With vaccinations rising and cases of COVID-19 falling, commuter and on-campus students alike feel more comfortable hanging around campus; with guidelines followed, more people lounge about the Old and New U, ACAC is slowly refilling and the imported Norwegian trolls have taken guardianship of the McFarlin Library.
Named Gogmagog the Insipid and Jötnar the Rock Tosser, these trolls are certainly something that has required adaptation from students. Sure, these trolls belch and fart and sing incomprehensible drinking ditties about, like, the concept of oak at any given moment, but many argue their presence has heightened the library security. In hour intervals, the two march about the perimeter of the building, sometimes stopping to show their slime-dripping teeth to the stray cats.
Of course, with any new addition, students and faculty have raised complaints about the new security guards. In order to enter McFarlin, the trolls will perform a cursory sniff of the potential visitor, inhaling the echoes of time that has passed and time to come as they search through the fumes to find any COVID-19 traces. If the smell test is passed, then the visitor must complete one final act: correctly answer the riddles of the trolls.
Official riddles recorded have been things like “lots smashed, lots drinked. Big he be, looks big so he be, big he bash and artful he crash” or “a train leaves from Moscow to Leningrad at a speed of…” The topics vary so that no one can easily get their way inside McFarlin, and the trolls are particularly eagle-eyed when it comes to any engineering student.
Those who do not answer the riddles correctly are pestered to leave, and the vigor of the trolls grows in intensity if the person is reluctant. Crows will surround the fool who challenges the trolls, their caws deafening and the wind from their sweeping feathers cold and repressive. The words of the ancients are hummed, the trolls joined by a mysterious, invisible chorus. The whole performance gets a bit dramatic.
In the rare moments the trolls are not in a blood lust or dazed by their ale, the two will enter the question-for-a-question dance with any curious passerby. Their conversation, though the tone changes with how delirious they are, vary from discussing “the lands of mystery and hapless fools, stumbling for their drink or burning with their own ire” to “the Earth Mother, unbound and eternal, hark be the beating heart, easy to crush and good to squeeze.” Then, usually, the topics will go back to the irresistible sway of a cartoonishly oversized turkey leg or their irrepressible fear of magic.
Whatever the trolls’ purpose may be, COVID rates have lowered since they have taken guardianship of McFarlin. Their ability to detect COVID-19 is surreal, and the way they have been working with the CDC to improve campus-wide reports is noteworthy. Although they may be an inconvenience, their presence is so inspiring. Good job, lads!