By Emma del Valle '13
Reading this article will put you at risk of investigation or consumption upon the coming of the new administration please stop now oh god
The structure is a cube encased in marble, an inscrutable block. Its interior is an echoing void. The only apparatus is a wheel, set into a panel inscribed with symbols which depict, among other more arcane phenomena, the phases of the moon, or the blinking of a silent eye. Above, a skewed pyramidal ceiling, coated with a pebbly royal blue dermis, terminates in a squared oculus. Below, the floor’s imperceptible inward tilt terminates in a drain. Four walnut pews, arranged in another square, overlook the drain in anticipation. The Lens waits, a reticent, vigilant cyclops, for the day when it will be called to fulfill its true purpose.
The enormity of the calculations that have gone into the construction of the Lens and its mysterious calibrations can be observed in a number of seemingly inexplicable changes that have occurred at this college in recent years. Read no further if you wish to remain suspended in the warm yolk of ignorance. In fact, for your own safety, I would advise you to stop now and destroy this newspaper.*
But if you feel as if you have been lied to for too long, if your hunger for the truth is stronger than your instinct for self-preservation, you will be satisfied to know that your suspicions are more justified than you could ever have imagined. However, even if you are already among the awakened and paranoid few, when you understand the extent of the corruption that I have discovered, comrade, you are going to shit your tin foil pants.
My investigation began in 2010, when I became curious as to why the sign at the end of Second Street had been (and still is) missing the letters “P” and “S” since before I came to Bennington. Every day I passed the rusted iron protrusion which declared that I was approaching “Main Camu” with growing irritation. I mentioned this blemish in a conversation with my faculty advisor at the time, who has since disappeared from the college. Blanching, the now-vanished professor said, “I would encourage you, Emma, not to explore that matter any further. You would do better to think about other things. Your Plan, for example: have you considered bringing agrarian feminism or Cambodian modern dance into it at all? Let’s talk about that now.”
That night, I received a call on my room phone. The speaker on the end of the line, speaking though a voice modulator, delivered this brief message and hung up: “When the rats begin to flee from below decks, dial extension C-R-A-Y; the password will become known to you by then. Beware the fog.”
That night, unable to sleep, I began searching through the Bennington website for answers. I came upon a video, “CAPA Construction: Two Years in Two Minutes”. In the video, a time lapse of the fabrication of CAPA whirs merrily away; that is, until 0:31, when an impenetrable white fog descends upon the site, and obscures the entire shot for a full second. My heart pounding, I went to the phone booth and dialed extension 2729.
“What she order?” asked a gruff voice. Confidently, although frightened by the anachronism, I answered, “Fish fillet.”
“So you haven’t forgotten,” said the voice, and I had a flash of recognition.
“…Eileen?” I asked, not necessarily surprised.
“Let’s leave names out of it,” the voice answered, “and get down to brass tacks. We don’t have very much time.”
I don’t expect you to believe what she told me. But in the face of the changes that have taken place here recently, this explanation answers questions that otherwise seem insoluble.
Years ago, a young Elizabeth Coleman’s car broke down during a long, lonely drive down a desolate stretch of highway in the Mexican desert. Nothing is known about the hours that passed before another motorist, finding her car abandoned by the side of the road, followed her tracks away from the vehicle and found her standing, arms outstretched, staring up at the night sky. But afterwards Coleman began to show a sudden fascination with a small, reportedly dysfunctional liberal arts college in the mountains of southern Vermont. We know what happened next, more or less. For years, the subterranean motivations behind the Coleman Administration remained invisible from the outside. However, too slowly to be perceived, the school began to make plans for scaling down on expensive things like student resources, tightening control over student life, and throwing a protective veil over the operations of the administration. After all, when you’re going to build a portal between the underworld, outer space, and the twilight realm, you’re going to want a certain degree of privacy.
Because that is exactly what the Lens is: a receptacle for energies otherwise foreign to this plane of existence. Directly beneath the innocuous drain in the floor of the Lens, a great void opens: this is where the inverted, 18-karat-gold-lined pyramid, with which the drain is perfectly aligned, lies silently in wait. As you can imagine, that much gold is very costly, and it has been laboriously purchased at the expense of your textbooks, grants, and grab-n-go lunch choices.
And if you are excited to learn more about the Presidential Search candidates, you will soon be disappointed, because the next President of Bennington College is not among them. Look instead to the sky, or do some DMT and ask around in the nightmare realm that you will briefly inhabit before the return to sobriety. Wherever It currently resides, before the Summer Solstice, It will make Bennington College Its new home.
This is where Aramark comes in. Aramark is the only food supplier with access to the enormous quantities of the phosphorescent aquatic vegetation that the new President will require in order to “feed” Itself. Aramark is also the only food supplier with the capability to ensure that all food provided to Bennington College students, faculty, administration, and staff contains the psychotropic chemical that will allow humans to perceive the new President in the physical realm. Any food not tainted with this chemical will be banned from campus, making the absorption of the Coop essential, and getting off the meal plan out of the question.
Although they have been taking part in the preparations for this transition for years, senior administrative officers have begun to feel nervous about their place in the new hierarchy. There are rumblings that the new President will be bringing some of Its own staff with It, and this may result in a situation that the disembodied voice that speaks to Liz Coleman’s secretary describes with a word that translates roughly to “redundancy”, but has slightly more disturbing connotations. One by one, members of the administration have decided to escape while they still can, and have cut all lines of communication so that It cannot pursue them. However, as the disembodied voice tells Liz Coleman’s secretary, “they’re going to have to do better than that”.
Soon, the time will come when the grate covering the drain will be unscrewed, and the light of a full moon will filter down, blue-tinted, and the beam will illuminate the inverted pyramid beneath the Lens in a terrible, brilliant flash, and Bennington College will be forever transformed. The ramifications are inconceivable.
On Tuesday night, I was almost too shocked to remember to ask about the missing “P” and “S”; anyway, in the face of all of this, it didn’t seem to matter very much anymore. But I asked anyway. There was a moment of silence on the line before my informant went on.
“Yes… I am afraid that this is the worst part.”
Before she could go on, the line exploded into static, and then went dead.
If in the days following the publication of this article, Emma del Valle ‘13 displays uncharacteristically torpid behavior, or is observed with milky eyes or small puncture marks around the base of the skull, avoid contact with her. She is beyond anyone’s help. All that can be done is to wait for the time to come when she rises from her state of comatose stasis and walks, purposefully, past the End of the World, toward Mount Anthony.
As there will be no body to bury, she has requested that her thesis be printed and cremated in the Secret Garden, and that the file then be deleted from her computer.
*If you are reading this online, I’m afraid you’re going to have to destroy your computer. I recommend dissolving the hard drive in hydrochloric acid (instructions can be found here:http://www.totalsecureshredding.com/paper-shredding-news-commentary/883/dissolving-hard-drives-in-hydrocloric-acid/ ) and burying the rest of the computer under at least three feet of compact earth in the area immediately surrounding Kilpat. DO NOT disturb any objects that you find already interred while you are digging. Don’t forget to burn sage in your room when you are finished. In fact, you should be burning sage in your room all the time, anyway.