I've been cleaning out my room lately, and in the process keep stumbling on scattered caches of relics from CTY. Among them: this first-weekend schedule, brought home from Dickinson College, second session 2004.
Wish I had salvaged more schedules over the years. These things are works of art, sprinkled with just the right amount of in-jokes.
Recently, in the middle of a thunderstorm, a charred book mysteriously appeared in the middle of the round room. Contained within its pages was a dire tale of a future gone horribly wrong. It appears that the book is the diary of one Thaddeus Thackeray, a CTY student at the Carlisle site in 2029. Somehow, Thaddeus must have sent the book through time to warn us of a terrible future, and perhaps to help us avoid this fate. Unfortunately, the book was scarred going through the time-stream, and only passages are available to us now. So, in the interests of humanity, we share with you the writings of Thaddeus Thackeray.
The Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad, Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic CTY Weekend Schedule
Friday, July 23rd
With the great Ag-Plagues of 2017, the only food left available to us are HUB potatoes for Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Potato salad, French fried potato, mashed potato, baked potato- that's about it, because anything else would require too many rare (or extinct) ingredients. Boy, do I hate potatoes.
Geopolitics is so much less interesting nowadays, after the Teufelzaehne meteor strikes in 2023. It eliminated about half the human life south of the equator and devastated almost everywhere else with nuclear winter. There isn't really a single functioning country left in the world, so what's the point of learning International Relations? So, the Class is just more history.
Lunch comes prepackaged in little foil boxes that flash-microwave themselves when opened. I miss the days when food came on trays, had a flavor, and there used to be something called "dessert".
Another class that has suffered much since the Great Upheaval has been Biology. The proliferation of mutagenic technology has caused the discipline to implode, with new specialities like "trans-human species", "Hyper-Technology", and "Sapient Botany" appearing and disappearing faster than the syllabus can handle. Stuff they learn at breakfast is obsolete by evening.
I need to remember to check-in, because Big RA is always watching me (us). The posters all over campus seem to track us, and it's almost impossible to avoid them. It may be preferable to break a rule in front of the posters rather than an RA, because... [illegible due to scorching]
It's not a very good idea to break a rule when an RA is watching. Reality starts warping around the RA, and they are replaced by what some kids are calling an "Agent," a man in a black suit and tie and black glasses who proceeds to exterminate the rule breaker with extreme prejudice and a stilted cadence. I shudder to remember him saying "Mr. Thackeray, time for First Activity Period..." - accent on the Mr.
The nuclear winter caused by the Teufelzaehne would have been a lot worse- if we had an ozone layer. The sun's unblocked rays have helped keep us nice and crispy- but also necessitate a maximum of 1 hour of sunlight a day, or cancer will immediately develop. Therefore, 2nd Activity Period must only be indoors. Quad 9 smells even worse than it did in the good old days and the mutated cockroaches that live there never share their Insecto-Skittles with me...
Further aiding the residential staff in this bleak future to keep us students down are the Precogs hooked up to a colossal machine in the bowels of KW. I've never seen it, but the effects are scary- students miss dance time before they even have a chance to misbehave. Even I could predict we'll have more Dryco 'Potato Packs' at Dinner in the HUB tonight though.
My dad thought lanyards were bad but they are nothing compared to the explosive collars we have to wear. One foot outside of bounds and boom! Better check-in on time!
First Friday was supposed to be "The Naughties" (i.e. the 2000s) themed, but quickly degenerated into Jurassic Park madness. A rebel scientist cloned pterodactyls from DNA in amber, and unleashed them into Pennsylvania when his demands to have his head added as the seventh face in Mouth Rushmore (to join President Nixon and President-for-Life CheneyBot, for those of you older folks) were denied. They started by picking up stragglers between quads, but soon became brazen and attacked groups of students and even crashed through quad lounges. The death toll was far lower than that of the 2001 attack (see weekend schedule, 2001) but that's not saying much, with a 99% fatality count in that horrific summer.
It's a good thing that CTY finally allowed pets a few years ago. Our dogs are the only thing able to detect the incursions of T-800 hunter/killer cyborgs into the residential quad. Without them, we'd probably have the site survival rate of Lancaster: 0%. With them, we have a fighting chance. TOo bad those carnivorous plant creatures arrived during their free time last summer!
