In the grand Bwog tradition of spending 12 hours in a certain place and writing about it, here follows a totally real descent into Lovecraftian madness in Faculty House.

In the fall of 2021, as a fresh, young Bwogger in the nascent days of my first semester of my freshman year, I was made aware of a legendary Bwog article called “I Spent Twelve Hours In JJ’s And Tested The Limits Of Human Rationality”. It is one of many in a time-honored series of legendary ethnographies (ethbwographies) of the physical and mental trial of posting up somewhere for 12 hours straight. Ever since then I have aspired to this level of greatness. This week, with my workload still relatively light, I set out to add my name to the illustrious history of Bwoggers who have braved a dining hall (or other campus locations) for 12 hours unbroken and lived to tell the tale.

Since Faculty House’s debut in fall 2021, no Bwogger has successfully chronicled 12 hours spent in the warm and bougie embrace of this particular dining hall.  Any attempts to chart such an undertaking have been derailed mainly by the fact that unlike JJ’s, Faculty House is only open for a few hours a day. However, I have devised a plan to circumvent this particular complication. At 2:55, five minutes before Faculty House closes, I will cause a distraction, enabling me to slip into the vents, where I will wait out the rest of the working day— it is, after all, a functioning building outside of its role as a part-time dining hall— and preserve my strength for the final hours of my vigil.

After Faculty House has gone dark, I will roam its empty hallways and explore its ornate, elegant rooms. Perhaps I will uncover secrets no mortals were meant to find. Perhaps I will find where they keep the brownies, and engorge myself upon them. Perhaps I will remain in the vents, where it is safe. So many possibilities! At midnight, my alarm will ring, and I will walk free among the sidewalks of campus, forever a changed man. Here follows a transcript of my activities, adapted from a combination of written notes and voice memos.

11:55 am, FRIDAY, JANUARY 20th (T-minus 5 minutes before the countdown begins)

I am standing outside the Faculty House as a light snow falls from the sky. I can faintly hear the sounds of mirthful conversations and clattering silverware, undoubtedly from an open window in the Faculty House dining area. In addition to my phone, I’ve brought a pen and pad of paper, a few protein bars, and a tote bag full of various things to use to pass the time.

12:00 pm: I set a 12-hour timer on my phone (in case I forget to leave at midnight) and I enter Faculty House. I accidentally take the elevator to the fourth floor (I keep forgetting they moved the dining hall), take the stairs down to the second floor, and swipe into the dining hall.

12:05 pm: After finding a seat, I grab a plate of mac and cheese, some broccoli, and a glass of blackberry sparkling water. (I am not one for salmon.)

12:20 pm: I have finished eating my lunch and am now reading a book.

2:46 pm: Multiple friends have joined me over the last hour or two, to nobly help me pass the time before the dining hall closes. I have eaten six brownies. At this point, all my friends have left, and I am left on my own for the remainder of my journey. The dining hall is still pretty full, though, but it will close soon.

2:55 pm: I must act now, or else I will be ushered out when the dining hall closes in five minutes. Time for my great escape into the vents. I take a deep breath and yell at the top of my lungs, “PREZBO NAMED PRESIDENT OF BARNARD COLLEGE???” While everyone in the dining room pulls out their phone in shock, expecting an email or perhaps a Twitter notification, I slip away into the corner, undetected. I’ve carefully studied blueprints of Faculty House, so I know exactly where to find the ventilation shafts. Making sure that nobody is looking, I scale the walls with ease like a deft lizard, climbing up to a vent cover in the ceiling. I remove the cover and clamber into the vent, replacing the cover just as people begin to tweet about the misinformation I have just spread. I take a deep breath and exhale. The hard part is over, for now.

3:20 pm: The last remaining stragglers have begun to trickle out of the dining hall, and I breathe a sigh of relief that there will be less scrutiny of student movement now that the dining hall has closed. Now, we wait. I pass the time with yarn and a knitting needle I’d stored in my tote bag.

