I was on a mission, a mission that initially didn’t seem much of a challenge but was turning out to look more and more hopeless. ‘Find out about the Student’s Union’; that had been my brief, short and sweet. But it was starting to seem like I was going to have to return to the editors empty handed, reporter-tail between my legs. I’d sent emails, written on Twitter, even tried an old-fashioned phone call or two, but no-one wanted to talk to me about the SU.
“Don’t go messing around with things you don’t know nothing about,” a gruff voice had barked at me down the phone when I inquired about an interview. “That’s the point, I want to find out about it,” I had tried. “Don’t go playing with fire, kid,” the voice responded. What were they hiding? I thought to myself, out loud. “We’re not hiding anything, kid.” The gruff voice shouted back. “Oh sorry, I thought you’d hung up!” I said, startled. He didn’t respond. He was gone and I was intrigued.
I scrolled through the Students’ Union website. There were photos of the SU officers, smiling happily, walking through the student centre in a straight line Avengers style, minus the catsuits. Their slogan graced the top of every page: ‘The less you know about the SU, the more it can help you.’ I’d heard it said so many times, and read it on so many signs but I had never let it properly sink in. What did it mean? Why was it good for us not to know the inner workings of the SU?
There was something big here, I just knew it. Finally my day had come, my big story. At long last, I would be noticed by the editor. He’d summon me into his smoke filled office, pass me a glass of his precious whiskey and tell me I did good. Maybe he’d even ask me to become his third wife, the job I had always dreamed of. I had some investigating to do.
I wandered around the Student Centre for a number of hours, hiding behind couches, watching out for anything suspicious. I went to see a few films in the cinema to see if there were any hidden messages in them. I learnt nothing, except that The Master was robbed at the Oscars. I went into the pharmacy to buy some personal items and casually asked the pharmacist did she know anything about the SU. Her face paled as she looked up at me in horror. “Who sent you?” she asked, frozen to the spot. “The paper,” I told her proudly, feeling like a cool journalist. She looked around, panic-stricken. “The less you know the better, the less you know…!” she whispered and disappeared under the counter.
Confused about how to react, I picked up my various creams and was about to leave when a little boy in a fedora and sunglasses pulled at my trouser leg. “Say you know Ted,” he told me in a thick New York accent. “Who? What are you talking about? Are you lost, would you like me to help you find your mummy?” I patted his tiny hat, jealous of how much it suited him. I’ve never looked good in hats; it has been a lifelong struggle. “Say you know Ted!” he said, frustrated, as he pointed to a trapdoor at the end of the pharmacy that I’d never seen before. “Who is Ted?” I asked, but the boy was gone.
I swallowed my fear and two paracetamol then tripped cautiously down the steep stairs that led from the trap door and ended up in a sort of sewer. The damp walls curved around me, dank and dark, with slime dripping into puddles on the sticky floor. A dog stepped out of the shadows and stared at me. “I know Ted,” I said to it, without thinking. He seemed to nod before stepping back into the shadows. I was in!
I crept down the corridor and arrived at a large metal door. I pulled it open, having to use all my body-weight and nearly dropped it back on to my head in shock at the sight before me. It was the most beautiful nightclub I had ever seen. Except it wasn’t even just a nightclub, it seemed to be a pub too, and a venue, and an old fashion tavern all in one. In one corner of the massive room was a shiny dance-floor, equipped with a poll and podiums. Beside this was a bar that seemed to be made entirely out of ice, with an attractive Scandinavian looking man making cocktails whist petting a puppy. There was a cosy wooden section with big armchairs and a roaring fire, and beside that was a karaoke booth made from crystals.
“It’s beautiful, ain’t it?” The little boy had appeared again. He was leaning against a large photo of Lady Gaga performing at the club, sipping a pint of Guinness. “What is this place?” I asked, still awestruck.
“It’s a bar. It’s the bar. Why do you think there is none on campus anymore?”
“But… why? I don’t understand.”
“There were too many ‘uncool’ people hanging out in the old bars and not enough room for the elite, so they decided to do something about it. The SU doesn’t stand for Students’ Union, that’s all a cover. It stands for See U, as in ‘See you in the great new club we created with all the students’ money.’” he explained. “That’s not a very clever name,” I responded. “I never said they were clever, but damn look at this place, they are definitely smart.”
Suddenly the little boy jumped, spilling Guinness down his tie. “Oh no, they’re coming. I’m sorry I brought you here. I am so sorry. But someone needs to do something and I could tell you are a reporter, because you are wearing such high heels. If you get out alive, tell everyone, tell them all!”
I felt a blow to my head and I was out cold. I woke up in a lecture with a lump at the back of my head and two teeth missing. Had it all been a dream? Could they really not have come up with something better than See U? I can’t be sure, but just remember one thing, tell them you know Ted.