Shards of Anigem Opening
CHAPTER 1: MYTHS & LEGENDS
ST. IGNATIUS UNIVERSITY COMPANION – VOLUME 78 – EDITION 1
It is with great pleasure and excitement that I begin my first article of the year with a delighted Welcome Back! As St. Ignatius University embarks upon it’s 80th Year here on the bluff, I would like to take a moment to update you about what’s been going on around campus since last May.
St. Ignatius continues to grow, as we are welcoming our largest Freshmen class ever with over 1300 new enrollments, as well as nearly a dozen new additions to our highly regarded faculty. Over the summer construction has wrapped on the new sophomore dorms on the east side of campus, which raises our student residence level to 73%, a welcome change to the 52% we had previously. Further housing is also available on our Greek Row, which opened the new Alpha Omega house at the end of the block this summer, housing more than 50 of their members, in addition to the almost 500 students currently living in the other Greek houses.
On a different note, campus security, led by our trusted Public Safety Officers, has been beefed up over the summer, with many new security cameras placed around campus, as well as hiring half a dozen new officers, to combat the vandalism and office break-ins that plagued campus last year. We can only hope it will be enough to stem the tide of vandalism and thefts that tainted the closing weeks of last semester, and perhaps help to track down whatever funds went missing last year.
Everyone here at ‘The Companion’ has been gearing up for another amazing year, pushing ourselves to be better than ever before; we are now going to be a twice-weekly paper, coming out on Tuesdays and Fridays, which means many more opportunities for hard-hitting campus stories and in depth commentaries on the goings-on around campus.
I have taken over the post as lead-journalist here, replacing Courtney Jones who graduated last May, and though she left some pretty big shoes to fill, I can assure you I am more than up for the task.
As we open the year, we here at ‘The Companion’ would like to remind our loyal readers that write in articles and editorials are still more than welcome, as well as any news stories and pictures you’d like to report.
That’s it for now, but make sure you pick up the next issue with my in depth report on the new food services on campus, and a new Food Review section on page 4.
-Sharon Rodriguez, Newly Instated Lead Reporter
Anthony Howlette pulled his binder back over the paper, worried that he might be caught reading in class, but being his first class of the semester, plus the fact that he already knew the teacher, Professor Stern, he really didn’t care too much. Since he’d begun his second year here at St. Ignatius, he had decided that it was high time for him to become more involved on campus, and he honestly couldn’t think of any other way to become better acquainted with what was going on around campus beside reading the paper, a sad thought at that, but his few friends just weren’t that involved with campus life outside of classes and drinking. And since he wasn’t exactly the most outgoing person, always being somewhat apprehensive about his looks, which definitely hurt in the confidence department, he wasn’t the type to just walk into a student government office, for example, and ask about joining.
And besides, the paper helped to occupy his mind, for if he was honest with himself, he knew that he was bored, which he hated to admit as he had pulled some strings to get into this class, intrigued by the title Myths and Legends, hoping that he would find it more interesting than the basic writing and communications classes that composed the rest of his schedule. But as often happened to him during the course of a normal lecture, he found his mind wandering outside, where the sun shone brightly down upon the campus, the gentle swaying of the palm trees outside the window inviting him to lay beneath one of the trees and just nap…
He snapped his attention back to Professor Stern, who’s marker made screeching noises as he hastily scribbled a word on the white-board, obviously excited about his latest point, making Anthony wonder what he’d missed. As he narrowed his eyes, finding the word therianthropy on the board, a word that he had never heard before in his life, he wondered yet again why he was ‘required’ to be in a class that he was paying money for.
The teachers here are basically my employees, how dare this school dictate to me that I have to come to every class, especially when they post lecture notes online, he thought righteously.
While normally on a day like this he might have just blown off the class, Professor Stern was an old family friend, and he knew he would get an email if he didn’t show up.
I’ll be lucky if it’s only an email, knowing him my mother would know about it before the class was even over.
