You’re sitting in bed, cocooned in your down comforter while watching “The Hunger Games” when a notification pops up in the right-hand corner of your laptop: “Registration tomorrow 8 a.m.” A chill runs down your spine as you recall the last time you fought for a seat in one of your classes.
At that moment, you would rather be fighting alongside District 12 than trying to enroll in courses for the spring semester. While you felt drowsy prior to the unwanted message’s appearance, your mind has now been involuntarily recharged by anxiety. You shut your laptop and make the executive decision that it’s better to try and sleep in order to prepare for morning.
Just as you feel yourself entering a deep sleep, the clock on your bedside table goes off like a fire alarm, forcing your eyes to open abruptly. You glance over at its face. The time reads 7:50 a.m. Once again, you reach for the computer, ready to enter the cyber battlefield. After logging into CalCentral, your computer mouse finds its way to the Academics page, where you go to click “Register.” With one push of a button, you then immediately find yourself transported into your computer.
Looking around, you notice you’re in a dense forest suited up as a junior tribute from the English department, surrounded by other wide-eyed students. The words “CalCentral” are scrawled in the clouds, and ahead of you, an ancient tree ominously towers over the land. Its vast grey leaves far surpass your arm’s length and from the edges of the branches hang blue and yellow fruit. Looking closer, you notice each fruit has the name of a class you need on it. Your stomach plummets, fearing what this means.
Just as panic begins to set in, a voice bellows out from the sky, and you see a figure emerge from the woods. Dressed in a Cal-spirited tuxedo, Oski makes his way toward everyone. “Welcome to the 2016 registration races! Competitors will be fighting against each other for a spot in the most highly desired classes. In order to secure a spot, you must obtain a fruit from the Dirks Tree that says ‘Enrolled.’ Those who fail to do so will be imprisoned on the waitlist. Upon hearing the chant ‘Go Bears!’ you may begin the battle. May the odds never be in your favor!”
As Oski toddles off, you hear the signal. Sprinting as fast as you can, you start climbing up the tree. Challengers surround you on all sides, but some seem unable to make the journey. They fall and smash into a pile of pixelated pieces. Other competitors are attacked by decoys within the Dirks Tree. The girl next to you plummets to the ground after being hit with a rainfall of Sproul Plaza fliers. Another opponent grabs a branch that releases several elf-sized Stanford Trees, attacking him until he slips.
With adrenaline taking over, your eyes focus in on a yellow berry about five feet above you. Feeling confident enough to grab it, you stretch out your arm, fingertips reaching to graze the prize. But just as you come in contact with the smooth surface of the fruit, a grey and white mustache the size of a raven flaps out of the tree. It claws at your hands with its bristles and you feel yourself slipping. You make one last attempt for the fruit, but fail.
Instead, you’re now another victim of the Dirks Tree, free-falling hundreds of feet through the air. As the ground begins to approach, you squeeze your eyes together, like a child afraid of the dark, and you wait for impact.
Instead of hitting the ground though, you hear the high-pitched buzzing of your alarm. You turn over in bed, open your eyes and see that it’s 7:55 a.m. With a sigh of frustration, you realize that reality provides a much more difficult process for enrolling in classes than your dream did. Rolling out of bed, you grab your computer and log on to CalCentral, knowing that the odds are never in your favor.