Chapter 12: RollerBowl

The two blond blokes are a regular sight, ambling across Fractal City. “We’re brothers!” the leading one excitedly announces to anyone passing by. They are probably of a similar age, late 40s or early 50s, but time and booze have not been kind to the second brother. He has gazed too long at life from the bottom of a wine bottle. Drawn and miserable, he would pass as the father of the first one, who is superfit from walking and cycling but is prone to regular bouts of manic behaviour, such as picking up all rubbish in sight, or trying to direct cars and pedestrians pass the tram stop. They live together in one of the few remaining cheap doss houses in Fractal City. At least they get one good meal a day, thanks to the church mission centre.

***

“A warm welcome folks, to this exclusive, world-wide premiere telecast of ROLLLLLLLERBOWLLLLL!

“Firstly an important warning that if you are not viewing this under proper licence from FoxSports’ ABC TV Pay per View Channel, you can expect a visit at any moment from Authorised Revenue Officers as all streaming is tracked under the Coalition Government’s new Metadata Initiative.

“Now back to the action! I’m your host Thommo and I’m joined today by all-round national sports hero Brawny and with special comments by the Coalition’s Bill Heffernan, here under lights at the magnificent Fractal Park Lawn Bowls Club and Resort, for this clash of terrorist titans – the Al Qaeda “Quranists” versus the Isis “Sons of Sunni”, for the inaugural Caliphate Cup. This willlllll be special!

“Now let’s cross to champion swimmer Hot Hannah with a backgrounder on the lead-up to tonight’s action.”

Hot Hannah: “Thanks Thommo, (giggle giggle) it’s fabulous to be here tonight. I’m wearing this gorgeous two-piece swimsuit, designed by Reveal and available exclusively to all FoxSports subscribers – just click on the hyperlink on your device screens now.

“I have with me two charming gentlemen: the UN’s Peace Envoy, Cat Stevenson, to tell us how RollerBowl came to be, and bowls expert “Killer” who will explain the game.”

UN Envoy: “Thanks Hannah. Basically, the two juggernauts of Islamic radicalism, Al Qaeda and Isis, started a huge war between them over who was the leading Jihadist… The Top Terrorists in the name of religion, if you like. As we all know, the world superpowers initially welcomed this and joined the opposing camps, selling them weapons in return for oil etc. But then the disturbing world-wide trend emerged, popularly known as “su-Isis”, or suicide by Isis, where people bent on suicide would deliberately criticise their local Isis Chapter, knowing that they would then be next on the hit list…”

Hot Hannah chips in: “If any of our viewers seek help with personal problems, please click on the FoxPsychic helpline now showing on your device screens; costs are 3 Euro per minute and conditions apply.”

UN Envoy continues: “Yes, and this disturbing phenomenon was reaching pandemic proportions, with superpowers blaming each other’s jihad terrorists; the Pope recalled all His bishops and papal envoys world-wide; the Falun Gong went bankrupt, shattering the Chinese Economic Recovery; the American Evangelical Society’s treasurers threatened a Southern States revolution; and we were on the brink of a Global Religious Meltdown. Imagine a world without religion… The financial implications would be horrendous.

“So the UN Security Council voted in favour of RollerBowl to replace open warfare. Adapting lawn bowling techniques, it is a fight to the death. We start tonight with the two apex killers of the Islamic world, Al Qaeda and Isis, but by midnight there will only be one remaining, and we will restore global religious strategic stability.”

Hot Hannah: “Wow, (giggle giggle) thanks sir! That’s so interesting. ‘Killer’, tell our viewers how the game works.”

Killer: “Aww, Hot Hannah, it’s surprisingly simple. Each side has a team, called a rink, of six bowlers in protective armour and on grass skis, led by a captain, called a skip. They have one small, white – I hope that colour is politically correct? – jack and an unlimited supply of coloured bowls of different sizes and designs, and the skip directs them to build a protective “head” around their jack while at the same time they are trying to smash the other rink’s players and “head” with their bowls. The game ends when all of one rink’s players and bowls are annihilated and their jack is captured.

