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The Mursday Effect Chapter 12: Here at the End of All Things

After leaving Joanna to be imprisoned by mercenaries, I sat on my EvilAway Airplane and stared out the window. Normally, I would admire my chiseled jawline and piercing eyes in the reflection, but at the moment I was overcome by loss and self-hatred.

Out the window, I could see that we were passing the base where Regina and her cohort of malicious destruction had opened the deepest tear in reality at Well-Varied Tiaras. Right about now, Boston College would be subsumed by the Mursday tear and the destruction would spread. And right here in Nova Scotia, reality would fold in on itself and I would be left floating in the spectral dimension, having barely escaped (if what they had promised me was true).

Then a large suction cup slapped down against my window, causing some alarm within my bowels. The suction cup disappeared, and I saw a burly arm reach up above my window, then another, and then a face in between them, staring right at me. There was a man, wind blowing his hair wildly, a bitchin’ pair of aviators on his face, and a corncob pipe in his mouth.

Removing one suction-cupped hand, he dipped his finger into the burning ash in the pipe and smeared a message onto the window: “Let me in.”

I recognized him. Retrograde, the rogue director from BC. I paused, then breathed on the window and wrote a message into the condensation.

“I would, but we’re at a very high altitude and I fear the pressure would cause me to fly out of the emergency exit, resulting in death. Frankly, I’m astonished that you haven’t flown off of the plane by now. Those must be some truly X-tra X-tra strength suction cups you have. You should tell me where you bought them. I’m always in the market for good suction cups. And also, by the by, if I were to let you in, I would most likely be punished by the guards patrolling the airplane as we speak. They are armed and would have few qualms shooting us both.”

He read this message in the window and then wrote one back: “Come on, man.”

Normally, I would have pulled the sliding plastic cover over the window and been done with it, but I was still overwhelmed with sadness, and felt the strange urge to not be a smarmy anus of a human being.

I stood up and walked to the back of the plane. A mercenary stopped me as I reached the emergency exit.

“Where are you going?” he said.

“URINATION,” I said, totally keeping my cool in the tense situation.

He nodded and walked past me. At which point, overcome with exultation at my successful attempt to bamboozle the guard, I screamed, “I’M ACTUALLY NOT GOING TO URINATE, GOOD SIR. I’M GOING TO OPEN THE EMERGENCY EXIT. HA HA HA.”

And I flung open the emergency exit, but not before securing a strong grip around the nearest seat with my notoriously muscular forearms. Wind whipped through the cabin, the force of the suction sending mercenaries flying out into the night alongside copies of EvilAir Magazine. Retrograde managed to suction cup his way over, get into the plane, and shut the door behind him.

I stepped forward.

“Retrograde,” I said. “My timeline in this adventure has been running parallel to yours. It is good to finally meet you.”

Retrograde paused.

“Did you pee yourself?” he said.

“What’s the next step?” I said. “What heroics shall we perform?”

Retrograde looked out the window and took a long pull on his pipe.

“We’re going to save the world.”

***

From what I’ve been told, while I was engaged in heroic battle in the air, Joanna was sitting in the homegoods warehouse discussing the finer points of nautical transportation with a guard.

“The finer points of nautical transportation,” Joanna said. “Let us discuss them.”

But it was a ruse. The guard stepped into her cell, intrigued by the promise of titillating discussion, and she chopped his neck in a fashion commonly referred to as karate. He crumpled to the floor and she slipped out of the warehouse and off into the night.

It just so happened that as Joanna ran out of the front doors of the abysmally guarded prisoner facility, one Regina and one Athena were both leaving a different building and happened to be walking toward the facility to pick up a small van to drive her to her escape pod.

Joanna ducked behind a conveniently placed crate of papayas and listened to their discussion.

“Did you kill those annoying BC kids?” Athena said. “God, I hate teaching there.”

“No,” Regina said. “I’m just going to let the tear in reality, located only a few short miles away in the middle of Cinematic Finish Field, suck them in.”

“Solid plan. Let’s get out of here.”

“Yes, let us indeed get out of here. Because even if someone manages to stop our evil plan, we will still have escaped and be lurking in the wings ready to strike again in the future. You can get away from us for a while, but we will always be somewhere out there, constantly haunting the back of your mind and reminding you of the futility of your every waking moment.”

“Much like death.”

“Yes, exactly like death.”

“We are a metaphor for death.”

“Isn’t that fun?”

And with that they both entered a large van, drove away, and were never seen again.

Joanna stepped out from behind the crate of papaya and took off running for Well-Varied Tiaras.

***

“I just feel like I put myself out there, and like, she just didn’t even care,” George said as Darren held him.

“Bro, look at me,” Darren said. “Like, you’re going to be fine. You’re going to get over her, and like, you’ll be even better. She doesn’t deserve you.”

“But my heart, Darren. It hurts so bad.”

“I know, man. I know.”

“I just didn’t want to kiss him,” Bridget said from across the room, throwing her hands up in exhaustion.

“I thought we had something real,” George wailed.

Bridget turned away, shaking her head.

“And everything isn’t going to be fine,” Bridget yelled back at them. “The world’s going to end.”

“Just like you ended our love,” George hollered.

At which point, the front door burst open. Joanna Oxford came sprinting in, slid to a halt in the center of the room, looked at each of the students dramatically and took a deep breath.

“Follow me, kids,” she said.

***

“Joanna just sent me a text with a little pin drop thing where the tear in reality is,” I said. “I didn’t know you could do that on your phone.”

“That a new iPhone?” Retrograde said.

“Yeah, I just got it.”

“Nice.”

“It really is. Have you ever tried adding effects to messages?”

“No, how’s that work?”

“This is so cool. Let me show you.”

