Thank you for reading this next issue of Carleton Cryptids, in which I unmask this college’s secrets much as its students unmask outdoors.
In past issues, I have recounted only benevolent or mischievous paranormal occurrences. But make no mistake: I am not coddling you all just because you are college students removed from the “real world.” This college campus IS the real world. And the real world is festooned with legions of vengeful, bloodthirsty spirits. I encountered one such monster recently.
It was somewhere between 1 and 3 a.m.—one of those times of day you can sense without a clock. I was up quite late (I had just learned the hard way that “ghosting” does not actually involve ghosts) when my broiling brain decided it was time for a snack. A bag of chips? A Clif Bar? Perhaps I would play Russian Roulette with the expiration dates?
As it turned out, I would have none of that. If the elevator’s lighting was an impolite suggestion that I should open my eyes, the vending machine’s electric brilliance was a shouted command. It had never shimmered so. The Pepsi logo on the front looked like an unblinking eye. I padded closer to the machine. Then I saw what was inside.
I can describe it only as a buffet of chaos. In one compartment was a Ziploc bag of what appeared to be mushroom stroganoff—there was moisture from the stew collecting on the glass. Next to it was a bottle of pills prescribed to a name I did not recognize. There were greasy slices of pizza, turkey legs and the birds they came from, accumulated gummy bears and worms, and even pencils sharpened to a point. The pencils to which I refer looked bashful between a loaf of Wonder Bread and a rawhide. A dark, runny liquid cascaded down each chamber, wetting the items within and sometimes splattering audibly against the glass. There was indeed something in there for everyone.
I nearly reached for the keypad—I admit I had been craving stroganoff since the ghosting—but drew back immediately. You see, I recognized this creature from my research. It was not a vending machine but a Vendetta Machine.
Any vending machine, should it be abused, mistreated or simply long-lived, has the potential to become a Vendetta Machine. Once transformed, it manifests a bizarre aggregation of the student body’s desired foods. Those who reach in and are too slow may never see their arm again; those quick enough to eat of its bounty will begin exhibiting vending machine-like behavior before ultimately becoming one.
So, if your local vending machine beeps without prompt or fumbles the delivery of a candy bar, vacate the area immediately—it may soon transform into a Vendetta Machine. And if you spot a machine you’ve never seen before, please leave a flower for your fallen classmate.
I can only thank the powers that be that I had enough wit to leave before I fell into the Vendetta Machine’s trap.
By the way, my insides are 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Drink ice-cold Coca-Cola!