He glanced down at his ‘notes,’ basically doodles and ideas he was coming up with for the screenplay he was writing for another class, wondering what he was going to call the female sidekick to his main character. The name Jenn popped into his head a number of times, but he found it too plain, and wanted something really exotic…
He looked up at Professor Stern, realizing that the man had asked a question, and was looking at Anthony for an answer.
Eyes wide in embarrassment, Anthony responded, “Uh, can you repeat the question?”
Anthony had known Professor Stern all of his life, and therefore knew exactly what the piercing look Stern was giving him meant.
And now I get to worry about him telling my mom something about how I never pay attention, he thought bitterly, wondering once again what he was thinking in taking one of Stern’s classes in the first place. Sure, it was one of the only classes he thought might be interesting that he had a chance of getting into as a Sophomore, but being taught by someone he had such a complicated relationship was just wasn’t smart. He didn’t necessarily dislike Stern, he had always been nice to his mom, but Stern had just never seemed to think much of Anthony, and was always criticizing him. And with his age, which Anthony figured had to be late fifties at least, plus his harsh demeanor and piercing green eyes, Stern had always been an intimidating figure to Anthony.
Without answering Anthony, Stern turned back to the whiteboard where he had written the word therianthropy, “Have you ever heard this word before? And if so, what does it mean?”
“I honestly have no idea,” Anthony answered, noticing the lack of surprise on the man’s face.
“Well if you had read the chapters last night, you would know that therianthropy refers to the metamorphosis of humans into other animals, a popular idea in both classic literature and modern media. Who hasn’t heard of a werewolf? A mermaid? Or even a centaur? The question is: why have these images proliferated so in our culture? Why are so many people fascinated with the idea?”
A hand shot into the air, and Anthony rolled his eyes as Sharon Rodriguez began to speak, knowing from previous classes that she basically raised her hand just to hear her own voice, which annoyed him intensely. Though she obviously thought herself intelligent, and perhaps in her communications and journalism class she might indeed be a prodigy, but Anthony had noticed that three out of the four questions she answered in their basic core classes were usually wrong, and he wondered if she was one of those people who just craved attention.
Would make sense, especially with her whole insane obsession with the school paper, he thought snidely.
“In general the occult has always fascinated people,” she answered Stern’s question, “and the idea of being turned into an animal, with no rational thought or logic, especially against one’s will, would seem especially disturbing to people in modern times because of our concern with human rights and free-will.”
“Worded almost exactly like the book,” Anthony’s roommate, Jimmy Bolling, whispered to Anthony from behind, causing Anthony to smirk in amusement. Even though he would never be the first one to answer a question, Anthony knew Jimmy had done all the readings, and had probably even gone over the lecture notes ahead of time, and would undoubtedly know when someone was just quoting from the text.
He and Jimmy had been roommates since Freshman year, and Anthony knew how much time Jimmy spent on his studies, especially when compared to how little Anthony did.
“Well I’m glad someone does the reading,” Professor Stern returned, glancing knowingly over at Anthony and Jimmy. “Though I would have preferred the paragraph referring to the spiritual beliefs surrounding Therianthropy, wherein people even now believe that it has some basis in fact, and that the art has simply been lost over millennia.”
“You can’t possibly believe that,” Anthony said, speaking before he had even raised his hand, surprised to hear Stern postulate so ludicrous a theory, especially as he had always known the man to be very grounded and fact based.
“Intellectually speaking, of course not,” Stern responded, looking pleased that he had finally grabbed the attention of the class, as well as appearing slightly amused. “But it would be interesting, wouldn’t it? If tales of witches and goblins were based on ancient creatures man once faced, that we respond to such stories on an instinctual level.”
Anthony thought back to childhood dreams, being chased by werewolves and dragons in his nightmares, and couldn’t deny that such things held a certain fascination even for him.
Even as Anthony thought it, Professor Stern glanced at the clock, realizing the period was over. “All right, chapter 6 and 7 tonight, and I’ll see everyone on Monday.”
