Postcards from Tradocia

horrors of the university

You wouldn’t think that a battle-hardened veteran like me would so often find the halls of the University frightening, but indeed, there are plenty of creepy sights to be had.

Foremost among them would have to be the various dental clinics. Unlike your friendly(?) neighborhood dentist, with a couple of offices and a blandly-furnished lobby with various dog-eared magazines that you’d never read otherwise, the dental clinics at the U are to dentistry what capsule hotels are to lodging. Each clinic is a huge room, subdivided by chest-height walls, constructed so that only the blue-clad heads of the technicians and the long necks of the blazing lamp-heads are visible to a passerby. Combined with the sterile fluorescent lighting, the scene is weird enough, calling to mind some set of Martian invaders. But the sounds are what really freak me out: the whirring of tiny drills, the grinding sound of carbide tips chewing through enamel, the hiss of suction devices. There are all too many computers in these strange areas, but I try to make my trips short – I’m always afraid that one of the techs will look upon me as an intruder and hurl a still-screaming drill at me in some sort of Mortal Kombat-esque move.

One day I decided to take a shortcut through the basement of one building; I had never taken that route, but I knew the general layout. I came out of the stairwell into the concrete-floored corridor, looked around, and picked a likely direction, following the massive twin pipes leading away from the complex’s chiller pit, each blue tube easily big enough to crawl through. The corridor was weirdly soundless, and empty. I followed it for a while, until the corridor opened up, the pipes following the ceiling which was now twenty feet over my head. Along the walls of the widened corridor were huge empty cages – easily big enough to hold me – and as I looked at them in passing, I noticed animal smells wafting down the hall in my direction. I wondered where I would end up – I had visions of giant apes bursting out of the walls and assaulting me – while the cages seemed endless in number. Some had well-chewed rubber toys still in them, though the cages were otherwise shiny clean. I managed to leave the corridor and find an exterior stairwell, but still, I felt like I had narrowly missed some kind of situation.

Other halls, too, have discarded or spare equipment crowding them – old hospital beds, chairs, carts, other medical miscellany – and for some reason I just can’t help but wonder what those halls would look and smell and sound like if they were crammed with bodies. Wounded, sick, dying – hospital beds overflowing from some disaster and the rest crammed into the sub-levels of any available building, a hellish scene of panic, blood, and chaos…

Who knew tech support could be so macabre?


  1. G&G

    What a trip!

  2. cindy

    I hope your health insurance doesn’t require you to go to the dentist at the U!

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