By André Withoutalastname
Axver ended the phone call, slumped onto his bed, and buried his head in the pillow. He now had no access to many of the people for whom he cared and was unable to frequent any of his usual online haunts. It was clear that he couldn't just lie on his bed like a sloth so he got to his feet, scanned the room, searching for where he placed his book, and when he failed to sight it upon a cursory inspection, he looked outside at the weather. His room afforded him a magnificient view of the central Gold Coast, and while he usually did not like sunshine and blue skies, today he was dismayed to note the dismal grey blanket of cloud had not dispersed. Rain continued to lightly drizzle, having eased off from earlier - there was now hardly enough to be a bother, but just enough to postpone a game of cricket. It was the last thing Axver wanted to see. Despite his Internet being down, he figured he still had one thing to enjoy that day, the third and final game in the cricket series between Australia and New Zealand. His beloved New Zealand had defied expectations and managed to tie the series, creating a massive sense of anticipation around the third fixture.
Maybe it has stopped raining in Brisbane? he thought to himself as he began to prepare to travel to the 'Gabba, Brisbane's major cricket stadium. After finding his New Zealand scarf and flags, he dressed all in black as that was his nation's colour. At least, all in black apart from his shoes.
"Hey, Mum!" he called from his room. "You know what I need? A pair of black shoes." He was right - all he possessed was a tatty pair of white runners and formal black shoes that would have looked silly attending the cricket.
"You could borrow a pair of Alan's shoes. I think they'd fit you," suggested his mother, and a few minutes and three pairs of shoes later, Axver had found a pair that fit. They weren't quite boots and weren't quite shoes, rather clunky and unlike anything he usually wore, but they were black and that was what mattered. Appreciative of finding something to suit his black garb, he failed to even consider how bizarre it was that his stepfather possessed so many shoes.
Another ten minutes later, it was almost time to go. Axver smiled to himself - despite the lack of an Internet connection, he'd managed to pass enough of the time that he hadn't gone completely insane before departing for the cricket. He was travelling via train with his grandmother, fellow New Zealand cricket fanatic, and they were meeting at the station so he had to recruit his mother to drive him there. Bloody nuisance! Axver thought with regards to the poor vision that prohibited him from driving, but he didn't contemplate his eyesight woes as he gathered together raincoats, binoculars, and all the supporter's gear he was taking to the game.
Soon enough, Axver and his mother arrived at the railway station, purchased tickets, and hung around on the platform. Five minutes passed. The train was due in about ten. Another five passed.
"Where is she?" Axver wondered, looking over the carpark for any sign of his grandmother's car.
"Her mobile is busy," observed his mother with a hint of frustration in her voice.
"Four minutes ..." said Axver nervously, looking at his watch. "What'll we do if she's late? That'll wreck our plans."
The question didn't need to be answered, however, for at that exact moment, his grandmother came racing down the platform in a hurry, attempting to organise what she was taking to the cricket and what she was giving to Axver's mother. They only just managed to arrange everything in time when the train halted at the station, and after a hurried goodbye, Axver and his grandmother boarded the train and found a seat.
There was little special about the ride from the Gold Coast to Brisbane and both had made the trip many times before. One did have to wonder about the impression it created for tourists, however. It passed through some of the less pleasant southern Brisbane suburbs and was lined with government housing, graffiti, and poorly kept yards. It was not particularly tasteful and seemed to appear worse with every trip. Soon enough, the unappealling suburbs faded from view and the line entered the city, and while Axver was usually attentive and well aware of when his stop was approaching, this time he was almost taken by surprise when the train pulled into South Bank. The two quickly disembarked and then looked around, unsure of where next to head.
"Follow the crowd?" Axver suggested and his grandmother agreed. "They should lead us to a bus stop."
They did not. Oblivious to any signs pointing towards the busway to the 'Gabba, the two followed a large throng of people up onto the road and down the footpath, assuming either the bus stop or 'Gabba were nearby. After about five minutes of walking, they realised they were not heading to any buses, and after another few minutes, they became acutely aware that they also had quite a way to go the cricket venue. The light drizzle of rain started to become heavier, and Axver became a little nervous when they came upon the chaotic roadways leading up to the motorway that was soon to pass overhead. A few quick dashes later, the entire throng had passed through a few hectic intersections, under the motorway, and made it onto a road with - joy of joys - a view to the 'Gabba. The rain became heavier and Axver became aware of a dull pain on the back of his right heel, a pain that was only to magnify by the time his grandmother collected tickets from the main office and they walked around to the absolute opposite side of the stadium to the appropriate gate. After climbing multiple flights of stairs, Axver was extremely relieved to collapse into his seat one row from the very top of the stands.
Axver's seat was incredible, granting him a spectacular view over the whole ground. Unfortunately for him, the covers were over the centre square and the players and grounds staff inside, away from the rain. A sizeable crowd had still gathered and began to entertain themselves by throwing around beach balls as they waited for the rain to abate and the game to hopefully commence.
The afternoon dragged. Axver and his grandmother spoke for a while, watched the antics of crowd members with amusement, bought food, bought more food, and then both began to doze in their seats. The hours blurred into one as the rain eased then returned in a cyclic fashion. It was monotonous, tedious, and the wonderful seats were renderred worthless by the bland lack of activity. It wasn't until after five o'clock that the rain abated and the grounds staff appeared to investigate the field. Anticipation built in the stands, and the atmosphere became more and more tense as the officials continued to deliberate and consult one another. Their body language slowly began to change, and none in the crowd wished to believe the truth when they left the field looking less than positive. A loud roar of discontent rose as the grounds staff returned to shelter without removing the covers from the centre pitch, and the news none wanted to hear was broadcast over the public announcement system.
"Due to rain and the condition of the field, today's game has been abandoned."
Weary after the disappointments of the day, Axver trudged down the stairs after his grandmother, his heel sore from what was sure to be a blister developing. At least they managed to catch a bus for the return journey to the railway station. The train ride home was only made interesting by the behaviour of a group of somewhat vocal, mildly humorous, and very bored young teenage boys nearby, one claiming that his thick mop of hair "helps me to balance" like an animal's tail.
Arriving home tired and exhausted, Axver was not surprised but still dismayed to discover his status screen continued to read 'incorrect configuration.' Uninterested in a late dinner, he was informed by his stepbrother Robby that someone from an Internet company had contacted him, but the message was passed on so abysmally that little information beyond "the Internet may still be down until Monday" was actually passed onto him. In desperation, Axver phoned Internode, but after more than thirty minutes of being informed he was "first in the queue," he simply gave up and collapsed into bed, resigned to defeat.
Saturday had to be a better day.
Tomorrow: The improvement that was Saturday.