The Curse of Shaffer Tower

It was late in the afternoon, but the sun beat relentlessly on James’ face as he walked along the brick sidewalk. The heat and exhaust from the cars speeding past on his left seemed to seep into his skin. He wanted desperately to make it back to his dorm, even if all he had waiting was his COMM 210 homework and ENG 104 paper. He knew that college involved a lot of walking, but these August summers keep getting hotter and hotter. He wiped a hand across his brow, squinting up to see Shaffer Tower looming up ahead. 


James’ vision started to cloud and dim at the edges, normal noises became obscene, and his brain worked against him. Thoughts and perceptions flashed in his head both too fast and too slow. Geese honked and hissed at him from the grass, and he swore the bus sped up once he started crossing the street in front of it. He needed shade, needed a rest. He took a gulp from his water bottle and walked under the bell tower. It chimed for five o’clock, and James took five deep breaths in time with the bells. 


Once his vision became clear and he started to cool down, he continued under Shaffer Tower to cross the street again, striding confidently to his dorm at North. Heat exhaustion is no joke! Thank goodness he remembered his water bottle that day and that the tower revived his overheated body and spirit.


A harmless choice, he thought. To walk under the tower, the only shade he could find, it was the only option he had. And for the next three years, the memory slowly faded from his head.  Although, a dark cloud was soon to arrive, looming until just the right moment to bring the curse to fruition. 


James finally reached his last week at Ball State. Just one more final left! On that calm and clear day in May, James walked along McKinley Avenue to take his last test. Looking up from his phone at the last second, he dodged a food robot headed straight for him. He laughed to himself, shaking his head. Nothing could stop James; graduation was just three days away! 


As he continued his walk, he noticed another food robot from across the street stop, turn, and cross straight for him. A car was coming quick, but slammed its brakes to keep from crashing into it. The robot’s sensors must be malfunctioning, but before James could think of who to report that to, something caught his eye behind him…


A crowd, a hoard, a fleet of food robots had overtaken the sidewalk, even spilling into the street, speeding and rushing towards James! He screamed and took off, running as fast as he could to outrun their unbelievably quick wheels. He skirted corners, tried to cut them off behind the Art and Journalism building, even tried to use the Scramble Light to distract them, but nothing could stop them! He ran around campus for almost an hour, missing his last final—and failing the last class he needed for his degree. Poor James was forced to take the summer class, tacking one extra semester to his time at Ball State. 


Only then did he remember the curse, a harmless tidbit of information from his campus tour four years ago…that went something like this: 

Freshmen beware! Even in a scare, passing under the tower, there is much danger there. For if you do make a quick passage through, four years of school will simply not do!



James’ is a cautionary tale about the Shaffer Tower myth, but while we might never know the truth of the curse, we’d prefer you not take your chances! However, the food robots chase scene is most definitely an exaggeration—those robots are here to help! There’s no better way to get food on campus in a pinch…but watch your back. 


Again, just kidding. Stay safe out there!








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