“You’re probably wondering why I gathered you all here outside the student center,” said Aislyn “Museum of Science” Schalck ’13, the new Chairman of The Tech. “There is a crazed serial killer on the loose, and you four are the only ones I can fully trust to help me in my investigation. I have determined that none of you could possibly be the killer.”
“Editor in chief Jessica J. ‘Red and Black’ Pourian ’13, I’m sure it cannot be you. The most recent Zelda game was released last night, and not even a thirst for blood could break you away from the game.
“Business Manager Joe ‘Hates Fun’ Maurer ’12, I’m just as confident that you aren’t the killer. Your constant talking to yourself would make it impossible for you to sneak up on someone.
“Managing Editor Connor ‘Ron Paul’ Kirschbaum ’13, a half-eaten plate of wings was discovered by your computer station last night. Given your usual rate of consumption, I know that must have taken you at least six hours of focused effort to eat that much. Therefore, you could not possibly have had time to murder these people.
“Executive Editor Ethan ‘Extended Hit-Box’ Solomon ’12, I also know the killer can’t be you. Taylor Swift’s songs promote love and peace, and you’re too much of a devoted follower to have strayed so far from her teachings,” finished the new Chairman.
“We need to get moving,” continued Aislyn. “It appears that the killer is targeting members of The Tech’s new volume 132 managing board. We should start our investigation in the Tech office.”
Ding. The elevator doors opened to the fourth floor of the student center, and Aislyn walked briskly down the hallway, her four trusted team members in tow. As they passed by the abandoned Undergraduate Association office, Jessica let out a gasp. The corpse of News Editor Derek “Everybody Looks Up to Me” Chang ’14 was slumped against the door of the Tech office.
“He didn’t stand a chance,” sighed Aislyn. “He never could remember the door code.”
Muttering to himself, Joe yanked the door open without hesitation and was met with an even more gruesome sight. Sprawled around the news board were the corpses of the three remaining News editors: Anne “SQUAWKFLAIL“ Cai ’14, marker in hand, had been unable to finish adding her breaking news to the board (“45 Tech Staffers brutally murdered by—”); in his cold fingers, Stan “Nothing changed in Walker … again” Gill’s ’14 phone glows with his final unsent message to his girlfriend (“I can’t make dinner tonight because I’m being stabbed by—”); and Deborah “Just give me a cat so I can die already” Chen’s ’14 now-icy grip barely concealed one of the department’s voice recorders. Ethan pried the recorder out of Deborah’s hand and pressed the play button.
“My spleen! I never would’ve thought we’d all be so brutally murdered by—,” Her voice crackled through before turning into an ear-piercing shriek.
“If only they were faster reporters,” Ethan said, shaking his head morosely. “They didn’t meet their deadline.”
It was then that Connor noticed that Gary Starkweather, The Tech’s enormous color printer, had been overturned.
“Wait a minute, that’s not magenta ink!” Connor exclaimed, examining the dark pool spreading from under Gary. “That’s production editors Stephanie ‘Secret Smasher’ Ku ’14 and sritter ‘Sarah’ Ritter ’14!” He peeled the tabloid-sized proof that had fallen out of Gary off the floor.
“They used their dying breaths to design an infographic …” It was a line chart entitled “Number of Tech Staffers who have turned into serial killers.” From 1881 to 2011 on the x-axis the line remained at 0, but in 2012 … “Oh my god! According to this chart, the killer was a Tech staff member!” Connor sadly dropped the page in the recycle bin. He didn’t have the heart to mention that the infographic had been made in rich black.
The group warily proceeded to the conference room. On the table was a mountain of printed out articles. Some were marked up with red sharpie, others apparently with blood. “Oh no!” cried Jessica. “This can only be …” She shifted aside the mound of rough drafts to discover the gaunt corpse of Andy “Froyo” Liang ’14, the Tech’s opinion editor. “What a horrible way to go,” she sighed, picking up one of the pages, “forced to read and edit Keith Yost articles until he died of frustration. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
Aislyn contemplated the scene from the doorway.
“This murder of our Opinion editor is especially inhumane. We can safely assume that the murderer is someone who is extremely opinionated.”
A tangy smell emanated from the adjacent TV room.
“This can’t be good,” muttered Joe. The five investigators enter the room to find Shelley “Stealth Driver” Ackerman ’13 and Sarah “Double Agent” Weir ’14, The Tech’s sports editors, crushed under the television. Joe leaned over to pick up a tin of wings. “This was the source of the smell,” he sighed, “but our editors’ hands aren’t covered in sauce. Apparently they didn’t get to enjoy their final Sunday night football wings.” He backed away, overcome with emotion.
