This time last year, a couple of aliens descended on the ESPNcricinfo offices and were forcibly introduced to the majesty of IPL. Icome Inpeace is back and this time he's brought a friend too.
Everything looks exactly the same, from the shrine of sporting equipment that totally snubs Time-travel Tennis to the coffee-table books about some ancient warrior hero named Rahul Dravid. But there is something just slightly off.
Takemeto Yourleader: Helloooooo. Is anybody theeeereeeeee????
The alien jumps as his own voice bounces back at him, only hollower and creepier.
Icome Inpeace: Shhh! Something's wrong. The last time I was here this place was packed and there was this tall doofus with a bad haircut who tried to turn me into an IPL fan.
Takemeto: What's Eyepeeyell?
Icome: Uh, long story. Anyway, I tagged him, so it shouldn't take long to find... ah, there he is.
Not too far away, inside a very dark room where the curtains are drawn and the music is loud, a tall doofus with a bad haircut has a couple of unexpected visitors
Al: What the ff--
Icome: Hey man. Miss me? Wait. What're you watching there? Can I--?
Al: Nothing. It's nothing. (Scrambling to shut his laptop but not quickly enough)
Icome: Al! You pervert!
Al: What? Just because I'm watching a movie about a priest who becomes a dinosaur and fights crime. Pft. The VelociPastor is a cult classic. Anyway, what the florg are you doing here?
Icome: Oh come on, you can't say you've never travelled millions of light years and then used a sub-dermal tracker to teleport directly into your friend's bedroom.
Al: Yes, I can definitely say that. And what do you mean sub dermal trac-
Icome (gulps and quickly cuts him off): Oh. Wow! Never? That's so funny. Anyway, I'm here so you can have the honour of taking me to an IPL game. I wanna watch one live and maybe get on Virat Kohli's Insta.
Takemeto clears his throat pointedly
Icome: Oh sorry, we wanna get on Virat Kohli's Insta. This is Takemeto, by the way. He was the reason there was no invasion last year.
Takemeto: Would you stop bringing that up? Honestly, the one time I leave the house without my population disintegrator.
Al: Uhm, actually there is no IPL right now.
Al: Yeah. There is no cricket; no sport of any kind really. The whole world is in lockdown.
Takemeto: For realsies?
Al: Yeah dude. See, there's this virus - Covid-19 - which we don't have a cure for, and it's spreading over the entire planet. Sort of like the Floss.
Takemeto: Oh I love that. #CantStopWontStop
Al: Over 500,000 people have been affected in nearly 200 countries and the only viable solution we have to stop the spread of this outbreak is to drop everything and just stay at home.
Icome (who had curled into a ball upon hearing the IPL wasn't happening, finally re-joins the conversation): Wow. That's awful.
Al: Yeah, but we've not lost hope. Like, even in Wuhan, the city in China where the outbreak began, there were people - simple everyday people like me and y--
Icome gives the old raised eyebrow
Al: Okay, maybe not like you but definitely like me...
Icome's eyebrow remains raised
Al: Fine! All I wanted to say was normal people were being very not normal, going out of their way to help others in need.
"Don't get so close"— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 15, 2020
A filmmaker in Wuhan has been recording a video diary of what life is like living in the epicentre of coronavirus, since the city went under lockdown in January
When his wife contracted the virus, he decided to continue to filmhttps://t.co/olYHrCVKNa pic.twitter.com/mrabzH5pwJ
In Italy, which was hit just as badly and is deep in quarantine mode and still comes up with some amazing human moments. You'll wanna go through the full thread
Italians in lockdown all over Italy are keeping each other company by singing, dancing and playing music from the balconies. A thread to celebrate the resilience of ordinary people. This is Salerno: pic.twitter.com/3aOchqdEpn— Leonardo Carella (@leonardocarella) March 13, 2020
And our cricketers haven't just put their feet up and retreated into their own lives either. We know that one of the most important things we have to do to protect ourselves, and others, against the coronavirus is washing our hands.
And Sachin Tendulkar, who is an all-time great, used the influence he has as an all-time great, to send out a very cool PSA on it.
हम सभी कोरोना वायरस (COVID-19) की वजह से चिंतित है।— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) March 17, 2020
इस वायरस को फैलने से रोकने के लिए जो एक आसान सी चीज़ हम कर सकते है वो है अपने हाथों को स्वच्छ रखना।
हाथों को 20 सेकंड तक साबुन के साथ धोना अनिवार्य है। हमेशा अपने हाथों को अच्छे से धोएं।#SafeHandsChallenge @UNICEF @WHO pic.twitter.com/63zE8OIvY3
Lisa Sthalekar ran errands for her elderly neighbour.
Jos Buttler and his wife made people laugh under the pretence of teaching them pilates.
Takemeto: Pretending to teach pilates is important?
Al: No, the other part, the laughing part.
Icome: So how long do you guys have to live like this?
Al: Don't know. This coronavirus is brand new to our science and while everyone is working incredibly hard to stop it, the chances of finding a cure anytime soon are very remote. That's why social-distancing is key.
It's also why all sports are halted. The IPL is supposed to be postponed to April 15, but I'd be surprised if we make that deadline, and even if we did, matches would likely take place in empty stadiums. Australia and New Zealand played an ODI like that and it was all kinds of weird.
Takemeto (taking time away from graffiting the wall): But it'll get better. Life is upside down right now and everyone is scared. Scared that they'll get sick or their family will get sick or that they'll run out of food...
Al: Meh, they actually seem more worried about running out of toilet paper.
Takemeto: Would you mind? I'm in the middle of a monologue here.
Al: Sorry. Please continue.
Takemeto: But one day there will be news of progress and on that day you'll want to remember where you were so you can tell your children and then their children. You'll want to be there when the whole world bursts back to life. When everybody is dancing in the streets. When strangers meet and laugh and cry and hug each other, yelling, "We did it! We did it!".
You'll want to be there when the Eye... peeyell?
Takemeto looks to Icome, who nods and smiles
… when the Eyepeeyell restarts. When all sports restarts. You'll remember who bowled the first ball, who took the first kick, who won that first game of time-travel tennis. It's going to suck getting used to this whole end-of-days thing now, but you'll want to be there when it all gets better.
Al: Wow. That's actually really wise.
Takemeto (now prodding at the wall and demanding it make him dinner): Of course it is. I'm the smartest living thing in the universe.
Al: You guys should come back, by the way. When we've all recovered. And bring those zappy thingies.
Icome: They are not a toy, Al.
Al's not listening. He's already making a list of everyone he wants to zap in the butt
Icome: Helloooooo! All-powerful alien beings to Allll. What are you thinking about?
Al (putting on his best and most innocent face): Uh, nothing. Unrelated note, those zappy thingies work on everyone, right? Like, even you?