6:02 pm: I have knitted myself a full winter coat, which I have donned for warmth. I can’t really see much of what is going on outside of the vents, but I’ve heard people coming and going. Faculty House seems to have emptied out, though. Not much action since the dining hall closed. Still I wait.

8:30 pm: The building is dark and quiet now. After surveying the dining room to ensure it is empty, I lower myself from the vent and scamper down the walls like a nimble mouse. I reach into my tote bag and produce a brittle scroll, a document I stole from the Rare Books and Manuscript Library in Butler: a map of Faculty House. Time to do some exploring!

9:51 pm: There’s something off about this building. It’s been empty ever since I descended from the vents, completely devoid of any humans, but every so often I still hear footsteps and strange noises from distant corners of the building. Every time I leave a room, I come back to find the tables and chairs arranged in a different pattern than how I left them. Doors slam and lock behind me unprompted, and they stay locked for five or ten minutes at a time, before randomly springing back open. The images on my map keep changing. Sometimes I walk up from the second floor to the third floor, only to find myself emerging from the top of the staircase back onto the second floor. Very strange.

10:40 pm: I wander up to a random door and try the handle: locked. I put my ear to the door and hear a wet bubbling sound, like the noise of a witch’s cauldron. I press the palm of my hand against the door— it looks like mahogany, but it feels like a fish’s scales— and suddenly, the door disappears. I now find myself standing at the entrance to what appears to be a stone dungeon; there are no visible windows or light sources, but there is a dim glow in the room. There is a single industrial-size refrigerator against the back wall, with letters emblazoned on its door in a runic language I cannot read. I approach it and see that the runes are shifting, warping. They coalesce into a single phrase, three words, in glowing molten red font: FACULTY HOUSE SALMON.

I open the fridge door and peer through its doorway into an empty cavern. Levitating inside, bobbing up and down in the air, is an enormous, hulking silhouette, humming with primordial energy. The silhouette hovers over a strange, arcane object— it looks almost like a sundial? I train my eyes on the silhouette, trying to figure out what it is. Shadows dance across its decrepit form in an unnatural way. It appears to be drawing its power from the object underneath it. It turns to face me, and I can finally make out what it is: an enormous, ageless fish. The Faculty House Salmon. (I am not one for salmon.) The Salmon locks its beady little fish eyes on me. A moment (ten seconds? an hour?) of palpable suspense pass.

Then The Salmon turns away from me. I experience a great whooshing sensation, like being sucked into a vacuum, and suddenly I am standing back in the empty second-floor dining room. Something begins dripping down the walls— blood? Water? No, cheese. Thick, creamy liquid cheese, the kind served up alongside macaroni in the Faculty House main line. Enormous macaroni noodles the size of footballs begin to tumble from the ceiling, landing with wet thumps on the dining room’s pristine carpet. The liquid cheese rain intensifies, cascading over the macaroni noodles piling up on the floor. Soon, the noodles have become the size of classroom desks, and then the size of cars. The cheese rain sizzles as it touches the ground, and a foul stench fills the air.

I am smacked in the face by a projectile— a vegan meatball!!! Another one emerges from the shadows and pelts me in the back of the head; out of the corner of my eye, I see another one sailing at me, and, with catlike reflexes, I snatch it out of the air and crush it in my fist. When I open my fist, the meatball is gone, replaced by a miniature version of the primordial fish from the ancient dungeon freezer. The tiny Salmon is warm, warmer than a fish the size of a pebble should be— there is an ancient energy emanating from it. It blinks at me, and before anything else can happen, I hurl it away from me, and it bounces a few times, like a skipping rock, and disappears into the festering macaroni swamp.

I turn and sprint out of the dining room, descending the staircase to the ground floor and hurtling towards the exit, fully prepared to abandon my 12-hour mission. I throw open the door, but I find myself standing not on the doorstep to Faculty House, but out on the balcony attached to the fourth floor. Time and space do not behave as they should here.

I turn around and see, behind me, the terrace doors, leading into the ballroom. Treading lightly, I walk inside. Nothing seems out of place here. I can catch my breath.

11:05 pm: I have returned to my knitting. I’ve now knitted a hat and mittens to go along with my coat.

