Nails and Shorty drag me over to an old van in the parking lot. I try to scream for help but Nails clamps his sharp claws over my mouth.
I struggle desperately and try to sink my teeth into Nails’ dirty hand. Nails lifts it to hit me, then suddenly unexpectedly drops to the ground screaming and holding his face. Shorty rushes towards me, but is also hit by something and doubles over in pain.
I turn to see Khaya picking up another stone. As Nails tries to get up, Khaya flings the stone at him, hitting him hard on the elbow. Mr. Naidoo and three security guards run out of the facility and grab the two men roughly.
Khaya grins. “I’m told I have a mean aim,” he says, bouncing another stone up and down in his hand.
The security guards handcuff the two men and make them lie face down on the cold gravel of the parking lot.
Mr. Naidoo puts his arms around the two boys shoulders.
“While they wait for the police, I believe we have the second half of a game to get to.”
Khaya and I jog back into the facility and onto the pitch. My head is suddenly clear and I sense a strategy clicking into place. As I watch the Dragons returning to the pitch I notice that although they’re strong and they work well together as a team, they’re a little slow.
I call Khaya and Henry over.
“Speed,” I say urgently, “we need to pick up our speed. They’re bigger than us, which means they’re also slower. If we push the pace and don’t give them time to react, they won’t be able to stop us.”
Khaya and Henry nod and then run off to spread the strategy to the rest of the team. I look across at Tong who is standing and staring at me. The Dragons captain smiles and flexes his muscular, tattooed forearms. I smile back. I know we have a good plan.
The game starts and I immediately explode forward with the ball, taking Tong and the other Dragons by surprise. I push hard through their midfield and pass the ball to Khaya, who whips through the centre. Khaya is incredibly fast and beats the defense easily, faking a shot to wrong foot the goalie and then slamming the ball home into the net. The score is level at 1-1!
The Dragons restart and try to maintain possession, but Henry speeds down the left wing and catches the midfielders by surprise. He chips the ball to Khaya who volleys it across to me. I take the ball in mid-run and race past the Dragon defense, taking a shot and curving the ball round into the corner of the net. ¬†2-1! I’m almost crushed as the Streetskillz team pile on top of me in joy!
Through the pile of bodies I see a familiar, if somewhat battered, face in the crowd. The Professor smiles and raises a bandaged arm triumphantly.
We manage to hold on to our winning streak until the final whistle blows. Then we go crazy with celebration in the middle of the pitch. When our winning fever starts to subside, I walk past the cheering crowds, past the TV camera and into the stands where Rose is waiting for me.
I’m so elated that Streetskillz managed to steal the match back that I feel like I’m walking on air as I take the stadium steps two at a time.
Rose is smiling as I sweep her into his arms. As she kisses me passionately I’m sure I hear the crowd roar in approval.
The cameras zoom in, transmitting our victorious kiss to the big screen…and the big, wide world.