The medics had tried what they could to save him but he had lasted barely ten minutes after being taken off the pitch.
The Omktakia player’s end had been much more obvious however. Seizing the ball in midfield he had made an audacious move to slip through the Gallitomas ranks to be met instead by a wall of sheer muscle and desperation. Four Gallitomas players had all but ripped the player apart snapping his neck on the pitch with a snap that could almost be heard from the rafters of the giant stadium.
While any of this behaviour would have made Kiri feel sick if she had seen it occur in the street or in her apartment block in the stadium it somehow became exhilarating. As they followed the throng spilling out onto the street Kiri felt she was still buzzing.
‘Come on let’s go out,’ she shouted, pulling Ben’s hand out of his pocket.
‘We are out,’ Ben said his eyes shining with excitement as well.
‘No, let’s go out!’ Kiri felt like she might explode.
It was several blocks before the crowd thinned enough for them to hail a car and start driving towards downtown. By the time they stumbled out it, the neon outside the bars lit the night-time like a sickly sun.
Loud music blared inside the bar and they had to fight to get to the front.
‘What are you drinking?’ Ben yelled, barely audible over the bass.
‘I don’t know, something strong,’ she shouted. “Let’s get something crazy, something dangerous.’ As she said this a sensation entered Kiri’s head that they were indeed dangerous animals, not just her and Ben but everyone in the bar, everyone in Hampton. They were dangerous, and to who or what she didn’t know, but they were dangerous and had to be contained, controlled if untold damage was not to unfold.
They knocked back shots of a bright green liquid that sent a hot trickle down the back of Kiri’s throat and then almost made her vomit and then made her throw her arms around Ben and drag him to the dancefloor.
It was after 3 am by the time that Kiri found herself back in the corridor outside her apartment, fumbling with the keypad, confused as to why the door would not open.
‘Are you alright there?’ a deep voice boomed from behind her in the half-light.
She turned with a gasp to see Mark, out of nowhere, leaning against the frame of his open front door.
‘Forgotten your code?’ He asked smiling.
‘I saw the game,’ Kiri desperately tried her best not to slur her words and straighten her clothes at the same time. ‘Mr. Neighbour.’
‘You look like you could use a coffee,’ Mark said, straightening his pose as if to make room in his doorway for Kiri to enter.
‘Yes, yes I could.’ Kiri barged forward into Mark’s apartment.
He followed, picking up her shoe, which had somehow come off in the hall. Inside the place was still a mess. Kiri flopped down onto the sofa.
‘It was amazing!’ She wanted to tell him everything, the energy, the violence, the adrenalin.
‘Your first game?’ Mark asked an amused look playing on his face as he sat down next to her.
Kiri opened her mouth, her groggy brain struggling to find the words to explain the swirling feelings that the evening had opened up inside of her. Mark’s head was close to hers and suddenly she realised there was no way to explain the feeling, no way to explain it in words.
His eyes twinkled, as if he were laughing at her and yet at the same time they were both sharing some great joke. His face was huge she thought, huge and gorgeous and as she looked at it all the emotions and desires and crazy thoughts that had filled her head for so long suddenly came crashing down, flooding through her like an electric torrent.
Almost without being able to control herself Kiri lunged forward, grabbing for Mark, kissing his face, sucking at his lips and his mouth and pulling herself on top of him, her hands pulling his thick brown hair.
For a split second a surprised, boyish look played across his face as if he had been told a secret he couldn’t quite believe and then he kissed her back.
His body was strong and firm beneath Kiri and greedily she ate at him. He pushed back and she asked for more, he controlled her and she controlled him. Slowly their bodies becoming one sea, pushing and pulling backward and forth until, eventually, Kiri lost herself completely, exhausted and delighted and shaken, deep down, in a way she had never thought was possible.