This was a submission submitted to the September Monthly Contest that we think deserves some special mention! Please enjoy this piece about the future of Rice, entitled "The True Plan for the Second Century."
"So, how did you survive?" I asked the stranger as I poked the fire with a stick. In our desperation after the disaster, as we ran out of notes to burn, we'd turned to using our textbooks for fuel.
"Sid 80s, partied a little too hard," he responded from within the mess of rags he wore. Though faded, they bore the unmistakable markings of free RPC shirts. "Just stayed home instead of going to the... event." He shuddered at the mention and shifted the fire with his own stick. A Gen Chem textbook released a flight of sparks.
"Lucky you. Any attendees survive?"
"Physics major told me the shockwave moved at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light. Killed 'em faster than their brains could process what happened."
"So that's a no."
"I wouldn't say it's impossible. Little chance, but if he made it out, maybe someone else did."
The stranger looked at me like I was a freshman asking if Rice was a dry campus.
"Leebron did." The rags shifted as he looked into the darkened sky. The stars were just becoming visible through the perpetual smoke that rose from the ruins of campus. "Even if I had the proof, though, I don't think I could stop him now."
"Stop him from doing what?"
Another incredulous stare. "Didn't you see it?"
"I was in my room cramming for midterms. Humor me."
"Herzstein Hall was secretly a giant robot. All the low-tech appearances were just to disguise the inner workings. Right after the event, Leebron ran to the secret control room, activated it, and set off in the direction of the White House."
"You can't be serious."
"All of this is just the prelude to his true plan for world domination, of course. Mecha-Herzstein is only the beginning of his dark designs."
"I just can't believe it," I mused as I poked the fire again. Combustion equations wafted into the sickly sky. "Why would Leebron do something like that? Doesn't Rice administration always have the students' interests in mind?"
"Believe me or don't," the stranger said, rising, "it's all out of our hands now. Except you might want to check the first letter of every sentence I just said."