The Buntocalypse: A Short Story

Christian Petersen

Anybody who's watched any of the World Baseball Classic has probably noticed a trend by the various team managers to call for bunts at any situation. Is this just managers being overly conservative, or something more... sinister?

Hello, I hope you get this, and I hope the madness hasn't consumed you. I don't know if I'm the only one left in this world, but I must hold out hope. If you are sane, then you know of the calamity that has befallen us. It started off so innocuously, but like all innocuous things, there was an undercurrent of menace, so sinister that when we realized what was going on, it was too late.

It first showed its head five months ago. I had just completed a year of studying abroad in the Czech Republic. It was enlightening and informative, but I couldn't wait to get home. After I got back, my friend Gary called me up and asked me to be on a slow pitch softball team. I was excited, I hadn't seen or experienced any baseball or softball in a year, and it was just about the most American thing one could think of, so I said I would.

A few days later I went down to the park and met Gary and the guys. We played some catch for a little bit, and then we decided to do some batting practice. Since I was the new guy, the other guys let me bat first. I didn't pay much mind to it at the time, but I noticed that the infield was playing in. Probably thought the new guy couldn't hit was my reasoning. The pitcher lofted one at the plate, and I took a mighty swing and lined one between the Shortstop and the Third Baseman. It felt good for my first action in awhile. I admired the ball a little and waited for the next pitch. It never came. Every other guy on the team was staring at me, some were perplexed and some were giving me death stares. I was confused.

Gary broke the tension and run down from First Base to talk to me. He did not look pleased.

"Uh, bro, what was that?" He asked, daggers coming out of his voice.

"What was what?" I asked, perplexed. I wondered if my swing was out of whack, but I had a solid hit so that couldn't be it.

"That thing you just did. With the bat moving and all that."

"Swinging?" I asked, I wasn't sure where he was going with this.

"Yeah, that. What's your problem? Why aren't you a team player?" He asked, his voice getting angrier.

"What do you mean?" I was trembling at this point. It's not a nice feeling to have an entire softball team stare you down like you just sacrificed all of their respective mothers to Imhotep without their permission.

"Dude, why aren't you bunting?"

"Bunting?"

"Yeah, man, bunting."

"It's batting practice!" I argued.

"Yeah, so what's the deal?"

"I thought it was for batting."

"Yeah, so why aren't you moving the runners over?"

"There aren't any runners in this batting practice situation!" I was getting flustered.

"Yeah, but in a game there might be, dude!" Gary was this close to violence, I could see it in his eyes.

"But there isn't. I should get on base the normal way so another guy can bunt me over, if that's what you want!" Me saying that caused the rest of the team to lose it. Some guys started to charge at me, but were held back by others. Gary took a long pause looking at the ground and then he sighed.

"Bro, I'm sorry, we can't have this 'Me First Gloryboy' attitude on the team. I think you have to go."

"What?" I was shocked and confused.

"Dude, don't make it any harder. Just leave."

I left without much fuss. I was shaking and still confused. What had gotten over Gary and the rest of the guys? I wasn't doing anything bad. I turned on the TV when I got home, and found a World Baseball Classic game. "Well", I thought, "This will return things to normal."

Two minutes later...

"Why the (bad word) are you having Zobrist bunting there? What's the deal, Torre?"

I turned off the game in a huff and went to bed. Surely, this was all a bad bunting dream.

----------

It wasn't. I turned on the TV a few days later to see the announcement of the new Pope, always an interesting watch. I remember the commentators on CNN still to this day.

"And there is Pope Francis I, waving to the assembled crowd at St. Peter's square."

"Oh, look at this. An aid has handed him a staff, like the one John Paul II used in his later years."

"Indeed he has, and Francis has taken the staff... and is putting it sideways and holding it at both ends. He's crouched a little.. What is he doing?"

"He's bunting! You know, the Baseball thing!"

"Oh yes, I see it now!"

"He's put the staff down, and he is about to say something."

"Oportet nos sacrificet Dominus enim!"

"What a poignant message!"

----------

I was going crazy. Everywhere I looked there was talk of bunting, and not just at baseball games, everywhere. It was like The Harlem Shake, but more annoying. There had to be a last bastion of sanity. I went to an independent league game. Surely, they would be independent enough from this orthodoxy.

I was wrong. By the 5th inning, both teams were being no hit, but each team had 2 errors on fielding misplays on bunts. There were nothing but bunts. It was boring as all hell. However, I seemed to be the only one who thought that. Everyone else was riveted. There were many mummers of "Team baseball" and "Grit" and "Hustle" and "Apple pie." It was crazy, but I didn't say anything, for fear of being subjected to the anger of the mob.

However, another soul did not have such reservations. I heard her voice like an angel in the night a few rows back of me. It sounded so sweet.

"Hey what the (very bad word) are you (pejorative) doing? Stop bunting already you (dirtier pejorative)!"

The crowd, the players, the ushers, and the vendors all turned on her, much like Gary and the team did earlier. They all looked like they wanted blood. The next few moments were a blur to me, but I remember jumping up a few rows, grabbing her arm, and yelling "Follow me to freedom!" and running out of the stadium while all assembled chased us like a pitchfork mob minus the pitchforks.

I remember we got in my car and drove into the mountains. We didn't talk much, but I think we both knew that this was the only way to be safe.

"You do realize this is essentially kidnapping, right?" She said to break the silence.

It didn't matter, I had found my resolve and I kept driving. We found an abandoned cabin in the mountains, and that was going to be the start of our bunt-free existence.

----------

It was two years later. Kayla, that was her name, and I were living an idyllic, utilitarian existence together. It was bunt free, and we liked it that way. We foraged for berries and hunted moose for our food. It seemed perfect, but it all went wrong.

Kayla had decided to decorate the cabin a little bit. I could see the appeal of it. It would stave off boredom of living in a cabin, and it'll make the place look nice. However, I saw her tie a bunch of flags onto a string one day and I froze.

"What is that?" I said to her.

"Oh, it's just some flags, I thought I'd hang them over the roof or something." She said.

"Do you know what that is?"

"What?"

"That is bunting! BUNTING! HOW COULD YOU!"

"Oh, is that what it's called?"

"DAMN YOU WOMAN, YOU ARE ONE OF THEM TOO!" I yelled. Then, I turned and ran deeper into the mountains, and I never looked back.

---------

The mountains are where I am now. I might be the only one left. What caused this? Aliens? An infection? Stupid baseball narratives? Whatever it is, it has infected the world. If you read this, I am probably dead. However, you must tell the people my story, before it is too late! Don't let my sacrifice be in vain. Oh God, I just wrote "Sacrifice". It's getting me too!

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