We’ve all had this encounter. You’re having effortless chit-chat with a fellow minervan, maybe you’ve encountered each other on the staircase, maybe you’re walking together to a co-curricular. Things seem fine, you exchange weekend plans and emotions regarding an upcoming assignment, you talk about a cafe you want to check out, you let your guard down – when suddenly, they slip. “Oh, a bunch of us have been going there.” They stop and cover their mouth, shocked. A shiver goes down your spine. You’ve heard this name before. They try to say something innocuous – maybe about how cold it is relative to where they’re from – and you let them carry the conversation elsewhere. But the question lingers in your mind. 

Then, as you’re sitting in the common room, you peek over to your neighbor’s screen—you know it’s impolite, but the curiosity is hard to resist. You see the words “a bunch of us” on a group chat, with over a hundred people active. Are they all in on it? You quickly look away, hoping the sudden jerk of your head wasn’t noticeable. You see your desk neighbor move her hand slightly, and you are washed with cold sweat. Did she see you? Ten minutes later, you get a text from a private number, saying “a bunch of us are going to the farmer’s market, do you want to come?”

They’re on to you.

It’s over.

That afternoon, you put on your most sensible outfit and head to the lobby. There’s no point in canceling, resistance would only make things worse. You see your desk neighbor from earlier, waving and smiling at you. There’s something in her eyes, a terrible coldness: She knows what’s about to happen. You smile back, and you wait together for others to arrive. You head to the farmer’s market when the leader makes an unexpected turn between the Asian pear and multi-colored cauliflower stands, you never know this passage existed. Suddenly, you are walking down a long flight of stairs: more of the market? You didn’t know these happened underground, but your neighbor seems confident.

As you finish your descent, you reach a hall full of figures in dark velvet capes: you assume they are Minervans, but the hoods hide their faces. As they notice you, a hum fills the room. It is a chant that gets louder and louder until the whole room is filled with sound: “Bunch of us! Bunch of us! Bunch of us!”

A hooded Minervan offers you a goblet full of liquid, and you put it to your lips. It’s strawberry Four Loko. The chant gets louder as the crowd surrounds you, and your horror is replaced with joy: you’ve never felt so euphoric, and you somehow know this feeling will last forever. Another hooded Minervan takes your phone and adds you to the group chat. How did they know your password? None of it matters now.

There’s no place you’d rather be.

Want to help improve the Quest? Fill out our annual reader feedback survey!