Five cryptids you’ve definitely encountered on campus

HN Hoffmann | Contributing Writer

As the turn of the season ramps up its game from a light chill to the mass murder of leaves, don’t let the true meaning of fall pass you by: spooky nonsense. It’s undeniable that there’s a distinct paranormal outlandishness about in the air when autumn hits, and although you probably haven’t spotted a ghost heading to class yet, you’ve probably crossed paths with the aftereffects of some other Washington University ghouls.


You’re walking to class, just like any other weekday, when the sudden realization that someone on a bike is flying down the path behind you prompts a quick, panicked swivel of your head—only for you to discover that there’s no biker there at all. What happened? Why, for those few moments, were you sure that you were about to get hit? That isn’t just a trained fear response from repeated encounters with poorly-balanced WashU riders? You just had an encounter with the spectral bicycle. Merely the ghost of a real bike, the spectral bicycle exists purely to torment innocent walkers.


There’s something special about that moment during a lecture when you make eye contact with your professor and just can’t manage to break it. It’s as if, suddenly, you’re the young 10-year-old girl in a children’s novel, trying to tame the wild steed your father caught up in the mountain pastures by getting eye-to-eye with the steed. “Now, Emily, you don’t go near this horse, alright? He’s a dangerous one,” was what Pop said, but you can’t be deterred. It’s as if you can see directly into that horse’s soul—wait. Just kidding. You’re still in a lecture, and your professor finally broke eye contact. In actuality, though, you just stared into the floating eye of the all-seeing horse.


What, you thought that when you loaded your tray onto those rotating plate collectors in Bear’s Den or the Danforth University Center that there was some sort of industrial dishwasher? In actuality, on the other side of the wall is the home of Wash. U. Brand Gnomes. They’re like regular gnomes, but they wear Wash. U. colors and eat your trash straight off the rotating belt. With to-go boxes now the much more popular student choice as compared to standard plates, the gnomes are currently in the middle of a famine. Please use a plate and feed them.


If this is your fifth night in a row waking up in a panic about all the classwork you should be doing but aren’t, you’ve probably got a case of badbugs. As compared to their more well-known bedbug counterparts, badbug bites cause immediate, painful reminders of all of the awful, awful things you’ve done during your collegiate career. Make sure to check your mattress for badbugs if you lie awake in the early hours of the morning thinking about all the mistakes you’ve made as a human being.


They’re not shorts, as much as they may look the part—they’re pants. Now every additional time you see a student wearing a pair of shorts when it’s below 50°, you’ll be able to call them out on their witchcraft. The athletic-shorts-with-too-much-leg-exposed look is simply a facade for the enchantment of the lower half of the shants that turns them invisible. Because no one would actually wander around outside looking like that, right?

Animations by H.N. Hoffman

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.