Thursday, January 25, 2018

Microstory 764: Hockey Stick

Few people could be considered as fierce an athletic competitor as Veraise Akima. Though born in Captain Mason, Usonia, her family decided to take up a nomadic lifestyle, and start moving all over the world. They never spent more than six months in any one place, and often did not even bother renting a permanent house. They wanted to experience everything that the universe had to offer, so trotting the globe was as close as they were going to get. As a result of moving around so much, Akima found herself in a number of completely different environments, but her one constant was hockey. From the street to the field, ice rink to roller rink, and even underwater, Akima did it all. Seeing her love of the sport, her parents moved to a small island in the Japanese archipelago where it was rumored an old woman was experimenting with graphene tools. She agreed to design a custom stick for Veraise that would be the strongest of its kind in the whole world. Once she had it, she never used anything else. No matter which type she was playing, or where she was playing it, she used the same stick, swapping out only the blades, when necessary. Even after growing old enough to move out on her own, Veraise stuck by her family, having long fallen in love with the idea of not being tied down to any one place for too long. In her mid-twenties, they found themselves living in inland Somalia. There they discovered the Great Salt Flats of Somalia, which she eventually decided was her favorite place ever, especially since it gave her an idea that would change the course of history. She founded a new type of hockey, one that could be played on salt flats. But not all salt flats are created equal. Some are completely dry, and playing on those would prove to be but marginally different than playing in a semi-arid desert. No. Though similar flats existed, no flat was quite like the Great Flats of Somalia. It lies just on top of brine water, which seeps to the surface, resulting in a thin layer of water. It is highly reflective, giving distant observers the impression that they are watching someone walk on water. It was on the edge of the flats that Akima tried out her new sport, gathering her neighbors to play with her, and work out some of the nuances. For the most part, it’s played like other versions of hockey, but requires special equipment to allow for speed in the shallow water. From this day on, Veraise Akima never played any other type of hockey, nor any other sport, for that matter, nor did she live anywhere outside of Somalia. She gathered crowds of spectators from all over the world, which snowballed its popularity, and encouraged the creation of a league. She served as its first commissioner, establishing most of the organization’s rules that remain today. She was buried somewhere in secret somewhere under the Somalian flats with her stick, while her various blades can be viewed by the public in the International Salt Hockey Association museum.

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