Joe Cremo always showed up to practice early. Joe Cremo always stayed late in the gym. Joe Cremo never skipped anything, and that’s why he was one of the best Great Danes on the floor. He was heading into the arena for another late-night shootaround when he saw two figures fleeing from the stadium.
“Hey Joe, can you drive us to the train station?” one shouted. It was that guy on Twitter who also worked in the athletic department.
“Uh, why would I do that?” Cremo said.
“I’ll give you 50 bucks. You got this. Please, we’re running from Duncan Robinson,” said the other figure.
“Alright, it’s not too far I guess. What happened to you two?”
My plan was to head to New York City on the Amtrak. It would be much harder to find us and Ben and I could try to find our Inside NU associates in the area. I quickly purchased a ticket on the Empire Express after Joe Cremo dropped us off at the Albany train station.
But Ben Goren would not buy a ticket. He stood there, pondering, as the final calls for the train echoed through the station.
“I can’t go, Tristan,” he said. “There’s nothing for us in New York. You should stay too, you know people upstate. If you go to New York to find, I don’t know, Inside NU’s Henry Bushnell or Josh Rosenblat, they won’t be able to help you. In Albany, I can help myself. I have an apartment. I have a job. I’m done with college basketball conspiracies. Plus, as you have seen on Twitter, I hate New York City.”
“Well, suit yourself. I’m going home.”
Ben decided to leave the terminal and hitch a ride back with Joe Cremo. I would have to take the Empire Express to New York City alone. It would be the biggest mistake of my entire life.
The train fizzed past Croton-on-Hudson like an errant lob pass. The Empire Express was supposed to stop at Croton, at least briefly, where I would be able to exit and make contact with allies in Westchester. But no, there was no Croton stop, and the train hammered along the Hudson.
It was a beautiful summer night for a government to fall. No on the train, nay, scarcely anyone in the United States realized that C.R.E.A.N. had decided to overthrow the United State government. With the Super Mega Conference in place and college sports ruined, the only thing left in C.R.E.A.N.’s way was the republic itself. And so, on August 20, 2016, with the final primaries raging and uncertainty brewing, C.R.E.A.N. made its move.
The details were never released, but as the train whistled past Tarrytown, I received an alert on my phone that the Supreme Court had been “discontinued” and by order of the President of the United States. C.R.E.A.N., as I would later learn, used the age-old tactic of pinning everything onto the basketball-loving Obama administration, and the massive seizure of executive power was all in the name of the state. However, it was clear once the President went unseen for three months that something had gone wrong, and the shadow government of the C.R.E.A.N. had taken the reins of power.
The Supreme Court, of course, had recently dealt a blow to college athletics with the O’Bannon case. The dissolution of the body was merely the beginning in the C.R.E.A.N. plan to eliminate freedom. But that didn’t matter to me while I was on the train. Nothing really made sense once the train unexpectedly stopped at Yonkers and I spotted a group of ex-Iona basketball players dressed in macabre suits boarding the front car.
“We have received word that an enemy of the United States is aboard this train. Please do not be alarmed,” the train intercom said. “A few authorities will be searching the train—.”
I had already tore out of my seat once the word “enemy” was announced. None of the passengers, thankfully, tried to trip me. I quickly exited the train and ran up the stairs to the station itself. I hailed a cab and asked to go to the first place I thought of that could hide me.
“To New Jersey!” I exclaimed.
“Where in New Jersey?” the driver asked.”
“A place that can get me into Penn Station,” I said, after two minutes of deliberation.
I was slowly running out of money, but I did manage to arrive at the Secaucus Junction Train Station in one piece. At the station, you have to walk under a small overpass in order to reach the train lines. As I repeatedly checked my phone for news (or lack thereof) while the vehicles roared overhead and the trains bellowed beside me, I felt a sudden leap in my chest, as it began to dawn on me that I could be living in a dystopia.
The night permeated everything around Secaucus, the parked cars in the lot, the iron rail lines that lay a few dozen feet from me. The wind blew through the overpass— it was chillier than I’d expected— and the station, a dimly lit remnant of the old days of American infrastructure, lay ahead. As I walked forward and considered the consequences of this day, the dissolution of justice, the stench of authoritarianism, the coercion of the media, I suddenly realized that I had no idea how the agents of C.R.E.A.N. had tracked me down. I stared at my iPhone, and decided to leave it on the dashboard of a parked car at the station.
In the city, I hoped I could quickly disappear. My destination was probably a decent hotel to spend the night before I could start making some phone calls. I needed to access a public computer to find my iCloud contacts, and everything would be difficult as C.R.E.A.N.’s net tightened, but I had to find a way to warn my associates who was behind this. If it meant leaving the country in the end, so be it, but I had to figure out some way to fight.
As I trudged through miser of Penn Station, I passed by the in-station sports bar where I had once watched the Islanders play a regular season game. The television screens played Sportscenter. Kevin Durant, in a Warriors uniform, flew through the air.
Sports, what crimes are committed in your name?