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I Spent the Night in Cathy and Saw Things I Can’t Unsee

Cathy, the only notable piece of architecture in all of Pittsburgh, is revered by Pitt students. Despite her flooding, heat swells, cold fronts, and general lack of directional sense, the Cathedral of Learning is an iconic Panther spot. Still, though, it is shrouded in mystery. I camped out for a full night to determine what goes on in Cathy after hours. Brace yourselves.

10 p.m.
The last of the students typically zombie-walk out of the first floor after having parked it at a full-size table for the full day. They reek of stale, fake Starbucks coffee and are covered in black ink.

11 p.m.
I encounter a man with a typical janitor’s cart behind him. When he sees me snooping around the first floor, though, he seems mystified. Finally, with the wisdom of a Delphian Oracle, he warns me “Go forth with caution, young one, for the answers you seek may not be the answers you want.” I go “¯\_(ツ)_/¯.” He asks me how I said ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ out loud.

12 a.m.
I hear the whir of machines in the basement. Following the noise, I find the Cathedral Café up and running. The employees smile at me and hand me my favorite drink, an Iced Caramel Macchiato. It’s the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. “Who are you?” I ask them. A beautiful woman in a prim green apron responds, “We’re the Anti-Employees. We only work at night and we actually care if we get your order right.”

1 a.m.
I decide to walk to the third floor (no one is around to see how much I sweat during this one activity) but upon opening the door I am met with moving stairs, à la Hogwarts.

2 a.m.
I ride up to the 36th floor, as fancily dressed office people seem to always be venturing there during the day. The elevator takes only milliseconds to get there, a dream compared to the 4-hour wait between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Once the doors open, I am greeted with a Gatsby-style party. Cocaine, strippers, drinking, orgies. Those nicely dressed office people are going fucking nuts. One drunkenly grabs me and points to a swimming pool full of champagne: “That,” he says, “is the REAL reason Cathy flooded this year.”

3 a.m.
I leave the Gatsby party having seen more boobs than ever before in my gay life. The elevator seems to whisper to me: “Meeeeeegaaaaann… Megannnnnnn…” so I hop aboard. I realize belatedly I never picked a floor, but it shoots down like a carnival ride. There’s a glowing button that just reads “HELL.”

4 a.m.
After wandering down a series of dark, dank winding corridors, I arrive at a small well. It seems to go on for miles and miles. At the bottom I see a small flame; beneath it, Kevin Stallings’ face stares up at me. “HELP!” he cries, “THE CHANCELLOR HAS TRAPPED ME IN THIS WELL! HE’S A LIZARD PERSON!” I see a rope hanging nearby with which I could easily pull him to safety, but then remember our 0-19 record and leave instead.

5 a.m.
At last, I reach my final destination: the very top of Cathy. The janitor seems to be sitting, waiting for my arrival. He makes me swear to keep secret what I have seen and then disappears, instantly, leaving behind only a large ring of useless keys once attached to his belt. I grab them and fasten them to my backpack.

6 a.m.
I file wearily down the stairs and notice that the nerd crowd is coming in to start studying already. I feel a certain pity for them now, pausing slowly to look at those who will never know what I know of. “Hey, aren’t you that bitch who wrote the engineering article?” shouts one of the boys. Yikes. No more pity. I hightail it back to cozy Tower A.

Cathy is full of mystery. Everyone knows that she harbors secrets and twists and even, apparently, a direct passageway to Hell. I live with forty other freshman girls, though, so I basically already knew what Hell looked like.

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