On the 23rd of November, in the year of our Lord 2017, I found that the familiar sights of the QNC, dear though they were to my heart, had grown stale to me; moved by a spirit of innovation and adventure, I felt compelled to press the limits of the known world, and venture forth with stout heart and girded loins, to lands where engineering students had hitherto never set foot.
At about noon of the same day, I set off from the stretch of Ring Road in front of STC. I was in quite good spirits at that time, for I believed, with the delectable folly of youth, that no barbaric sight could shake or terrify me, nor any heathen hand wound me – yet I could not resist the urge to glance behind with something like sadness, as the familiar hexagons of the QNC grew dimmer and dimmer, nor smother the fear that I would never again return to the bosom of my native land.
After walking along Ring Road for some time, I ventured forth into the thick of the jungle, finding myself, soon after, in a sort of clearing framed by buildings on every side. The largest and most majestic of the buildings I identified as the Dana Porter Library; it tempted both my eye and heart sorely, for it was a dazzling glass complex of most excellent beauty, yet my pride would not allow myself to be merely a second rate explorer of previously charted lands.
Turning from this, I examined a squat white building, a mere dwarf compared to it’s stately neighbour. It had one trait of note; a metal statue of a wild pig, which, upon closer inspection, revealed itself to be a work of not inconsiderable craftsmanship and excellent anatomical correctness. I stood for some time, gazing at this specimen and contemplating the horrors and wonders which lurked behind the door. At last, I roused myself from my reverie and stepped inside.
The door led to an unremarkable room, rather like the hall of a community center or high school- yet an oddity caught my eye. There were, pinned to a bulletin, several posters which seemed almost to be advertising courses. I recalled, with some stupefaction, the lurid rumors oft whispered in the halls of the QNC. The word elective was so seldom divorced from it’s prefix, technical, that I dared scarcely believe it was in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary- a CSE was a thing talked of with mingled horror and awe- to ponder the possibility that there were such peoples as might take electives as a matter of course-!
It was with difficulty that I regained a measure of calm. Casting about, I saw a sign indicating the presence of a coffee-shop downstairs; I followed it and wandered about for a time, utterly lost, till I beheld a sign which said, in majestic lettering, ML Diner. It was accompanied by a Tim Horton’s, and I must confess that familiar sight was a comfort and a balm to my soul, for I was, by now, much agitated.
In this diner, I had the opportunity to observe the inhabitants of these lands, and another unpleasant shock assayed my spirit, for though these creatures had the form of students, there was an air of difference about them, such as one might notice upon seeing a poorly made porcelain doll. They have a singularly odd habit, of quirking the corners of their lips upwards and occasionally baring their teeth; this is often accompanied by a deep ha-ha! sound coming chiefly from their belly. I did not stay to discover the cause of this behavior, but it seemed to me to be either a mating call or else the prelude to a fight.
Alarmed, I fled out of the nearest door, but my pride prevailed and I recoiled from all thoughts of flight.
Alas! How shall I tell next of the horrors which befell me? I pressed deep into the bowels of the jungle and, after meandering through a sterile white hallway for some time, I found myself in a magnificent, brightly lit clearing, with a high vaulted ceiling and a second floor overlooking it. This, I realized, was the famed Hagey Hall. The entire area was filled with the bustle of students; at the center of this bustle seemed to be a coffee shop in one corner.
Relief washed over me; a stiff foul tasting drink was precisely the sort of comfort that I needed to steady my spirit. Yet, as I approached, I noticed something distinctly peculiar; on a blackboard, where the prices were given, I saw the oddest combination of words- “Premium Healthy Loose Leaf Tea”. The prices, too, alarmed me most miserably- four dollars for a green tea latte! Where were the eighty cent burnt beans that had thus far sustained me? Had I ventured too far? Was I no longer on a university? Had I trespassed into Laurier?
I hastened away from the scene, but still my pride forbade me from turning away. I determined to go deeper still, though all the angels of Heaven should entreat me to retreat. It was in this spirit that I entered the Psych-Anth-Soc building.
It consists almost entirely of dark, claustrophobic corridors, winding paths, and forbidding signs; there is no place of refuge, no comfort or safety. The walls are dark in colour, and plastered with posters, terrifying to behold; the ceiling is low, the lights faint, and, somewhere in the belly of the beast is a stairwell arrayed in the shape of an altar. It is a labyrinth in truth- and I, poor soul, had no Ariadne to guide me.
In due time, I came to despair of ever finding a way out. All thought of adventure and innovation flew from my mind; I desired only escape. Was I consigned to these grim halls forever? Would I never again see a matrix, or sit stupefied through an entropy lecture? Was I to live and die an exile, far from the QNC? My spirit broke, and I wept bitterly as I stood on the pseudo-altar.
At that moment, a faint golden light filled the room. Raising my head, I scanned the room and saw the faint figures of geese filling the room. It was a sight marvelous to behold and I fell to my knees in rapture, like Moses atop the mountain. Three majestic honks shook the room and the light vanished- yet a trail of sacred droppings marked the way to safety, if not quite so romantically as Ariadne’s thread had.
I cannot recount the relief I felt as I burst forth from PAS; my heart thrilled at the sight of the QNC and my very soul overflowed with joy and gratitude. It was with winged feet that I hastened back to my native lands and kissed the sleek whiteboard walls.
I am no moralist, for I have no morals- yet what fool could not derive a lesson from this story? I do not go so far as to renounce adventure forever, but I shall set my course for more sensible lands in the future. There are things that engineers were not meant to see, things that slumber in the deep that we must not awaken. Beware, oh friends, of the Arts Faculty!