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It Happened to Me: Trapped in the Mark's Cafe Display Case


Photo from Pixabay / CC0

It started out so innocent, so innocuous.

There I was, in the VP basement toiling for hours, when I got up to replenish my strength with some coffee and a snack. My eyes had been scorched by the light of my computer screen, and Mark’s Café, with its dank, den-like aura, seemed to be the perfect nook in which to give them respite. I was walking up to the counter to order my coffee when I first saw it: the case that appeared to be my salvation, but ended up as my prison. 

It was a cornucopia of nourishment. Pulsating display lights illuminated its salty and sweet delights, and I found myself drawn to it. Before I could register what was happening, I dropped to my knees as if the force of my stress-hunger became personified and shoved me to the ground. Voracious, wanting, needing, I plucked the case’s bounty from its cold belly with both hands, only stopping to toss my PennCard at the employee and grunt, “Bursar it.

Digging deeper and deeper, I ate my way into the recess of the refrigerated case until I reached its heart, where Mark himself resided. “You took my treasure, my lifeblood. No one student should consume this much of my being, and for your gluttony, you will suffer,” boomed His voice. I never meant to awaken Him, but it was too late. I was sucked into the case’s abyss, colder than the ninth circle of Hell, where I am now doomed to starve behind this icy glass as students outside eat their snacks, deaf to my cries.

I don’t remember much of the fire-world, that which modern folk call Penn. My elements are ice and blood, and praying to Sushi-Do that someday my suffering will end—through release from this case or death—is the only thing that pulls me back from the brink of madness. I offer this story, the last gift I have left to give before I submit totally to the frozen void, as a warning. Avoid temptation, gluttony, and all sin. You never know which earthly delights are coffins masquerading as daybeds.