Happy Halloween everyone!
I hope you all have a wonderfully spooky night, whether you’re going out on the town and or staying in to watch some scary movies or carving scary pumpkins. Remember to enjoy those pumpkin seeds too, since they’re full of fiber and essential minerals. Take a look at these awesome pumpkins for some inspiration!
Now I’d like to leave you with a story about something I think we can all agree is spooky: the Lied Library after dark.
Based on a true story (sort of)
On a dark and damp Thursday evening I entered the doors of the library. It was roughly 9 p.m., far past the time I ever want to be doing homework, and I began my ascent of the staircase to the 5th floor.
Nobody really goes on the 5th floor, especially at this time of the night. Whether that is due to the sense of isolation that comes with the height, or due to the infamous ghost stories shelved on that floor, or due to sheer laziness and unwillingness to climb the stairs or wait for the elevator, none of it mattered to me. In fact, the fewer the people, the more focused my work would be, so all the better to me.
As I neared the top of the stairs a sense of unease came over me. I wonder how long this assignment will take, I thought. Hopefully no longer than the 3 hours I had remaining in the library, but based on our class discussions it might take a few hours just explaining the processes, never mind analyzing and interpreting them. I was so fanatically mulling this over that it never occurred to me just how devoid and lifeless the 5th floor felt, and how the quiet and silence contrasted with the chaotic mess of books that had fallen from a shelf. Did I find it a bit uncanny and weird? Yep. But I needed to get to work regardless.
I finally settled into the cold, firm chair at my table, which felt just a bit colder and firmer this time. Taking out my laptop and glancing at the time on my phone (9:15 p.m.), I officially began typing. T-minus 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Writing was difficult for the first 20 minutes but over time each new sentence seemed to flow more smoothly than the last. For a second, I was annoyed because I thought I heard another person about to join me at the adjacent table, but when I looked up I saw no one there. I briefly checked out the clock: T-minus 1 hour and 30 minutes.
I then glanced at my page count: 3. Perfect. I typed and typed and typed and words seemed to flow freely from my fingertips. At this point I was nearly done with the assignment. I began the concluding paragraph and glanced at the clock for the final time. T-minus 1 h —
The sudden sound startled me from my seat. Disturbed but admittedly curious, I walked over to the source of the noise, an aisle of shelves about 10 feet to the right of my table, and noticed a book resting on the ground, its empty slot looming above it. Still no one was in sight, but that wasn’t too weird, I thought. People are always putting these books back the wrong way and they’re bound to fall with the slightest draft. Just then — thump. Another book in a more distant aisle descended to the ground. I started to get a little concerned at this point and thought it a good idea to finish up, go downstairs and print.
It was 11:15 p.m. at this point. I entered the stairway and my nerves settled, only to be disturbed by a sound. Not a sudden sound but a constant sound. The sound of footsteps following me down. They were in sync with mine but somehow louder, and as soon as I stopped they ceased as well. I turned to see no one on my tail and was convinced I was experiencing some kind of auditory illusion.
But the unease I felt at this point quickened my pace to the nearest computer. I booted it up and jammed in my flash drive. Typed in my credentials. Hit enter. Now waiting for it to load. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Still waiting —
The book at the end of the nearest aisle fell quickly and forcefully to the ground. What monstrous draft could cause that? Looking to the computer screen and seeing it finally loaded, I frantically opened my file, hit “print”, ripped the flash drive from the computer and bolted to the escalator where I could sprint to the first floor in seconds. On the way down I heard the same synchronized footsteps, as frantic as mine, but they did not cease this time when I did. I resumed running toward the side door and ignored the security guard’s urgent calls to slow down.
Once outside, I felt relief wash over me and nervously laughed at myself. I now knew the true and scary effects of sleep deprivation on my sanity. I looked at the clock: 11:30 p.m. Way too late for me, apparently.
I was finally at my car when I heard something like paper hit the ground. I looked down to it. My assignment. I forgot to take it from the printer, didn’t I? Or did I? Was I so tired that I completely forgot? I laughed again.
It must have been the ghost, I joked in my head. What a stand-up guy.
“Thanks man!” I said facetiously to no one, and opened my door.
“No problem.” A hushed voice spoke in response.