There we stood, in a cavernous room with a smooth, dark river coursing through the middle, surrounded by a field of what looked like wispy, grey grass, a strange antlered animal pausing to consider us before returning to its grazing.
“Here we are,” said Scott Mistler-Ferguson, humor editor of the Campus Times, “this is the production room. This is where all the magic happens.”
It was time for Scott to choose his editorial successor, so he invited five humor writers—Chris Cook, Siobhán Seigne, Sarah Jones, Chris D’Antona, and myself—to the paper’s production room to show us how the paper was made. He told us there would be a special competition, and whoever won would earn the prized post.
“Everything in this room is readable. Even I am readable!” Scott said, gesturing to his “I Heart Shrimp on the Barby” t-shirt. “The grass is made of every byline ever printed in the Campus Times, and the river—”
“Oh, I’ve seen this movie! We’re doing a Willy Wonka thing!” interrupted Siobhán, her excitement almost tangible. “I’ve always wanted to drink from a chocolate river!”
Ignoring Scott’s warnings, he started gulping down the contents of the river, only to quickly succumb to an ominous groaning and a massive stomachache.
“Actually, I was about to say the river is made of the newspaper ink we use to print the Campus Times,” Scott said sheepishly. Turning to the rest of us, he asked, “Does anyone remember the phone number for MERT?”
With a knowing smile, Scott watched as MERT took Siobhán away. “I’m sure poison control can help her, she didn’t drink that much.”
Noting our shock at what had just transpired, he gestured to the meandering mammal across the river. “If you feel overwhelmed, try talking to Deer Abby—she gives really good advice. Anyway, let’s get on with the tour!”
Scott next brought us into a vast, rocky canyon that seemed to have pieces missing from some of the cliffs.
“This quarry is where our columnists come to mine material for their columns. It’s dangerous work—not all of the cliffs are very stably supported.”
“I always thought I would be a good columnist,” Chris Cook said, spying a spare pickaxe lying by a cliff. “I mean, I already know about the CT, so I just have to learn something about sex and bam! I’m on my way to column writing.”
With that, he haphazardly swung the pickaxe at the nearest cliff, inadvertently splitting the rock along a fault line and triggering a rock slide. It was every man for himself as we fled the tumbling rocks, and though we managed to regroup outside the quarry, Chris Cook was still missing. We wanted to go look for him, but Scott insisted on continuing the tour.
Next on our itinerary was the Aviary of Anonymous Tips.
“Sometimes people can’t tell us something on the record because they aren’t allowed to speak publicly about it,” Scott explained. “So instead they tell one of these little birdies the information, and they come and relate it back to us.”
Sarah, ever the gossip, couldn’t get enough of the birds and their salacious secrets, but she made one serious misstep.
“Oh my God, guys, did you know Vito Martino said—” but she was cut off as the birds started to flock and swarm around her.
“Oh, dear,” Scott said. “You mustn’t ever reveal a confidential source. The birds don’t like it.”
And just like that, before our eyes, the little birdies picked Sarah up and carried her away. With his typical nonchalance, Scott insisted the tour go on.
“Wait,” the remaining Chris said, “am I eligible to be humor editor if I graduated from Rochester seven months ago? Because I have, like, a job now and I probably can’t drive up here every weekend to do all this work.”
Looking uncharacteristically puzzled at this major oversight in his selection process, Scott turned to me and said, “Well, I guess it’s you then! Congratulations, you’re the new humor editor! If you need my help, I’ll be 18 hours in the future. Have fun!”
And with that, he boarded a plane in the Campus Times hangar and headed off to Middle-Earth for six months.
So that’s how I became the new humor editor of the Campus Times. Feel free to submit any ideas you have to firstname.lastname@example.org—I have four good writers that I need to replace.