But the conversation had to be postponed, as I showed Retrograde where the tear in reality was and he got all stoic again. He ran into the back and then came back with two parachutes. He shoved one at me and took the other.

Before I could protest, he strapped the parachute around my back and kicked me out the emergency exit.

***

“And btw, you’re the worst,” Joanna typed. “But if you can plug up the tear, please do, because otherwise we all die. I’m going to try to get some kids as far away as possible, so that my last moments aren’t meaningless.”

Joanna marshalled the four school chums outside and they took off romping through the fens and spinneys of Nova Scotia, subtly referencing Frasier as they went.

***

I landed gracefully on my posterior in the middle of a field.

Retrograde landed seconds later, ran over, and took my phone.

“Half a mile east,” he said. “Let’s go.”

We took off running, just as Joanna and her compatriots were a few miles in the other direction. Soon, we had reached Cinematic Finish Field, where an unnatural blue glow emanated from the middle of an otherwise abandoned field.

“No guards?” I said.

“They must have realized what’s happening here,” Retrograde said, before sprinting straight for the heart of the tear.

I ran after him.

“Wait,” I screamed. “There’s nothing we can do.”

“Yes there is,” he said. “I can pull it shut.”

“What? That makes very little sense.”

“It’s time for the sacrifice.”

“No, Retrograde.”

“Tell Amanda I love her.”

“You have a love interest? I always thought you were the strong, silent guy with a shady past, like some sort of tragedy or something.”

But it was too late. He ran straight for the glow. I could see the pit in the ground, but went no closer. The sun was setting in the distance, for dramatic effect, as Retrograde ran straight for the pit and jumped in.

Everything was silent for a second.

Then a loud, strained yell.

“Retrograde,” I said.

The yell got louder, and then suddenly I heard it different. He wasn’t yelling. He was laughing.

“I got it,” he screamed.

And the light disappeared.

Then nothing.

My heart was pounding. I checked the time. The world should be ending soon.

A rumble shook the ground. Suddenly bright light filled the sky and a crack ripped through earth. I flew into the air, tumbling for miles through the sky, lifted on an unnatural wave. Somewhere below the earth, Retrograde had shut the tear, and now the seismic distress was ripping through the earth. But at least it wasn’t ripping through reality.

***

Miles away Joanna fell to the ground as the earth shook. She grabbed the students and huddled together.

The shaking stopped minutes later.

And the world still stood.

***

“Everyone break into groups and just quickly discuss whether you think globalization is an effective means of promoting human rights norms,” the professor said.

Bridget let out a long and slow breath through her nostrils. She lowered her head to the table.

“Group discussion,” George said. “Cool, cool. I’m liking this class already.”

“So am I, man,” Darren said. “It’s like, not English, but still like, learning.”

“You are so right.”

“God, we click on so many levels.”

Bridget looked to her left at George and her right at Darren. Six months ago, she had made it back from Nova Scotia bruised but alive, had spent the summer recovering from her ordeal, had faced the biggest spiritual crisis of her entire life, questioned everything she had ever believed and her entire path in life, pushed through a hopelessness so deep she never thought she would see the end of it, and somehow she ended up back in Gasson Hall with these two.

“So, human rights,” Darren said. “Like, so as humans, like, we have, like, rights.”

“For sure,” George said. “Exactly. Like, if we hadn’t saved the world, no one would have those rights.”

“You should bring that up. Raise your hand, dude. She’ll be so impressed about the world-saving.”

Bridget sat back in her chair and crossed her arms. For a few seconds, which she would later deny ever occurred, she found herself smiling.

***

In my tank top and boxer shorts, I stumbled through the farmhouse and over to the front door.

“Bill, I already told you that squirrel was on my property, and I’m entitled to do with it what I will,” I yelled.

But when I opened the door, I saw a face I hadn’t seen in half a year.

“Tim,” Joanna said. “Hello.”

“Hi,” I said.

We stared at each other for a few seconds.

“I heard you saved those kids’ lives,” I said.

“The building they were in collapsed during the quake,” she said. “So I guess I did.”

“Nice.”

“And you were there when Retrograde saved us all?”

“Nearby.”

“Cool.”

“ … why are you here?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Is it to forgive me?”

“No.”

“Okay. You want a croissant?”

“ … I’ll take a croissant.”

So we ate croissants.

Afterward, she left, stole my car from the driveway, and I haven’t seen her since. I suppose I should still be angry but I’m not. I’ve read her chapters of our tale, and it’s almost as though she’s communicating with me. Maybe someday, we’ll meet up again and report more stories, have more adventures, but for now it’s just me and my farmhouse.

It gets lonely out here at night, after days on days of speaking to no one, of complete isolation, but it’s what has to happen after everything I’ve done. Someday, I’ll be redeemed for betraying the only person who cared about me. I know that now. And until then, I think it’s time to reflect on the Mursday happenings, to look up at the sky and know the fragility of the universe in these late days of human existence.

Also, to eat muffins. Because they are what keep a sad sack like Rutherford Shireton IV going these days.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

The Mursday Effect Chapter 11: And All Was Lost

I looked back at Rutherford’s face—he was examining a small rock he was kicking with his tattered shoes, a look of forced concentration trying to mask the sadness in his eyes.

So, this is how it was, I thought. So much for friends forever.

The mercenaries, all things considered, were quite nice, which is the raise in quality you expect when you acquire hired killers from Canada.

“Hey!” one barked at me. “Miss! Do you want any tea?”

You see what I’m talking about.

And let me just say, I indulged myself. Whatever they offered, I took. That’s the funny thing about losing your purpose—nothing matters at all, and you can finally just relax.

