knew my first day that Miskatonic University was different. It wasn't just those creepy old buildings. The people were kinda weird too. And the students weren't the worst.

Lot of profs walking around campus in robes with all sorts of symbols on them.

One prof even wandered around stark naked. She was real old and skinny too. Nobody seemed to notice, though some co-ed muttered something about "sky clad." She'd have looked better in blue,believe me.

My name's Jake Clifford and I'm a quarterback. Not a great one. Only scholarships I got offered were from NAIA schools like Geneva College and Tri-State University.

Really couldn't afford to go without a full scholarship. So I was lucky my step-father was willing to pay my way to Miskatonic University, where he went. And here I thought he didn't like me.

The football stadium looked like it was over a hundred years old. I was sorta surprised we didn't get those old style helmets like you see pictures of Red Grange wearing.

Coach Royerson looked more like a prize fighter with his califlower ears and once broken nose. He did know what he was doing when it came to football.

My teammates were an odd lot. Stan Lauderberg must have been nearly seven feet tall. Looked like a strong wind would blow him away. Yet when one of the Marsh Brothers knocked him almost into the stands, he got right up and trotted back to the huddle.

Stan had hands like a chimpanzee with long fingers and a grip like a bear trap. The kind of receiver that can make any quarterback look good.

Little Lou Marsh was big and slow. Little Lou was named after his father, Big Lou. Little Lou was only 6'7". It always took several players to bring him down, though. Even his cousins couldn't do it by themselves.

The Marsh Brothers were damned impressive. I'd met their "babysister" Buffy when I first arrived on campus. I'm 6'2" and weigh about 240. Buffy had about three inches on me and she was built,really built. Like a defensive lineman.

Only I never saw a defensive lineman with such an impressive chest.

Buffy had the long blonde hair in pigtails and baby blue eyes of a Viking. She also had shoulders a yard across as well as the flattened nose and brow ridges of the classic Neanderthal.

Her three older brothers, even bigger and meaner looking,started in the defensive line. Charlie, Joey, and Ed hit very hard, even in practice.

I'd seen pictures of Neanderthals when I was a kid. But I never expected to play football with them.

Let alone have one literally sweep me off my feet.

I'd just asked Buffy for directions and she must have thought I was staring because I liked her.

Next thing I know, my feet are off the ground and she has me in a bear hug, kissing me like there was no tomorrow. Flipped me around like I was a ninety pound water boy. Really left me breathless. Not to mention sore ribs.

Naturally I was impressed. Those big boobs of hers were certainly real.

I was impressed by her brothers, too. Our first practice in full gear, the three of them welcomed me to the team by all landing on me at once. They were faster than they looked.

Coach yelled. Buffy had been standing on the sidelines watching us. Had on a a sickly pale green cheerleader's outfit with a Black M on the front. Must have it specially made. She had awesome legs.

Anyway, when her brothers all lit on me, Buffy let off a shriek like a siren.

Next thing I know, she yanks her brothers off me. She's squatting almost over my face. There's that big muscular butt straining tight red shorts. And those bare thighs corded with muscles. She lifts Ed, the biggest of her three brothers right up off the field and flips him. Then she dives after him.

Charlie and Joey pile on. Must have been their football instincts.

The four of them go rolling over and over. Coach just shakes his head. After a minute, they pull apart and slap each other on the back. Her uniform really must have been made for her. It was still intact.

Coach says quietly, "You mind, Buffy. We got a football game to get ready for."

Buffy blushes, blows me a kiss, and trots off the field. Probably would have kissed me in front of the team. Fortunately I had my helmet on.

Nobody laughed, though. Guess they already knew better.

After supper, Buffy and I went for a walk down by the river. It was just getting dark. Trees loomed over us like they had talons reaching for us. Definitely the spookiest campus I'd ever been on.

Buffy had quite a body and I'd have liked to seen more of it. However, her brothers would probably have killed me three times over.

So we're walking along in the moonlight, her arm around my waist,when something goes over. I jumped. Looked like a goddamn bat. Never was a bat with a twenty foot wing span though.

Buffy just laughed at me. "Loosen up, Jake. It was just a little one."

I belated realized that it must be some joker in a model of Batman's Bat plane. So I laughed too and we went on our way.

A not so chaste kiss in front of the jock's dorm and I went in to study. Econ and Intro to Business didn't seem too demanding. But we needed to start journals for Accounting I.

Our first game against the Pilot Whales went well. Stan caught 17 passes and made three touchdowns. I snuck for another and Little Lou Marsh rambled over five tacklers to give us our final score.

Charlie, Joey, and Ed didn't kill the opposing quarterback. But they came close a few times. The Pilot Whales did get three field goals. Lanky kicker with a quick release. And good nerves. He needed them with three Marsh Brothers coming after him.

The Monks must have been from a Catholic school. Several of them kept crossing themselves. But it didn't do them any good. We still creamed them for our second win, both at home. Our first shut-out.

We were cruising along with only one loss to those goons at Central State when the match of the season came up.