“Wait a minute!” yelled Ethan. “Where are the Jamaican Jerk flavored wings? If our sports editors didn’t eat them, the killer must have.”
“Jamaican Jerk?” Jessica muttered “It doesn’t make sense …”
“And the Super Smash Bros. cartridge is missing!” Connor had to sit down, so great was his horror and shock at the atrocity of the missing piece of plastic. “That monster …”
“This is so sad,” cried Jessica. “If only we had a violin to provide a somber sound-track to this investigation.” Unfortunately she got her wish, for it was at that moment the group noticed the corpse of Arts editor Kathryn “Secretly Hardcore” Dere ’13, who had clearly tried and failed to fend off the attacker with her violin bow.
“Dear lord, in her final moments she created an abstract painting on the floor with her blood!” exclaimed Ethan. “I am continually impressed with our editors’ dedication to their newspaper duties,” said Jessica.
“But what did she paint?” pondered Aislyn. “It looks like … a V-neck tshirt?”
Connor took a closer look. “I don’t think so. It looks more like a regular T-shirt with heavy pens attached to the neckline, creating the illusion of a V-neck.”
“It’s open to interpretation. That’s why it’s abstract,” argued Aislyn. “We’ll never know for sure what piece of apparel Kathryn was trying to depict.”
Their next stop was the dark room. Opening the heavy dark room door, Joe turned off the ceiling fan which whirred overhead. Odd, he thought. In the dimly-lit room, he didn’t notice the three dead bodies on the floor until he tripped over them. “Frack!” Peacefully arranged on the dark room floor were the corpses of Photo editors Elijah “Laser Cat” Mena ’13, Jessica “Pierce Boathouse” Wass ’14, and Chris “Not a Sophomore” Maynor ’15.
“It seems all of the air was sucked out of the room, based on these fancy darkroom sensor readings,” remarked Aislyn. “But how? Unless our killer is an air bender, something like this shouldn’t be possible!”
“Fan Death strikes again!” Connor muttered, well aware of the irony. If only the photo editors had believed!
“I guess we’ll never know the specifics,” replied Ethan. The ceiling fan finally whirred to a stop.
Jessica pried a camera out of Chris’s cold, dead hands. “Maybe he got a photo of his killer!” she exclaimed. The five investigators excitedly huddled around the camera’s LCD screen. “Damnit!” She yelled. “The killer covered the lens with his hand in each of these shots. Guess he didn’t like getting his photo taken.”
It was then that Joe, noticing a heap of electronics in the corner, let out an enraged roar.
“HE DESTROYED THE IN-PROGRESS PHOTO CUBBIES!” screamed Joe. “They were so close to being functional!” The other four investigators felt pangs of intense sadness, for they all truly believed that Joe would have finished the photo cubbies had the killer not destroyed the parts.
As they exited the darkroom, Aislyn noticed a crumpled heap in the hallway. It was Deena “Can I bathe in the ink?” Wang ’14, The Tech’s campus life editor, and even in death she clutched the handles of her trusty scooter.
“It appears there was a chase here,” noted Ethan, pointing to the skid marks on the floor. “The killer ran her over on a bike. A shiny new road bike, by the looks of these tread marks. In the end, Deena’s scooter just wasn’t quite maneuverable enough.” Her campus life had finally run out.
“Who at The Tech could be capable of murdering all of these persons?” Joe wondered.
“Persons? That is not grammatically correct, Joe,” said Jessica.
“Of course it is! It’s just a fancier version of ‘people!’” replied Ethan.
Not bothering to reply to the childish claim, Jessica bounded across the room.
“There is only one way to settle this dispute. With the AP Style Guide!” She opened the drawer of the mahogany copy editing desk and let out a scream. The lifeless corpse of Bruno “Thin Space” Faviero ’15 had been stuffed into the large drawer, his cold fingers wrapped tightly around the AP Style Guide.
However, due to the rising body count in the office, Jessica quickly got over the gruesome sight and yanked the book out of his hands. “Aha! ‘Persons’ should only be used when it is part of a direct quote or title.” She proclaimed with no small amount of smugness.
“Strange,” mused Ethan, trying very hard to ignore the fact that even in death, the copy-editing department had defeated him once more. “Where are Bruno’s sandals? Bruno always wore sandals.”
“The killer must have taken them,” said Aislyn. “But why?”
“Over here!” yelled Joe from the business office. He had discovered the dead bodies of Advertising Manager Moya “Approaching Hipster Glasses Level Guo“ Chin ’13 and Operations Manager Jennifer “RFP Wizard” Fong ’13. “Moya was on the verge of a huge ad sale,” sighed Joe. “We were planning to use the money to fund a new office security system. And Jennifer would have processed the RFP like a pro. What a tragedy.”
