Stories to Share at the Water Cooler


By Bailey Mount Managing Editor


There was that sound again. That whisper - no, those whispers. They were there, they were real, if you just listened you could hear them as I heard them and then you’d understand. You’d understand why I did it. 

It wasn’t as if I set out on that morning with certain intentions in mind. No, on the contrary, I set out on that morning with a hopeful optimism in knowing of my own insignificance in the events that would follow. I knew that no matter my disposition, certain events would be beyond my control. I met that epiphany with open arms.

sppoky inside

How young of me. 

The door slammed behind us, a sound of finality that echoed around the large room. In 12 hours, it would shrink to the size of a coffin - a coffin with 20 living, writhing, whispering inhabitants that breathed and spoke and always wanted something. That always wanted me.

It was maddening. It was the whispering that I couldn’t stand. And eventually, I suppose I did go mad.  

When at last I came to my senses, it was night. The whispering had stopped. The door was open. A cold breeze dried my skin, compelled me to leave, compelled me to step outside and into the night. The door shut behind me - the final closing echo of what was now a tomb. 

You’ve been asking me for hours, but I still don’t know what happened. I only know why. 

It was because we wanted silence. And we got it. Didn’t we?

Of course, none of this actually transpired. That would bypass the realm of natural occurrence and fall right into insanity. This is my scary story, lived out every weekend by my editors and I, as we desperately try to deliver something worth reading, quite often at the expense of a brief mental lapse and some cutthroat behavior - though it’s never literal. 

Working is scary. Other people are scary. And being an adult is one of the scariest things of all at times. The following pages contain adult subject matter, from apartments to credit cards to graduating. 

Reader, beware. Real life is quite a scare. 

skull grad


By Mario Lopez  Travel Editor

The last person left the classroom, and I was still sitting on the desk at the back corner, furthest from the door. 

I stared at the blank pages in front of me. I did not know what to do with myself but to sit there until the motion sensitive lights went off and the sun outside submerged the room in a swampy, grey Riesling shine. My shadow seemed to leave a print of overuse on the wall behind me.

I stood up and stuffed my papers and notebook into my bag. I hung the bag over my shoulders and trudged toward the door. 

I counted each step. I inspected every desk on my way; each touched the one behind it, too close. 

The board was smudged with words, numbers, theories and equations that no one would remember in a few days. My brain hurt a lot.

Seven years. Seven years I spent in rooms just like this one. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until my hand clasped around the worn knob. 

The open air hit like a clout on the side of my head as I shouldered the door open. The air swarmed in through my nose and I felt every particle, down to the atom, flow an invigorating tinge into my lungs, surge into my bloodstream and rush to every edge of my body.

I walked through every route I had ever taken on campus, shortcuts and all. There was nobody in sight, but it didn’t seem strange. They have promises to keep. The solace fit me—lovely, dark and deep. 

On my walk, I searched for a clarity, or maybe a sign pointing me in the right direction. I could do anything, go anywhere. My journey was over. I graduated. I finished. 

The realization creeped prickly up my spine. 

I now have time. 

“Graduation Begins Today” read on every other banner I paced by. It ends today. They never mentioned what happens after. 

I came to my favorite path. 

The trees warped over the paved road ahead of me. I could see the water tower, the blue pyramid, the fields, the recreation center, the new parking structure. 

Everything was so different. 

The trees could probably tell you better than me if I had changed. They’ve been here from the start. Their branches like warped prison bars closing in. My pace slowed.

What did I have? A job in a parking lot. I could call in for more hours. I could spend more time with my family. I could buy a nice car, maybe a home if I learn to save money. I could read all the books I’d never read while I kept adding to the bookshelf. I could apply to grad school. Apply to jobs I’m not qualified for. My brain swelled with a buzz of thoughts bursting out my ears.

The trees’ fleshy skin bent and rumpled in an enigmatic fashion. They arched in a way that framed the sky between them and the hill near the music department. The sun was off frame, but its presence wrapped itself over the drooping sky as the clouds wavered by. The leaves scuttled and scraped by as I feebly placed one foot in front of the other. Slower and slower.

The leaves rustled in their branches, a crowd cheering on my victory lap. They must have heard I was leaving. I couldn’t bear walking any longer. I don’t want to think anymore. Think, Think, Think.

All I ever did was think. 

I walked up to the hill, and took out my notebook, unclasped it, sat and poured my thoughts out and squeezed as much juice out onto the page. 

No blurts of horns or resonance of cellos from the music department. No Pomp and Circumstance—there was nothing to celebrate. 

I just wanted to repose and sleep, maybe dream. I took a breath, but not too deep. I was scared that if I breathed in too deep I’d have breath enough to say something. So I wrote.

I can’t tell you what I wrote now; you see, I tossed the paper. It was a bit damp is all I could say.

My bones were weary and my eyes a bit teary. 

I’m so tired. I don’t think I can go on like this. No one to tell me what to do. I realized I was shaking, having withdrawals. I missed that chair. The classroom. The comfort. 

I drove home. The same swamp of gray light permeated the walls of my room. I slopped onto my bed. 

I shut off the lights and just stared in the dark. 

I tried to get up and do something. Maybe wash dishes, make plans, take out the trash, or feed the dogs. 

I thought, thought some more, and thought again. I was paralyzed. 

Sleep looked lovely, dark and deep, but I could not close my eyes.



By Amanda Dominguez-Chio  Culture Editor

Week 1: The first week of the semester went by fast, especially since I am only taking two classes. Life at the apartment is good. We all moved last Saturday. 

Once everyone was settled in, we spent the night talking about what items we still needed to purchase and how we were splitting expenses. 