“So, it involves a high degree of physical skill plus the mental dexterity to simultaneously apply an intricate combination of both defensive and offensive tactics. If you like, it’s a game for the ‘thinking terrorist’.”

Hot Hannah: “Wow, (giggle giggle) that sounds sooo exciting! Back to you in the studio, Thommo.”

Thommo: “Thanks for that, Hot Hannah, we will catch up with you again later in the evening …”

Brawny interrupts: “I hope so! Hot Hannah looks so… Hot!”

Hot Hannah: “(Giggle giggle)”

Thommo: “Ooookaaaay… now as we continue to count down to the start of tonight’s big game, let’s cross to the Anonymous ABC TV reporter, who tells us that not everyone is happy about the game…”

Reporter: “Thanks guys. RollerBowl may well appear to be the panacea for the world’s religious conflicts, but it is also fomenting a growing, and splintered, protest movement.

“Today most of us have enjoyed the Abbott Coalition Government’s new national holiday, officially gazetted as the Halal Butcher’s Picnic Day and timed to coincide with RollerBowl.

“Just over the 10-metre high security fence here to my right (camera pans over to that direction) is a large community playground, where, since early this morning, Islamic and Jewish children have been playing games together and laughing, and ABC TV has witnessed the many mothers exchanging gifts of traditional clothing and other items. This is in obvious open defiance of the strict instructions from their menfolk, who are visibly shocked and variously muttering Islamic and Hebrew prayers and oaths. We can also see mothers and children in Hindu garb, Christians wearing crucifix necklaces, and many other religious denominations.

“Now I also have with me here, (camera zooms back in on Reporter) the President of the Royal Order of Nimble Walkers, commonly known as the RON Walkers, who had shared the facilities here at Fractal Park with the lawn bowlers until the recent takeover – enforced with Federal Coalition Government legislation – by the private consortium behind RollerBowl. Now the RON Walkers have no clubhouse and no access to their walking track, during the extensive period of RollerBowl.

“Madam President, tell us about your situation.”

Madam President: “Thank you. This is terrible. Long ago, the Liberal Party hero and State ruler, Emperor Jeff, generously granted our sport’s founder, the original RON Walker, all the lands here in all directions for as far as he could walk in one day. Ever since then, we have grown as a sport and, through regular and rigorous training, we have improved the distances we can walk in a day. Because it is our core belief that one day Emperor Jeff will return in this State’s hour of need, and He will reward our devotion by again granting us all the land we can cover by walking in a day – and it will be a shitload more than last time, I can promise you!”

Reporter: “I see. And is it true that the local community, incensed at losing their Park, considered the original RON Walker to be a ‘pernicious and prickly’ character, which they subsequently shortened to ‘prick’ and started refering to him and his business entourage by the collective noun ‘prix’, as in ‘a bunch of Walker prix’?

Madam President: “Yes, that is correct. And once a year we have our big race meeting, when all the RON Walkers gather as the Grand Prix.

“You know, we helped the lawn bowlers to save this club not that long ago. We combined forces to stop a proposed winter loan with a lien that, in default, would’ve handed the club to a group of Chinese investors who wanted to rename it South Park and redevelop it along the lines of a 1950s Disneyland, complete with dinosaur statues. This important part of our local heritage is now threatened by this awful thing called RollerBowl. I mean, it’s barbaric, it’s no better than caged fighting, it’s acknowledging the terrorists, it only harms private enterprise, and it does nothing for the wealthy! We will be vigorously protesting at tonight’s game. It’s secret so I can’t tell you anything more.”

The camera focuses in on Reporter: “So there you have it. Inside the RollerBowl compound, the champagne freely flows as VIP guests mingle with sports heroes, UN officials and government ministers. But on the outside of this heavily fortified fence, the air is heavy with dissent. One senses that it is a powder keg ready to explode.”

