Illustration by Raya Deussen

The Pioneer and the Pendulum: haunted happenings on campus

*The Backdoor is a work of fiction and humor

By Sherlock Ortiz

The colors are black and orange. People constantly talk about bones. Emaciated husks pace the same ground over and over, walking to class and back. Banshee screams are heard from Hartzfeld, spectral sobbing in Waztek. It seems people do not care what time of year it is, they will make it Halloween.

You walk past the reflecting pool on the way to class. Your reflection waves at you before sinking into the murky depths.

“Oh we don’t use umbrellas here,” someone says. “What do you do when it rains?” you ask. “Oh, it doesn’t rain here,” they reply. You go outside and stare at the sky. The clouds are gone, and it is filled with the crying souls of students who did not get into an Ivy League.

You’re sure that you took CORE 106, but it’s not on your transcript. You check with the Registrar and they tell you the course has been removed, as have you, and you need to fill out the Common App again to be considered for admission.

When you stay in the library late at night, keep an eye on the statues by the stairs. They like to stalk unaware and tired students. If you make a noise they will shush you so hard you will never speak above a whisper again.

You walk past the Reflecting Pool on the way to your dorm. Even though it is a cloudy day and there is a light drizzle, the pool remains glassy, and it shows a sunny day with a beautiful blue sky. Two of your friends who graduated last year wave from the other side. Their rictus smiles seem too large. Perhaps you do not want to graduate after all.

There’s a cloud of smoke that slowly wanders campus since the DSAs were removed. It descends on specific students and shrouds them. You see them smile and breathe in relief before they vanish into the grey.

You take a night walk to clear your mind and see a light on in the Manor House. Wim Wiewel waves at you from the window and asks if you’d like to donate. Donate something, anything. Your bones would be useful.

Your roommate disappeared three days ago. You finally bring it up to your RA and she calls Campo. A search finds a group of students in Tryon in the middle of a cult ritual. They are surrounded by kombucha bottles and edible wrappers. They claim they were seeking an answer to the age old question: Where is Barry Glassner?

There’s a person in the quiet section working on an essay. He has not stopped since ’87. Occasionally he walks through the stacks. Literally through the stacks.

You see someone taking a nap on the Academic Quad during a sunny day. When you remark to your friend that you wish you could enjoy the sun, the sleeper awakes and starts swearing at you as the clouds move in. “Why’d you have to remind them?” she says.

You thank Mt. Hood for every sunny day. The dormant eldritch horror acknowledges your gratitude, and delays our annihilation.

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