I should’ve gone to that other school instead of the current university I was attending. I put on the façade that I came here because my friends came here and that it had a good science program. This suited a chemistry major and a mathematics minor like me, but the real reason I had come to this school was so I would not have to live with my parents anymore. I even turned down a full ride scholarship to a state school because that it was so close to my house that it did not make sense to live on campus. Nevertheless, I ended up at here at a school that resembles the state prison.

Ordinarily, you might expect me to be exaggerating but I am not. It is actually the local joke amongst students and the people in the neighboring town. The entire campus is made of cement (even the inside of the buildings), there is a giant “Wi-Fi tower” in the dead center of campus, and the asshole police force sure added to the prison atmosphere. Even the students were treated like prisoners. The neighboring town was a shitty area and crack heads very often would stumble on campus to visit a few of the student dealers or rob one of the drunk and stupid freshman. A kid even got stabbed last semester and before that I kid was badly beaten and hospitalized for a week.

What was frustrating was that all these times the police force didn’t even so much as have suspects. They were too busy busting up parties and sitting with their thumbs up their asses writing down stupid citations for students who were found carrying dime bags of weed on campus instead of catching actual criminals. It was too none of my surprise that I came here and each student looked miserable. Even on the college tour day when I was still in high school, each student passed us with the most vacant expression as if they had seen the worst the world had to offer. With the combination of crack heads, shitty police, and an air of depression, it was no wonder that people often referred to this place as “Graduates Jail Cell.”

This story is about an incident I experienced the second semester of my sophomore year. I was overworked and overstressed and well on my way to just giving up and taking the F I was inevitably going to receive in organic chemistry. It was because of myself needing a gram of the magic green herb that circulated through my campus like the trash and shit in the streets on a rainy day. I went to my former roommate, handed him a 10 then fumbled around in my pocket for another 10. With the earful I was going to most likely hear from my parents once they saw my grades, I needed more than 10 dollars’ worth of weed. I got my weed and my piece and lighter and snuck past all the cops and the drunk assholes and into the woods on my campus. Most people told me it wasn’t the smartest idea to go at night. Often times the woods were used by homeless people or the crack heads I mentioned earlier as a place to hide from the cops.

Even the retarded kids on my campus avoided this place at night as unwritten rule. The only exception was my roommate who found himself in these woods at 2:00 in the morning as a result of an acid trip gone wrong. He said it was a mistake but he never told us why. We told him (as we told him multiple times) to just stick to weed and booze like the rest of us and that acid, shrooms, and Molly were the invention of shitheads and real low lives. He stated that this was the last time but it was not because of the acid but rather what he found in the woods. We asked him what it was and he wouldn’t tell us.

Eventually we all chalked it up to a bad trip that caused him to see shit that wasn’t there. I mean it wasn’t as if he was out and about in an empty peaceful field of wheat doing this either. He was in a dark forest that was the sanctuary for the unmentionables of society. After he came out of the trip, he said that he would never go back into the woods which was strange because he (Well, really every stoner on campus including myself.) used to go to the woods during the day to smoke and it was quite nice. There were nature trails and even some of the art that the art students tended to put up as their senior projects.

Eventually I found myself in the pitch black woods without a disturbance from anyone. I walked along the trail a considerable distance into the woods partially so I could avoid running into other stoners and partially because the cops were known to drive into the woods trying to catch kids smoking because they were bored. Eventually I reached a point in the woods where I overlooked the college lake. It was disgusting. You would think that a lake in the middle of the woods a considerable distance from the campus would be safe from the turmoil and filth of the college. I was sadly mistaken. I stood by the lapping water against the shore and kicked a Monster energy drink can further into the water. There was no reason to pick it up. There was no trash receptacle for at least a mile and I wasn’t going to risk a good smoke session to play tree hugger and have my good deeds rewarded with getting caught by a dick police officer and getting charged with possession of something as minor as weed. They screwed over so many people for just have a single beer on their person, let alone two grams of weed.

