Post Heat Interviews With the Stars

Trestles comp of the future. Another post-heat interview, another zombie flatlining. Slater tugged nervously at the white wig. What heinous concoction of drugs could produce such dullards?

‘Howwussthat?’ the interviewer drawled.

‘Sick,’ the young competitor replied, ‘some really sick waves coming through out there. I was just stoked to get a couple of sick ones.’

After winning titles 14 through Sleventeen, Slater had faked his own death of course. Now he lived entirely in a string of concrete bunkers directly overlooking each world-class WSL venue, stage-managing the world tour like some evil sea god. Primarily, his goal was to wipe out anyone who got within a glimpse of his record, so he never missed a second. He’d watch them intently, these glorious young athletes, for a hot streak. Too threatening to his record and he’d strike. A series of tragic accidents had already ended the careers of several Goliath-beating young grommets and he had a few more earmarked for destruction.

It had been an exciting year in the amorphous circle-jerk of professional surfing. Paul Fisher’s lurid autobiography, a 500 page masterpiece compared favourably by critics with the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, had sent shockwaves through the ranks of the WSL and lead to numerous imprisonments, comings out and widespread litigation.

The controversy had given Slater a good chance to finally hit JJF using a mechanised shark. His elite assassin squad, Dave Rastovich and Craig Anderson, had provided all the distraction the crowd needed with some knee-bending carves and waving dreadlocks. Even Medina had faded from the tour several years before, repeatedly worse performances cancelling him out. He was a fringe figure at events now, mumbling about rohypnol in his chia seeds.

The interview droned on in the background, but Slater’s hooded eyes were drawn to a flicker of movement behind the camera.

‘Fuck me dead,’ he growled under his breath. Logoless thruster under his arm and sucking on a healthily-proportioned joint, a silver-haired Curren had come slinking out of the Trestles scrub.

‘No one told me about a masters event…’ Slater riffled through the copious event literature. In small print he found it. Expression Session, over 60s. He slammed his fist on the desk. That damn Fanning had snuck it under his nose again.

The camera zoomed in as Curren torqued through a massive power hack to the adulation of the crowd. Grizzled tour veteran Kolohe Andino was caught on camera, rabbit-in-the-headlights, weeping on the beach at the sheer beauty of the turn. Slater gritted his teeth, fighting the urge to compete. This time he snapped.

His white locks trailing behind him, ancient Al Merrick under his arm, Slater sprinted out of the bunker, appearing in the competitor’s area like a ghost. Half-asleep, Joel Parkinson spluttered on his tinny. Jack Robinson paused in mid downward dog. The whispers followed Slater down the beach as he streak-paddled into the lineup. Curren was racing down the line towards him, gouging power-arcs, building speed on speed, when it happened. A splintering crash and Curren tumbled from his board, a slick of blood flowing through the Trestles lineup in which Slater bobbed, alone.

‘I got this one sick wave,’ the competitor was saying, pausing to hoof a line of crushed-up ritalin, ‘it was so sick out there.’

The light glinted off the sniper rifle scope. Machado, accurate as ever.

In the background, a geriatric Slater threw buckets into space and kicked out, sweeping one white lock from his eyes. The score was unanimous. Tens across the board. Robot judges, of course. He scratched out the back, the unfamiliar but delicious drug of competition lighting up his neurones. Another one, he demanded as the sirens howled on the beach, just one more.

‘If you want drama,’ the commentator was saying, ‘if you want action, you’ve come to the right place.’