Fortunately for me, the dismal warehouse the mercenaries had locked me up in was for the retail chain Homegoods, so I laid in seafoam-green, chevron-patterned chaise lounges and curled up in ultra-plush blankets as I planned out my next move.

The details relayed to me are shaky and not as solidly substantiated as before, as I was trapped in the Homegoods warehouse. But this is what people said happened, so let’s go with it.

***

The three students stared back at Regina.

“So, can I like, come with you?” Darren said. “I am just so over this existence.”

“I will think about it,” Regina said. “But probably, no.”

“Now wait just a minute!” Retrograde said, flipping through a small notebook. “You said you were the one we were looking for. That means you’re good!”

“You would think. But that’s just writing conventions lulling you into a false sense of predictability about the plot,” she said. “Just because I’m the one you’ve been looking for doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily good.”

“Wow, that’s sneaky as hell,” Bridget said, a smile on her face. “I kind of love that.”

“Well, anyway, enjoy your last few moments on earth. You are all doomed to die in this realm while I go onto whatever iteration of this universe is great for me.”

George shot Bridget a panicked look. Darren grabbed a flask he had been hiding in his pants pocket. Retrograde just huffed and huffed, flipping through the pages of his small notebook like a deck of cards.

Regina clasped her hands together and smiled, satisfied in her havoc-wreaking.

“Time for me to go! I have a lot of people to let down today about the state of the earth,” she said. “Maybe I’ll swing by right before I head out just to bask in your sorrow again. It’s quite pleasing.”

The trio looked at each other, unsure of what to do next.

“I guess I should call my mom and let her know where I am,” Bridget said. “For helicopter parents, they really haven’t checked in about grades in a while.”

Retrograde looked at her as she trudged to a corner of the room.

“I’m leaving.”

“What?” George yelled. “You take us on this whole journey and have us commit several crimes, and now you’re just going to up and leave?”

Retrograde sighed.

“You don’t understand right now,” he said. “But this has to be done. I have to go. Please, remember me.”

“You can’t just pull this Aslan crap!” George shouted, throwing tiaras onto the floor. “You’re just some regular guy, okay? You are not going off to save the world or something.”

“I bet that’s what people said about Jesus,” Darren said, rolling his eyes.

“This is all just ridiculous.”

George was trembling with anger.

“You know what? Just get out of here! We don’t need you anyway! Go!”

“Yes, that is what I was planning on doing,” Retrograde said, making his way to the door.

George turned to the wall.

“Goodbye, my friend.”

Retrograde looked over his shoulder, shook his head, and left.

“Dude, did you just Harry and the Hendersons him?”

“Try The Fox and the Hound, Darren. Get some culture.”

Bridget sighed as she put away her phone.

“Well, they’re struggling with the concept of my impending death because I haven’t even committed to Goldman for the summer yet, but I think they’ll get through it.”

Tears started to form in her eyes.

“They mostly just talked about my sister’s newest piano competition trophy.”

“Oh…wow….” Darren said, struggling to come up with words for the first time in his life. “That is a lot.”

She ran off to a small, dimly-lit room with pillows and candles, which is weird for a tiara shop to have. She was sobbing and vulnerable.

George rushed to the outside of the door, attempting to hear her inside, though all he would have been able to hear would be her ugly sniffling and squeals.

“Hey … are you okay?”

Bridget looked at him like he was the dumbest person in the world.

“I don’t know, George, what do you think? That’s a question for you. The world is ending and we are going to die, and my parents don’t even care. Do you want to ask another stupid question?”

She threw herself on one of the piles of pillows.

“Hey…” George said, patting her head. “It’ll be okay. I actually wanted to talk to you about something, about us.”

“What?” she said, looking up at his face.

“Ever since we’ve been on this journey, and we’ve found ourselves in these horrifying situations and our lives have been at stake, I’ve been thinking,” he started, squinting his eyes a little to appear more desirable. “And I just wanted to say, like, since we’re going to die, that … I love you, Bridget.”

She gasped and looked up at him, getting close to his face.

“Wow, I … can’t believe this is my life,” she whispered. “Please, never do this to a woman again. That was awful.”

He got up and walked out the door. Bridget smiled to herself. Not even if the world was ending.

But still, all was lost.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

The Mursday Effect Chapter 10: The Reporter Without Positive Qualities

Dear reader, before we enter back into the glorious romp that has been The Mursday Effect, there is something I must address. Last week, Joanna Oxford made a series of slanderous, unfounded accusations against me. My character has been besmirched, and I demand satisfaction and fair treatment by the cruel media.

I am not a fan of Anne of Green Gables. I have never been a fan of Anne of Green Gables. My childhood was not spent reading Anne of Green Gables under my duvet whilst Mother drank her red wine and berated Father for his laziness.

These are lies propagated by my enemies and those who are so deeply jealous of my undeniable eloquence and chiseled jawline.

Also, we did not take off in a replica of the car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. What kind of ridiculous fantasy land is Joanna living in? No, we took off in a specially-designed fighter jet and proto-helicopter built to fly at upwards of 17 million aero-nautical knots, while maintaining hover control and turbular carbunicity.

After leaving the Anne of Green Gables museum, a visit that in no way excited or interested me, and flying off, Joanna and I made for Nova Scotia with great swiftness and professionalism.

“Why don’t you like me?” is something I most certainly did not ask Joanna.

“I like you fine, Rutherford,” she didn’t say. “Sometimes you’re a bit annoying, and you sure like to go a bit nuts in the syntax department, but you’re an all-right guy and a decent reporter. It’s been a pleasure working with you, believe it or not.”

“Oh,” I said.

My phone vibrated in my pocket. I had set it to the rhythm of “Beethoven’s Fifth,” because I am sophisticated. Checking the screen, I saw a message.

