It started with the rats. Those wretched rats! Running rampant through the halls, through the food courts, through the dormitories. Of course, this is UMass Boston after all, so seeing a couple of rats every now and then is nothing out of the ordinary—but these were rats of an unholy quantity. An army of rats. A rat armada! It wasn’t long before students and faculty began to question the gross overabundance of these rodents. This is what prompted our great Chancellor, Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, to put such questions to bed.
“You know, rats are a part of our life—part of our natural world. Who are we to say they have no right to our halls? I mean, historically speaking, when have rats ever posed a problem? That being said, I’m still waiting on those TOIL3TMASTERs, but when we get them, feel free to give those rats a flush.”
For some people, the chancellor’s words were enough to eradicate their concerns. However, for two students, Joe and Kyle, there were still many questions left unanswered. They knew that in order to solve this mystery, they would need to bring in the big guns. His name? T. N. Turner. You may know him as the guy who “pickpocketed” you on the campus shuttle bus that one time.
“I just want to put some rumors to rest while I have this platform,” he said in a gruff voice. “I have never pickpocketed anyone. And I ain’t planning to. I’m a mugger, plain and simple. I assault! Like this.” He proceeded to punch Joe in the face and take his wallet.
With a patch over his eye and a cigar in his mouth, Turner urged the two Mass Media reporters to go out and collect some eyewitness testimonies of these strange occurrences. “You want answers, you gotta get 'em from the horse’s mouth,” he said.
The first of these witnesses was Lydia Lionheart, a UMass Boston student who famously got catfished by BeaconBot. “I was waiting for a date I met on Lonely Lovers. We were supposed to meet out on the harbor walk, but he was a no-show. That was nothing new; however, what was new was the overpowering scent of decaying flesh. I thought it was me at first, so I did a little sniff test and I was all clear. Then I noticed all the dead fish along the shore.”
After hearing about these dead fish washing up, Turner decided it was best to go to someone who spent a good deal of time down on the harbor floor. This is what brought the trio to Bobby’s Boneyard.
They walked in unannounced to find UMass Boston’s notorious mascot passionately massaging the spotlight on his head. “Woah! Holy f—!” Bobby jumped off his waterbed, throwing the lighthouse magazine he was looking at to the side of the room.
“Does the term ‘knocking’ ring a bell?” Bobby screamed. The boys insisted that they had knocked several times to which Bobby replied, “Well, you know what a good book does to you.”
T. N. Turner began his questioning, asking Bobby if he knew anything about the fish or the rats. Unsurprisingly, Bobby instantly got defensive and aggressive. “So, you got a bunch of dead fish washing up and who do you blame? The beacon! It’s always the beacon!”
He punched Joe in the face for good measure.
Realizing that Bobby didn’t know anything, they decided to move on. They didn’t have any more leads until a student by the name of Magnum Maximus reached out to them, claiming he had pertinent information to their case. Not having any better options, the fledgling detectives made their way to the East Hall where Maximus resided. Entering the student's room, they were greeted by the putrid odor of feces and urine.
“Wise of you to heed the call of Magnum Maximus!” He spoke arrogantly, not bothering to look in their direction. Joe was no stranger to this Gollum-like man, but his state of well-being had deteriorated even further since the last time he saw him.
Kyle began bringing up services that could potentially help him, but this only angered Maximus. He rose and attempted to sock Kyle a good one. However, his frail body stumbled over, missing Kyle and striking Joe in the jaw. As Joe, once again, recoiled in pain, Maximus delved into the true reason he had called them there.
“They will never be the same again! The sacred hills have been forever marked, forever scorched! Burned by this wretched university!” Maximus pulled down his pants to display his burnt behind. “Something be hidden behind the chancellor’s eyes. And what is it, you ask, I spy? It arrives not from space, as I once thought it to be. No, this threat, this horror…it comes from the sea!”
Turner walked into the bathroom and opened the toilet lid producing a large blast of steam. The water was literally boiling hot. As Kyle argued with Maximus about ways to improve his living situation, Joe noticed a small crustacean making its way across the floor. Oddly enough, it was carrying a piece of electronic equipment. He pointed it out to the astonishment of the others. Turner yelled out in excitement, “If you wanna catch fish, you gotta go to the sea!”
The boys, including Maximus, made their way out of the room to chase the crab. Upon making it outside they found themselves in a long line of crabs, all of them carrying similar electronic components and making their way single file toward the harbor. They followed the creatures to the waterfront hoping for answers but finding a familiar face instead—Bobby Beacon.
“I swear! This has nothing to do with me! I followed them, same as you! I caught them in one of my pinball machines ripping s— out! I’m here strictly for revenge.” Immediately after saying this, the three spotted a small cluster of crabs carrying one of Bobby’s magazines away. “I’ve never seen that magazine before in my life!”
Turner unleashed his pent-up fury, grabbing Bobby aggressively and shouting, “I didn’t get this far as a private dick by ignoring crazy coincidences on the say-so of some over-glorified flashlight who can’t get by without a little light-bulb peepshow!”
Before the two of them were able to duke it out, a figure in tattered clothes washed ashore. He had long, tangled hair and a scraggly beard. By the looks of it, he seemed to be a pirate. Kyle instantly recognized him as Carlos Hernandez, the UMass Boston student who traveled out to sea months ago in search of threats. He spoke in a tired, tortured voice. “From the sea…they come…from the sea!”
The odd assortment of amateur sleuths stood on the shore in disbelief. What was this threat that Hernandez spoke of? Could he even be believed? Did this have anything to do with the rats, the fish or the boiling toilet water? At this moment, a rumbling was heard from beneath the waves. The seas parted and a well-built, trident-wielding man leaped out. He landed on the coast dramatically as Bobby rolled his eyes in disgust. This was none other than Sea-Man, the charismatic defender of Boston Harbor.
“The castaway speaks the truth, my darlings,” said Sea-Man in a melodic tone. “We must prepare ourselves for the worst. We must prepare ourselves for war!”
To be continued…
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