The residents at Malcom hall learned the hard way tonight why Lights Out is so completely critical to obey. Our defensive permieter only functions in the daytime with our solar generators, and we rely on blackouts at night to try to stay alive. A student's light on in Malcom basement alerted the killer robot drones that patrol the central PA region to the presence of students; they responded with a missile strike that annihilated the building. I think I knew who did it; he picked on me, but I really don't think he deserved to be vaporized.
Saturday, July 3th
Every day I awake with dread- not with an existentialist fear and loathing but with a gut-clenching terror at having to eat Breakfast in the HUB... Cap'n Tater, Cheeri'tos, Spud Loops, Potato Jacks, and (shudder!) the Autonomous Northern Idaho Republic Breakfast Bar. Their politics scare me and the Counter-Revolutionary slogans inside make no sense.
I wish I could call home to my parents, but that really isn't possible anymore. The Earth's magnetic field has disappeared, on its path to complete reversion, and telecommunications are pretty much utterly shot. Solar winds have destroyed most satellites, compasses no longer work, and harmful radiation blankets the earth. Landlines I guess would be feasible, except that they have been cut by Sound of America during a desperate fight over resources available to us from Dickinson. Luckily, we were able to bio-engineer a plague in Genetics class to stop the SoA from overwhelming us. Free-time sucks.
At Lunch, sometimes I catch a glimpse of the Morlocks who make sure that the automated HUB systems continue to work; they scare me. They used to be called ballerinas and went to something called CPYB; however, decades of living underground and hard labor has warped them beyond recognition. They sometimes snack on a CTYer who leaves RA supervision.
Trip to the movies? More like a walk through Hell. It's pretty idiotic to walk through Carlisle nowadays, but since tis IS CTY, and walking to the movies IS a tradition, the RAs just keep doing what they are programmed to do. The streets of Carlisle were always a little hairy- but now it is little but isolated pockets of civilization, some of which have attempted to survive by turning themselves into armored enclaves. They are best by roving bands of marauders and barbarians, who are dependent on the dwindling food supply. We had to dodge these biker gangs, dune buggy warriors and slaver rigs, and only about half the students who started out the trek returned. Too bad Mel Gibson is about 80 now and not terribly able to aid us from his fortified compound near Perth.
As harrowing as the trip to the movies was, the true horror lay in mellow quad. They also watched movies, but not of their own free will. Their eyes were locked open with metal implements and lubricated with saline drops to ensure that they would not miss a single millisecond of the indoctrination videos. My friend Sam decided he doesn't really enjoy the ultra-violence so much after his experience in mellow quad. He was cured all right- cured of the desire to enjoy his free time!
I wish I could have gone to the CTY LA site; maybe it would have been calmer. Unfortunately, California kinda sank into the Pacific back during the Big One. There are rumors that they live beneath the ocean now, like Sea Monkeys... somehow I doubt it. I'd better check-in with my RA to see what the real story is.
These HUB potatoes sure do taste awful tonight at dinner. Funny; I always thought potatoes were supposed to taste starchy... not... hmm... like chicken?
How do we avoid being eaten by the bands of irradiated mutants who prowl the wasteland about campus? Boyd White, the one shining knight able to defend us against the fall of civilization. He and his band of wildriders patrol the boundaries on horseback, shooting any mutants who try to harm the students. Officer M is his right hand man, chasing down mutant bikers who penetrate the permieter in the last remaining public safety vehicle, a modified tree clipper. If we're lucky, we'll live to make it to check-in.
It's kinda funny, but the CTY Dance haven't changed. AT ALL. I wish I had something witty or interesting to say here, but the collapse of civilization, rise of killer robots, plagues circling the globe, giant insect attacks, cloned dinosaurs rampaging, meteor strikes, and alien invasions all have not stopped the dances from ending 1-2-3 "Stairway to Heaven" and "American Pie" and "Back-Off, I'm A Clone" by Hillary Duff Unit 7.
