Beware the Ancient Evils of William Jewell College

This may be the last I am heard from again. It is of critical importance — indeed, crucial — that this article is read. Do not imagine that what you are about to read is some conspiracy, that I am idling away my time, or that I have nothing better to do than to make up tall tales for the readers of The Hilltop Monitor. On the contrary, I have risked my safety and my sanity to gather this information and present it to you. I fear I may be written off as a crackpot, laughed at as an entertaining dingbat, ignored like some eccentric buffoon. Dear reader, do not let appearances deceive you. Every word I write is either true or only very slightly hyperbolic, and it may well save your life or your reason. So, please, read closely. 

Certain places on this campus strike chills in my very innards. Surely everyone can feel this presence of the abyss, this savor of sweet, ancient, festering danger? These places that repulse but somehow draw one inexorably closer? In such a place lies the Perilous Sofa of Prokoptas. At times, one needs a nap, urgently, immediately, and I found myself in such a situation not long ago. Wandering the dusky corridors of the classroom on Curry Hall’s lowest floor, I came, as in a dream, upon a sofa that looked so inviting, so soft, so comfortable that I could not but take a nap on it behind the small stage. But in the middle of my pleasant sleep, a dark shadow fell over me, and I awoke to a man in blacksmith’s attire holding an enormous iron ax in one hand and a thick, twining rope in another. “How disappointing. You’re exactly 3 cubits, 15 1/3 fingers long,” he muttered, and faded into the gloom. Immediately, I knew. It was Prokoptas, the ancient Greek bandit supposedly defeated by the hero Theseus long ago. If you are taller than 5’ 5 1/2”, do not nap upon the Perilous Sofa, lest you wake up to find your height very unpleasantly changed. Resist its cushions, its glorious curtained twilight, its deep, soft embrace, and find some less haunted site to rest from your afflictions. 

The Perilous Sofa of Prokoptas. (Naomi Speck/William Jewell College)

Some rooms are not so diabolical, and it may take some time before you realize they are inhabited by ancient terrors from wilder times. The evil of the Chamber of Contemplation is not so easy to miss. Each time I walk by it to get to class, I wish I hadn’t, and each time it lies behind me instead of before, I put it out of my mind. I suppose this is the reason why none of us have thought to question it; we forget before it can drive us to very madness. The Chamber of Contemplation is usually located on the second floor of Jewell Hall, and it houses – well, what it houses should have been obvious. It is a very small, doorless room containing two chairs that face each other. What could it be for except the staring contests of doppelgängers? Late at night, walking from the empty study room, I saw them sitting in the chairs, leaning in, mere inches away from touching, exact mirror images. Each gazed steadily into the identical pupils of the other, moving not at all, toothy grins on their faces. I ran for my life, and I saw no traces of them in the morning, but I know what I witnessed that night and I warn you sincerely: do not go anywhere near the Chamber of Contemplation. I do not know the customs of the Gemini, but their malicious eyes are sharp and their ravenous teeth are even sharper.  

The Chamber of Contemplation. (Naomi Speck/William Jewell College)

The last dark secret that you must know about the treacherous haunts of William Jewell College is the most mournful, the most melancholy and tragic. Hazardous, yes. Life-threatening, undoubtedly. It invokes a certain visceral pity that may drive you to an untimely end, for deep within a certain building there lies a clutch of rooms that have been set apart forever, consecrated to the rite of Debate. Glittering trophies adorn the tables. The scent of victory laurels lingers in the air. But behind a wide gray door lurks a dark, cavernous recess, and in that dark, cavernous recess reside the Spectres of Debate. Cross not that threshold! Their anger is aroused; the debate room is impure! Those who have not completed the sacred ritual have entered and polluted its sacrosanct forthrightness! At midnight we have heard them vengefully clatter and bellow in the dim light of the cave, and indeed even in the afternoon, when I took this photo, I very nearly was grasped by their cold hands and dragged into the abyss, although I had completed the rite of temporary passage. Even still I feel their phantasmal fingers and shudder; my mind can no longer be at peace until they have achieved that final rest for which they yearn, until they have reconciled their grief and outrage by ritual sacrifice. Let this be a warning to the curious, to the seekers of thrill and excitement: go not into the ghastly cavern unless the debate team members permit under the ordinances of the ancient oracle, or the Spectres may devour you in their pursuit of justice breached so long ago. 

The Cavern of the Spectres of Debate. (Naomi Speck/William Jewell College)

If I should disappear mysteriously in the near future, I beg of you, dear reader, consider my warnings and take them to heart. Fear the Perilous Sofa, avoid the Chamber of Contemplation, and by all means, leave the Spectres of Debate in peace. Take care of your safety; the world is wide and dangerous, and there is much we do not know, much that hungers with an insatiable hunger in the deep darkness of William Jewell College’s untamed places.

One thought on “Beware the Ancient Evils of William Jewell College

  1. E.J. Bacon

    That was absolutely fabulous! I advocate for this author to write an article on the myth of the jewell tunnel system.
    Great job! I eagerly await further material from Ms. Speck.

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