It would have been funny if it weren’t so tragic. The city spent billions of Rands on the stadium alone. I don’t even want to think about all the extra money that went into advertising, improving transport, and so on. But the alien invasion put a real spanner in the works. The world watched as we hung our heads in shame and admitted that the 2010 World Cup could not be held in South Africa. That Cairo would have to be Soccer City.
At first it seemed like the imported trees were just growing a bit faster, flowering a bit more than usual. So we just laid on extra landscaping staff; we’re always looking for job creation opportunities that don’t just mean another few hastily trained security guards. We joked that even the shrubs had caught Football Fever. We stopped joking after we lost the first highway. Cutting back the branches only gave a few hours grace. Crews would work through the night, hacking back enough to clear the whole road by rush hour the next morning. By noon the roads would be covered again. Thick, hard, branches with dark, sticky, fruit blocking the way. And always a few trapped bakkies: a few idiots thinking they could get through.
So then we called in the Volunteer Wildfire crews. They helped us plan and execute a controlled burn. That looked like it was going to work, for a day or two. Then the branches came back, thicker and stronger than before. Like they had learned something from the Fynbos about how to deal with fire.
Then, the stadium. We could probably have put up scaffolding or thrown new concrete slabs to fix the walls that were cracking and crumbling from the expanding vines, but there wasn’t a lot we could do about the tree growing in the centre of the pitch. It only took a week to cover the whole field. The botanist from UCT said that it should have taken hundreds of years to get that big.
The day after that, the flying saucer landed.
That’s when I quit.