Anthony grabbed his bag, throwing everything inside to try to escape before Stern had a chance to speak to him. He had almost made it out the door behind Jimmy, when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
He looked up to see Jimmy heading out with some of his fraternity buddies, and he couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy that Jimmy had them to escape to.
“Read the chapters,” Stern told him, leaving no room for argument. “This is not a free period, and I will not hesitate to dismiss you if I see you daydreaming again. You can really learn something here, so get your act together.”
Stern grabbed his briefcase and headed out without a backwards glance, leaving Anthony alone in the room, wondering once again if it had been such a good idea to sign up for class with Stern.
* * *
Anthony walked back to his dorm alone, pretty much as usual, not being able to find Jimmy after his talk with Stern and not having any other friends in the class.
Truth be told, Anthony didn’t really have too many close friends at St. Ignatius University period, being a somewhat introverted guy who had trouble meeting new people. For the most part he was okay with it, he was from a small town nearby and could always go home if he was lonely, and most of the time he had Jimmy to hang out if he stuck around campus.
Well, unless he’s with the Alpha Omega guys he thought, wondering how much longer Jimmy would even want to hang out with him, now that he was beginning his second semester as part of a Fraternity. Jimmy had joined Alpha Omega near the end of last semester, and though he repeatedly told Anthony things wouldn’t really change, Anthony was finding himself spending a lot more time alone around campus as Jimmy was called to Alpha Omega events and ‘rituals.’
Still, he didn’t like wallowing in self-pity, so he thought about other things, enjoying as always the campus atmosphere, with palm trees lining the walkways, clear blue skies, which he never got enough of, even though he had grown up in Southern California and should really be used to it.
Plus, he was done with class for the day, and it was Thursday, which meant he didn’t have another class until Monday afternoon.
As he passed into his residence hall, he saw an open door to the room next to his, and as was customary, entered without knocking, finding his neighbors on their couch, smoking hookah and playing Mariokart.
“What’s up guys?” Anthony said, sitting down next to the first one, Sebastian, and accepting the proffered hookah hose.
Sebastian and his roommate Trey had lived near them Freshman year too, and were always down to smoke and hang out, caring even less about their homework than Anthony seemed to. Of course, for Trey, homework had an entirely different meaning, as he was a Film Major and many of his assignments involved shooting short videos and editing them together on his computer.
“What flavor is this?” Anthony asked, indulging in the pungent yet hard to describe scent that was in his nose.
“It’s grape today, just bought it over at The Sheeshah Stop,” Sebastien informed him, taking puff from the second hose. “And it’s damn good.”
“Agreed,” Anthony responded, taking another deep pull, wondering exactly how bad hookah for his health hookah actually was, not quite believing Sebastien’s words of it being way better than cigarettes.
“What happened to Jimmy? Didn’t you just come from a class with him?” Trey asked, blowing his overgrown bangs out of his face, his eyes never leaving the screen. He came from a very strict home, both his parents being Japanese-American, and one way of his rebelling against their formality while he was away at school was to let his hair grow as long as he wanted, though it did hinder his vision while playing video-games, the second favorite pastime of the two roommates.
“I’m guessing he’s out with those Alpha Omega assholes, am I right?” Sebastian commented.
Anthony took a long pull of the hose, enjoying the calming feeling of blowing out the smoke, before responding. “Come on, they’re not that bad.”
“I thought if anyone would hate those guys it’d be you,” Trey chimed in. “How much do we even see Jimmy anymore since he joined?”
“I still see him plenty,” Anthony responded, realizing that he wasn’t the only one noticing the Fraternity’s pull on his friend.
“Now you might, but I doubt you will much longer, unless you decide to become a frat guy too,” Sebastian replied, his eyes not leaving the screen either.
Trey chuckled, “Imagine them letting Anthony into a Fraternity.”
Anthony did his best to chuckle with them, feeling slightly annoyed at the comment.
He gave the hose back, telling them he would be back after he dropped off his stuff, and headed back to his room.