There was a creak from across the room, and the five investigators looked up to see that the door to the safe was ajar and still gently swaying back and forth. “Our petty cash was stored in there,” commented Joe, “the killer must have stolen it.”
Expecting the worst, he opened the door “It’s still here.” He realized, sighing in relief. Joe picked up a stack of bills, inspecting them for trickery of some sort. “But … wait a minute. All of our cash has been converted to two-dollar bills … how bizarre!”
Connor noticed a red wheel protruding from behind the filing cabinet. Bracing himself for the inevitable extra germ risk of finding another body, he shifted aside the cabinet to reveal the corpse of Online Media Editor Joanna “Tall in Hong Kong” Kao ’13, also clutching the handles of a scooter. “Oh no! Our first ever online media editor was also run over by the killer’s deadly road bicycle!”
“But there are no skid marks in this room, no indication that she was chased.” Remarked Jessica. “I think … I think she just fell over by accident and died. What a horrible coincidence that it happened today.”
“I always knew her reckless scootering would be the end of her,” said Connor, shaking his head sadly.
“There is only one room left in this office,” said Joe heavily. “The term room.” He slowly opened the door to the term room, and dozens of corpses spilled out. “Frak!”
Contributing editors Jingyun “American” Fan ’12, Judy “Puppet Master“ Hsiang ’12, Pearle “Fennec Fox” Lipinski ’12, Maggie “50 Dollar Story” Lloyd ’12, Robert “NO, PIKACHU!” McQueen ’12, Sam “Ghosty McGhosty Pants” Range ’13, and Michelle E. “I Have Staff” Szucs ’14 rolled out of the room first.
They were followed by the corpses of Senior Editors Brian “He Man” Hemond G, Jeff “Inspect Each Other’s Weaves” Guo ’11, Michael “Rockband” Lin ’11, Sherry “3 day processing” Yan ’11, Ana “Yu Pu” Lyons ’12, Greg “Made All the Money” Steinbrecher ’12, David “Wait, Why Am I Still Here?” Zhu ’12, and Jessica “Crayons Were a Bad Influence” Liu ’13.
But the term room still hadn’t been entirely evacuated of corpses. Still piled on the floor of the term room were Advisory board members Paul “The oldest again” Schindler ’74 and V. Michael “Awesome website” Bove ’83, Barry S. “Still in journalism” Surman ’84 and Robert E. “Maurer and Steinbrecher ally” Malchman ’85, Deborah A. “Design expert” Levinson ’91 and Jonathan E.D. “I only review first-rate things” Richmond PhD ’91, and the LA Times expertise of Karen “Not the test” Kaplan ’93, Saul “Typography” Blumenthal ’98 and Frank “Not in journalism” Dabek ’00, Eric J. “Businessman” Cholankeril ’02 and Dan “Photojournalism master” Bersak ’02, Jordan “Across the pond” Rubin ’02 and Nathan “Still writing” Collins SM ’03, Keith “I’m coming back!” Winstein ’03 and Akshay R. “Smooth” Patil ’04, Tiffany “Actually showed up for her election” Dohzen ’06 and Beckett “Diplomat” Sterner ’06, Marissa Vogt ’06 and Michael McGraw-Herdeg ’08 are looking for a panda to officiate their wedding, Zachary “Lives adjacent to a bar” Ozer ’07 and Ricardo “as Drunk as Zach” Ramirez ’09, Omari “Vault his Pole” Stephens ’08 and Andrew “Drinks Coke, Works at Pepsi” Lukmann ’07, Marie Thibault ’08 and Angeline Wang ’09 gave their lives as past pre-med EICs, so did Nick “G&T” Semenkovich ’09, but not B.D. “Grey Beard” Colen. Finally was Quentin “Cameraman” Smith ’10.
While Jessica, Joe, Connor, and Ethan continued to investigate the term room, Aislyn wandered over to the dark, ominous kitchen to clear her head and eat a strawberry popsicle. It doesn’t make sense! No member of The Tech is capable of such a methodically devious operation. No member except …
She was shocked to hear a clatter at her feet. Just an empty pie plate! she thought, slowly leaning down to pick it up. I have to stop being so paranoid. It was then she realized that she hadn’t heard Joe loudly swear from the term room for nearly 40 seconds. Aislyn whipped around just in time to see a shadowy figure looming from the darkness of the term room, leaving four fresh corpses in his wake.
“You!” she cried. “It can’t be!”
“That was news…pie…only… ”
And then everything went black.
Aislyn swiftly awoke, in the middle of the news room, surrounded by all of her fellow volume 132 managing board members. Tears of joy and relief streamed down her face. “Oh thank heavens!” she cried, “I had a horrible nightmare that we had to run another managing board elections meeting!”