Written by: Ana Staskevich, Staff Writer
Illustration by: Alice Zhang
Come now children, gather around the Convocation Mall fire pit and get your marshmallows ready. It is time to tell an old SFU fable . . .
Once upon a time, atop Burnaby Mountain, stood a proud and somewhat domineering university called SFU. Within this university lived two first-year students named Pauline and Barbara, enamoured with student life and learning. They both still had a twinkle in their eyes that had yet to be snuffed out by crazy tuition prices and 8:30 a.m. classes.
As the winter semester rolled around, SFU got the bright idea to up its student housing prices, because logic. One chilly November morning, the floor RA approached Barbara and Pauline, looking sorrowful. They had gotten to know him well over the last few months — he would always sneak them snacks from the Dining Hall.
“I am sorry, but you have to leave the resident housing,” he said, wiping away one single tear. “You can’t afford it anymore, so we have to let you go.”
The RA quickly hurried away before Pauline and Barbara could say anything, and soon they found themselves huddled outside of the building, freezing and hungry. Snow started to dampen their jackets as night approached. Desperately, the duo began their journey further into the mountain, hoping to find another place to stay.
“You know, I heard students apparently live at this place called ‘The Library.’ Maybe we can go live there with everybody else,” Pauline suggested, adjusting the strap on her backpack filled with heavy textbooks. Little did she know she would never have to take them out of their plastic covering.
“That sounds like a good idea, I think that . . .” Barbara began to reply, but trailed off as she came face to face with a tall, tarp-covered metal barrier.
The duo fell quiet, listening to the snow softly falling around them. A blanket of darkness had been draped over the campus, but they could just make out the metal jungle before them. There it was . . . the Infamous AQ Construction Maze.
“There’s no way we can navigate this. . . why don’t we ball up our lecture notes and scatter them behind us so we can find our way back if we need to?” Barbara suggested, taking out her notebook.
“That’s actually really smart,” Pauline replied, “never heard of that original strategy before.”
They began to tear off pages from their notebooks, leaving a trail of doodles and math equations on the pavement.
The duo took a shortcut by the right side of Convocation Mall, completely passing their original destination and finding themselves lost in Robert C. Brown Hall. The further they went, the more the place looked like a dungeon — they couldn’t even get a stable Wi-Fi signal.
While it was barely 4 p.m., the outside looked dark and uninviting. The exhaustion was starting to set in, making them sluggish and slow. It was as though their limbs were full of lead.
Pauline stopped short in her tracks when she noticed a tiny office illuminated by a computer screen. It was like a beacon, enticing them to come inside. The duo went in and gathered around the computer.
“Hey Barbara, look!” Pauline said excitedly, already opening 50 tabs on the browser.
“The computer is unlocked. We can access the main system and the records.”
“Why don’t we just put our names back into the database for housing? We can have our home back!” Barbara exclaimed, looking over her shoulder.
The office was filled with loose paper — it was on the desk, on the cabinet, and even on the floor! If procrastination had some sort of physical embodiment, this would be it.
Right by the entrance, there were two plastic chairs, like the ones used in assemblies. They were pristine and untainted by the papers, which made them look oddly out of place.
Barbara considered pulling up one of them to sit by the desktop computer, but just then, the already ajar door let out a loud creak, and a tall shadowy figure came in. It stalked in, quiet as a snake and locked the door behind itself.