11:26 pm: All has been quiet for half an hour now, but just now I hear a rumbling from outside— a low, guttural roar, muffled but bone-chilling. All of the tables and chairs in the room, and the silverware perched atop them, all begin rattling. A rhythmic thrumming sound sets in, initially stifled by the distant roar but growing in decibel until the roar melts into the bathroom. As the dull drone continues, I notice that something outside seems to have blotted out the distant, twinkling lights of Harlem and Queens, and even the dark expanse of Morningside Park is no longer perceptible.

Something compels me to reach into my tote bag, and my fingers instantly wrap around a handle. From my bag I produce a glistening silver sword, and the air around me brightens a little. The fabled blade of Excalibur, inexplicably appearing in my tote bag? I brandish the sword, and the entire building seems to shudder.

All at once, the scenery outside the windows changes, but I can’t make out anything beyond a blur of shapes. The lights flicker, then one lamp goes out entirely; some invisible force wrenches the curtains closed all at once, and the droning noise abruptly recedes. Glancing around me nervously, I quickly hurry out of the dining room, back onto the staircase.

11:32 pm: I’ve been sheltering in a maintenance closet for the past few minutes or so. I think I will be safe here, so long as I don’t —


11:59 pm: I can’t keep running from it. I’ve tried every hallway, every corridor, every doorway, but all I find are locked closets and funhouse mirrors. I’ve lost Excalibur, and I’ve lost my tote bag. I will dispatch a team to retrieve both objects once I’ve gotten to safety. Time seems to be oozing by at a snail’s pace, but that doesn’t matter, because there is only one minute left before my vigil will end. I’m huddling in a corner right now, listening to hollow, wet footsteps racing around the halls of this desolate citadel. Only a few seconds left before midnight. I squeeze my eyes shut as I wait for my alarm to go off. Five… four… three… two… one…

I wince, expecting the piercing shrill of my alarm to announce my freedom, but nothing happens. I open my eyes, and I check my phone. Just as I thought – 12:00 am, SATURDAY, JANUARY 21. But for some reason, my phone is silent.

Just then, it starts emitting a loud noise, but it’s not the alarm I set. My phone begins vibrating so hard I nearly drop it. It takes me a few seconds to figure out what the sound is: my phone is playing “Come On Eileen” on full blast. Almost immediately, Faculty House starts shaking. I frantically try to pause the song, or even turn down the volume, but the buttons on my phone have been rendered useless, and the screen is frozen. I can hear every door in the building slamming shut, and there is a crash from upstairs—

the song begins getting louder and louder—


I shudder and break into a run—

an unearthly wail echoes down the hallway—

~ ~ ~ 

[Transcription from audio file (only surviving voice memo after 12:00 am)]

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~ ~ ~

[unintelligible static, faint screaming]


~ ~ ~

I awaken in the fourth-floor dining room. It’s very bright, as hazy sunlight drifts through the windows, a light snow is falling around me— but wait, I’m inside, why is snow falling?

A snowflake lands delicately on my arm, but instead of being cold, it’s hot, burning hot. I feel a prickling sensation, and I yank my arm away with a yelp. The moment I move my arm, the dining room vanishes around me, and I find myself standing outside, directly in front of the doors of Faculty House, staring up at the building exactly as I had yesterday.

I pull out my phone to check the time: 11:55 am, FRIDAY, JANUARY 20th. I do a double-take. No time has passed at all since I arrived at Faculty House to begin my vigil? But how could this be? I frown. It must’ve been some weird fever dream. I must’ve imagined everything.

On the bright side, I think to myself, now I can actually spend my 12 hours in Faculty House! Just then, a cold gust of wind brushes against me, but I don’t shiver— I’m bundled up, cozy and warm. I notice I am wearing a knitted coat, mittens, and earmuffs. I don’t remember ever buying this outfit, but I’m thankful to have it now. You know, on second thought, maybe I’ll just skip the “Twelve Hours in Faculty House” assignment and just write something dumb about rats or soup instead.


Image of Faculty House via Bwog Archive