Tor had decided to explore the land of legend, the land where no mastodon had set foot for thousands of years. Of all the legends of Tor’s herd, Perry and his final stand of sacrificial love was Tor’s favorite. He could recite it by heart, as he did the evening prior to his departure. The whole herd gathered to send him off with their blessing.
"Long ago, in the land of Wheaton," Tor began, "our herd lived well and in peace. Until one day, a pride of saber-toothed tigers assaulted the herd. It looked as though there would be no escape." Tor cast a dramatic glance at the listening mastodons, lowering his voice, "Then Perry emerged, fiercely fending off the tigers. He held off the entire pride until our herd escaped. When Perry did not follow, the herd worried if it was safe to return, so they continued their aimless trek. Yet through the snow, some occasionally spotted the shadowy figure of a great mastodon. They called out, but it disappeared. The figure led us, until we arrived here, where we have lived in peace and plenty to this day. I will travel to find that land as I seek to understand what it means to give of oneself for the greater kingdom."
At that, his herd stomped their feet in a thunderous send off, and Tor’s long journey began. After weeks of walking, the land flattened, and he wondered if this was the land of Wheaton. He decided to approach the strange little, colorful creatures who walked on two legs to ask where he was.
One of them smiled at him, "Oh wow, y’all look great!" They motioned for him to go in front of them. Were they showing him the way already? How did they know what he was looking for? Tor was about to ask when they pushed him forward onto a narrow road. More creatures lined the sides, and everyone behind Tor cheered loudly. They must know why I’m here, he thought. With a large grin, he walked ahead of them, waving his trunk at those who cheered along the sides.
When Tor got to the end of the road, however, he wasn’t sure what to do. Maybe these two-legged creatures weren’t here to help him. Tor turned and asked one of them what they were doing.
"It’s the Mastodon March!" a creature answered.
“So, I’m in the right place?” Tor asked, a little hesitant, “Is this the sacred land of the mastodon herds?”
“What? This is Wheaton College. We do this to welcome freshmen. I don’t know anything about mastodon herds, but you’re welcome to stay.”
Tor didn’t know what to think, so he followed them to brown, pink, and green snow, which they ate with great enjoyment.
It was well after dark when the groups cleared off the grass. By then it was too late to continue for the day, and something about this place intrigued him. “Wheaton College” must be in the land of Wheaton.
He wondered where he might stay for the night. Tor made his way across the wide, grassy area and drank from the large fountain in the center. There was a peace about this place, a calmness he didn’t understand, but he wanted to stay.
On the other side of the grassy area was a large building It had a big, glassy room on one side where Tor thought he might fit. He crawled in and lay down. As he fell asleep, it felt like home for some reason.
When he woke, he wondered if one of the creatures who lived here might know about Perry’s last stand. He was determined to find out. He went into another large building and found the creatures, students, they called themselves. They played music, so he lifted his trunk and played along. He couldn’t quite get the tune right, but the students assured him that it was a hymn, and the point wasn’t perfection at all.
When he was hungry, he followed his nose to a place the students told him was “SAGA”. One swiped him in and there he found all the food he could eat. He was especially fond of the stuff called “chicken fingers” and thanked the student that had helped him in.
“Don’t mention it,” he replied, “It’s the least I could do for a visitor.” Again Tor forgot to ask about Perry.
By the end of the week, Tor had met many students and learned about a wardrobe that led to the land of Narnia and a place called Workout and another place where students worked out. He was disappointed; however, that he hadn’t learned anything about Perry. Tor perked up his ears as he heard a loud voice in the distance. He wondered for only a moment before he recognized the swim team, hooting and yelling.
“Tor! Hey Tor! Come with us!” they yelled up to him as they passed by. He chuckled at their bright short-shorts and the strange things they carried, a giant pencil and a flimsy guitar. He followed them to a place they called McCully Field.
“Who are they?” Tor asked one of the guys on the swim team, motioning with his trunk.
“They’re the football team.”
Tor knew he would be their greatest fan. Not only did they look imposing in their blue-and-orange uniforms, but he spotted a few of the friends he had made that week.
Tor quickly got caught up in the game and forgot, once again, to ask about Perry. The football team played hard, and by the end, the game was tied with only seconds on the clock. The swimmers ran in front of the stands yelling; the fans cheered and Tor was so excited he couldn’t stand still. WHUMPF! WHUMPF! WHUMPF! The other team looked over, frightened at Tor’s thundering. Wide receivers lined up with a halfback in the backfield. He stomped anxiously from foot to foot. BABOOM! BABOOM! BABOOOM! The ground shook. The other team members, who were supposed to be covering the receivers, ran into each other, focusing on Tor instead of the field as the quarterback threw a pass. A hush fell over the stadium for a moment as the ball spiraled in an arc. The receiver stretched out his arms and caught it. A touchdown! A Wheaton victory!
The crowd erupted. Tor stomped and let out a loud trumpet call. He didn’t notice President Ryken trying to talk to him. Tor dropped his trunk, worried he’d been too loud. But the President smiled.
“Tor, you’ve got a lot of spirit,” President Ryken paused, “and thunder. Everyone thinks you’re doing a great job cheering for the team. We want you to stay.”
“Oh,” Tor’s stomach sank as realized he’d gotten distracted from his quest again, “Actually I can’t. I’m looking for the legendary spot where my ancestor, Perry, made his stand for our herd. And I’ve already wasted a week.”
“Perry? Perry Mastodon? Perry’s here.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let me show you.”
Tor followed President Ryken out of the stadium to a building that had a glass wall similar to the one he’d slept behind. Here were the bones of a powerful mastodon. Tor stared in awe; he had never expected Perry would be given such a place of honor. President Ryken watched him for a moment. . “You’ve heard about our Perry while you’ve been here.”
Tor glanced over at him, confused.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean the reason Wheaton College is here. Perry’s sacrifice for your heard reflects the reason Wheaton College is here today. This is where Perry’s chosen to stay. We hope you will too.”
Tor, unable to take his eyes off The Great Perry, nodded once.
And even today Tor’s thundering footsteps can be heard in the stadiums, the classrooms, and the auditoriums, bringing forth a rousing cheer from the crowd.