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The Brockening Is Coming

Brock Osweiler predicts an offensive explosion. Let’s pray he’s wrong.

(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

I. GREEN BAY. Sunday, December 4, 2016.

Brock Osweiler, quarterback for the Texans, answering questions about the team and its performance following a 21–13 defeat:

“I feel like we’re very close to exploding as an offense.”

II. SOMEWHERE IN THE AMAZON. Sometime in the recent past.

Deep in a South American jungle, the sun is beginning to dip down behind the trees, turning everything warm orange. It’s beautiful, really; idyllic, almost; it betrays the intensity with which the jungle exists. A man, handsome and full of courage — so full of courage, in fact, that there is no room left in him for fear, which is the only way to successfully survive in the jungle — chops away at the vegetation, forging a path where there once was none. He has been searching for weeks, months, years. For his whole life, it seems. But it’s finally near. He can feel it. He can taste it in the air; the stones used to build the Temple, the mystic ruins that have been the fruit of his search, have turned the stickiness of the basin climate just a hair sweeter than usual, he thinks to himself, and so he knows that after so much searching, outward and inward and otherwise, it is finally near.

Being in the jungle for as long as he has — he’s lost count of the number of days — does things to men. It turns some into heroes — the explorer Percy Fawcett and the soldier Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, most famously. Most, though, it turns inside out. That’s what happened to the rest of our man’s exploration party. Six of them entered the jungle together, hoping to find the Temple, which would lead them to Her, who could finally translate the Scroll. Each of the other five died along the journey, though, each one succumbing to the terrors of nature. But not him. The rigor only strengthened him. His skin became leather, his bones became steel, his blood became lava, his muscle became Kevlar. The jungle bends to his steps now. It has accepted him. He is a part of it. And so, yes, he can literally taste when the air changes.

III. GREEN BAY. Sunday, December 4, 2016.

Brock Osweiler, quarterback for the Texans, answering questions about the team and its performance:

“We are three, four plays away from changing multiple football games.”

IV. SOMEWHERE IN THE AMAZON. Sometime in the recent past.

The Temple was smaller than he had anticipated, but it was no less magnificent.

It was in a small clearing, hidden perfectly behind a thicket of vines and trees and impenetrable bush. He wondered if he had walked past it before, just meters away from salvation, then he wondered if anyone had walked past it before. The jungle doesn’t allow footprints. You set your foot into the earth as you walk, and as soon as you remove it the sun and plants begin conspiring to cover it up. It’s terrifying to think about, if you think about it, so he stopped thinking about it. Because what was the point, anyway. He had arrived. He was finally going to find Her. She was going to read the Scroll, to tell him what it meant.

In the four years since it had been found, nobody had been able to translate the Scroll. It had been sent to the smartest people on six different continents, and each one of them was left more flustered and confounded than the last. “Where did you find this?” the one with the long hair and the glasses and the odd smile asked. “It was excavated from the tomb of a pharaoh, buried some 600 feet under a pyramid in Giza,” the man responded. “Can you tell me what it means,” the man asked. “No. No, I can’t,” she said. “There’s only one person who can. But you’ll never reach Her.”

He remembered that conversation as he stood there, looking at the Temple. “You’ll never reach her,” he said to himself. But he had. And so his footprints to get there, which would eventually be disappeared by the jungle, would be left on history forever. That’s the only place they really mattered anyway.

Or something.

V. GREEN BAY. Sunday, December 4, 2016.

Brock Osweiler, quarterback for the Texans, answering questions about the team and its performance:

“We’re tired of being close. We really are, as a team.”

VI. SOMEWHERE IN THE AMAZON. Sometime in the recent past.

She was also smaller than he had anticipated, but She was no less magnificent.

The man walked into the Temple and She was just there, sitting in a chair, surrounded by only the walls, possibly praying, though likely not. It was weird. After all that time searching, to finally see Her, there just in the open, it felt odd. He was expecting something a little more byzantine, though he couldn’t say what. A maze, maybe. A riddle. Something. Anything. Who knows? So he just looked at Her for a moment, sitting in a chair, surrounded by only the walls, possibly praying, though likely not. Who would She even pray to? Herself?

