A Lil' Apocalypse

Archive Photo - Operation Needle - Salt Creek and Stadium

In 2008, Nebraska did not only hire Bo Pelini. They also began a secret organization, known only as Operation Needle, a public-private organization of local business leaders and university officials. There is only one goal for this organization: to remove the black magic curse that surrounds Nebraska.

I leave this record to explain the accident. I can only hope that those in the future will judge me not on the consequences of my actions but the intent. I could not have known this would happen. All of the science said it would work. And it should have.

I'd only meant to help. It wasn't supposed to end up like this. I guess I ought to start from the beginning.

Our target? The child-monster Lil' Red.

***

It all started in 1993, when the powers that be became tired of losing in Florida and consulted with local illusionists to create a terror so great, the world would have no choice but to acquiesce to Nebraska's football teams. In that moment of terrible judgment and naivety, the child-monster Lil' Red was created. And for the proceeding five years, the college football community submitted to the will of this monster, delivering onto Nebraska three national titles.

It is worth noting that the split title in 1997 was not, as many conspiracy-theorists note, the act of honoring the retiring Tom Osborne. No, I assure you, it was the Coaches' Association merely submitting to the will of the dark one. But by then it was too late - the demons were angry. The media had already revolted, leaving Nebraska to bear the ill-will of the demons.

And so Nebraska has endured these evils over the last fifteen years. Year after year has brought heartbreak and despair, culminating in a fourth quarter collapse against Georgia. Once again, Florida has become Nebraska's Waterloo.

In 2008, Nebraska did not only hire Bo Pelini. They also began a secret organization, known only as Operation Needle, a public-private organization of local business leaders and university officials. There is only one goal for this organization: to remove the black magic curse that surrounds Nebraska.

Our target? The child-monster itself. Lil' Red is certainly not the only such monster out there. But it is the first and has proven the most difficult to destroy. It has drawn legions to its defense, claiming accolades like prizes out of a Cracker Jack box.

The program was established in response to successes by our colleagues at Purdue University and Northwestern University, who were able to remove their own threats by launching them into space.

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- Artist's Rendering of the Jettison Event via cdn3.sbnation.com (h/t LincolnParkWildcat)

With Lil' Red confined to the continental US by the Geneva (Fillmore County) Accords and the retirement of NASA's manned flight-program, we are not able to partake in a similar endeavor to jettison our own problems into the Sun. Our research culminated in a brief list of eleven proposals for the destruction of Lil' Red, hereafter referred to only as the SUBJECT.

I'm sorry to say that all eleven proposals failed to gain support. And now this year the administration opted to cut our funding, citing a lack of progress. I was only just able to convince them to give us our full funding for one more year.

And so I decided to push Plan #13 (Project ‘Beluga'). My team insisted that we needed more time but I told them there isn't any.

The time to act was now. What I hadn't told them was that I was fearful that legions of Lil' Red supporters had finally infiltrated Operation Needle.

It was always a possibility. (I was also under extreme pressure from our colleagues at Northwestern, who found our failure to address the problem aggravating.)

So on the morning of the faithful day, the equipment was activated and the SUBJECT was retrieved from its holding pen. There had been some glitches that morning, mostly power surges, but I was confident the science would work.

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- ARCHIVE PHOTO: The Land Grant Trophy Laser Device via img.photobucket.com

Lasers work against balloons. I've seen it. So the Land Grant Trophy Laser should have no problems "popping" the SUBJECT.

I could not have anticipated what happened next. No one could have - it was unprecedented. And with the electro-magnetic pulse that followed, there is no data from the event to analyze.

The laser was calibrated like we've done thousands of times before over the last year: ninety red-balloons were packed into a box beyond the aperture and the laser was activated. With our preliminary tests completed, the SUBJECT was strapped into position.

This was it. The moment we had worked so hard for had arrived. If this failed, we were finished.

A momentary power surge brought things to a halt and we re-performed our calibrations as a matter of safety.

Finally, the laser was activated.

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-LASERS via cdn1.sbnation.com

The laser struck the SUBJECT's outer covering, resulting in the SUBJECT taking on an otherworldly glare.

And what followed was the most horrifying event I've ever observed, more horrifying than a Wisconsin jet sweep.

The light expanded until a huge flash of light emitted from the subject, followed by a thunderous boom and a shockwave that knocked many of us to the ground.

At first, I had thought it an illusion. But several attempts to dissolve imaginary pachyderms from my eyes failed to remove the horror from my sight. The SUBJECT had been replicated, not destroyed. Or perhaps it had brought friends back from another plane of existence. (And I could've sworn I saw Air Willie and Rowdy...)

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-ARCHIVE PHOTO (2013)

As I stood there dumbfounded, one the monsters, a fat blue one, knocked down one of the external walls. To my great distress, I could see that our extensive external containment fields had been knocked out by the blast. The monsters bounded, flipped and quivered out to freedom.

As the SUBJECT took its turn to exit, it turned to look at me one last time. I swear that it became slightly deflated, almost as though it were disappointed in us. And just as quickly as it had deflated, it was gone.

The monsters bounded, flipped and quivered out to freedom.

Over the next few days, as we worked to assess the damage from the event, we began to hear reports about monsters cropping up in cities.

We could only sigh as we came to the terrible realization that we had failed. And perhaps worse, we had unleashed the monsters onto an unsuspecting public of the Big Ten.

***

ARCHIVE PHOTOS OF CONFIRMED SIGHTINGS

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- Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN, 2013

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- Leinenkugel's Brewery, Chippewa Falls, WI, 2013

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- 50 Yard Lines, Everywhere, 2013

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- University Library, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 2013

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- Honeycrisp Apple Orchard, Location Unknown, 2013

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- Pawnshop, Location Unknown, 2013

Pittsburgh-pennstate_medium

- Sixth Street Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA, 2013

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- Walmart, Location Unknown, 2013

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- Student Health Clinic, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 2013

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- Joe's Crab Shack, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, 2013

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- Promotional Materials for cancelled seventh season of Jersey Shore

UPDATE:

A thirteenth sighting has been confirmed:

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Beaver Stadium, State College, PA, 2013

***

That is all there is. There is no more Operation Needle. Our funding is gone, our facilities destroyed.

We have failed. But perhaps, with the danger now widespread, perhaps there is a solution out there.

Please forgive us for our folly.

Please fight on.

The survival of the conference depends on it.

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