“Bring her to ‘The Flannels and Moose Parts Emporium’ not to ‘Well-Varied Tiaras.’”

I paused, looked over at Joanna and tapped out a message:

“I can’t.”

An immediate response: “You already took the $$$. I have the Venmo receipts, dumbass. One call and I can have you arrested for conspiring to tear apart reality. And we have the surveillance footage of you at that motel with the peanut butter.”

I slid the phone back into my pocket.

“You know, someday I hope we really do serialize our story,” Joanna said. “Each of us taking on one chapter to tell the world about our reporting adventures. This is the kind of case that would really work for that. It would be like the old days in the newsroom when we cranked out copy together at 1 in the morning for deadline.”

“Tim, are you all right?” she said.

I swallowed once, turned back to her, and nodded.

“Yeah,” I said.

She smiled and began our descent into Nova Scotia.

“So, I say we head for the shopping district,” she said. “I’ve had my eye on this place called ‘Well-Varied Tiaras.’ Their most recent IRS filings smell like ‘secret hideaway front store’ to me.”

“Why are you staring at me?”

“I think we should try this other place a mile or so away from there: ‘The Flannels and Moose Parts Emporium,’” I said. “Those seismic readings from Mursday indicated a disturbance right around there.”

Joanna shrugged.

“Sure, we can try that first,” she said.

She landed the plane in a small field full of dying crops and sadness. We both exited the plane, checked the Global Positioning Systems and began walking toward “The Flannels and Moose Parts Emporium.”

***

Only a few miles away, Retrograde and Regina stood facing each other in the middle of Well-Varied Tiaras.

“I’m surprised you made it this far,” Regina said. “But it’s too late to repair reality. The trigger’s been pulled, friends. At this very moment, mercenaries are breaching tears in reality, entering into the dark and fallen worlds and searching for our escape. We successfully broke reality with Mursday so that we could find these other worlds, these other universes, and escape this rotting existence. In only one day, all the pawns will be left behind and we will leave for a better world, while you all die in the rubble.”

“Did you rehearse that?” Bridget said.

“Yes,” Regina said.

And that was all.

***

“There it is,” Joanna said, pointing to the large warehouse in front of us. We knew it was “The Flannels and Moose Parts Emporium” because a large sign on the front read “The Flannels and Moose Parts Emporium.”

We walked toward it silently, crossing another field and then a parking lot. As we neared the front doors, Joanna spoke.

“How do you think we would start it, the story we’re going to write?” she’d say.

I didn’t respond.

She turned toward and walked backward toward the front doors, smiling, waiting for a response.

I wanted to say I was sorry, but I didn’t even have the strength to do that.

The door opened behind her and the mercenaries grabbed her by the arms and pulled her inside. I saw her face once before they shut the doors again.

My phone vibrated in my pocket again. I read the message:

“Good job, Rutherford.”

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

The Mursday Effect Chapter 8: The Spy Who Annoyed Me

During Retrograde’s harrowing journey to Nova Scotia, a journey filled with improbable killer whale sightings and complaints by pretentious Boston College students, Joanna Oxford and I were in quite the pickle.

If you’ll remember from my previous chapter, one which was impeccably written, intensely evocative, and perfectly plotted, Joanna was left standing on a car, bow and arrow in hand, as a massive wave of monstrous beings from dark and fallen worlds descended upon her. In an act that maybe, in retrospect, some might call heroism, she held off the monsters and allowed Retrograde and his three young companions to escape to the harbor.

At the time, I happened to be hiding inside of an SUV. This was not because I was afraid, but because I knew that hugging my knees and rocking back and forth in the trunk of an SUV was the best strategy possible in this situation. Trust me, the real hero in this situation was and always will be Rutherford Shireton IV.

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” I shrieked heroically and with great manly vigor. The scene around the car was complete chaos, wild tentacle-creatures bounding between cars, a pizza-tear in the sky opening a portal to another world.

A loud noise, which might be textually approximated as VROOOOOOOOM, drew my attention and I glanced over the backseat and out the window. Waves of black motorcycles, ridden by shapeless, armored soldiers wearing entirely black flew by the window. Tires screeched as the motorcycles skid to stops within the massive, bloody traffic jam and the soldiers hopped out. I turned around and looked over the back window to see another wave of these mercenaries, this time wearing entirely Nantucket red. In a well-choreographed move, they all leapt from their motorcycles, clicked their heels together, and charged at the approaching monsters.

I turned back to the front and saw Joanna standing on a car, nocking another arrow in her bow. She paused to look at the mercenaries streaming past her car.

A knock on the back window startled me.

“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, OH BISCUITS OH BISCUITS NO NO NO NO NO NO PLEASE KILL JOANNA NOT ME I’M TO PRETTY TO DIE,” I screamed with great courage and fortitude.

The face peering in at me from the back door was one I recognized from my pre-mission research. When Joanna and I first drove out to Massachusetts, prepared to investigate the earth-shattering ramifications of Mursday, I reviewed some files and found that one of the primary suspected directors of the program responsible for this breach in reality was one Athena Wilson, a BC professor. It was the same face from the file, gray-eyed and owl-chinned that stared at me, smirking.

Using a small laser, she cut through the glass and pushed the detached pane into the trunk, where it landed on my toe. To this day, I carry the bruise of that wartime injury.

“You’re Tim,” she said. “I admire your work. Let’s talk.”

This is a perfect place to abruptly shift the scene. Not to avoid potential embarrassment or self-implication in an evil plot and subsequent betrayal, but instead because the narrative demands it. For pacing, you fools.

Joanna stood on the car, watching dumbfounded (which she often is), as Athena’s mercenaries fought the twisted monsters.