“Excuse me,” he said, and he was careful to monitor the tone of his voice.

She barely moved, and She certainly didn’t bother to look at him.

“My name is — ”

“I know what your name is,” She said, interrupting him. Her skin looked like tree bark; Her hair looked like you could count each strand if you wanted to, that’s how thin it was. She looked 1,000 years old. But She sounded perfect.

“Oh,” he said, surprised by the fluidity of Her words. “I’m … I’m here because I’d like for you to rea — ”

“I know why you are here,” She said, and again, Her voice was perfect. “Give me the Scroll.”

He was taken aback. Was this all really happening? Was it real? He stepped toward Her.

He removed the Scroll from his satchel and handed it to her. She moved slowly, almost like She was animatronic, Her body trying to refuse even the gentlest of movements. She eventually gathered Her hand around the Scroll. She unrolled it, then placed it on Her lap. She scanned it with Her eyes and also Her fingers. “Nobody knows what it says,” he said. “I have to know. Please. Do you know what it sa — ”

“Be quiet,” She said.

“Please tell me what is says,” he said. “Please. I have to kn — ”

She interrupted him again:

“Everyone you love will be dead soon.”

VII. GREEN BAY. Sunday, December 4, 2016.

Brock Osweiler, quarterback for the Texans, answering questions about the team and its performance:

“We’re all able to see it on the film. We see it on the film every single week that we’re so close to turning that corner.”

VIII. SOMEWHERE IN THE AMAZON. Sometime in the recent past.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN!?” he demanded.

“Come close,” She said, Her voice a devastating whisper, Her hands drawing the man in. He hesitated for a moment, then stepped toward Her. She began to speak. He could feel Her breath on him. It was cold, somehow. Her eyes finally caught his, and his muscular frame was rendered useless. She grabbed ahold of him by the wrists. Her tiny, weathered, frail hands felt like tissue paper up against his skin. “What are you doing,” he asked. She began to squeeze tighter. He panicked.

“Let me go!” he shouted. He tried to pull away but he couldn’t escape Her grasp. “Goddamnit, LET ME GO!” he shouted again, this time with fear in his voice. She pulled him close. He fought; he yanked; he pulled. He couldn’t get free. She rose up out of Her chair just enough to bring Her face to within inches of his.

“Liiiiiiiiisten,” She hissed. He bucked, doing everything he could to tear his arms from Her grasp. It was to no avail. His fighting only brought on more panic. “Liiiiiiiiiisten,” She hissed again. He continued to thrash about. “Liiiiiiiiiisten,” She hissed a third time.

It took him a moment before he realized what had happened. He stopped fighting, yanking, pulling. His eyes widened. It was silent. All of it. All of everything. There were no bird noises, no big noises; nothing. The jungle, forever full of life and adventure and danger, had gone completely silent. It was deafening. He had grown so accustomed to its vibrations and noises that they had eventually became a part of him. And now they were gone. Every single sound was gone.

“Liiiiiiiiiisten,” She said again.

His eyes began to wet. And then he began to cry.

She stared at him. She stared into him.

“It is coming,” She whispered. “He is coming. There is nowhere to run. There is nowhere he won’t find you. All that is left to do is die.”

“What’s coming,” he asked, afraid of the answer. “Who’s coming? Please. Please. What does the Scroll say?”

“An ancient prophecy foretold of this moment,” She whispered. “It foretold of the pharaoh, of the pyramid, of the Scroll, of you. And it foretold of an offensive explosion so gargantuan that it would reverse the winds of the Earth, that it would dry up all of its oceans, that it would be led by the One With the Arm of Fire. And that all who stand before him shall perish.”

She let go of his wrists but he still couldn’t move.

“The Brockening is near,” She said. “And it will have us all.”