For some reason, the big Homecoming game was on Halloween. Gather it was an old tradition. The Gramarye Academy Warlocks of Kingsport were our tradition foes too.

If I thought the people on campus were weird, the alumni were worse. I mean you expect some students to wander around role-playing and looking odd ball. But I saw a couple of alumni looking like they were trying for roles in "The Return of the Undead." Another was pale as a ghost and showed pointed teeth when she smiled. I'll bet those cost her a pretty penny at her dentist's.

With her was the hairiest guy I ever saw. Hair so thick you couldn't see much of his face. Arms and legs that looked furry. He was wearing an Hawaiian shirt and red shorts. Rather chilly, but he didn't seem to notice.

Had some time on my hands, so I sat in on one of Buffy's classes with her. Thaumaturgy III, it was called.

Buffy was sitting right next to me in the back row. I think Buffy would have sat on my lap if she could. That girl was getting more than a bit demanding.

Well, I was frankly somewhat afraid to break up with her. She tended to be quite impulsive and even more physical. Besides I'd never survive football practice.

Too, I was attracted to her. Even if she didn't enough nose to count and could break me in two, she was a good kid at heart.

The instructor made several hand gestures combined with a Shakespearian sounding oration. Then he'd lecture for a while. Then more gestures and orating.

I got the impression that you were supposed to do the stuff in one continuous spurt. But I had no idea what it was for. I'm just not up on the technical stuff.

Some of it looked familiar. I'd bust in on my step-father once when he was doing something like that. Really annoyed him, too.

The day of the big game dawned sunny and clear. But by afternoon, it had clouded over.

The university radio station, WHEX, was broadcasting the game. I knew Mom would be listening. You should see her scrapbooks.

One end zone had the stands jammed with Marshes. They were quite noisy. Like the Dog Pound, only worse. Rumor had it that they threw more than dog biscuits.

Over a dozen state troopers in riot gear were poised by that corner of the stands.

Atmosphere seemed electric like before a storm. I assumed that it was the fans. Stan seriously assured me that it was magic. But Stan was given to pulling my leg.

Why he'd even told me in strictest confidence that Buffy's ancestors had been brought here by the University's time travel experiments in the twenties. That the Marshes had adopted them since only the Deep Ones would associate with Marshes.

Whoever the deep ones were.

Stan was always picking on me about Buffy. Except when her brothers were listening.

The Warlocks' offense didn't look that physically impressive. But their quarterback, a slim little guy, could dodge. And he could throw. Had two receivers that looked like twins. Must have been some relations of Stan's, long and lanky.

So by half time, we were knotted up 14-14. Somebody seemed to be setting off fireworks right inside the stands. And those cheers Buffy was leading made my hair stand on end.

Really something what Homecoming can do to your mind.

With five minutes to go, we were still tied, but at 28-28. I had the ball and was moving us slowly down the field. Little Lou was having problems. The Warlocks had four Marshes in their defensive line.

But Stan hung onto nearly everything that came his way, despite the knocks. One he got got jarred loose from, the ref ruled an early hit. Despite four Marshes looming over him scowling.

We were nearly in field goal range.

The electricity was something. The crowd was roaring for a score. I took the ball and faded back.

The clouds above me parted, except for one that looked like my step-father's face. Weird what you can see in clouds. Then I heard what sounded like his voice. Probably thunder.

Then I damn near went on my face. The biggest goddamn bat I'd ever seen was dive-bombing me.

I ran.

Fast.

I blurred by four Marshes who'd paused to stare, and headed for the end zone. And the nearest exit. I didn't sign up for a scholarship to get tackled by giant bats.

Wished I'd signed with Tri-State. Coach Carlson would never have put me in a spot like this.

Buffy screamed like I'd never heard her before. The stands fell silent.

Then she began gestured and chanting out the damnedest cheer I'd ever heard. The crowd followed along. If it was possible to get any more scared, I just did.

The cloud that looked like a face seemed to disappear with a loud pop. I was dodging the bat, so I must have missed what happened.

The naked old woman prof was standing back of the goal posts when I aimed for the end zone again.

She lifted up both hands, fingers wide spread. I swear I actually saw lightning shot from her fingertips.

The bat gave a shrill squeak and crashed into the ground right in front of the stands. The state troopers drew back.

About twenty Marshes piled out of the stands on top of the bat. I nearly felt sorry for it.

I pulled up just past the goal posts.

I was rather surprised to see I was still holding the football. I let it drop. I felt dazed.

Then what seemed like a hundred Marshes began pounding on my back. If Buffy hadn't been there to kick butt, I might not have been able to finish the game.

But after Ed Marsh finally got to their quarterback, we got the ball back. I ground out the clock. Having four Marshes after me seemed like a breeze after the bat.

We had quite a celebration after the game. My ribs were even sorer after Buffy got done with them.

Things were marred by Mother calling to tell me that my step-father had died of a heart attack while she was listening to the game.

What a coincidence. A pity after all he'd done for me.

I feel that I fit in here now. One thing does bother me a bit. Buffy's brow ridges and pug nose are beginning to look pretty to me.

CONTENTS

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