Sunday, September 30, 2018

The future of Nebraska football

Here is an excerpt from TUSKERS; the book is science fiction. Aside from backstory, all the action takes place on the day of the OU vs. Nebraska football game, November 25, 2090; i.e., it's far into the future, OU has joined the Big Ten, and the Rose Bowl has been destroyed by an earthquake, so the national championship game again gets played in the Orange Bowl. However, to get to this game, Nebraska must beat OU. To complicate matters, Nebraska has not lost a football game in 10 years, but OU has developed some secret weapons. Thanks to the molecular biologists, the former Cornhuskers are now the TUSKERS, and their mascot is a wooly mammoth, yes, a real, live, mammoth resurrected from a frozen carcass, who could have no other name than Archie. In this scene, the Cornhuskers have yet to become the powerhouse TUSKERS, Nebraska is in the depths of a string of losing seasons, and Archie the wooly mammoth has been fixed up with a blind date who stands him up. Suzi, who will become one of the book's heroes, is still a college student.

     So, one of the guys from the Beef Lab took Archie to the game. There were very few people around, and most of them were dressed in purple, not red. Even the Kansas State fans wouldn't travel to watch such a boring game. Archie didn't see anybody in red except the band and he knew that after his performance in the parade nobody in the band would go out with him. Finally two people wearing red showed up, but they were both male. Another person, the only female not dressed in purple or in the band, had on jeans and a brown leather vest. It was Suzi on her way to the museum and art gallery.
     When Suzi saw Archie she stopped and stared. Even though Archie was six years old and seven feet tall, and Suzi had watched the mammoths from the public viewing area, she'd never been this close to one. By this time Archie was feeling pretty depressed, sad, and abandoned. Maybe Nancy doesn't like me because I'm big and hairy, he thought. If she only knew how intelligent and sensitive I am, she'd like me. The guy from the Beef Lab said “don't cry, Archie.” But Archie began to cry anyway, hanging his head, letting the tip of his trunk drag on the concrete, and blinking out tears that hit the sidewalk like water balloons.
     Suzi was devastated. She could never have imagined the power that a crying mammoth could have over her deepest emotions. She walked up to Archie's handler and asked what was wrong. The man said “he was supposed to have a blind date but she stood him up because he's so big and hairy. Now he's all depressed.”
     To which Suzi replied, “he's no worse than some of the football players.”
     This wisecrack made Archie cry all the more, his massive body heaving with gigantic sobs and three feet of snot gurgling in his trunk. Suzi had insulted him terribly; he thought football players were barbarians. Then Suzi said “When I get depressed I usually kick the shit out of something. Usually something big. That makes me feel better.”
     “Uh-oh,” said the guy from the Beef Lab. The only big thing around to kick was the Kansas State team bus, a superslick black-windowed silver coach with an abstract purple wildcat on the side. Archie's ears perked up. Then he raised his head, wiped a tear with his trunk, blew out three or four gallons of snot, reared up on his hind legs and smashed the KSU bus. Metal and glass went everywhere. The two guys in red shirts stood off to the side. One of them said
     “Wow! Tusker power!”
     The other said “that's cute; Tusker power.”
     The first guy yelled “ Tus-ker! ”
     The second guy yelled “ Pow-er! ”
     The two students looked at one another. Something out of their distant past, maybe something acquired by their grandparents, bubbled to the surface, as they began to chant: Tus-ker! Pow-er! Tus-ker! Pow-er!

(TUSKERS is available on amazon and smashwords in e-book and paperback, the latter a perfect gift for a Nebraska football fan in 2018.)

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