“Drop the bow,” a gruff and yet tender voice from below said.

Joanna turned to see one of the Nantucket-red mercenaries standing next to the car, looking up at her and aiming his rifle in a way that was threatening and yet gentle. She looked around quickly and judged her possible avenues of escape. Unfortunately, she is in no way quick-witted or heroic, like Rutherford Shireton IV, and was unable to handle herself in this situation.

“Hey, you,” someone else growled.

Joanna looked up and saw a tall, handsome, and well-dressed man standing behind the mercenary. The mercenary turned, in a manner that was intimidating and yet graceful, and aimed the rifle at Rutherford’s head. With no hesitation, only a will of steel and muscles of totes-jacked-swoleness, the noble Rutherford advanced on the soldier and began karate chopping the air in a show of strength.

“You don’t want to mess with Big Ruth,” I said, positively oozing charisma and indomitable awesomeness.

“Big Rooth?” the mercenary said.

“No, Ruth,” I said. “Like Rut, but with an h.”

“Okay, but like the way you spelled it is pronounced Rooth, like the old lady name.”

“Hi-Ya,” I screamed, landing a karate chop right to the neck. The mercenary may not have reacted, but that was only because I had stunned him so thoroughly.

“All right, please stop that,” the mercenary said, trembling with fear. “I have stuff to do and you’re getting on my nerves.”

“Leave Joanna alone,” I said, raising a fist. “Or this mama-jama’s coming right at you.”

The mercenary’s walkie-talkie buzzed.

“Leave them,” a female voice said. “He’s on our side now.”

“All right, whatevs,” the mercenary said, walking away.

“HA,” I said. “Just another fool who thought they could take on old Ruth.”

“What did that lady say on the walkie-talkie?” Joanna said.

“No time for questions. We have to get to Nova Scotia to stop the evil plot and save the world and all that.”

And so Joanna and I took off running for the airport, where a private plane waited for us.

Back on the highway, Athena watched her mercenaries fighting and spoke into a cellular phone.

“The reporters won’t be any trouble she said,” she said.

“Did you just say ‘she said’ at the end of your sentence?” the mysterious overlord of evil plots said.

“Typo, don’t worry about it. What’s important is that we’ve set up some future betrayals, some torn allegiances, and a large multi-character confrontation.”

“Ah yes. Now it all unfolds. Ha-ha-hoo-hee-hi-higgidy.”

The mysterious overlord has always had a bizarre laugh. It led to a great deal of cruelty from his grade school classmates, which may perhaps have led, in part, to his eventual decision to pursue “mysterious overlord of evil plots” as a career path.

But anyhoo, we shall see more come next week.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

The Mursday Effect Chapter 7: On the Road Again (Kind Of)

“Where the hell are we going?” Bridget yelled, the bumper of the truck now lost to the unforgiving asphalt.

“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” Darren said.

“Oh my God, shut up,” Bridget shot back. “We don’t have time for Back to the Future references.”

“I mean, technically he’s not wrong,” Retrograde said, hands clenching the steering wheel with white knuckles. “We are going in the harbor, so really, there aren’t roads. Good one, Darren.”

Bridget rolled her eyes as Darren flashed a satisfied grin.

“Do you have a charter or something? What kind of boat are we talking? At this point, you could tell me we’re using a piece of broken-off ceiling tile from Walsh to get all the way to Nova Scotia,” Bridget said.

“That’s not a terrible idea, but that’s not what we’re doing,” Retrograde said, a smirk creeping up his face.

“Oh thank God,” said George, who we didn’t forget about but wasn’t necessary to the narrative until now.

“No,” Retrograde said, his smirk getting bigger. “We’re going to steal a boat.”

Normally this would be quite alarming, but everyone was pretty jaded at this point.

The quartet made it to the harbor, the New England Aquarium offering affordable fun for the whole family just steps away from historic Boston!

“Okay, here we go,” Retrograde said, making his way out to a dock.

“Hello, everyone! Welcome to our whale watching tour!” said a cheery guide dressed in all yellow.

“Yeah, we’re gonna have to ask you to get off the boat,” Retrograde said, the tiniest bit of authority in his voice.

“Okay, have a good day!” the teen said, dropping his air of care and concern. “Do what you want. I get paid minimum wage—”

“That’s great, see you later,” they all said hurriedly.

Having taken control of the boat, Retrograde fiddled with the standard navigation equipment that boats have. After a few minutes, the boat lurched forward, entering the choppy waters. After a half hour in the open waters, giant whales broke through the surface. It was beautiful.

“What an amazing and powerful representation of nature,” Darren said.

“I actually am not going to tell you to shut up this time,” Bridget said, hardly believing the words coming out of her mouth. “Because it’s nice, but also because we have to stay on this boat for hours.”

Retrograde sat at the helm, pushing buttons and doing more nautical things. He was like the old guy from Jaws.

After several hours of wandering around the boat, George came up to the deck to confer with his acquaintances.

“So, I was reading about Nova Scotia, and did you know that one of the guys from The Mamas and The Papas was from there?” he said.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Bridget said, clearly missing some gaps of knowledge about folk rock in the 1960s.

“Well, he is,” George said. “Maybe we can go to a museum while we’re there.”

“Museums are just curations of what people want us to see and not what actually happened,” Darren said.

Suddenly, Retrograde yelled from his perch in the boat.

“Nova Scotia, here we come!” he shouted, pointing to a green area in front of them.

“Wow, that wasn’t so bad,” Bridget said. “It’s almost as if someone condensed our entire journey for the sake of maintaining a word count.”

The four hopped off the boat, tying it to a worn-down rope.

“That’s not our problem anymore,” Retrograde said as he walked away. The boat was already drifting back out and nearing a jetty.