Besides, if I picked it up, several more would take its place in the weeks to follow. I just packed a good bowl in my piece, set the herb ablaze with my lighter, and inhaled happiness. I reflected on the last semester and where I had gone wrong. It wasn’t the parties; I was a college hermit. It wasn’t the girls; I was too shy to talk to any of them. And it certainly wasn’t the drugs; there were others who did cocaine almost on a weekly basis who made the honor role. I just sat there and pondered how I was going to fix this and how on earth I was going to explain my current academic standing to my parents. I finally reached my resolution when I had gotten through about a full gram of weed and was beginning on the second one when… I heard a noise.

At first I ignored it, self-rationalizing that it was probably a squirrel or some woods dweller and that I was just paranoid as a result of the incredible high I was feeling. But then I heard it again. I was deep enough in the woods that no one in their right mind would come out here at this time of night, much less on a random Tuesday night when nothing special was going on. If it was a Thursday, I may have just smoked on campus and hid amongst the obnoxious drunk assholes in the campus so that attention would be drawn away from the nerdy looking white kid with a boner-looking bulge in his pocket trying to hide his weed smoking apparatus. But tonight was a quiet night so the woods were my best bet.

The noise sounded again, this time slightly louder as if it was getting closer. I reached in my pocket and grabbed one of the few tropical flavored Jolly Ranchers located there and unwrapped it. The sweet taste of strawberry flooded by mouth and coupled with the high, I instantly felt relief. I began smoking the remaining of my weed until my stash was completely out and I just sat there. I was beginning to move toward the trail back to campus when I heard the noise again... with voices. My mind instantly thought it was the cops, it must be. I had smoked all my weed but I’m sure they would find some charge for me. Public intoxication, possession of paraphilia, or suspicious activity could be good candidates. I dropped a few eye drops in my eyes to cure the redness. Shit! I had dropped on my cheek because I was shaking from nervousness.

I did it again and this time it hit its target. I reached in my backpack and grabbed some Axe and sprayed myself with it to hide the smell. Like that was going to do any good. Why else would some shifty looking student be alone in the woods at 10:30 at night smelling heavily of Axe and weed? I looked for a way out. I saw a tall tree about ten feet away from my and instinctively made a dash for it. One thing you learned on this campus was how to hide. Some joke around saying it’s an actual college course they offer at the school and the only ones who survive the four grueling years of work pass this imaginary class. I reached the base of the tree and reached up. I felt the sturdy branch and began climbing as high as I could. I stopped. I heard the noise and the voices again, but this time... it was right below me.

“Dammit, he must’ve gotten away,” a voice rang out. It is the cops I thought to myself. In a silent relief, I internally chuckled to myself and sat on that branch like a prowling cat. Fuck the cops.

“Well, he couldn’t have gotten far, it still smells like weed and *sniff* some type of body spray. He won’t taste good if that’s the case. Body sprays give me a nasty taste in my mouth.”

Well that was a strange sentiment. Maybe these people were high on something stronger than weed and were just muttering nonsense. At any rate, I now knew this wasn’t the cops. The spoke in a manner that I knew was too unprofessional for the police force. Everyone on campus had been barked at least once by the pigs and knew exactly what they sounded like and these people didn’t fit the bill. I say these people because I had identified two different voices so I figured it had to be at least two people, but I was uncertain if there were more. But then another voice chimed in.

“Well, we are already here. Might as well eat the one we have saved.” They began walking toward the lake.

Their footsteps made a strange sound, as if there feet were covered in some greasy, muddy fluid which I knew could not be dirt or mud because the otherwise I would have it on my shoes too. I heard them struggle to pull something out of the lake. There was groaning and cussing as someone dropped or mishandled whatever they party was dragging out. In the clamor, I identified two more voices and mentally calculated that there were at least for people. They dropped their catch about fifteen feet away from the base of the tree and began to start a fire.

Once they had gotten it lit and going slightly, they threw bundles of surrounding sticks and twigs until the flame burned bigger and hotter. This scared me because they were collecting the fuel right below the tree I was hiding. They were so close below me that I could smell a rank smell of something that was rotting. I would’ve scurried further up the tree but I dared not make any noise. The fire was no large enough now that it illuminated the entire seen of what was unfolding. What I saw made me sick to the point that I instantly felt sober and would’ve thrown up if given the opportunity.

