What Lies Within Room 250
Issue 8, Volume 113
By Isaac Ho
I’m standing in front of the doors to Room 250 at 3:00 a.m. After a moment’s pause, I wonder whether this was such a good idea. Perhaps I, Private Isaac Ho, the newest investigator for The Spectator, shouldn’t have taken this case on my own. Then again, the editors had to send someone. There has to be some innovation happening in that lab tucked away behind the guidance suite that the rest of Stuy doesn’t know about. Unfortunately, Privates Chu and D’Angelo are still scarred from their excursion to the 11th floor, while Private Ubaid is being forced by Dr. Greenwald and Ms. Shamazov to organize a choral performance of the Gettysburg Address. It’s all up to me.
Taking a deep breath, I walk in and flick the lights on. They reveal a spotless room, empty except for a few workstations, some 3D printers in the corner, and for some reason, a couch. Suddenly, a trapdoor creaks open and I glimpse the elusive Assistant Principal of Chemistry, Technology, and Art, Mr. Thomas. I duck behind an intricate art deco pillar and hear him mutter something about energy efficiency before turning the lights off on his way out. Luckily, stumbling to the bathroom at ungodly hours (part of the Humor Department’s Spec ops training course) has made me adept at navigating in the dark, so I can still feel my way to the trapdoor and slip inside.
Beneath is a dimly lit hallway with a velvety carpet running down the middle and display cases on either side, filled with strange gizmos and gadgets. “Wait, why have display cases in a hidden room?” I wonder. “Probably just vanity,” I tell myself. “Oh man, selling these is going to give The Spectator so much extra budget. We’ll be able to print in color—and maybe even have a functioning website!”
In the first case is a time machine. Hermione Granger may have used one to take
multiple classes in the same period, but Stuy kids don’t want that: selling extra sleep would be much more lucrative. Next I find a computer running Headtome, a new and improved version of Facebook (why do students use that platform anyway?). A few bribes to Student Union officials will require clubs to use Headtome for all future communications—after paying a small fee, of course. Soon enough, I also find a stash of pure caffeine powder (much more efficient than coffee); a suspiciously large, hot, and flame-patterned egg (perhaps a legendary pokemon like Moltres); and a chainmail tie (goes well with a chainmail vest).
I make my way back to the entrance with my haul. At the hatch, I’m faced with a screen showing the periodic table. The exit, it seems, is locked. “A test? Of course an AP would do that,” I say out loud, for dramatic effect.
First prompt: Identify the element with the symbol “W.” Tungsten. Easy. Second: periodic trends. A little harder. Next: stoichiometry. Damn, first question wrong. This might take a while. Suddenly, a titration lab setup clinks into existence. Then a bomb calorimeter appears in midair, followed by containers of various chemicals. I barely have time to think that this might be bad before a jar of hydrochloric acid zooms past my head and shatters on the opposite wall.
A bald, bearded ghost appears to my left and asks, “Need a hand?”
I do the natural thing when offered with help to solve a life-or-death chemistry problem. I say, “If you mean help getting out of here, yes!”
With a shimmer, the room around us transforms into the Humor Department’s office. I take a shaky breath before asking, “Who are you, and what just happened?”
The apparition responds, “My name is Irwin Zahn. Sorry about that—my lab gets a little temperamental when people answer its questions incorrectly. That’s fine for Mr. Thomas, of course, but not so much for others.”
“I see,” I respond. “Then why was he keeping these wonderful inventions down there?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’m sure you’ll find more productive uses for them, though. Bye now!” He vanishes.
Well, he’s certainly right. If you want to buy any of our new, unreasonably priced SpecHumorTM products, stop by room 642 right away!