I had a little adventure around lunch time yesterday.
For those who spend a considerable large amount of time on Central Michigan University, you probably know of the bell tower, or you have heard the bells ring every hour. It always seem to come from Warriner Hall, on the northern side of campus, but there is something off with that scenario. You can hear the bells yet you cannot see a tower of any kind, nor a clock. The people who’ve attended a speech or show in the Plachta Auditorium – meaning practically everyone, even if it was only once during freshman orientation – you may have also noticed that the main section of Warriner has five floors. However, the elevator only takes you to the third floor.
Fascinating, isn’t it?
This whole thought process started when I began planning the plot for a short story. Professor Darrin Doyle wants us to write “a risky story”; in a manner of speaking, pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. Well, one of the risks I’m taking is placing my story here on campus; I almost never write about an area I’m currently in. Sure, I written about place where I have been before. I wrote one story that played out in Troy, but I was in Mount Pleasant at the time. I wrote a historical fiction piece that took place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and that was over a year after I saw this secluded area with the abandoned hotel surrounded by tall trees and wilderness. Due to some severe wanderlust, I tend to write about places far away mainly because I want the story to take me away, too.
I won’t reveal the plot to you – already had to tell it to four strangers – what you really need to know is that at some point, my protagonist will enter Warriner and make his way to the bell tower in search for the antagonist. I realize that sounds super technical; here’s the fun part of my real story. At first, I went to the third floor in search for some entrance to the fourth floor; some buildings on campus are more or less mazes, or they have doors that appear hidden because of the way the walls are arranged. It became obvious pretty quickly that the fourth and fifth floor must be sealed off to the public for some reason.
So I just asked two people working on the third floor and they pointed me to the Vice President Finance and Administrative Services. It was surprisingly easy to get answers to my questions, not to mention that they had no problem allowing me access to the two upper floors.
The upper two floors in Warriner Hall are sealed off, because there is no fire escape. Simple as that. We came up there through a door you’d think was just a locked janitor’s closet, but no, it opened up to a narrow, steep staircase. I can see why the school folk prefer that people in general remain on the third floor and below; in case of an emergency, the stairs would get clogged and people would try stepping over each other. It’s not like they’re hiding anything up there, either. Most of the old offices are being used for storage. A handyman was working when we entered the fifth floor; he was repairing the ventilators or something, because when someone came upstairs earlier, it was a hundred degrees up there. Even with many of the windows opened, the air still smelled like dust and old wood.
Most interesting fact about the bell towers: There were never any bells. They use basically this music box which is connected to a bunch of loudspeakers. Ten minutes later when I was walking back to the dorms, the clock turned 2 p.m. and I laughed as the bells were playing. As beautiful as they sound, they are not real.