Credit Where Credit Is Due

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Issue 15, Volume 110

By Oliver Stewart 

When I was given the option to mark my physics grade as “Credit Received,” (CR) rather than have the 80 appear on my transcript, there seemed to be but one logical option. I had been struggling to wrap my head around physics concepts since the beginning of my studies in the field, and with the advent of remote learning, I began to fall further and further behind, despite my most valiant efforts. For a period I despaired, but when Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza rolled out the revised grading system in late April, I saw a chance to alter the historical record and ensure my embarrassment was not forever preserved on my report card.

For all the fuss over how universities would react to CR marks on student transcripts, the act itself was stunningly easy. All I needed to do was log onto the newly improved Talos site and select the grades I wanted to change to CR, and once I had done so, I all but forgot about the whole thing. From there, I set out to enjoy the rest of my Thursday, and having resolved to give myself a treat now that physics was behind me, I blew off all my classwork and spent the day reading mystery novels.

I went to sleep that night with my mind ill at ease, though I could not quite place what it was that had so unnerved me. When sleep did come, it was fitful, and several times I thought I had glimpsed a dark form moving near the foot of my bed, to my desk and back again. Frozen with terror, I lay as if glued to my bed, and though I am not a religious man, I prayed to God for deliverance until sleep took me once more.

When I awoke, I could not believe the scene I saw before me. My papers, which I make a habit of aligning in neat stacks on my desk, were scattered and torn, some even on the very bed in which I had been sleeping. Drawers were left open and askew, the contents of my backpack dumped unceremoniously on the floor, and seemingly no metaphorical stone left unturned in the utter destruction of my chambers.

One item in particular caught my eye. Underneath the shredded wreckage of what had once been a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” I spotted a colorful sheet of plastic which I soon identified as the cover of my academic planner. The planner itself was more intact than most of the rest of my belongings, but it too was torn asunder. As I leafed through the sodden remnants of the book which had once contained the highs and lows of my Stuyvesant career, stresses, and accomplishments, I was struck by just how precise the markings on my planner truly were. While it appeared to have been chewed on, only one part was really missing—a thin strip of each page, which by process of elimination I quickly realized was the section marked “Sciences.”

I saw no point in reporting a burglary—after all, no natural force could have caused what I saw. Instead I salvaged what I could of my papers and tried to move past the whole thing. As my possessions slowly came together and gained some semblance of order, I was able to paint a clearer picture of the casualties of that dreadful night. My graphing calculator, crushed beyond repair; my physics notebook, parts of which were gone altogether and other parts of which seemed to have been savaged by either a long blade or—and I dread to think of it—the claws of some unimaginable beast. Only it was a beast I could imagine, and all too often did; a beast I had glimpsed as it laid waste to my earthly possessions.

It is said that solitude gives rise to paranoia, and having been given ample cause for the latter, my isolated state led quickly to my mental facilities deteriorating as I hid myself away in my quarters in fear of what lay outside. Despite my best efforts, I could not entirely stymie the flow of information from the outside, and it was through these trickles of news (relayed by telegram and passed under my door by my landlady) that I learned of a string of unsettling occurrences bearing uncanny resemblances to mine own.

To be continued…