I love mysteries. The investigation and the questioning, eventually leading to a shocking reveal, has always interested me. So, I was drawn to Journalism. I have loved every question I have asked and answered for Etched in Stone. However, a few friends and I want something unique to contribute to the paper. Something that shows our interests and challenges us as investigators.
Liam Flake, Brent Jones, and I have decided to start investigating the many misconceptions concealing obvious truths about Fossil Ridge High School. This column will validate or debunk the questions and rumors that float through the halls. Every post will be another adventure in finding the truth. We are the Mythbusters and this is only the first of many chapters. – Caroline
“I heard there’s tunnels down there. Under the school.”
We are deep in the back of the janitors’ hall, scanning the new shelf moved there to serve as the lost and found. It is a week until winter break, and the four of us have decided to run a couple of errands (I had earlier made the mistake of misplacing a secret Santa gift on Adopt-a-Family day) around the school during class, as news winds down.
We gaze behind ourselves almost instinctively, eyes transfixed by a cold metal door, begging to be opened. What archaic secrets could lie buried in the boiler room?
Tunnels. It is the sort of conspiracy theory that students whisper of without ever gaining any substance or materializing, theories and inverted truths cackled over and spread. I recall many instances during my time at Preston Middle School when kids would tell tales of the unseen swimming pool in the basement. The likelihood of these secret subterranean passages existing underfoot the high schools of America seems slim.
Still—we had little better to do, and we are journalists. As such, we decided we must look into it and see for ourselves.
We walked up to the North Wing Office, still in search of Liam’s lost possession. Along the way, we discussed: how does one discover tunnels under the school?
Step one: find a custodian. We checked the janitorial office. No custodians. And so we wandered around the school, seeking both the misplaced gift and custodians.
In our aimless sauntering, we eventually happened across a potential lead; in a quick conversation, we asked a janitor about the existence of tunnels in the boiler room. Our source testified to having seen, but not explored said tunnels, and even joked about, maybe, a secret swimming pool under the school.
This was enough to push the investigation forward: a staff member, whether seriously or not, had suggested potential truth in the rumors. From here, there would be only one way to definitively confirm or deny this conspiracy. We would have to see for ourselves.
But first, more victims for our inquiries. Next stop, the administration.
With so many questions and minds brimming of curiosity, we headed to the front office. Though principal Dr. Julie Chaplain was, at the moment, unavailable, we were fortunately able to meet with Mr. Brad Nye. Anxiously, we posed our question.
“Tunnels? Huh, I’ve never heard anything about tunnels beneath the school… But I’d be willing to check.”
This response took us by surprise; however, this was exactly the conclusion our investigation needed. We followed Mr. Nye down the janitorial hall and to the door to the boiler room, and waited excitedly as he unlocked the inaccessible door. We turned the corner to face the staircase leading down to the boiler room. Echo by echo we treaded down a narrow, dark staircase, preparing our cameras and bracing ourselves for the reveal. He slowly twisted the key.
“Are you guys ready?”
I froze, taking a still breath before looking through the dark and ominous doorway.
When we stepped in, I saw pipes, machines, tubes running along the grey walls, strange mechanical arrangements all echoing a low hum. It was, in all honesty, exactly what a boiler room should look like: mechanical in a supremely mundane way. I was torn between disappointment and curiosity. We searched the walls for any sort of concealed passage, looking up the stairs, behind every machine and around each corner only to find nothing noteworthy. A door glowing with light in the corner of the basement caught my eye. I asked Mr. Nye to unlock it. Behind was a small patch of concrete, with walls surrounding it 25 feet high. A strange find, but no secret tunnel. A part of me was embarrassed that I fell for such a myth, but I also felt content in our answer.
And thus we reached an end to our inquiry. In the boiler room, 100 feet below the solid ground on which Fossil was built, there is nothing more than soil and rock. No secrets, no conspiracies, no tunnels. Only the hollow feeling of disappointment, and fulfilling vindication.
Also—we never did find that gift I lost.