Most importantly, we talked about the parties we wanted to hold to celebrate our new independence. Our spacious living room would hold all of our friends. 

I could just imagine all the joy and laughter our apartment would bring. The past few days, however, have been hot and to our dismay, our air conditioning is broken. One of my roommates sent in a maintenance request a few days ago but it is still broken. 

No matter, we have fans so that should suffice for now. 

Week 2: I have good news: our AC is fixed! We agreed to only run it when the majority of us are home and only for a few hours. And now for the bad news: we have termites. 

We think the heat drove them to find shelter in our lovely abode. What’s worse is they have wings! My roommate called to get rid of them and the exterminator will arrive next Tuesday. 

Moreover, my roommate decided to not kill the termites but to collect them in a Tupperware, in our freezer. He thought it would be a good idea to show the exterminator what we’re dealing with. Because my schedule is less rigorous than the rest of my roommates, I collected a generous amount of the termites. 

I find myself dreaming of the small and brittle winged fiends. I keep having the same reoccurring thought where I was lying on the floor, eyes closed, and seeing these termites drop dead on the carpet. 

One by one, these termites descend until I am covered with them. I reach out to get up, but I can feel their dainty and frail wings. Just writing this all gives me goosebumps. 

Just a few more days and this nightmare will end.

Week 3: I was wrong. I was so wrong. The termites, fortunately, are gone. But we are facing an unforeseeable event. Currently, I am writing by candlelight because we had a blackout. I was in my room when suddenly the lights turned off. 

Luckily, we were all home but maneuvering around the apartment was difficult. I gradually made my way to the hallway, extending my arms to feel my way out of the room. In the hallway, there’s a small closet where I remember seeing a flashlight. 

When I found the knob, I opened the door and inched my way closer to the hallway. I placed one hand on the wall, trying to find the closet when I felt another presence in the room. 

I wondered if someone didn’t lock the door before leaving. I stood still for a moment. I tried to steady my breathing but knowing someone was near made it difficult. I heard the rustling of paper and rummaging objects. 

As I was about to take a small back towards my bedroom, I heard a voice say, “Hey, I’m just looking for candles.” It was just my roommate. 

Don’t you just love when your mind plays tricks on you?

Week 4:  After the blackout, I didn’t think it could get any worse. It did. The power came back early the next morning. Apparently, it was only our apartment complex that experienced the power outage. 

A few days later, we received a notice notifying us that the water was getting turned off the next day between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And if matters couldn’t get worse, my roommate saw a cockroach in our kitchen a few days ago. We think they crawled from the sink’s drain. 

Yesterday, when we were preparing to fumigate the apartment, my roommate noticed someone had removed the sink strainer and placed it on the kitchen counter. He reached for it and out scuttled a cockroach. 

To this very day, I can still picture myself cleaning the kitchen sink, minding my own business, and a swarm of roaches arise from the pipes. 

Roaches of various sizes scurrying around the kitchen and hiding in every corner and crevice. We are talking about a large horde of roaches, producing this rhythmic scurrying sound.

Week 5: I haven’t been able to sleep. I wake up early in the morning hearing noises, but when I turn on the lights, there’s nothing there. We’ve tried keeping the kitchen clean by not leaving any food around. 

I’ve cleaned our—



By Martha Giron Quijano  Staff Writer

On one dark and stormy night, I was relaxing on a typical Friday indoors, scrolling through my emails. 

Read. Delete. Read. Delete. Spam. Delete. 

Hundreds of emails from retailers flooded my inbox until one had put me in some sort of a trance like a pendulum swinging between my eyes. 

I clicked on the link to their website and found myself getting lost in all the clothes and shoes I could ever want. 

Before making any impulsive decision, I checked online to see how much money I had left on my debit card. 

Dread washed over me and almost scared myself to death when I heard a loud bang coming from the room that I was in. 

Maybe it had been the thunder getting ready to strike down its lightning on me for lack of productivity. 

Or maybe it was a heavy branch knocking against my window as the wind and rain continued to pour down. 

But then, I realized it was just me, and I nearly fell out of my seat when I saw I would not be able to afford any of the things I saw online. 

With a snap of a finger, an idea popped into my head. I made my way towards my mom and casually asked her if I could get a credit card even though I expected her to say no.

Surprisingly, she didn’t oppose it but instead cautioned me about the dangers of having a credit card that guaranteed will leave me with nightmares. 

Her story was sure not for the faint of heart. 

My eyes went wide as she started to talk about interest rates and how there’s really no such thing as zero interest. 

The thunder boomed, sounding like bowling balls crashing against the pins when she told me there were even companies whose interest rates can reach over 300 percent. 

Banks will have no mercy and will suck the blood out of your wallet and leave you to bleed out your debt. 

The horrors of being in debt, she warned, is something you could possibly take with you to your grave. It’s one hole you’ll never be able to dig yourself out of.

 Late fees will haunt you like a shadow in the night, following you wherever you go if you don’t pay on time every month. Maxing out your credit card is the nail on your coffin.

I couldn’t sleep for days. 

The impending doom from interest rates and the inevitability of falling into debt through most of my adulthood had me fearing for my life. But I managed to put on my brave cap and applied for a credit card with shaky hands, unsure if they want to go through with it. 

“Avoid adulthood,” my brain told me even though I knew it was virtually impossible. “Avoid it at all costs!”

But like a woman possessed with hands with a mind of its own, I fell under the spell of the enticing credit line a company was offering. 

When I received the card in the mail, I felt the dark clouds that had been looming over my head clear up until… I made my first purchase with the card.

The rest of the story remains unknown as the responsibility never stops with a credit card in hand. 



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