A sign toward the shore had WELCOME TO NOVA SCOTIA written in Comic Sans. They had made it.

“Now what? Nova Scotia is probably huge!” Darren said.

“Compared with the rest of Canada, that’s pretty accurate. There’s almost 1 million people here, and it’s the second-most populated area in Canada,” George said. He was trying out a new thing, in which he tried to be helpful and knowledgeable to befriend others.

“Luckily for us, I have a codebreaker with me. It shouldn’t be long before we find the code that tells us our location,” Retrograde said, puffing up his chest with importance.

He took out what looked like a regular piece of paper and placed it over the welcome sign. It now read “WEL VA TIA.”

“Perfect!” he shouted. The others looked at him like he was crazy, which is saying something. “I know exactly where this is. On to Well Varied Tiaras.”

“Are you kidding me?” Bridget said. “You just took out a piece of paper and covered up some letters.”

“I know,” Retrograde said. “But we’re going with it. Let’s go.”

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

The Mursday Effect Chapter 5: Dealing With Difficult People

“The Mursday Effect” is a humorous piece created pseudonymously by two authors, with each devoting him or herself to an alternating chapter each week. The newest installment in the serial will appear in each Monday issue of The Heights. It can also be found online with the previous chapters.

Bridget and George exchanged glances again, a thing they kept doing because of their older companion’s odd behaviors. The mercenaries were encroaching toward them in a slow marching way, like they were about to start snapping and singing “The Jet Song” from West Side Story. Nonetheless, it was still terrifying.

Bridget swiftly kicked at a Nantucket red-clad leg, bringing the guy’s perfectly-coiffed wall of hair to the ground. Retrograde threw punches at two of their enemies, using his recoil to elbow another in the face. George stood in the middle and thought about how to get into the fight without feeling awkward. His question was answered for him when a man in all black swiped at his face, like a cat.

“Okay, what the hell? That was my face. You want me to end up looking like Owen Wilson, with his nose all messed up? It’s on,” George shouted to the man, who had already moved on to punching him in the shoulder. George grabbed the man’s leg and hoisted it into the air, waving him around like a doll.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Put me down!” the man cried.

“Just because I’m a coxswain for the club rowing team doesn’t mean I’m not strong,” George said through his clenched jaw. “Everybody thinks that, and I don’t know why.” He looked into the distance and sighed. The sound of jeers in Mod parties sounded in his ears, overwhelming his brain.

“Alright, that’s enough. You’re supposed to be fighting. No one wants to hear about your insecurities,” Retrograde yelled, taking on three mercenaries at a time. He banged two of their heads together, the CTE practically bursting from their brains. Retrograde flashed a satisfied smile.

“Can you all hurry up? There’s a spot over here that’s completely open! We can make a break for it,” Bridget said, perched on a pile of unconscious preppy men and security guards. She earned her expert level five patch in Krav Maga at the age of 16, so all of this was below her.

Retrograde dropped his hands.

“Uh, okay. Yeah, let’s go,” he said.

The three snuck out of the circle and proceeded down Beacon Street.

“That was some real good fighting,” George said, wiping sweat from his hairline. “That was worse than the 5k I did in the fall.”

“Shut up, George, you didn’t do anything,” Retrograde muttered, shaking his head.

“But do any of us ever really do anything?” said a voice from behind them. “Like, what do any of us do? Doesn’t that make you think?”

“Who the hell are you?” Retrograde said, shooting major side eye at his two student companions.

“Oh gosh, I know this kid,” Bridget said. “His name is Darren MalientePedo Ringtck. He was in my first-year writing seminar. His favorite thing to write about was living on a houseboat for a week in Turks and Caicos. Needless to say, he was insufferable.”

“You’re just not opening your eyes to the actual, like, experiences out there,” Darren huffed, rolling his eyes at his peers who clearly just did not get it.

“Yeah … well, anyway, we’re doing something, so you should go,” George said. He smiled as he thought how important he must sound.

“Oh, are you doing that thing with Athena? Yeah, that’s a ride. It’s no Turks and Caicos, though. Did I tell you guys that I lived on a houseb—” Darren began, but was interrupted.

“Wait a minute. Darren, are you involved with Athena Wilson?” Retrograde said. He raised his eyebrow, indicating that something was afoot.

“Yeah, but are any of us really involved? We’re all just dust in the wind, yaknow?” Darren said wistfully as the other two students sighed exasperatedly.

“I swear to God, Darren, I’m a nice person, but if you don’t stop saying absolutely nothing relevant I will tie you to a lamppost,” Bridget said.

“Yeah, you’re really annoying,” George said, hoping to finally break out of his role of being the annoying one of the group.

“Darren, come with me. You two, stay here for a bit,” Retrograde said, putting his hand on Darren’s shoulder and ambling down the block with him.

“I really hope he’s not bringing him with us to Nova Scotia,” George said. “He seems like the worst.”

“He is,” Bridget responded, keeping an eye on the two conversing.
“Great news, folks!” Retrograde exclaimed in a more chipper voice than usual. “Darren will be journeying with us to Nova Scotia.”

There was a collective groan, even from Darren. The original three stared at him, cocking their heads to the side.

“What? It’s so cold there. And you know what Aquinas said about that: it’s too cold outside for angels to fly,” Darren said, his voice dripping with an air of importance.

“That’s Ed Sheeran,” Bridget said. “I hate you.”

“Now, now, kids, let’s go. It’ll be fine,” Retrograde said, feeling more and more like a parent as the minutes went by.

“I’ll get an Uber to the airport,” George said as he whipped out his phone.

“Ubers are just vehicles, literally, for the man to take us all down and keep us submissive,” Darren drawled.

