Douglas College library gothic

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

An excerpt from a gothic literature classic

By Rebecca Peterson, Humour Editor

It’s quiet in the library. Too quiet.

You hear it all: The whirr of computer monitors, printers spitting out pages of ink, the lone cry of a student as they realize they’ve forgotten their assignment at home. It echoes around you, dragging your spirit into the dusty shelves. You hope it learns something there.

Your task is simple.

You wait in line at the printers to access the computer. After all, you came prepared. Your work is completed. It just needs to be printed.

Your teacher suggested—nay, demanded—that you give yourself an adequate amount of time to print your work. She said she would not accept late work. She said that things always go wrong when you leave it to the last minute. She said that it was important to take responsibility for your own time management.

You whispered, “Yolo.”

(You then immediately cringed and bathed in holy water for an hour to cleanse the 2012 frat-boy demon from your mind that caused you to say that, but that is beside the point.)

Twenty minutes, you figure, is more than enough time to do this. You’ll even make it to class early. You will show them all.

The line expands—not behind you, however, but before you. How did it do that? You look to the sky for answers. The fluorescent lights above you buzz and crackle, but they do not explain. They are, as ever, unknowable and frightening, and best left alone.

You finally reach the computer, and after checking your Student ID for your nine-digit identification (you haven’t memorized it by now? You’ve been here for over a year…), you log in. You set up your document. You try to print it.

Nothing happens.

You hover over the printer anxiously, noting with cold jealousy that the documents of people at other computers who pressed “print” after you are printing just fine. It’s you. It’s only your project, your work that cannot manifest itself in the physical world.

Defeated, you finally seek the intervention of a higher power: The librarian.

You explain your situation, your desperate pleas finally reaching a sympathetic ear. She asks how many copies you mean to print. You say 22.

She looks at you. Knows you.

“Creative Writing, huh?” she says softly. You hang your head. There is no defence for your actions here. Your life choices led you to this place, this River Styx of an institution. You seek passage to a newer, better place, and the printer has barred your way.

The librarian finds another computer for you, and you repeat your actions from before. This time, a new window pops up: a confirmation for the printer that yes, you pressed “print” three times for a reason; this is, in fact, what you want.

“That didn’t happen before,” you try to explain.

She doesn’t believe you. She thinks you’re an idiot. But she’s far too kind to say.

You look at the time, and realize that class started two minutes ago. Cursing quietly, you dash over to the printer and wait, watching… watch, waiting…

As it prints 22 copies. Slowly.

There is no leaving the library, you realize slowly, at copy number seven. You look up at the librarian, horror in your eyes.

“As I am now, so you shall be,” she mouths, retreating behind her desk. She lifts up an ancient copy of Pearls, Douglas College’s literary anthology. Out falls a Personal Narrative syllabus from 15 years ago.

Your fate is sealed. The library has claimed you. The printer has won.