The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Satire | Campus Scout | It’s a Wonderful Scout

Soro Ung

“Scout … you must awaken!”

The ethereal voice meets Campus Scout’s eardrums through a swirling darkness as he rouses from a deep winter’s nap in his deck chair atop Foellinger Hall. 

Not again. 

Blinking blearily, he meets the eyes of a phantom — the galloping ghost of Red Grange upon his massive steed. 

The ghostly Pinto starts nibbling on Scout’s cap and the cerulean satirist sits upright, perturbed.

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“I already learned my lesson, man. What more could you three ghosts have to teach me?”

Grange straightens his transparent jersey, visibly just as irritated as Scout is.

“If you think I’d rather be here than the 2,023rd annual office party, you’re nuts. Pretty sure Ghost of Christmas Past has me for Secret Santa, and she gives the best presents.”

He directs a stern finger at Scout.

“If you keep me a second longer than needed, I promise you’ll get coal in your stocking.”

Scout holds up his hands in surrender.

“Okay, fine! I guess I haven’t felt very needed lately. People don’t appreciate satire like they used to. I’m sure the University would be just fine if I never returned in 2021.” 

Grange nods.

“That’s what they told me. Come on, then.” 

Everything starts swirling, and Scout knows better from last year — he reaches to hold onto the phantasmal horse to keep his balance. As the world stands still again, Scout’s arm swishes straight through the steed and he falls flat on his face.

“Rookie move,” Grange chides. 

They stand before the University YMCA, but something is different. 

Scout stands up, squinting in the sudden blowing snow. 

“Where are we?” he asks.

Grange checks his watch, distracted. 

“Huh? Oh yeah, this is the ARC if you never came back as a writer.”

“What d’you mean? This is the YMCA.”

“This is the YMCA if you never came back as a writer.”

Scout approaches the building, hardly recognizing it. 

The original building still stands, but atop it has been built five more floors, all metal and modern. Fastened to the top floor is The Daily Illini logo, shining its bright orange amid the blizzard. 

Scout drops his jaw in disbelief, saying, “What … is this? The DI — ”

Grange interjects, “— Has been brought into the 21st century. Without having to pay thousands of dollars in damages for your endless antics, your bosses have finally brought the paper up to speed.”

The roof suddenly opens up like a massive present, emitting an unearthly silver light as a dozen little specks flock together, all emerging from the building. Scout ducks as the drones zoom in unison just above their heads, DI papers in their robotic clutches. 

“Deliver-Es. Clever, eh?”

Scout shakes his head in disbelief. 

“I thought you were supposed to make me feel better about myself!”

Another stern finger is raised by the ghost, followed by, “Trust the process, Scout. Also, they just finished the ugly sweater competition back at the office, so you better hurry up. I bet Ghost of Christmas Present won again, that sewing prodigy.” 

Everything turns swirly-twirly once again, and Scout steadies himself, meeting the deeply disinterested eyes of Grange’s steed. It gives the slightest, most incomprehensible rolling of the eyes. 

They are now standing in the basement of the Illini Union in the midst of a massive crowd, clamoring for something unseen at the front. Scout cranes his neck to see over the mass of students, but no dice.

Grange explains, “‘Einstein Bros’ is back in business, and it’s heading full-tilt towards rousing financial success.”

Scout, having barely listened, replies, “Explain in baseball terms.”

“Einstein Bros hit a grand slam.”

Scout finally gets a good view of the restaurant — the crowd is chanting, counting down the seconds until the establishment opens as the clock ticks up to 10 a.m. 

“Five … four … three … two … ONE!”

The iron bars protecting the modest bagel joint are unlocked and slid away — the crowd lunges as a single entity, spilling over the front counter in a primal rush to acquire the sweet cinnamon-and-raisin-covered ambrosia of the gods. 

Scout turns to Grange, curious.

“You’re telling me my mere presence stopped the restaurants down here from recovering post-pandemic?”

“No, I’m saying that your sauna down in the steam tunnels runs right under there. Eventually, the noxious gasses you released made working impossible.”

Scout confusedly responds, “I never felt anything when Campus Scones was in business.”

Grange gives his first smirk of the ordeal. “Just wait a few months until your fingertips start turning green. Moving on!”

Another swirl — Scout blinks in the blinding light suddenly assailing his eyeballs. They’re standing in Memorial Stadium’s foyer in front of a gargantuan display case encrusted with diamonds. Inside, there are three massive trophies. 

“There’s no way.”

His suspicions are confirmed as Bret Bielema emerges from the shadows, dressed in an ornate robe and bejeweled crown. He carries a golden Swiffer Sweeper, wiping it up and down the glass.

“You’re telling me we would’ve won the past three college football championships if I hadn’t come back?”

Grange shrugs. “The players were too busy reading your articles, laughing hysterically. They barely had time to practice in your timeline.” 

Scout raises an eyebrow, confused.

“So it’s not all bad, then? At least I brought a few people joy.”

Grange nods, realizing Scout is finally understanding. He explains, “You see, there’s good and bad in every timeline, Scout. You just have to appreciate what you have in your own. This timeline might be efficient and perfect, but it’s also cold and boring.”

Scout nods along, still transfixed by the sight of the stately gentleman dusting the trophies with fine linen-gloved hands. 

“Sometimes a little trouble is good for all of us.”

Scout looks around. Grange has vanished, and the top of Foellinger sits beneath his feet once again. Scout looks out upon the empty campus and smiles despite himself. Hopefully, Grange would enjoy his holiday festivities, as well as all the readers back home. 


*Campus Scout writes opinion-based, satirical stories and uses fictional sourcing.*

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About the Contributor
Campus Scout
Campus Scout is The Daily Illini's satirical columnist and is quite the character. Their identity, as per tradition, is kept a secret. Scout is known to make riveting social commentary and uses only the most reliable (fictitious) sources. Scout has been a part of the University for decades, disappearing briefly but returning as a writer in 2021 to cause a ruckus about the things that matter.
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