“I don’t care how big this car is, you’re sitting in the trunk all the way to Logan,” Bridget said, clearly at the end of her rope.

Minutes later, the Nissan Altima arrived, and our heroes piled in.

“Departures. International. Terminal B,” Retrograde said hurriedly.

“Sir, this is an Uber. Your destination was already input before you even got in the car,” the driver said.
“Okay,” Retrograde said.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

The Mursday Effect Chapter Four: Weirdos in a Weird Land

I, Rutherford Shireton, fourth of my name and champion of all that is free, beautiful, and pleasant-smelling in the world, have returned to set the record straight after another week of Joanna Oxford’s manipulations of the truth. While Ms. Oxford chose to use her chapter of this ongoing serial to highlight the further adventures of George, Bridget, and the mysterious Retrograde (a man whose choice of codename I, quite frankly, find ridiculous and rather pretentious, or as the French would say, prétentieux comme des boules, frère), I will spend my valuable word count recounting the real story, the truth behind the lies, the milk within the udder, the slaughterhouse behind the sausage.

As you will no doubt recall, Ms. Oxford left you with a final scene in the underground service bunker, with young George saying, “Let’s go to Nova Scotia.”

But she neglected to mention that at precisely that same time, Ms. Oxford herself and a chisel-jawed man of great intellect were speeding down a highway somewhere in the middle-west region.

If you will recall, in Chapter 2, a man and woman met in a farmhouse in a wooded area to discuss the strange multi-dimensional happenings at Boston College. Now, I am willing to reveal to you that the simple-minded woman in question was, in fact, Ms. Oxford and that the man, known for his rhetorical skill, physical strength, indomitable will, and unmatched physical beauty, was in fact, as I’m sure you guessed, Rutherford Shireton IV, myself.

As we sped down the highway, (or more realistically, coasted at five miles over the speed limit to avoid an expensive ticket) Ms. Oxford spoke to me in that snooty, look-at-me-I’m-a-successful-investigative-reporter-and-have-accomplished-more-than-Rutherford-and-have-a-house-and-a-loving-family-and-people-who-care-about-me-and-I’m-not-all-alone-in-the-world-like-that-sad-little-deluded-nobody-whose-real-name-is-Todd voice that I freaking hate so much.

“Shireton,” she said. “Stop muttering to yourself and pick up my cell phone. I am a responsible adult and do not talk on the phone while driving.”

Oh, and she also said: “I resent Rutherford for his God-given beauty and intellect, and also I smell bad, and am totally not better at Rutherford at reporting and stuff.”

To which I responded, “Thank you Ms. Oxford. I always enjoy hearing you admit the truth, which is exactly what you actually said and is in no way a reflection of an unreliable narrator.”

I then answered her phone.

“There’s been an incident on the campus,” our man on the inside (whose name I must withhold for his safety’s sake) said. “You need to get over here now.”

I hung up. If only we could have taken a plane, but alas both Ms. Oxford and myself are on the no-fly list for reasons beyond our control. Ms. Oxford stepped on it, inching our way up to a daring 10 miles over the speed limit, and we took off.

Halfway across the country, on BC’s campus, professor of physics Athena Wilson received a notification on her phone while sitting in her office consulting with a student.

“I just feel like physics is so, like, subjective, you know?” the student said. “Like, what you think is reality, is like, your truth, but not like mine. So like, I think that D is like, a total misrepresentation of how physics, like, you know, like is, in its existence, with regards to, academic, like, achievement.”

Athena ignored this student and checked her phone. The notification was from “Evil Plots: A Convenient Way to Keep Abreast of All Your Plotting Complications.”

It read: “Breach at Greycliff Hall. Students in Service Station. Rogue Director.”

Athena threw on her extremely classy tan jacket and took off sprinting down the hall.

Down by the Service building, Retrograde adjusted his aviator shades as he stood outside. He pulled out his corncob pipe and some matches, and took a few awkward seconds to light it while George and Bridget stood next to him in the cold.

“First, we get out of here as quickly as possible,” Retrograde muttered, his words muffled by the pipe in his mouth. “Then we catch a charter to Nova Scotia, where we meet with my contacts and shut down this plot before things get out of hand.”

A young, spindly-shouldered fellow with a cracked Mason jar in hand walked over and stood in front of Retrograde, looking around and nodding as though someone had said something to him, which of course no one had because this kid was insufferable.

“What are you doing?” Retrograde said. “You’re standing real close to me, and it’s making me uncomfortable.”

“I got an Evil Plots alert from Athena about some rogue director dude and some kids breaking into the Service Station,” Darren MalientePedo Ringtck said. “We’re supposed to meet up here and stop them or something. I don’t know, I guess everyone else is late.”

Retrograde dropped his smoking pipe in the snow and turned to George and Bridget.

“We have to get out of here,” he said. “Follow me. Run.”

“But I’m crazy sore from my workout yesterday,” George said.

“Sometimes, George … ”

But before Retrograde could finish, the sound of boots on pavement, squelching snow, and heavy breathing drew his attention. He turned and saw Athena Wilson leading a pack of black-clad mercenaries out of McGuinn and straight toward them.

“To the million dollar stairs,” Retrograde said.

But before they could take a step another swarm of secret soldiers, this time clad in a preppy Nantucket red, rounded the corner and blocked the only other exit available to them.

“Now what?” Bridget said.

Retrograde looked both ways as the massive crowd of hired mercenaries surrounded the heroic trio. George swallowed so loudly that it was audible to both Bridget and Retrograde.

“Only one way out,” Retrograde said, cracking his knuckles.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

 

The Mursday Effect Chapter 2: All the Coffee We Cannot Drink

“The Mursday Effect” is a humor piece created pseudonymously by two authors, with each devoting him or herself to an alternating chapter each week. The newest instalment in the serial will appear in each Monday issue of The Heights. It can also be found online with the previous chapters.

