I slosh through the snow and ice to the lecture hall. I swear I don’t remember snow being so soft. It was never this powdery in my youth. Could it be global warming or just a perennial preoccupation? Just a vague seasonal idea that comes and goes with the cold. Nostalgia at its best. Remembering an ideal past…
As I’m closing the distance to the building, I notice some strange activity. There are random post-degree adults milling about. They all seem morose. Is this what I am looking forward to? The challenges. The new experiences. The exams. My God, the exams. Just to be morose?
The first thing a see when I open the door are two mops leaning in a bucket of water. I smell a sharp, almost-suffocating odor. Foreign and pungent. The janitors are standing around. They seem confused. Maybe they have a 5-minute break and they have no idea how to use it. It’s too cold to go outside, and they are but sad strangers to the university students. Nothing to do.
But what if…
What if there is something more going on? The lecture hall has been exposed to a contaminant they haven’t been trained to dispose of. They tried the normal soap water, but a chemical reaction produced this aroma.
What if this formed gas is poisonous? The janitors just haven’t realized it, yet. It’s some sort of slow-acting death gas.
We’re all breathing death.
I’m breathing death.
Or maybe a college student didn’t handle the Valentine’s Day weekend very well; drank themselves into a stupor and the smell is merely the clean-up…
Either way this janitor’s phone call was needlessly sketchy.