The sun beats down as my trusty mule trots along beside me, carrying rations needed for the long journey ahead. I haven’t seen a face in weeks; my only companions are the occasional tumbleweeds that drift aimlessly through these hallowed grounds. Every watering hole has been disconnected, leaving my canteen bone dry until who knows when. Food is scarce too, but we make do with what we can. The long trek is treacherous, and if one is not careful it can cost you your sanity — even your life. I’m starting to believe I’ll never make it to the Atwood Chemistry Building on time. 

Class starts at 9:40 a.m. I wake up at 5:00 a.m. to prepare for the road ahead. Even though campus is deserted, the same parking restrictions remain in place, forcing me to park my wagon miles away. The empty lots remind me of simpler times of when parking passes actually meant something to me. That time is long gone. 

Only a few of us were chosen to return. It’s been rumored that a small number of people have set up camp in the old dormitories that were once filled to the brim. Outsiders are rarely allowed in; everything I know of these barracks have been through word of mouth. Although their faces are covered, occasionally you will see brave souls with fleeting innocence in their eyes. One can only imagine what they’ve witnessed. 

I journey on, hastening my step as class creeps ever closer to beginning. Up ahead, an unmasked individual approaches me. I quickly cross the avenue to avoid contamination, holding my breath for good measure. By the looks of him, he is not from these parts of town — he exudes the stain of the outside world. He is unaware of the strict ramifications in place for those caught without facial coverings. One can only hope he makes it off the property before someone catches him. 

I fear I have become lost, and with no companions, I must search for something around me to guide my expedition. Something glistens in the sunlight up ahead, but it’s hard to make out what exactly it is. A sphinx? No, it can’t be. As I advance toward it, its shape becomes ever clearer and its shimmering gold reminds me of much simpler times. Behold, a lion — its shimmering presence has guided many weary travelers before me and will continue to do so for generations to come. I know where I am now.

I can see my destination up ahead, but still, the long  journey continues. To my left, a building stands over me, which appears to be a gymnasium of sorts. I can almost hear the sounds of weights clinking, nets rustling and guys getting their pump on. A voice cries out, “You’re looking huge, bro. How much do you bench?” I turn around, but no one is there. Must have been the wind howling. The hallucinations are clearly getting worse. I fear my mind has incurred irreparable damage from this expedition. 

Eventually I reach the Atwood Chemistry Building, but at what cost? Those who also enrolled in this course look just as damaged as I, and it appears we may have lost several along the way. While we receive our instruction, it’s hard to focus. The fear of what is out there looms over our heads, and the knowledge that we must make this journey all over again in a matter of minutes strikes fear into each and everyone of us. Some will return, others may not, but it’s the price we must pay in exchange for some sense of normalcy in our modern age. Or at least we think so.

Jack Hudson is from Atlanta, Georgia. Contact Hudson at [email protected]

The views represented in this article are the writer’s own. Read more of the Wheel’s satire under Emory Life and contact Emory Life Editor Angela Tang at [email protected] if you’re interested in writing satire.