“Mr. Turlington’s Grizzly Encounter,” by Dale E. Chapman and Nancy S. Koven

Oct 13th, 2021 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Emergency physicians at St. Catherine’s General Hospital were stunned Friday night when 37-year old local man George Turlington was brought in by paramedics, his body fused to the interior of a college mascot suit. The two-piece grizzly bear costume, normally worn by an underpaid work-study student, was apparently sutured together by an unknown force. “Synthetic fibers are always unpredictable,” said Dr. Heather Maddox, lead surgeon of the trauma unit. “It’s possible that Mr. Turlington’s body heat caused the two components to meld together, but the truth is, we’ll never know for sure.”

Turlington, however, attributed the mishap to supernatural forces. “I’m telling you, this thing just morphed together of its own volition, like something alive,” said Mr. Turlington, gesturing emphatically, a slightly crazed look in his eyes. “The harder I tried to escape, the more snugly it conformed to my body. The contraption started out over seven feet tall, but, within a few minutes, it had shrunken down to become like a second skin. It even forced my face into a smile. The whole thing was messed up.”

According to eyewitnesses, Mr. Turlington was trapped in the costume for over an hour before he was able to convince others of his distress. “We couldn’t really hear what he was saying through the thick fluff. Sure, he waved at us pretty frantically, but we just thought it was the regular guy doing his mascot shtick,” said Chet Wagner, an econ major who came across Mr. Turlington outside the custodian’s office where the uniform normally resides. The grizzly paw, for which there are only three fingers, was apparently too thick and stubby to allow Mr. Turlington to dial 911.

Mr. Turlington first came to Whistler College as a Visiting Associate Professor of Mathematics in 2015. “He was a super cool thesis advisor,” said Angie Moretti ’19. “I’m somehow not surprised, though, to hear this happened to him.” Mr. Turlington’s life has, according to his neighbors, been on a downward trajectory since he was passed over for the Hans Schneider Prize for Linear Algebra in 2017. “When he’s not at the school, he just sits on a folding chair next to his garden bed looking pretty dejected,” said a local resident who requested anonymity in order to speak freely.

When asked how he came to find himself in the mascot costume, Mr. Turlington declined to comment. “He has immense school pride,” said Irina Baklov, Assistant Dean of the Faculty at Whistler. “This is exactly the level of personal investment you can expect of our teachers.” Blake Riley, Director of the Office of College Advancement, reported that alumni donations have tripled since news of the mishap began to circulate on social media. “I feel sorry for Professor Turlington, but what a windfall! We’re now going to consider other ways we can involve faculty in fund-raising. Go, Grizzlies!”

Privately, however, some campus members wondered if school spirit was actually a motivating factor. “I’ve never seen him at a single sporting event, and I’m pretty sure he hates the Ambassadors of Harmony,” said one senior, referring to the campus’ leading a cappella group. “He never stays past 4:00 pm,” offered another student. “What was he even doing in the janitor’s closet that late at night?”

Despite the start of a fresh work week, campus hasn’t fully returned to normal. “I’d just like to put this behind me,” said Mr. Turlington, who was spotted being dropped off by his wife Monday morning. Matt Clementine, a junior in the instructor’s Differential Equations seminar, shared his thoughts: “Class was really quiet today. I couldn’t stop imagining it. Was he, like, free balling in there or what? I think the kids are traumatized, too.” Professor Theresa Rubio, a colleague of Turlington, commented that the math hallway is now seeing an unusual amount of foot traffic. “Math has never been this popular. It’s a mixed blessing,” she said.

Meanwhile, in the midst of a busy sports season, the Athletics Department is mourning the loss of their mascot. “That outfit was a $3500 special order that’s going to take weeks to replace,” complained head lacrosse coach, Patrick Winters. “I’m sure the ER docs had no other choice, but the costume is in a million pieces and is covered in iodine stains. It’s not salvageable.” Samantha Southwick, who plays shortstop for the women’s softball team, worried about a potential loss in morale. “The mascot is an important part of who we are. We’re not Whistler without it.”


Dale E. Chapman and Nancy S. Koven are professors at a small liberal arts college in Maine. When not living, breathing, and satirizing about academia, the pair takes turns at the lathe, transforming useless square pieces of wood into useless circular pieces of wood.

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