Midterms (or is it finals? It feels like finals, but the semester doesn’t end until June so maybe it’s midterms) are upon us and for many students this means writing several dry, obligatory, 750 to 1000 word essays. While these essays probably serve some purpose other than taking up the time I could be spending watching “Regular Show” and eating vegan mac and cheese in bed, I am yet to discover one. I am not alone in my exhaustion; many students struggle with the workload.
One student, sophomore Tracy Beach, has encountered a particularly puzzling snag while completing her History of World Religions midterm paper.
“I chose to write about The Church of Satan’s involvement in Poughkeepsie because I thought it would be interesting to research a national phenomenon that is also extremely local, but I really regret it now.” said Beach, “The minimum word count for the paper is 750 words and I’m stuck at 666.”
At first, Beach assumed this was a classic case of writer’s block.
“I started the paper early because I thought it would mean I wouldn’t have to scramble to finish it,” she explained. “So when I started having trouble articulating my argument, I thought ‘That’s ok. I’ll put it away for a few days, come back to it, and I’ll be over this hump.’”
When Beach suddenly came up with the perfect conclusion for her argument at the stroke of midnight one night, she raced to her computer to finish her paper only to find Google Docs stubbornly refusing to process her words.
“I thought ‘Freaking eduroam has screwed me for the last time,’ so I fired up my phone’s personal hotspot and it still didn’t work,” she detailed. “So then I thought, ‘freaking Google Docs has screwed me for the last time,’ and copied and pasted everything to Microsoft Word and still…nothing. At that point, I thought, ‘This freaking laptop has screwed me for the last time,’ but I was desperate so I grabbed a pen and paper and tried to write the rest of my argument out. That’s when things got really weird.”
Beach described the scene that followed. At first, the pen barely made an indent on the paper, with Beach’s hand just hovering above it.
“I figured my pen was just out of ink, so I pressed really hard down on the paper but it wouldn’t even make a scratch. Then ink just started shooting out of the pen, like there was way more ink coming out of it than the pen could even hold. That was pretty upsetting. I permanently stained a table in the library,” Beach commented.
As the pen ink poured over the edge of the table and toward the ground, it began to change from blue to black, glow with what Beach could only describe as “anti-light,” and float back upward. Midair above the library table, it began to twist itself into indiscernible runes.
“That’s when I thought ‘Ok, something’s really not right here,’” Beach shared. “So I pulled out my laptop and tried to email my professor for an extension.”
Eyewitness accounts from the library are hard to come by as many of those students are still in the hospital, but those who are on campus and able to speak describe the sound that came out of Beach’s laptop as “earth-shattering.” Stacks of books fell, trapping some students for hours. Decorative flourishes on the library’s exterior crumbled away to reveal concealed carvings of gargoyles and nightmarish scenes of lost souls doomed for eternity.
“That was a little much, I thought,” Beach said. “People have insisted this was all some sort of demonic possession of my essay by The Prince Of Darkness or whatever but I mean I’m still 84 words short on my essay.”
Beach reached out to her professor for an extension but received no response. His colleagues say he was swallowed into an abyss that “radiated darkness.” His family is asking for any information regarding his whereabouts.