The vision returns to the studio scene where Thommo, who is FoxSports’ highest paid on-camera celebrity, can be heard muttering: “ABC wankers just don’t know how to have a good time… OKAY! Welcome back! The air is buzzing with anticipation here!

“We were just now chatting off air to the Daily Hun newspaper columnist and News heavy hitter Andrew Nutt, who has been helping to hand out “Scott Morrison for PM” T-shirts. He says his advice in his weekly “Nutt Report” was the main motivation for the Abbott Government’s support for hosting RollerBowl here at Fractal Park.

“Now we are only minutes away from the start of the evening’s main attraction, RollerBowl – the Game to end all Games!

“Hot Hannah, who do you have with you out there?”

Hot Hannah: “Thanks Thommo. (giggle giggle) I have here a former men’s club champion who has some advice on strategy for tonight’s skips.”

Ex-champ quickly drags on someone else’s sweetly pungent smelling rollie and hurriedly hands it back before turning to Hot Hannah.

“Gee thanks Hannah, you sure are hot, wow! Yes I’ve put a lot of thought just now into how best to approach this new concept of lawn bowls, called RollerBowl. And it really can be very easy if you apply a mathematical approach…”

Hot Hannah: “Really Ex-Champ, but don’t you think the players…”

Ex-Champ: “Shhh, shhh, just listen and let me do the talking, you can’t possibly keep up with me in this conversation as my mind is going faster than the speed of thought, now think of Einstein’s laws of relativity inverted, just say the skip can punch a small hole in the green – without the Greenkeeper noticing of course cos he’d really crack it haha – and, just like a wormhole in the space-time continuum, tunnel to the opposition side’s head at the other end, so that their bowls and jack could then fall into the tunnel and be captured halfway – god I’m impressing myself with this idea – it’d be like time travel or speeding up time so it only takes half the time to reach the bowls – wow can we turn off the camera cos I think I’d like to patent this idea first before…”

Vision abruptly cuts back to Thommo in the studio: “Ok, that was an ex-club champion, with some thoughts on tactics. Interesting to say the least.

“Now you are in for a treat tonight because the game is about to be opened with a special rendition of the national anthem by the world famous Catholic Church priest trio, the Three Fiddlers! Prime Minister Abbott yesterday had changed the national anthem, under a “captain’s call”, to God Save the Queen. But apparently that was overturned by Government backbenchers today and the anthem remains Advance Australia Fair. Now we cross live to your MC – and touted as a future prime minister – Ed Dee…”

Ed Dee: “Ladies and gentlemen, Prime Minister and prime ministers-in-waiting, distinguished guests, religious leaders, boys and girls, welcome to Fractal Park on this most historic of occasions, the world’s first ever game of Rolllllllllerbowllllllll!”

A huge roar sweeps over the Park.

Ed Dee: “Firstly, please be upstanding and join me as we acknowledge the traditional owners of this land: Melbourne Water, and Parks Victoria.

“And now, to play for you the national anthem … All the way from the Holy See, please welcome the Fiddlers Three!”

Unfortunately, in the confusion of changing and then unchanging the National Anthem, the musical score has been mixed up the Three Fiddlers instead fire up their electric fiddles with a lively rendition of Waltzing Matilda.

The dignitaries are red faced. The ordinary crowd love it and, for the first time, know all the words to the National Anthem. The Islamic RollerBowl players don’t give a rat’s arse.

The anthem over, the crowd settles, and the players keep a careful eye on the Three Fiddlers’ fingers as they pass them to take up their positions on the green.

Both sides are decked out in military kevlar armour, the Al Qaeda “Quranists” in green with a huge, white crescent moon and star emblem on their front and back. The Isis “Sons of Sunni” are wearing their signature pitch black.

The umpires are Four Shaolin Warrior Monks in traditional saffron garb, each clutching a whistle and a sturdy staff, who are zipping about the green on grass skis.

The traditional bowls club bell is rung to start the game.

And that’s when the shiite hit the fan…

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