Last week, you may have noticed a piece by Joanna Oxford, noted simpleton and funambulist, describing the morning a young man named George who woke to find that his Monday classes had been swapped with his Thursday classes and that, somewhat more importantly, the entire world seemed to be twisting in on itself as the most basic of facts, such as mathematical reality, shifted and changed alongside a collapsing reality.

Ms. Oxford, as she often does, neglected to inform you of the crucial role she played in the strange happenings of Mursday, just as she neglected to inform me that she was planning to steal my car and leave me stranded in the woods. And yet she did both of those things because she is a scoundrel. So, I believe it is my duty to inform the readers of the true Mursday happenings, instead of narrowing my focus so as to avoid confronting the truth like that dastardly Oxford.

While George and his mysterious new friend rushed into McGuinn 110 where they would take their first steps on a journey to revelation and pain, there was another male-female pair on the opposite side of campus engaging in a much more narratively important discussion.

Darren MalientePedo Ringtck sat in the back row of the empty Robsham Theater and drank his coffee out of a Mason jar, which was a monumentally foolish decision because everyone knows that heated liquid, when poured into glass receptacles, causes the glass to expand and crack. But Darren loved Mason jars and all they added to his overinflated idea of himself as a brilliant intellectual, whose mind-breaking ideas of structural dysmorphia and the falsified socio-political framework of pseudo-beckettian joyceiasmic post-pre-postmodernism would change the world.

Darren was a freshman English major, if you were wondering.

The woman who walked into Robsham Theater and sat next to Darren needs no introduction. But what the hay, here’s one anyway.

Her name was Athena Wilson, a professor in the physics department, and she was a much more pleasant person to spend time with than Darren, despite her involvement in a number of extremely shady enterprises.

“Darren,” she said. “Drinking that coffee out of that Mason jar is a monumentally foolish decision.”

“Why did you call me here, professor?” Darren said.

“It appears that something has gone wrong with the Mursday plan. There may be complications.”

“Have you spoken to the directors?”

“No more questions from you, child.”

Darren’s glass cracked from the heat of his coffee.

“Oh, nuggets,” he said, as the coffee dripped through the crack and scalded his hand.

Athena shook her head at this poor, foolish boy. But he was necessary to the situation. His parents had funded the initial experiments and without them this would all fall apart. Darren had been crucial in planting the snow-producers and manipulating the days off so as to align everything for the final trial run.

“Owie owie,” he said. “The coffee’s burning my hand.”

Athena did not respond to the call of ‘owie owie.’

“It really hurts,” he said. “Ooooooooooooooooooooo.”

“Then why don’t you put down the broken mason jar so that the hot coffee stops dripping over your hand.”

Darren paused and then put the jar down.

“Stephen Dedalus’ theory of beauty is just applied Aquinas,” he muttered, in order to convince himself that he was still intelligent.

“It appears that something has split,” Athena said. “Worlds are bleeding together. More importantly, we have outliers, students and faculty who have been able to observe the effects of the Mursday plan and may take action once they realize that reality has been broken. I need you to help me find these people.”

“What happens once I find them?”

“You give me their names. The rest doesn’t concern you.”

Athena stood up and walked out of the theatre, leaving Darren to nurse his boo-boos. Outside, she dialed a number on her phone.

“We’re moving on them,” she said. “It won’t be long.”

She hung up and walked on.

Over 1,000 miles away in a small farmhouse in the northern woods, a distinguished, handsome, intelligent, articulate, generally fantastic fellow was sitting down to enjoy a morning croissant when a crass, cruel, simpleton of a woman sat across from him.

“How did you get in here?” the truly beautiful and immensely talented man said.

“None of your business,” the downright mean and unpleasant woman said. “It appears as though there may have been an incident at Boston College. As reporters, vigilantes, and protectors of reality, we must go and see what has occurred.”

The man shook his head in that dashingly clever way of his and stood up.

“I suppose we must,” he said, and the two of them left on a journey that neither realized would someday lead to serial publication in a college newspaper.

And finally, back on the BC campus, in McGuinn 110, George and the girl he had followed out of class, the two classic, relatable folks introduced into this tale last week by Ms. Oxford burst into a fully-packed lecture on the importance of non-linear derivatives to the work of Dante Alighieri.

“What’s happening?” George said. “Weird crap has been going on all day. What’s wrong with the calculator? Who are you? Why is everything so weird?”

“Quiet,” she whispered. “I can see it too, but no one else can. Everything’s going weird on us. Yesterday, my best friend was an Irish dancer who loved French fries and Marvel movies. Today, she told me that she can’t wait for her chemistry class, wants to get kale for dinner, and absolutely loves what Zack Snyder did with Batman v. Superman.”

“Dear God.”

“There,” she said, pointing to a man standing in the back of the hall. “That guy stopped me on the way across campus this morning. I think he knows what’s happening and he’s trying to stop it.”

The class ended and the students filed out. Soon, the hall was empty except for the two of them and the man in the back. He walked slowly toward them, his boots making strange, metallic noises with each step. As he got closer, George could see him clearly: a tiny man with a large black trench coat, a black pork pie hat, aviator sunglasses, and a finely-trimmed beard.

“Who are you?” George said. The man stopped precisely 15 inches away and appraised the two young, bewildered students.

“My name’s Retrograde,” he said. “And I’m here to save your lives.”

No one spoke.

“Oooh,” George said, totally ruining the moment and turning an intriguing ending into a stupid gag. “Dramatic.”

Featured Image by Meg Dolan / Heights Editor