by Tom and Johnny Lichtenberg
Baudry was notified by squirrel, on what was otherwise just another boring day. He knew he should
have been out hunting goals. He was, after all, a Goal Hunter, but he was sick of it. He'd hunted down
goals for so long already and the game was going on forever. Of course, it was meant to. That was the
whole point of the game - to be endless. Didn't they have all the time in the world? That was another
He'd found himself sitting on the roots of an old gnarled oak tree, staring at the vast green canopy
above. He'd been sitting there for hours, with nothing in his mind. He felt the cool breeze on his skin as
occasional sunlight filtered through the dense forest. He smelled the dusty duff beneath his feet and
heard the chattering of the squirrel before he saw its twitching mouth. It sounded like the usual cluck-
cluck-clucking at first and then, as the creature dropped to the ground at his feet, he heard it speaking in
his own language.
"The Hidden One calls you to order," the squirrel declared.
"Excuse me?" Baudry blinked a few times, startled but not yet believing his ears. The squirrel remained
squatting before him, its large black eyes clearly peering at his own, its whiskers twitching with
"The Hidden One," the squirrel repeated with impatience in his tone. "Calls you to order."
"What does that even mean?" Baudry asked the beast, though he was pretty sure he already knew. The
squirrel began clucking again and, with a distinct sniff, whisked its head about and scampered away.
"To order," Baudry repeated to himself. "It can only be one thing, and yet," he mused, The Hidden One
had never yet called anyone to order, as far as he knew. It was only a rumor, a vague superstition that
there even was such a being as The Hidden One, and that when she called someone to order, the lucky
recipient of that invitation had better make haste and report immediately to The Particular Tree in the
center of the Canopus Forest. It would be a bit of a journey, Baudry reflected, casually mapping the
entire trip in his mind. He knew the forest as well as anyone, probably as well as anyone could. He'd
been hunting goals in it for years by now. Too many years. Far too many in fact. Baudry rose to his feet
and decided he might as well begin right away. There was nothing else he had to do. No one he had to
inform, and he might even pick out a few goals along the way.
The game had many names - the most popular was Mind Ball, but it was typically referred to merely as
'the game' - and was currently in its seventh season. This number was purely arbitrary. A season ended