They found Amelia’s body this morning. She was discovered at the far end of campus, in the moat, buried beneath the weight of mud, time, and isolation. Nobody ventures back there, in the dense, desolate woods where the College hasn’t even tried to develop. The dorms are at the northeast end of campus; the moat is all the way to the west. I’m surprised that she wasn’t stumbled upon sooner. I’m surprised that after three years, they were even able to identify her. And I’m surprised that her body was even there at all. I had always held out hope that perhaps Amelia had conquered the cold, but with each passing month that hope became smaller and smaller, more tattered and withered and melted to nothing more than a tepid puddle of muddied swamp water.
But there she was. Alone and cold, by herself, exposed and unprotected. Dead and alone in an anonymous thicket at the farthest reaches of the campus, where nobody ventured before the incident, nor do they venture now. Bone meal for the living campus.
The campus is abuzz now with the news of the dead girl they found in the moat. The senior class walks today with their heads hung gravely, once again forced to bear the somber burden of what happened here three years ago. The discovery of Amelia’s body is a painful reminder of the tragedy and the lives it took with it, a somber knowledge tinged with bitter memories and lingering panic. The underclassmen giggle with frightened delight. Excited with the energized sparkle of morbid imagination twinkling in their eyes, they feel connected to the cataclysmic tragedy that happened here before their time, to the haunted legacy of which they form no part.
Even the other seniors in my own class cannot remember the event the way that I do. They felt nothing of the hunger. Heard none of the screams ringing out over the campus from the top of the Tower. Saw not a drop of the blood, nor a single scene of the horror that unfolded. They saw it unfold largely on television screens and in newspapers, through campus bulletins and emergency meetings. Through evening masses in the chapel and candlelight vigils on the quad. And certainly nobody on this campus today knew Amelia the way that I did.
We became dangerous in our idling, our sparkling hopes and dreams fermenting into anger and blame, into cold fear and suffocating doubt. When trapped atop the Tower with nothing but ourselves and our sins, the true agent of our demise came forth within all of us. Our own selfishness would be the architect of our undoing. And so we took our love and manifested it into hate, took our dreams and consecrated them with the blood of our brethren. Hoping it would all thaw and melt away, once again, into the glory of our refined, sophisticated human civilization atop the ivory tower. But the tower had dried up, its glory forgotten and abandoned, the works of our great literary heroes worth less than the paper they were printed on, the intangible and yet soul-filling sounds of the music composed by our great masters now drowned out by the sounds of our classmates screaming, fighting, killing, dying. Nine of us were trapped there at the top of Ophir Tower. Only three made it out alive.