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REAL MASCOT SECRETS: ABOVE AND BEYOND

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SLIP THE SURLY BONDS OF EARTH WITH US, WON’T YOU

They said I would never go to space.

As a child, that was all I ever dreamed of. I’d stare at the night sky through my little telescope and imagine that some day I would go there. It was never to be, though: I was small and weak, plagued by a host of maladies that would surely make meeting the demanding physical requirements of the space program an impossible dream.

But I was obsessed. While the other kids splashed in pools, roller-skated and played ball, I stayed inside. Buried my head in any book I could find. I learned quantum physics by age 9; by age 15 I proposed a better form of rocket propulsion to NASA. They sent back a form letter commendation. I was going to find my way into space one way or another, though.

I decided that if my body was the obstacle, I would simply build a new one.

I spent years studying bionics and cybernetics. Bridging the gap between human and machine. I learned to grow human tissue in a laboratory; built skeletal robots that could outperform any athlete or soldier. I married the two. There were early failures, certainly; bodies that rejected their cores, cores that malfunctioned and fried their bodies. In moments of doubt, I considered that playing god might turn me into a monster, or that my creations might escape my control - turn into something hideous and twisted.

But I stayed resolute.

I would build myself a new body, one at the peak of human performance. Synthetic human tissue over a robotic skeleton; stronger and faster and with more endurance than any astronaut. And I’d upload my consciousness to it, abandon this mortal husk and become a god. I would see the sun set from space finally.

After years of development, I had the final model ready. A hulking brute, massively strong, but quick and nimble. It could go days without eating, without sleeping, with hardly a drink of water. In my earlier prototypes, I had built to the smallish stature required by NASA, bodies that would fit in traditional space capsules. But then I realized: I’m redefining humanity, I’ll redefine space travel, too. Once they beheld my new form, they’d be so awed that they’d have to listen to my ideas for revolutionizing rocketry itself. I’d build them a bigger spacecraft to fit me.

It’s been decades since we put a man on the moon. Now we’re going to put a god on the moon.

The process was simple; I would link myself and the body together. The computer would scan my brain activity, upload a copy of it to the body. This feeble shell would become obsolete. I would rise anew. The only issue was, I didn’t have the power source I needed at my main laboratory. I planned to sneak into the university late at night, use their massive grid to support the transfer.

I loaded the body into my refrigerated truck, began the short drive across town to the university lab. I turned back for a moment to check on the body, and I never even saw the car pull out in front of me. It crumpled under the front end of the truck. I was shaken up, but not badly injured; when I hobbled out of the truck to check, the driver was near death. A young man, bleeding badly, drifting in and out of consciousness.

I considered dialing 911, but we were on a quiet, darkened road. By the time they arrived, he would surely be dead. I checked my watch - the truck’s support systems could only keep my new body fresh for another 15 minutes. There was no time to wait. I would have to leave. I would have to let the young man die.

He rasped... “I... the battle... the glory...”

He must’ve been a soldier. A young man in the prime of his life, but one who was committed to something greater than himself. What kind of monster have I become? What would I be if I let him die here, alone, on the side of this highway? He deserved a chance, too. I couldn’t take that from him.

I loaded him into the truck and sped to the laboratory. I would give up my dreams of space. I would save this young soldier. Perhaps someday he would fulfill my legacy; become the astronaut I dreamed of being.

I completed the transfer.

A few minutes of tense silence, and then he rose from the table, slowly. He cautiously flexed his fingers, beholding the new body with wonder.

“What happened?”

“You nearly died. But you have new life.”

He climbed down from the table. I saw the confidence glimmer in his eyes. He understood. He turned, and smashed the metal table in half with his bare hand.

“This is incredible. I’ll surely win the battle now.”

Pride swelled past my regrets. I had done the right thing; this young man had given himself over to his country, and he would serve us nobly.

“The yellow knight’s never going to know what hit him,” he continued.

“Yellow - what?

“The yellow knight. That dillweed always wins. But not anymore!”

“I’m sorry, I thought you were a soldier. Aren’t you in the Army?”

He chuckled. “What? No, I work at the Medieval Times over in Kissimmee. Well, part time, the rest of the time I sell weed out of my mom’s basement. But man, now that I look like this, they might bring me on full time. Then I can afford my own basement!”

I dropped to my knees. I’d created a monster.

“Ah shit, it’s 3am. I gotta go pick up Mindi from her shift. She’s gonna shit when she see what I look like now! Thanks for the muscles, nerd.”

He walked straight through the lab wall, and out into the night. I wondered if I’d ever see my horrific creation again.

And I do. Every Saturday.

I must destroy him.