Kentucky Jones and the Trials to Fix the 7-9 Escalator

Issue 6, Volume 113

By Michelle Huang 

Cover Image

For weeks, the 7-9 escalator at Stuyvesant High School had been broken. Students were dropping dead from the upstairs hike, teachers kept taking the elevator, and the school was in a state of emergency. The only glimmer of hope was a box of magical escalator parts supposedly inhabited by the souls of escalator repairmen past. According to ancient scrolls found in the Manga section of the library, these parts could be found on the 11th floor, a realm only accessible by passing three trials to test the merit of a true Stuyvesant student. Only a hero could make the journey: Kentucky Jones, student and amateur escalator repairman.

Jones made the climb to the 10th floor, a treacherous task even for the most athletic Art Appreciation attendee. After taking a 30-minute water break, Jones channeled his insecurities and anxieties and cried so hard that his tears eroded the chains holding together the 11th-floor gates in a matter of minutes. Gathering his composure, he opened the door and ventured forth to meet the trials that awaited him.

He nearly walked into a wide chasm but stumbled backward just in time. He looked down to see the pool, stretching on infinitely, filled with freshmen struggling to swim across. Swim gym! Disgusting. There was no bridge across the chasm. How could he cross? While he was thinking, he tripped over his own feet and fell into the pit. However, rather than hitting the water at terminal velocity and scattering his organs all over the innocent children, Jones slammed into what felt like solid ground. Luckily for him, there was an invisible bridge stretching across the span. He crawled forward, and after an eternity, he made it across.

Next, he encountered a brightly lit room with a water cooler of black coffee and hundreds of cups on shelves lining the wall, stretching high toward the ceiling. A note was written on the cooler: You will need coffee to get through the third trial, but you can only take one cup. Jones searched for the biggest cup, but none were of reasonable size. How was he supposed to work with these mere 60-ounce cups? That’s only two Starbucks trentas? Ventis? (Sorry, I don’t speak Italian.) He reached for a cup, but at his touch, it magically combusted and disintegrated. How could he drink when he couldn’t pick up the cups? An idea sprung to his mind. Jones seized the cooler and drank from it. All the other cups vanished as Jones chugged. For good measure, he mixed in a few bottles of Five Hour Energy and a splash of his own tears. Once the last dregs of this unholy cocktail vanished, Jones collapsed to the ground as the floor opened up beneath him, dropping him into the final trial.

By the glow of a single lightbulb, Jones saw a pencil and paper on the floor. Jones crawled toward them and found a simple test. He answered the questions quickly and flipped it over to find more pages had been added on. He flipped the page again to find another new page, with harder questions. Jones completed the questions, but every time he thought he had finished, new pages would materialize. What was needed to finish it? He was scouring the packet when something caught his eye on the cover page: Name. Jones scrawled his name, and finally the paper disappeared. In front of him, a door appeared. He had made it to the 11th floor.

After taking a dip in the 11th-floor pool, finding a rare AP Chemistry test on which someone had managed to get an A, and tripping over Peter Stuyvesant’s bones, Jones found a cardboard box in the corner, filled with machinery. When he touched the box, he felt the ache in his bones go away and his back straightened, unburdened from the pains of a 30-pound backpack. He practically floated down to the 7-9 escalator, which lay disemboweled. Jones watched the pieces float into place on their own. The escalator magically put itself back together, and with the chorus of angels, the 7-9 was fixed. Satisfied with his work, Jones walked away into the wild, escalator-filled yonder. Would his skills be needed again? He didn’t care, because now he could finally get to that ill-sought reading quiz in Freshman Composition.