The campus rises to a crescendo, a charisma, a caricature of what it once was. A circus of cosmic energy courses through the grasses and walks, convening atop of Storke Tower where the ringleader floats. Or does he? The antithesis of steadiness, the floating figure is in a state of constant duality. He may be brooding up there, but we could never say for sure.
“Surety is a convenience unaffordable” he writes in the sky with a beam of blue light and then punctuates with a large question mark—just to be an asshole it seems, though we’re not certain.
As if his sky-writing were a command control, Storke Tower begins to gyrate, crack and crumble. If a person were to look at Storke Tower from the ground, they would see the building bend and distort, like another reality was trying to steal it into their realm, or an alien ship was attempting to transport the structure off-planet.
On the other side of campus is none other than H.T. Yang, a man so average his averageness pervades every aspect of his average existence. He’s just arrived on the darling Line 28 MTD, which arrived neither late nor early, but perfectly on time. There’d been gossip of multiple buses arriving on campus at various times of the day, but H.T. saw nothing of the sort. To him the world was his fly (a very average animal).
In a world filled with mystery, wonder, and fantasy, there was no room in H.T.’s schedule for anything but the ordinary. According to urban legend, it is said that while he lay dormant in his mother’s womb, he patiently waited until exactly nine months after the fertilization of the egg by the sperm to emerge, punctual and victorious, into the daylight. The doctor described him as “America’s Most Average Baby.” But H.T. never confirmed any of these rumors. Rumors left too much to the imagination, and that was far from ordinary.
For the most part, H.T. Yang’s schedule was what most people would expect from any diligent, average student. He went to average classes and maintained an average GPA, ate average meals that consisted of the average food groups and average amount of vitamins and minerals, and slept an average amount of time. He always put in an average amount of work into everything he did, never more and never less. If a child was bred with the genetics of Goldilocks, look no further than the tepid genome of H.T. Yang.
And, on this particular day, he noted the averageness of the campus. Sunny weather holding steady around 75 degrees, people flowing freely around campus, everything running smoothly like a well-oiled machine. At the center of it all was the erect Storke Tower, unmoving as always. “Ah, good ol’ reliable,” he said, remarking on how normal things looked, “I can always count on Storke Tower to be exactly where I left it. Good to see you friend.” One thing you must understand about H.T. Yang was his rather average mind. It lacked the comprehensive ability to understand anything beyond the ordinary. Its powers of disillusion are so powerful, it filters the abnormal from reality to reduce the magic of the world to trite contrivances of normalcy.
Looking at Storke Tower put H.T. in the mood for some food, and it was about time too. It was exactly 12 o’clock noon—the perfect time for lunch. Almost without delay, H.T. Yang looked for the nearest average bite to eat. Being close to Isla Vista, he decided the ordinary response would be to approach the census-designated place closest to him and buy the classic Isla Vista burrito from FREEB!RDS. Everything about it screamed Wonder Bread: the usual regular burrito, the choice of white meat chicken, the lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream, black beans, cilantro, and onions. BUT NO GUACAMOLE! Guacamole is an added cost, and H.T. Yang hated costs that deviated from the norm. He bites into the burrito, and smiles.
“This chicken is average. Not over seasoned, just seasoned enough. Not overpriced, just priced enough,” he said, calmly. It was the most “burrito” burrito you could possibly describe. Finishing the burrito with not a single stray food particle touching his hands, he decides to stroll to campus. He maintains the average pace of 9-10 minutes per mile, of course.
Average H.T. makes the banal decision to walk through Gervitz Hall. The quiet of the building reminded H.T. of the logical sense in the world.
“Quiet. Almost no one is here, they’re all in their classes at this time, as they all should be. Silence is the best companion to sense, the words have a certain compatibility in their structure. Sense fits into silence like a square peg in a square hole. I should stitch that on a pillow. It only makes… sense. I crack myself up, but not too much.”
While making his way through Gervitz, H.T. spots the little closet door at the top of the stairs labeled “Gnome Studies.” The name always gives him chills, the thought that gnomes could exist was too much for him. He pulled open the little closet door like a parent checking for monsters in their child’s bedroom.
“No gnomes! Just cleaning supplies and the usual amount of stowed away liquor.” With a sense of accomplishment from a closet well checked, H.T. head out of Gervitz and continued on his regular path toward the Thunderdome.
Approaching the Thunderdome, he finds it completely empty, as it should be at this time of day. The appropriate response is made accordingly, and H.T. Yang relishes the great sense of his prediction matching reality once more (but not getting overly excited, remember, just excited enough). In the corner of the stadium lies the Ole The Gaucho costume. Ruminating on memories past, he remembers his old friend John Doe, who wore the costume and still wears it to the day. He met John last night, who had explained to him how he’d never let the costume out of his sight. The only time it left his watchful gaze just happened to be today. At first H.T. was confused… Where was John? His heart started to race. This wasn’t normal. John was supposed to be here, watching the costume, twirling the mustache. Was this some voodoo or black magic? Some witchcraft or wizardry? H.T. felt his brain about to explode, before his fallback mechanism kicked in.
“John is sick with the flu. He told me so. Yup, he definitely told me he was sick with the flu. I hope he gets better. Thank goodness, no surprises there.” Turning over the costume, H.T. double checks his facts. “Yes indeed, it appears the suit has never been worn by anyone else than John.”
At one point in the year, another insidious rumor had implied that Ole the Gaucho was actually responsible for the Great Cave Fire of 2019 Thanksgiving. But H.T. Yang knew this couldn’t be true. John was Ole, and Ole was the most ordinary mascot alive. It was probably some average mathematical act of randomness that caused the fire to start. Nothing strange there.
