You recall the apocalyptic stories you heard from older students.
You had heard them — the juniors in your English class, the seniors in your lecture — but you didn’t think they could be telling the truth about fighting for space in Main Stacks, about hoarding supplies of food for dead week. How could the campus change so fast in one week? You didn’t believe them; you had only an inkling of what “dead” week meant.
The most sensible place to study would be the library, you thought to yourself, recalling that time you studied for a test in Moffitt Library some time in October and it wasn’t that crowded. And now, with the fourth and fifth floors open, it should be even less crowded, so you put off studying until Tuesday.
You walked along College Avenue and onto Bancroft Way, passing Caffe Strada. The cafe didn’t look very different, students occupying all the tables.
The first difference from any other week would be that students duck their heads with a small mumble of “thanks” and immediately leave instead of loitering and talking with friends.
You continued past the cafe and across the street, making your way toward the Telegraph Avenue entrance to Sproul Plaza. This may have been the first thing you noticed if you didn’t see anything wrong with Strada.
Sproul Plaza was empty. The tables that lined the red brick walkway were gone, leaving the usually bustling campus center desolate. There were no fellow students handing out fliers, no one selling goods to fund their clubs. Even the acapella group that sings next to Sather Gate was absent.
The only presence other than yourself — standing awestruck by the barren landscape — were the huddled masses of students in singles or pairs, walking quickly to and from their destinations as though they didn’t want to waste time.
You passed California Hall with your head down — you didn’t want to see the dead quiet — and finally arrived at Moffitt Library.
A sign near the security desk told you the library would be open for 24 hours for the rest of the week. You wondered why it would need to be open for that long.
Either way, you found your fellow students. Every private room was filled with students, as was every seat on the couch, every space on the standing tables. Some people had even brought sleeping bags and were lying on the ground, a full set of clothing showing in their bags.
And they were all studying, eyes glazed over, faces slack and blank.
You walked around, simply staring at all of the studying students, before you found an outlet next to a wall and sat down yourself. In a minute, you plugged in your laptop and taken out your own notes, trying to ignore the others around you.
An hour in, you put your notes down and watched the others again. You watched a guy eat nachos while writing calculations on his notes. He brought the chip up to his mouth without looking and missed three times before consuming it.
You overheard someone near you asking someone else to watch their stuff while they bolted to the bathroom. By the time you’d glanced over, the person was back from the restroom, already back to studying.
The hordes of students in the library reminded you of a zombie movie you’ve seen, with survivors hiding inside of a safehouse and zombies numbly working to devour them.
As you looked over the students in the library, you wondered what the “dead” in dead week meant — the dead quiet outside, or the studying students, dead inside.
Contact Sakura Cannestra at [email protected].