There were seven individuals standing around this makeshift campfire. Each one of them was disfigured in their own degree and in their own manner. One was missing an eye and instead of an eye patch, he had sown the eye hold shut completely. Another was covered from head to toe in still living roaches that feasted on his grey flesh. There was one that walked on his hands because his legs looked as if they had not been cut off but forcefully torn off. Each was more disturbing than the last. I have seen plenty of zombie movies and these characters fit the description better than any cheesy cosplaying virgin on my college campus. It was horrific.

At their feet in front of the fire was a corpse from what appeared to be a young college kid about my age. His flesh bloated and bulged as a result of being waterlogged for what appeared to be weeks. They lifted his lifeless body and tied him to a large, thick branch and placed him over the fire as a makeshift spit. One spun the corpse while the others sat down in a circle around the fire and began chatting as if they were reading the Sunday paper together. The air smelt repulsive. Picture the worst smelling public restroom you can think of and flood it with shit and rotten eggs from floor to ceiling and multiply it by a thousand. A green smoke lifted in the air, as green as the weed that I had moments prior been smoking. I began to listen to the conversation very intently, making sure I was set into the branch very firmly so as to make no noise, but out of sight enough that the light of the fire didn’t catch me, especially my glasses for fear the light would reflect.

“So what is on the menu tonight?”

“Some dumb fucker from last week. Drunk asshole stumbled into the lake thinking he was Michael Fucking Phelps. That’s when Brady over here” – he gestured to the figure sitting with his back to me – “came in and dunked his head into the lake until he stopped thrashing.”

There was a cheer for this Brady character and the conversation ceased for three minutes in a clamor of pats on the back and high fives. One guy lost his hand when he went to high five him. He just stabbed his newly lost appendage into a nearby stick and began eating it like a corndog at Fenway.

“Still wish we could’ve caught that shit head earlier tonight. Could’ve had ourselves some fresh meat.”

“Like I said he wouldn’t have tasted good anyway. Stoners always taste shitty,” one said angrily through a mouth of all gums and no teeth.

“Whatever, this will still do. Hopefully the cops won’t interrupt us.”

There was a moment of silence then a roar of laughter as you or I would do when making a sarcastic comment.

“Fucking dumb cops on this campus are too busy wasting their time catching petty rich kids smoking a joint or keg standing at a party. When was the last time they ever bothered us? Oh that’s right. Never. We have nothing to worry about. Besides, the more they do that, the more kids come in here and hide. Makes our business a little easier. Which in my opinion is kind of ironic considering there are so many pigs on this campus it reeks of bacon more than this dick heads tender chops.”

There was an acknowledgement of the fact in a round of “That’s right” and “Oh yeah.” In a sick realization, I realized these perverted human souls were right. The cops would never believe anyone who claimed this was going on. They would just lock them up and send them to drug rehabilitation or a psych ward. At any rate, I realized why my roommate kept silent. This was so apprehensible and unimaginable that it could be mistaken for a bad drug trip by outside parties. I had definitely chosen the wrong school to go to. This campus was more than a prison. It was hell and I was viewing the worst of its inhabitants through pine needles and small twigs. The decaying body spinning the spit stopped.

“It’s ready!” he screamed.

What followed was too wild to describe. The fire was put out as the entire party jumped at the body, not even taking it off the spit. There were growls, gnashing of teeth, and small fights as each picked bits and pieces of the body were deemed too good for consumption by anyone but himself. The air smelled even worse as these walking corpse-like figures covered themselves in burning coals and rotting meat. The feeding frenzy was so loud I allowed myself to move up the tree further in a desperate climb. When it was finished, they all laughed and looked at each other like family who just finished Thanksgiving dinner together. They all walked away unremorseful into the darkness until the woods once again fell silent. I dared not move. I thought they might still be there waiting for me. I looked at my iPhone and saw that it was 12:37 A.M. I still didn’t move.

I waited unmoving in that tree until 6:24 A.M. when the sun came out and decided to make dash for it. I ran track in high school but I was sure this speed shattered any previously owned records. I ran out of the woods, back to my dorm, lied down in my bed and stayed there for two whole days.

Since that night, the semester has ended. I managed to pull my grades up. I got 1 A-, 2 B-, and a C- for my last minute efforts. Sure it wasn’t fantastic but it will do. I never told anyone what happened until now. I will never go back in those woods and I suggest you never either. To some, this place may be the “Graduates Jail Cell” but to me it will always be… “Cannibals Cornerstone.”