Intrepid super sleuths Anna Johns and Adam Walsh dive into a neo-gothic caper involving a university president, sidewalk chalk and several missing frat boys.
Students and faculty alike are being baffled by a sudden influx of chalk drawings, characterized by their child-like penmanship and the lack of understanding of how a person normally reads — horizontally, not vertically. These writings, first seen as a casual statement of True Commitment propaganda, have now taken on an ominous tone, hinting at far stranger happenings taking place behind the administration’s door.
One eyewitness, who was out late walking their dog, saw several students stumbling to their apartments straight into the path of TU President Gerard Clancy, the latter hunkered down, brow dripping with sweat and a tight-lipped grimace strewn upon his countenance.
According to the witness, when the drunk frat boys greeted him, Clancy did not offer a clear response; instead, he communicated in grunts and the flailing of his chalk-stained hands. He motioned to the ground, signaling that the drunk men should gaze upon his masterworks drawn on the pavement.
Upon closer inspection, these scribblings appeared to be a game of hangman, and, by his movements, it was clear that Clancy was inviting the drunk frat boys to play.
With glazed eyes, Clancy gestured to his work, his arm moving in a languid, almost showman-like fashion. “I’m always willing to have a pleasant game of hangman with my valuable students. Isn’t the sun shining so bright? It takes the chill off my worn, old bones,” he said.
The boys looked at each other with uncertainty, and one said, “Uh, Clancy, it’s 3 a.m.”
“Oh, is it that late?” He laughed mirthlessly, eyes rapidly focusing on the poor boys. “Well, it is Friday, so I suppose we still have plenty of time to have a good round of hangman. Won’t you play with me? A solid match of hangman would certainly make me happy. Wouldn’t playing a game of hangman with me make you happy?”
The report states that Clancy was staring intently at the group of young men, sweating profusely as if caught in the middle of a crime. There was something frenzied in his tone, each syllable defined by a perverse insistence that frightened the boys, contrasting with his now slow, patient movements. They found they could not break that cold, yet dire gaze. And, of course, if they refused, they would all certainly be the pussy of the week for the frat house, Smegma Alpha Chi.
Plus, who could leave an old man out in the dark at 3 a.m.? There are some weird people walking these streets, and letting Clancy get murked would be too serious of a vibe check. So, according to the witness, the boys began to participate in Clancy’s strange game night, and that’s where the eyewitness testimony ends.
In the morning, passersby looked upon the arcane remnants of a game lost to the rising of the sun and the morning dew, and students were left collectively scratching their heads.
_ AM A HUSK OF MY FORMER SELF. _ AM A SLAVE TO THE ANC_ENT ONES. TH_S _S MY ONLY METHOD OF COMMUN_CAT_ON. SEND FOR THE DRU_DS
Unfortunately, it appears that the game was cut short. The drunk frat boys, fulfilling their role of being stereotypically dumb, failed to complete the message before sending the hangman to the gallows. Oddly enough, this strange victim of capital punishment bears a strong resemblance to the TU president.
No one has been able to crack this mystifying puzzle. Even the English department has given up, choosing to go back to Chaucer, because, as was reported, “He’s easier to understand.”
Since that fated night, President Clancy and the group of frat boys have reportedly gone missing.
Clancy’s absence came as a shock, with this sudden holiday completely outside of his character. The frat boys’ disappearance wasn’t that big of a deal, though, because like a hydra, once one frat boy goes, two new brethren manifest in their place.
Like all of the anti-True Commitment chalkings, Clancy’s game was quickly forgotten, the mystery fading away from public conscience. Fortunately, The Collegian was equipped with two top tier investigators to track down the truth.
Once we were given the case, we took up the trail where it began, investigating the location and the surrounding area described by the witness. As we trudged through the bushes, we came upon tracks, which indicated a single individual, running on all fours, moving directly towards Chapman Hall. We safely assumed it was the missing President Clancy, because two of the appendages used to make the prints were from high-quality dress shoes, the type only a high ranking member of the administration could afford.
Our next course of action was to set up a stakeout in the bushes overlooking the spot the fateful game was played. And at precisely 3 a.m., we saw him.
Clancy, looking as if he hadn’t slept since that fateful frat boy night, was moving patiently and painstakingly, making his way towards the same exact spot the game of hangman was played. We could see clearly due to a fortuitous break in the trees, making a circle of lunar light encompassing the previously missing TU president. As we watched, he licked his lips, tongue rounding the corners of his downturned mouth, and went to work, using chalk reported missing by a notorious anti-True Commitment student.
As he labored in the dark, we snuck closer and closer, the sound of his heaving breathing providing ample cover for our footsteps.
Then the wind shifted, pulling our scent towards his hunched form, and like a cornered animal, he twisted his feverish figure in our direction, nose twitching and eyes rolling. He was obviously distraught by our voyeurism, but he managed to stay put and started speaking.
“Hello, valuable students,” he began, his fidgeting fingers dropping the chalk. “Valuable students, why don’t you join me in a robust game? The three of us under this luminous moon, waltzing our minds through this game. Two versus one. Seems like the odds are in your favor.”
His heavy gaze slid across us, and the more he talked, the more solid he became, a glint of menace emerging in his eyes, a wicked smile taking shape on his face.
“Or,” he said, “we could have a hunt. What do you say? Little rabbit, elegant doe, let us sink entirely into the game — our beautiful, melodious forms rippling away with the current. You’ve done me a favor by coming here.”
With this thinly veiled threat, we checked our surroundings and realized Clancy was much faster than we anticipated, for the man had rapidly sketched a multitude of hangman games, creating a double row that encircled the three of us. He began cackling and the glyphs sprang to life, spraying blue fire in waves, mirroring the intensity of Clancy’s words.
“COME TO ME GREAT AZATHOTH,” he chanted. “BRING YOUR ETERNAL SLUMBER TO YOUR WILLING SERVANT. PURIFY ME SO I MIGHT SIN NO MORE. TAKE THESE TWO SACRIFICES AS MY PENANCE.”
As Clancy cackled and screamed, we quickly decided to flee, leaving the man to his chosen fate.
But that was not the last time we saw Clancy. The next day, as we headed to our Ancient History class, there he was, standing on the west-facing steps of the McFarlin, a knowing smile playing on his lips as we walked past, a fiendish madness crouched just behind his eyes. We can only imagine where those frat boys went, but we hope they went quickly.