H.T. decides to start heading to his six o’clock class in North Hall. He likes to arrive early so he can take his regular seat. On his way, he spots a group of raccoons playing around the trash can, “I would say it’s early for them to be out, but with the time change, I could see the sense in this.” Most of the raccoons appear to be tearing up a picture of Tom Cruise attached to a flyer of some film event in the area. “Raccoons and Tom Cruise. I see nothing abnormal about this combination.”
Surveying the crowd of raccoons, H.T. Yang spots one typing on a typewriter. “Wow, that racoon thinks it can write. It really looks deep in thought. But racoons can’t write, right?” he notes. Trying to find meaning in his thoughts, he peeps over the mapache’s shoulder to read his writing:
Asld;jf;alskjg;alksjdf;lakj;elkjfa;lskdjg;laskjdfgakjwe;fkaj ;lkjfa;lsdkjf a;wlkejfa;lkjsg;alksjdf;alkwje;tlkajs;glkajs;dlkgja;slkdjfa;lwkejr ;alkjsd;lgkjas;dlkgja;slkdjfa;lwkejf;alwkjeg;dlkfaj;lekjf;a lskjd
“A bunch of utter nonsense, that racoon definitely can’t write if its life depended on it. It probably drank a little too much beer. This perfectly logical observation is just logical enough, given the empty cans of Corona littered throughout this motley crew of racoons. Yes, a very logical conclusion indeed!” H.T. Yang was pleasantly surprised with his adequate analysis of the situation. Not too shocked, but just shocked enough. What an average thing to say, eh?
H.T. arrives at his lecture twenty minutes early and is one of the first in the lecture hall as the class before clears out. He takes his regular seat as the rest of his class funnels in. The hall is filled with bodies as it normally is, and the professor arrives at six o’clock on the dot, granting H.T. a feeling of relief. The professor is dressed in medieval era clothing and brought his son to class with him.
“Today we will be acting out some scenes of dialogue from Beowulf,” he says, until he is interrupted by his son asking to play outside. “Classic family dynamic” thinks H.T. The rest of the class time continues as it normally does, and afterwards H.T. decides to spend his night studying at the 8th floor of the library in silence.
As the elevator brings H.T. Yang into the sacred, hallowed ground of study, he sees a relatively empty floor. This is precisely what the app predicted. He goes to sit down at a cubicle next to the window facing Storke Tower. Meanwhile, outside the library a blue beam of light radiates down from the heavens centered on Storke Tower. A spacecraft of indescribable proportions zooms over and steadies itself above Storke, shooting cool lazer beams from its sensory organs. From the ship’s bottom a rad tractor beam encompasses the entirety of Storke and lifts the gargantuan giant into the air, with the shadowy figure guiding the ship from atop Storke. Or is he? The figure, in all his awesome inconsistency, senses a foreboding normality emanating from the library’s eighth floor. Out of hatred, or curiosity, or love, or some emotion, or not, the figure guides the floating mass of Storke towards the library window where H.T. sits writing in his journal precisely what he is doing right now:
I am sitting here. Writing in my journal that I am sitting here. I think I’m also breathing, maybe performing some metabolic activity. It’s so exciting…
The hazy figure looks through the window to H.T. Yang, or does he? And in his wise ignorance, he patiently rushes through a soliloquy:
There are times when we must be both pervasive and effortless. To be dead and alive is essentially two sides of the same coin. We are both beings of great destruction, and rebirth. These are the reasons why our gods hold reality over death, to blur the lines that bind us. Life is nothing more than meaning, and it’s filled with everything. Like an empty shell, it can contain a cornucopia of knowledge that is bountiful. When we die, where do we go? We don’t go anywhere, but we do go somewhere where we were not. It’s a great paradox, but one with a conclusive answer. In your averageness you may not realize it, but the world is an abnormal cosmos of primal energy. It radiates stupidity, intelligence, and monotony. As the sine and cosine waves fluctuate, they return back to a static state of being. All things eventually merge to a zero, the number one. As we chase perfection, we end up falling into the pitfalls of mediocrity. As we chase the A+, we learn to C. But not with our eyes, it’s with our I’s. Open your third eye, and then close it. This plague is nothing more than an incendiary punishment from celestial beings designed to be the cure. A viral marketing scheme executed with great uninterest. Keep the psychic waves bound to a limitless possibility, then oppress them beyond reasonable doubt. H.T. Yang, you don’t know shit. Or do you? We may never know, but I may. Then again I may also not. The Duality of Man has spoken. Or has he?
H.T. Yang stares through the window intently. He whips his head backwards as if to speak words of grandeur, words so profound they would make Aristotle quake in his galoshes. As he exhales, his humble breath betrays his thoughts, “Damn, my reflection in the mirror looks just the same as when I observed my physical characteristics in the morning. Looking very average if I do say so myself.” If only we all had the ridiculously observant eye of H.T. Yang and his mirror reflection, then maybe we can learn to appreciate ourselves more. Then again, it’s just a reflection…and nevermore.
As H.T. still blankly stares into the window, everything on the outside is returned to normal, or remains normal. The Duality of Man is gone, if he was there to begin with. Storke Tower is back in its place, if it ever moved at all, and H.T is still regular, if you could call it that. He finished his studies an hour later and made his way home. He put his shoes in their place, tossed his bag in the usual spot, changed into his normal pajamas and went to bed like any other night, if this could be described as a normal night.