My University (Non-Fiction Short Story)

A little defamiliarising exercise, where I was supposed to describe my university as an unusual character or a stranger… I had classmates that chose to be an alien, or a patient of a mental institute, but unfortunately mine is a lot more mundane than theirs. Mine is just… a random person stumbling into the university for the first time and unable to make heads or tails of it. And, yes, I tried sounding like an irritating arsehole that thinks herself more superior than anything else.

Or no, that’s an exaggeration, hehe.

Hemingway Test:
Readability — 12th Grade
Est. Reading Time — 00:03:14

— -

This is indeed a strange place. It is pretty detached from the rest of the universe, hidden away somewhere in the hills amongst the trees. It is hard to tell if the whole area should be considered as one, as the structures that exist within in appear in a variety of forms. Some are quite orthodox and predictable, while others own eccentric designs that make it hard to decide if they want to stand, lie down or spread their arms, though nothing really matters if they’re just structures to be in. Some buildings look completely new, standing tall in the sea of older buildings with repainted walls and dilapidating ceilings; the newer ones looking like the apartments of the rich, while the old ones nothing more than a shelter for the homeless.

It is also queer to note the abundance of greens amongst the buildings, since it’s as though the country had gotten tired of trimming the woodlands and decided to let it fester here. It’s hard to say if the urban buildings are in a jungle, or if the jungle is amongst the buildings. Woodland creatures seem to be a common sight, with the frequent squirrel sighting or a wild boar running about. I’m sure that stretch of road there would see pythons wrestling with king cobras.

To be honest though, the greenery is indeed a lovely sight, if not for the uneven flooring that seems to be the unfortunate geography of the place. There is an abundance of hillslopes here as there are trees, and much of the time spent roaming about this place could be equated to climbing Mount Kinabalu. And, interestingly, the more important a place, the higher up it is on Kinabalu the hill. And it does not help that there is only one bus arriving at its only bus stop.

The buildings are deceptively arranged as well. Some are linked on all floors, while others are linked only on two. Some may look as though they are connected by a distant bridge or staircase, but you walk towards its end only to realise that you’re stuck in the middle of a forest; the only way out is to walk back the way you just came and take the roundabout path (up the hillslope) that you were trying to avoid.

The floors of the buildings are strange as well; some buildings have six basements with only two upper level floors; and you would think that Basement 6 is underground, but it opens up to an open-air carpark as though it was on the ground floor. And you head up to Level 1, wanting to get out of the ridiculous labyrinth when, oh no, you’ve literally hit a wall. The only exit is, apparently, on Basement 3, and you wonder to yourself how the hell a basement could be the exit into the ground level. Worse still, the levels aren’t consistent between buildings. You walk out of a building at its legitimate ground level, on Level 1, only to walk into one across the road that says “Basement 5”. You’ll then spin around, rechecking your bearings, wondering how in the world a road could send you five floors into the underground.

But what’s perhaps the strangest of all are the people that inhabit this place. While most of them look to be young adults attending what should be their institution for education, once in a while a dog or a cat, collared or not collared, would appear; or a young child in their kindergarten uniform would be running aimlessly among people four times their age; or an elderly would be walking to and fro with bags of groceries.

The normal students themselves seem to be more attracted to their lit boxes than the person right across them. A conversation could barely be spoken for more than ten minutes before silence envelops them as they look down to their boxes. These boxes appear in a variety of shapes and sizes, with the most popular the size of their hand and a portability that works well with its purpose… though it doesn’t seem like many use it to call anymore.

But the same goes for books too; it’s frightening how deep they dip their nose between the pages. Yes, it’s true they get distracted by their lit boxes, but it’s almost contradictory how often they stick their heads down onto the table just to read their papers. I realise it’s a certain kind of prop, set up with a pattern of key motions, that is used to instil fear into their peers; in such cases it is not their lit boxes that they sends them into silence — it’s their books. And everyone around them is driven to do the same whether they want to or not… That tends to be the most frightening of all of their practices.

My University :: END ::

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