Life's a one way street; you can't turn back and there's no reverse gear
Shane's breath rasped in his throat, his lungs felt like they were about to burst, and black blotches swum in front of his eyes. One of his team-mates--he couldn't tell who through the fog in his brain--slapped him on the back as they ran past.
"Last lap," the team mate called.
Last lap? Shane was supposed to be fit this early in the footy season, stripped back and injury free, and the cool-down jog around the oval at the end of a training session shouldn't hurt.
Which didn't explain why his knees felt like they were on fire.
Lindon, coaching assistant, team-runner and Shane's personal angel, loomed up out of the blur, grabbed at Shane's arm and hauled him off the track to a bench. A water bottle was thrust into Shane's hands, and Shane gulped down the cool, sweet liquid, pouring the contents of the bottle across his raw throat.
"You pulled up sore?" Lindon asked, his fingers probing through Shane's lycra hamstring-warming tights, digging into his quads knowledgeably. Lindon had fingers of steel from massaging Shane and his team-mates.
Lindon tapped Shane's knee and Shane lifted his leg, giving Lindon access to his hamstrings. There'd been a time when he'd resented the intrusive nature of being coached, but he knew now that the coaching staff owned him body and soul.
"Feel awful," Shane said.
His vision cleared enough to make out the figure of the head coach of the Hammers, Jerry Gordon, pounding across the grass toward them.
"Davis!" Gordon called. "Get up and run if you're planning on playing this week."
"Shane's quads have locked up," Lindon said, standing up. "I pulled him out of the cool down."
Gordon made a disbelieving noise, and Shane just wanted to hug Lindon for covering for him. "Looks like he's hungover to me," Gordon said. "Get him rehydrated."
Shane lifted his head to meet his coach's gaze, then struggled to his feet. "Thanks, boss," he said.
"You're damned lucky this training session isn't open to the public," Gordon said. "Last thing we need in the run up to the game against the Devils is the media filming you falling over at training because you were on the piss last night."
Shane nodded, blinking eyes that stung, not trusting his voice enough to try and reply.
Gordon's rumpled face softened and he said, "I know you work hard, Shane, and you're not like some of the kids in the squad who have to be fined for binge drinking mid-week. Stretch, get your arse into the shower, then I want you and Lindon in my office."