Contamination: Speculations

George had downloaded a few too many infected files onto his computer, and now the poor thing was quietly smoking in the corner of the campus IT department.

Unfortunately, he still had to do work and so, he was sitting in the computer lab where the editors put together the campus newspaper. They were not putting it together tonight, but many of them had gotten in the habit of treating the public lab like it was their own personal lounge. If anyone on campus were to enter at any point during the week, they could most likely witness two or more of the editors having an intense discussion about something that only editors would think was intense.

The editors also seemed to be completely oblivious to who else was in the room, so George knew this could also be a prime time to pick up some campus gossip.

As usual, there were some editors drinking coffee in their bean-bag chairs and gossiping about things that George only cared to listen to as a means of procrastination.

“Chester is usually so reliable,” said the tall one to the short one.

“He’s probably just still under the weather from that food poisoning outbreak,” said the short one to the tall one.

“I don’t know. There was that time when he stapled his fingers together and still managed to write an article for the paper using just one hand. I bet he’s just being lazy. Besides, most people seem to have recovered.”

“Laziness is just so unlike him. He’s always so obnoxiously committed to doing a good job.”

“I know. I’m the one who has to edit his damn contributions to the current events section. They’re always meticulously investigated and written. It makes me feel obsolete.” The tall one looked ashamed.

“Didn’t something like this happen before, when he exposed the owl scandal? He disappeared for a week, came back covered in feathers and the owl regulation laws were changed.”

The tall one’s eyes rolled. ”He said he was under cover.”

“So dedicated. What was he working on this time?”

“I can’t remember exactly. He sort of made his own assignments. I think he said something about that water processing plant on the other end of the lake. Or maybe it was something about Good Eats?”

“Good Eats? That sounds a bit domestic for him. He always seems to like to get off campus for his reporting.”

“Yeah, I know. Good Eats is also pretty dull. Maybe he wants to start critiquing the soup in the cafeteria.”

“Well, we are down a food critic after the food poisoning outbreak. Shelly is apparently refusing to eat in the cafeteria in protest of what she claims must be ‘a dirty kitchen environment.’” The short one did not exactly seem sensitive to poor Shelly’s plight.

“Perish the thought of her perfect palate being expected to even be in the same room as imperfectly baked beans.”

“She’s not the only one ,though. I’ve heard from a lot of people that they don’t want to chance the cafeteria after all that projectile vomiting.”

“Yeah. I didn’t like that part.”

“I’m betting no one did”

George was now not even pretending to pay attention to his computer.

“Well then, what are all those people eating instead?” asked the tall one.

“Some are cooking in dorm kitchens, some are spending all their money on restaurants, some people are foraging for mushrooms and rabbits, and I’m pretty sure I know at least one person who has been grazing on the main lawn for most of the day.”

George himself had spent three hours looking under rocks for rolly pollies, and he had not had much luck.

“Grazing can be very time-intensive if you want all the nutrients you need.”

The short one nodded solemly. “I’m personally going to a collaborative soup-making at Nudity House for dinner tonight.”

“I heard those have gotten so popular that there was a line out the door on Tuesday.”

“Yup! I was there. Luckily, I got in early; there were about 30 people behind me, in the cold, vegetables in hand, regretting taking their clothes off too early.”

“So was the soup good?”

George realized that he was also supposed to make soup at Nudity House, and that if he wanted to get a spot, he would have to grab his potatoes, remove his clothes and fight through the line.