1870 Mag

The Ohio State Hunger Games: A short story

BY JAKE GARTLAND

The moonlight reflected an orange glow of the sidewalk leaves as we walked home from a late night of debauchery and revelry across various High Street establishments. I was about to say goodbye to my friends when we saw a terrifying sight lingering out in the darkness. We had to act quickly as we scuttled toward the nearest bush. Hiding just out of sight, I could feel my heart racing faster than after I shotgunned four White Claws in 20 seconds earlier in the night. One of us had to speak up and with a heavy heart, I chose to be the one.

“What do we do? I’ve never been so close to one of these before,” I sent out in a hushed whisper.

“Don’t you remember the training? We know what we must do.” Always the pragmatist, Chad was the first to reply. As I desperately tried to remember protocol, I noticed James was clearly shaken up. He looked like a ghost, frozen in place with glossy eyes glued into the darkness. This is worse than the time he tried asking for that Candy Apple Pi’s number at Midway, I thought. I grabbed him and pulled him back behind the bush.

“James, you okay man? You look terrified,” I asked him with bated breath. “I don’t know if I can do this. It…it was different during training. Seeing it in person, I don’t…I don’t think I have the strength,” James let out in a spattering of words.

“Come on, we’ve got this. It’s up to us to finish this,” I tried to reassure him. I’ll admit it’s different in person, but this was the big moment we’ve been waiting for. It felt like that first hit of a Juul after you finally get through the line at Standard Hall. Or passing an exam after going into office hours twice a day for two weeks begging for an extra percentage point.

We couldn’t just let this opportunity fall away. What if someone else stole it right from under us? It only happens once a year. If we miss our chance, it’s gone. We let these things, these monsters, exist for the rest of the year, but we cannot suffer their existence for the most sacred month of all.

“I’m sorry guys,” James said shaking his head. “I’m out. You’re gonna have to finish this by yourself.” With a puff of nicotine breath into the icy, dank night, James left in a cold sweat, peering over his shoulder looking out for any more of the things.

“James, no!” Chad stretched out his hand. “Dammit, I guess it’s just you and me now.” He said, shoving his shivering fists into his thrifted denim jacket pockets. “You got the supplies?” I asked. Without saying a word, Chad pulled out the item from his pocket. Its red, sheen coat pierced through the darkness brighter than the Tom W. Davis Clocktower’s giant LED screen. An unspoken sense of unity swept over us. We approached the beast carefully, not letting out a single sound as a few leaves skeeted past the sidewalk in front of us. As we crept closer to the object of our disdain, I felt my heartbeat in my throat. Could victory really be so close? Or will the target evade our grasp and disappear into the night?

But we were in the belly of the beast and there was no turning back. I looked over to my side and Chad was there, his nose and cheeks a blood-filled red like the item that would soon be our deliverance. Silently, he split the item in two, giving one piece to me and keeping the other for himself. Together, our hands moved forward toward the thing, the monster, and within a flash, the beast was defeated.

“Finally!” I cheered. “No longer will we tolerate these M’s besieging our campus! Now and forevermore, the M’s will be SILENCED.”

After our triumph, the only thing left standing was the “To” W. Davis Clocktower. Its LED screen shining upon us like a Bullwinkle’s strobe light.

“That’s one down and uh…10,362 more to go. This is a great victory for OSU. There will come a day when nay a SINGLE M will taint our beautiful university!” I let my voice boom through the emptied campus streets, bouncing off the brick walls that girls were Sharpieing their sorority names onto just hours before. One day, I thought, they’ll Sharpie my name in a heart on bathroom stalls.

“Dude, you know we have to remove the tape after the Michigan game is over, right?”

“Ya, ya, ya. Whatever. Just let me have my moment, ok?”

Jake Gartland

Jake Gartland

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