After the Dance
For a while back, Carlisle was completely covered in the Earth's expanding polar ice caps. A storm in 2021 blanketed much of North America with tens of feet of snow, sank most coastal cities and overall wreaked havoc. Carlisle is now itself a coastal city because of the rising sea level; swimming would be an option if it were't for the mutated sharks with frickin' laser beams that patrol the ocean. I like to have an early Dorm Time to avoid them completely.
That all ended, however, with the release of the dragons from their slumber deep within the belly of the Earth. The dragons' fire roasted a large part of the population and completely destroyed London. At day time, the RAs manning the mobile ion cannons have a chance at fending off the dragons from picking off students between the quads. At night when the lights are out, however, their eyesight is better than ours, so we are kept locked inside the fire proof buildings. On the plus side, they did help melt the ice and restore some of the Earth to its previous state. Fortunately their shells are too thin due to too much pesticide in the water. Thanks DOW!
Sunday, July 4th
I wish we could still have Passionfruit. However, environmental degradation has killed the passionfruit and all other fruits, as of 2023. All that's left to eat is this "potato" gruel that we eat at the HUB, like at breakfast. People tried to turn it into the potato juice ceremony, but everyone was so revolted it died within a year. But wait a second- I remember eating potatoes once when I was very young. They didn't taste at all like meat. Hmmmmmm.
Did you know we can't even call it free time now? It's called Slavery Time as per the Central Governing Authority's directive YN-449-2. Happily they rescinded that one banning sleep a few weeks ago. Who said malevolent super-competers shouldn't be in charge?
I've been thinking about the 'potatoes' we had for lunch in the HUB. I think they are synthetic chicken! No, not chicken, more like a red meat of some kind. Not pork, not venison, not beef, not mutton; then what is it?
Hall Bonding has become Hall Banding in 2029. The only way to stay alive is if everyone has each other's back, and the hall functions as an effective warband to defend itself. The girls in my class did not get along very well with the other students on their hall and were unable to unite to prevent Quad 6 from being overrun by a cyborg attack. Good thing we all like our RA and trust his military decisions implicitly; for Hall Banding we are practicing plasma weapon repair and guerilla tactics.
Tonight I will find out what the potatoes really are! I'm going to sneak off during Dinner and explore the kitchens. I risk being sent"home" but I must know thetruth.
OH NO! Soon they'll be breeding us like cattle! You've got to warn everyone and tell them! HUB potatoes are made of people! You've got to tell them! HUB potatoes are people!
Thank you, Health-Office android- I needed that inejction and all those pills. Now, what was I upset about?
It can't be that important.
Did you know that at the CTY HamoSieUnioPitssburGarYpsilanti site you stay at CTY until you turn 17, then the little crystal in your hand turngs red and the Sandmen come to take you to the Carrousel? I've never met a No-More from that site for some reason. Maybe I'll ask my TA tonight (he's human!) during class.
My maternal robot tells me stories about what the sky looked like before that rogue planet passed between the earth and the moon, which caused the Moon to shatter and cast Man's civilization into ruins. I guess back then it was actually dark enough to see stars and things other than orbital ads for Diet Slurm. Oh for the days when you could have Free Time to look at the sky and dream of a better future and not the festering mess I was born into. I wonder where everything went wrong?
While I was musing aloud to myself about how the world has gone wrong, I was approached by a member of the Human RA Underground. She told me her name was Martha and that she and her friends had discovered that if spun quickly enough a molybdenum-alloyed lanyard could generate a Klanfer field of 108x1.472 Gravioli per square centimeter- enough to undo Einstein's causality barrier! If I dare to swing my lanyard fast enough and can do so without being caught, I could go back and prevent the RAs from forgetting to play "American Pie" at the first dance in 2004 the event that set history on the abysmal path it is on now! I'd better check-in first before I make my attempt!
It is time. The lights are out on my hall and the RAs are recharding their batteries. The future is in my hands- I must not fail!
[Editors note: If anyone sees a hairless 15 year-old wearing a 'Rolling Stones- Still Rolling 2021 tour t-shirt' and silver lame unitard, running around the Quads, ranting about us being on the brink of annihilation, with a pathological fear of potatoes and muttering the lyrics to "American Pie", let your RA know.]