If I wanted to join a fraternity, I would, he thought defiantly, as he dropped his bag onto his desk chair, looking across the room at Jimmy’s empty chair. Though he usually relished the time he got the space to himself, since their dorm-room was only a single room, he couldn’t help but think about what the guys had said, and feel slightly sorry for himself.
Sometimes it feels like the only other person on campus who notices I’m even alive is Stern, he thought. And wow is that sad.
He checked his pocket for his room key, and then headed back to Trey and Sebastien’s room, fully intent on making them go out for once on a Thursday.
Not gonna meet any new people hanging around a dorm room.
* * *
Anthony moved his knight, putting it in place to take out Jimmy’s King, the two of them leaning over the coffee table in their room, trying desperately to concentrate on the game, despite the lack of focus coming on due to the six beers they’d already drank.
It was a typical Thursday night for them, much to Anthony’s chagrin, having failed to convince his neighbors to go out, returning to his room to find Jimmy there waiting for him.
“Isn’t there an Alpha Omega party or something you should be going to?” Anthony had asked, trying to decide, if there was such a party, whether he would ask Jimmy to let him tag along.
“Eh, they’re playing beer pong at this guy Ben’s house, but I needed a break tonight,” Jimmy had explained, though Anthony secretly thought otherwise.
They’d hung out almost every Thursday since they’d moved in together, and ever since Jimmy had discovered that Anthony owned a chess set, they had been content to drink and battle whenever they had little else to do on Thursdays. It had been the first thing they’d had in common, and though Jimmy consistently beat Anthony almost every time, Anthony still enjoyed the experience.
“Check,” Anthony said, knowing that Jimmy had about a dozen options left to move his King out of harm’s way, but he was satisfied with the knowledge that he had managed to put Jimmy in check first.
“That was stupid,” Jimmy commented, moving a pawn diagonally to take the knight.
“Shit,” Anthony said, wondering how drunk he was getting at missing something so blatantly obvious.
“Always gotta check the board, stay two steps ahead,” Jimmy bragged, taking another swig from his beer as Anthony scanned for a new move, realizing how few moves he had without allowing Jimmy’s queen an open path to his own king.
“I didn’t think Frat boys were smart enough to play chess,” Anthony said, trying to distract Jimmy.
“Smart enough to kick your ass,” Jimmy returned, still waiting for Anthony to move. “And like I told you, the Omegas aren’t your typical fraternity. I don’t think there’s a guy in it with a GPA below 3.0, seriously.”
“Just seems to me like you’re paying for friends,” Anthony continued, trying to get into Jimmy’s head as he moved his castle, placing it 3 spaces ahead of Jimmy’s King, a smug look on his face, despite the fact that he was thinking about what Sebastian and Trey had told him earlier.
“Check,” he exclaimed once more, just as Jimmy moved his Queen to take the castle, in perfect position to move in and take Anthony’s King.
“Well considering you’re current social life, paying for friends might not be that bad an option,” Jimmy replied, a grin splitting his face.
“Ha ha,” Anthony replied, moving his Bishop to block his King, knowing that the he was only delaying the inevitable.
“Honestly, it’s a good group of people, and yeah, I may get to go out more because of them, but I get so much more out of it than that,” Jimmy told him before finishing his beer, and than taking the Bishop.
“Dammit, I got nothing left,” Anthony said, shaking his head.
“You wanna call it?” Jimmy asked, smiling.
“Might as well,” Anthony said, as Jimmy packed up the board. “Alright, I’m going to bed,” Jimmy stated.
Jimmy climbed into his bed, leaving Anthony alone with his computer, thinking about Jimmy’s words, and wondering if the Alpha Omega’s would even take him.
It’s not a bad option, he knew, but I just don’t think I’m the fraternity kind of guy.
Deciding that he was too tired and probably a little too tipsy to properly concentrate on homework, Anthony closed his laptop, and climbed into his own bed.
But it is something to think about.